The Oban Blog

Naming a marketing agency is potentially fraught territory. Here’s why Oban International chose to call itself Oban.

Why is Oban called Oban?

August 26, 2020 Company News

Naming a marketing agency can be potentially fraught territory.

Do you go down the conventional route of naming yourself after the company founder or founders – Leo Burnett or Saatchi & Saatchi being obvious and famous examples? (This approach was satirised in Absolutely Fabulous by the fictitious PR agency Bing, Bing, Bing & Bing, founded by Edina’s rival Claudia Bing). It has fallen out of favour in recent years as the big Mad Men personalities have aged and been usurped by data and integration offerings.

Do you pick a meaningless acronym, such as WPP – originally Wire and Plastic Products, a manufacturer of wire baskets used as a vehicle for the acquisitions through which Martin Sorrell originally built the business.

Do you go down the “wacky” route of naming yourself after an unusual food type, say, or an animal – StrawberryFrog and Jellyfish both spring to mind.

Or do you pick something metaphorical in the hope of conveying your underlying brand promise – which David & Goliath or Brave do so well?

Oban means “the little bay” in Scottish Gaelic. But that’s not why we chose it as our agency name.

Our agency specialises in helping brands grow internationally. Our mission is to unlock business potential by connecting cultures. We believe we can help brands improve their digital marketing performance in any market on the planet. We do this through our network of LIMEs – Local In-Market Experts – made up of over 450 people in over 80 countries around the world.

So how did we pick a name that symbolised that global ambition?

Oban is a small town in Scotland (population: 8,600). It’s also a place in New Zealand – the main settlement on Stewart Island, the southernmost inhabited island of the New Zealand archipelago (population: 400). What is significant about two small and relatively obscure places sharing the same name, when there are numerous and better-known name pairings around the world?

  • Grenada, Spain versus Grenada the nation
  • Memphis, Egypt versus Memphis, Tennessee
  • Moscow, Russia versus Moscow, Kansas
  • Waterloo, Belgium versus Waterloo, Canada
  • Paris, France versus Paris, Texas

You get the idea – there are many to choose from.

The reason our founder, Greig Holbrook, chose Oban as our agency name is because Oban in Scotland and Oban in New Zealand are the two places which share the same name but are the furthest distance apart geographically (11,718 miles or 18,858 kilometres to be precise). Greig named the agency after the two Obans to symbolise our agency’s global ambition, and our belief that we can help businesses succeed anywhere in the world – whichever market they are targeting.

If you have global ambitions yourself, and you’re looking for an agency to help you achieve them, then please get in touch.


Sarah Jennings, CEO

Sarah Jennings | CEO

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.