Our Team

 
 

Underdog was born to four kindred spirits with complementary skillsets and a shared vision to deliver great work with great joy for clients that are hungry to grow and ready to act.

 
 

Nigel Clarke

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In a nutshell:
Brand growth veteran with an unconventional spirit, passion for problem-solving, and insatiable curiosity for everything

In his own words:
I’ve always loved understanding how things work and relish the opportunity to ‘fix’ things. Whether it’s a circuit board that’s gone ‘pop’ or a brand that’s lost its way, solving puzzles and breathing new life into something provides me with an immense satisfaction. Because brand growth comes from first understanding what people want or need and then finding ways to leverage a brands’ assets to deliver those needs (whether their people, knowledge, products, or beyond), I am one of those fortunate individuals who loves what they do.

The last 20 years have seen me support many blue-chip brands around the world with their growth, be it through; innovation, renovation, design, claims, strategy, marketing etc.

I find pretty much everything interesting, and my eclectic taste for information across a range of subjects is the basis of my creativity and quirky thinking. Part of my success is down to having a scientific background combined with marketing instinct. This has enabled me to straddle the world of R&D and Marketing, and to benefit from the thinking that comes with cross-functional working.

Most likely to be found:
Behind a camera or cyber-cycling on Zwift

And finally:
Nigel hates heights, always cycles listening to female vocal dubstep, spent 3 months in Eritrea, has had his photography displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, likes metaphors, always wakes up early, has nearly drowned twice, and once saw a UFO.


 
 
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Heather Newton

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In a nutshell:
Sparky, creative and occasionally unusual individual with a penchant for doing things differently, and a limitless capacity for list-making. 

In her own words:
I’ve had a passion for creativity ever since I was young, starting out as a ‘writer’ aged 4 (my first piece featured a bus that magically turned into a fish and chip shop). Today I enjoy combining my creative spark with strategic savvy, always working to deliver genuinely useful outputs. I particularly love creating new tools and methodologies where a tricky challenge demands a fresh approach.

I’ve spent the last half-decade in consultancy roles, working in partnership with client teams and consumers to unlock opportunities for growth. Before that, I worked in-house in innovation development in the third sector, at a full-service creative agency as a Planner, and as a brand manager for a market-leading global FMCG company. I’ve helped all shapes and sizes of brands to grow, through a range of different disciplines. I’ve seen successes and failures from the watchtowers of different silos, I’ve filled my boots with tools and experiences, and I’m excited to bring it all to Underdog. 

These days I call myself a brand, insight, and innovation consultant, but at the end of the day it all comes down to finding, creating and leveraging opportunities for growth. It’s hugely rewarding to take a gnarly problem and turn it into an opportunity.

Most likely to be found:
Making colour-coded lists, writing or dreaming about future writing projects, and negotiating with recalcitrant houseplants.

And finally:
Heather has been an extra in a music video for The Darkness, is told she has a houseplant addiction but luckily can’t see the critics through the houseplants, co-wrote a comedy musical about the end of the world which was reviewed as ‘one of the Fringe’s best shows in nearly a decade’, is moved to tears by Christmas trees, and was once hit by post-it notes thrown by Christian Slater.


ELSPETH Edwards

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In a nutshell:
Outgoing and outdoorsy Nordic-Cumbrian whirlwind of can-do-ability, with a love for cracking the trickiest brand growth challenges with passion and positivity.

In her own words:
I’ve always been curious and I never cease to ask ‘why?’ Being a combination of creative, pragmatic, and a free spirit, I’ve always liked to colour outside the lines and find new ways to tackle problems. It all started with fixing my sister’s bike when I was 7 in my neighbour Jim’s amazing workshop. Although she didn’t like the electric blue re-spray, the rust was gone and the brakes and gears worked again!

Uncovering actionable insights is a passion - I walk in consumers’ shoes, talk their talk, live their lives, and understand exactly what they want and need. I use this foundation to build smart and simple solutions, from product ideas to positionings or anything in between. But I never do it alone - innovation is a journey best travelled with company. I’m a pack animal, and I believe that the strength is in the pack!

My background in sport gives me a unique perspective on business challenges. Out on the court, I’m driven by the physical and psychological challenge, the competition and camaraderie, and my focus on the end goal. I bring the same positivity and determination to brand growth challenges, seeing opportunities where others might see barriers, and keeping a sense of pace and excitement to drive the project forward.

Most likely to be found:
Playing or coaching racketball, building her premium Scandi kitchenware brand, or on an adventure in the great outdoors

And finally:
Elspeth is a national racketball champion, hates meringue but loves tinned ravioli, is half Cumbrian / half Norwegian, has a black Labrador for a best friend, (has plenty of human friends too), loves mending or improving things, is inspired by the magic of the wilderness, and has been overheard saying “by ‘eck” without irony.


 
 
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Emily Strong

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In a nutshell:
Chatty and dependable creative type, relentless scratcher of design itches, and all-round good egg with near-psychic capability for empathy.

In her own words:
I feel great satisfaction when things look right – badly laid out websites, poor pack design, unfathomable logos, and incoherent imagery all drive me up the wall. I’ve always had a good eye, and I take huge delight in creating meaning and order out of chaos – so it’s no surprise I love my job helping brands grow through visual problem-solving. 

I’ve been working in the creative industry for 20 years, and I’ve loved working with clients all over the world, across a range of markets. My heartland lies in brand styling - helping companies build a coherent and compelling visual DNA to deliver competitive advantage in market. It’s a unique type of problem solving, using a visual toolkit while remaining rooted in strategy and insight.

 It’s safe to say I’m not an it’ll-do-er – even one misaligned pixel would haunt my dreams. The people close to me know that I can be very restless when I’m working on a brand challenge – I can’t stop thinking about it until suddenly everything clicks and the world feels right again. It can be frustrating, but it means the satisfaction I get when I help a brand achieve their goals is immense!

Most likely to be found:
Pottering in her garden, salvaging interesting things from the reclamation yard, or counting butterflies for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

And finally:
Emily hates cleaning, loves a good pair of wellies, volunteers for the NSPCC as a women’s mentor, once spent a summer tracking parrot fish in Egypt, loves her kittens shamelessly, always arrives early, has surfed ever since she was 7, and still wears the same bodyglove wetsuit she’s owned for 20 years straight (much to her kids’ horror.)


Underdog Collaboration

Where an approach demands specialist input, we collaborate with experts that we know, trust, and love working with.