Reactions to Sadiq Khan's #LondonIsOpen campaign from Saatchi, Build, Mother and more

14 July 2016
Reading Time
4 minute read

Earlier this week London mayor Sadiq Khan made an open call to creatives inviting them to submit ideas for #LondonIsOpen, a campaign to declare the city as open for business following Brexit. The news drew a mixed reaction from the design industry, many feeling it devalued the work of professional designers, others commenting that the open brief was befitting of the message. Here’s some of the reactions from the industry.

Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi London

“It’s hard not to root for Sadiq because it’s like he’s our own Justin Trudeau. In a sea of horrid politicians he stands apart. And I love his instinct in showing the city is open for business, but our reasons to believe him need to be clearer. He should be spending more time negotiating a better deal for us Londoners, guaranteeing our ability to move freely and telling of his successes in ensuring businesses are staying put. That way, when I tell people about the project I can say with my hand on my heart that something’s being done to make sure London is open. At the moment this campaign feels like more of an afterthought, like he’s saying, “oh I’ll get round to it, but in the meantime can you do some posters?”

“Also I feel like open calls are never a good look, because no one’s responsible for delivering a solution. The scattergun approach means no one feels like it’s on them to solve it. When we worked on the Operation Black Vote campaign, it was a huge responsibility and a controversial project, but when we worked on the Remain campaign, there were lots of agencies involved so it didn’t fall to just one. We would be very cautious working on a campaign like this. This needs more than a hashtag, Sadiq.”

Michael C. Place, creative director at Build

“Would you go into a restaurant and say I’d like a meal, but I don’t want to pay for it? That might be a very simplistic way of looking at the problem, but I think the sooner the industry say no, the better it will be long term.

“And now to contradict myself… in this instance I think Mr Khan’s heart is in the right place. I think the industry should get behind this campaign, pull together and show the world how great it is. Not all work should be purely about business, most of the best work is produced from the heart and this campaign is about heart and passion.

“One caveat though Mr Khan, please don’t say ‘it will be good promotion for you.’”

Dan Broadwood, strategy director at Mother Design

“Sadiq Khan is doing what a great client does when their brand is under threat and they have little in their coffers to mount a defence — inspiring those who are passionate about the brand, those who, truthfully, make it what it is, to take a stake in its future.

“I’m sure we’re not the only ones regretting that we didn’t use our collective creativity sooner. Openness, collaboration and creativity are at the heart of what makes London such a potent cultural hub and its creative agencies so renowned around the world. #Londonisopen and so are we.”

Tess Wicksteed, partner, strategy at Here Design

“I think the point about free pitching is always about motivation. If clients want something for nothing it obviously demonstrates a lack of respect for professional design. I think in this case, though, it’s an attempt to be inclusive and give everyone a chance to participate.”

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on

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