Owens celebrates 50th anniversary

Owen publication for HuismanOwens is marking a half-century of immersion in marine marketing around the globe

1969 was certainly a milestone year, the first man on the moon and the Beatles played their last gig on the roof. Also in a storage loft in Havant, Hampshire a young Roy Roberts set up Owens (his middle name) on the strength of a £100 print order and a £7 investment in a drawing board, tee-square and a box of Letraset. Within weeks the first marine client was signed, Halmatic Marine.


The following decade saw the client list grow in parallel with new business acquisitions. Milestones were many with two photographic studios, an exhibition business in Southampton, video and sound studios in Rowlands Castle with blue chip clients such as Kenwood, Goodmans, Marconi, IBM, Esso and Exxon joining the growing enterprise. Always a common thread, marine clients were also coming to Owens for knowledgeable marketing support (except it was called advertising and publicity in those far off days!) and a range of collateral materials. 

A notable client in this period was Lewmar Marine that provided a learning curve which took our creative team to new levels for a period that would last for over 25 years as Lewmar grew from a little known brand to the world leader in deck hardware. Owens offered Lewmar a truly 'full-service agency' with global boat show fulfilment and support, PR, news magazines and advertising...plus all packaging and POS material. While the rest of the Owen team continued to grow in many other market segments as they do today, the 'marine' division built on the Lewmar experience to gain more new marine clients as the business grew.

By the early 1980's we consolidated our offices when we bought and renovated Hall Place, the 1795 manor house of Havant, just a few paces from where we started. This was another long period of growth with Sunsail joining us (a client we supported for over 25 years) and then our first major European customer (and still today) Royal Huisman in Holland. By the late eighties we were supporting Princess Yachts with media buying worldwide, most importantly our creative team repositioned the product and brand as a finely engineered range of stylish yachts. We helped produce all printed materials and supported boat shows. This long association with Princess is a period we are very proud of.

This key nucleus of high profile marine clients attracted a fresh wave of business from all parts of the world over the next four decades adding to the experience and marketing knowledge in our marine team, many still working at Owens today.

Keeping up with technology

Owen Watermark publication for PrincessIn the 1970's 'high tech' was having an IBM Golfball typewriter (with a memory cassette) and a noisy telecopier machine (fax) to send out typesetting proofs. Audio Visual was a bank of Kodak projectors and a computer was the small Commodore Pet running Sage in the accounts department. Soon this would be swept away by the arrival of PC's and Macs and the modern marketing agency and creative studio was born. The world changed again when the World Wide Web was given the browser by Netscape, started by a client of ours. Owens were first to get involved in creating some of the earliest websites making us true internet veterans. We were doing SEO before most people had heard of it.

Just as technology changed the way we do marketing, it changed the need for grand offices, so we sold our manor house and moved to a much more compact set of converted barn offices in rural Nutbourne, near Chichester, investing the proceeds into bigger tech and more IT specialists to keep ahead in all the multi-channel marketing processes.

The value of provenance 

Our history, with the accompanying insights, experience and knowledge are packed into our DNA and is priceless provenance This enables the Owen Marine and Superyacht team to engage instantly with customers, the market and the tools to make a difference.

Founder Roy Roberts comments ''With clients ranging from large superyacht shipyards to small start-ups we have costing models to suit all, in fact we really love to help smaller business in the marine supply chain. So in this age of apps, chatbots, social media, websites, AI, in-bound, out-bound, customer experience design (CX) and customer journey mapping, we have it covered by a young forward thinking group of creatives but importantly we have the solid experience to make it all relevant and cost effective. Looking back over the 50 years I are quite pleased with how it turned out''

Owen Superyacht marketing and Owen Advertising Limited (Owen Marine) are part of Owen Group International, consisting of: Owen Comms, Owen Health, Major Tom Branding and Owen CX.

Contact Roy Roberts info@royowenroberts.com