I recently wrote to Avis’ European President (Mark Servodidio) and UK MD (Nina Bell), as much in desperation for them because as a loyal customer I was shocked at how old their model is and how they are missing so many opportunities. (No reply yet.)

Avis, like all rental car brands, aren’t just in competition with each other anymore but facing potential new players.

In ever sector there’s a Uber or Google planning to take a slice of the business with a different way of doing things, it’s called disruptive innovation – new models utilising new technology.

Forbes calls it the age of ‘David vs Goliath business models’. Using consumer centric thinking combined with technology, a 22 year old grad can start a bank in his bedroom – and several have – and in no time steal away hundreds of thousands of customers.

The business environment, according to the FT, has never been more aggressive – 52% of top 500 companies have vanished in the last 15 years! Including the world’s oldest company – Kong? Gumi – which was 1400 years old. There is no certainty anymore.

Look what happened to Kodak. Once the biggest name in photography, it ignored the progressing world of technology while it carried on mass producing Instamatic cameras (over 100m). Along came the camera phone and the rest is history. Today it’s no longer a consumer brand yet almost every home had a Kodak once.

Woolworths, HMV, Blockbuster, Comet, Delta, MFI, Habitat, Jessops, Boarders, BHS… just a few of many large businesses that have gone under.

And like the Titanic, lots of people were saying “look out for the iceberg“, but those steering the businesses choose to ignore it.

I predict many more big name brands will vanish soon. Industries like banking and insurance are ripe for ripping apart. Look how estate agencies are being challenged by new models like Purple Bricks. The model for how we buy cars is about to change too and toothpaste is about to get less boring!

To keep ahead, to continue to be profitable and deliver shareholder value, Goliath businesses need to invest more in innovation. To rethink their business models, their technology, data and even marketing. Yet as Forbes highlights, many traditional models are too Titanic, compared to the more agile new start-ups, to rethink how they do business.

Over the years I have seen more and more marketing briefs turn into business briefs – the solution isn’t another TV or social media campaign, but a need to rethink – reframe, reimagine, reinvent – the brand, the product/service and the whole way business is done today.

It’s not just about data and technology, both essential these days, the real key is actually being consumer centric – creating offerings highly relevant to what the customer wants.

After I left Saatchi & Saatchi, where I had been a board and Creative Director, I wrote in an article in Brand Republic that “agencies needed to think beyond advertising,” that we needed to “look at providing innovative business solutions alongside marketing ones.” And that agencies needed to better understand how their clients businesses worked, which few do.

Too often agencies see every problem in terms of the solution they provide.

It met with mixed reaction. I created a new model agency, Creative Orchestra to do just that. Media neutral, technology agnostic, consumer centric with an ethos of blunt honesty. We have never been afraid to challenge conventional thinking and tell it as it is.

8 years on, we have now innovated again and created alongside Creative Orchestra THE GARAGE (, inspired by the back to basics of companies that literally started in a garage – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, HP…


And we are also inspired by the way Steve Jobs thought, who like Bill Gates, Henry Ford, James Dyson and Richard Branson was dyslexic – which half our staff and consultants are.

THE GARAGE is also the world’s first open platform agency.

It exists in a space between marketing and management consultancy, a ‘disruptive thinking & innovation’ consultancy. Unlike traditional innovation consultants (most of which seem very lacking in innovation) we don’t sell a process, but an outcome.


We help brands and companies ‘RETHINK’ and ‘THINK DIFFERENTLY’. And like any David brand, we are taking on the Goliaths, from PwC to WPP. If you don’t think big you can’t deliver big.

We have created new models of workshops, like our Dice Workshop that helps staff see beyond the conventional or Vision3D which shows you what you business would look like if you started it today. We have also created a new model of doing business form short to long-term consultancy projects, without an app in sight!

Because you need to move quickly, everything we do has to be done faster than the Goliath models can, so we have cut out the bureaucracy and utilised technology. (Clients resent paying for bureaucracy anyway, they want results.)

Our approach to the market is simple, our challenge to any business is let us challenge you. After all, if you can’t do that, how can you help them challenge the competitors?


Chris Arnold is founder of Creative Orchestra and The Garage.

10 businesses that started in garages