By: Tilly Macalister-Smith,

It’s rare to find Hamish Kinniburgh, 42, in his office in Farringdon, east London. Tasked with overseeing the strategy and product development of global business media agency Universal McCann, which has ‘about 222 offices worldwide’, the Scottish advertising guru spends a huge amount of time on the road. Even his assistant claims to see him only about once every six weeks.

Kinniburgh is far from conservative. While many of his peers rely on a suited-and-booted ‘uniform’, his day-to-day look comprises Paul Smith jeans, Oliver Spencer jackets and limited-edition trainers. Ties rarely feature. It’s a look that makes sense for his line of work. ‘My job is deciding who to talk to, how to talk to them, and how to mix multiple channels together,’ he says. ‘By that I mean social with traditional media.’

Kinniburgh is a self-proclaimed city man. Heading south from Edinburgh aged 18, he studied in Southampton before moving to London, ‘a real centre of innovation’, where he lives today with his wife, Jemma, and children, Orla, five, and Harris, three. He has an ingrained affection for New York, having lived there for two-and-a-half-years, and visits Manhattan frequently to work with innovations companies such as TED and Kickstarter. Although he has his sights on emerging business capitals in the East, his heart is tied to London.

The Style Report finds out how one of media’s highest flyers handles 5.30am wake-up calls, multiple time zones, client pitches and board-meeting-to-bar dressing.


What does your desk say about you? You can see from the sparseness of my office that I am not here very much. For me, my desk means my laptop and my bag. I can be anywhere so it really needs to be that way. I carry a black leather holdall, which I love, that my wife bought me for my birthday. I think it’s from Fortnum & Mason. I use Spotify to listen to music.

Is the way you present yourself important? This is advertising, so it’s about presentation. I think we represent a bit of creativity to clients. I rarely wear ties and I do wear jeans to work. Today I’m wearing a Saint Laurent suit (above).
Are there parallels between the way you work and the way you approach style? Do I approach style strategically? That’s a good question. I do, actually. I tend to do a big shop at the start of the season to get a bunch of essentials. My work and play wardrobes cross over quite a lot as officewear tends to entail quite a lot of jeans and shirts. But I also do a lot of ‘top-up’ shopping on the road, both in stores and online. I’ll be in a hotel and order online and have pieces sent back to my home in London, so they’re there when I get back. I really enjoy shopping.

Do you follow trends or do your own thing? I’ve got my own formula, but I’m definitely influenced by the media. I still read a lot of magazines, although that might not be trendy any more. I read everything going, from GQ to weekend newspaper supplements and magazines when I’m travelling abroad. I also glance at blogs such as The Sartorialist now and again.
What’s your grooming routine? It’s pretty simple. For my hair, I use Bumble and Bumble Sumotech, and then just a dollop of Elemis moisturiser for my face after a quick shave. I get my hair cut by a local guy in London called Roman Ospina. I’ve been going to him for 15 years now and he’s built up about six salons in south-west London.

What are you working on at the moment? I’ve been arranging an innovation festival in London called OpenCo London. It started last year in San Francisco when the mayor, Ed Lee, was curating an innovation week. John Batelle, the founding editor of US Wired, came up with the idea of OpenCo, where offices would open to the public for 45 minutes and the company founder would talk and host a question-and-answer session. I said, ‘Let’s bring it to London’, and we did.

Tell us how it went… Earlier this month, 55 London companies, including Google, Yahoo! and Wired [part of Condé Nast UK], as well as many smaller ones, opened their doors. Two thousand people attended and the festival was put together with no money, all through network marketing and social media.

Where will your work take you next? You can’t help but have your eyes drawn East at the moment; what’s happening in Bangkok, Hong Kong and China is really incredible. I did a trip recently to Dubai, Bangkok and Hong Kong, and then went back to New York. I love New York and it’s always signified modernity to me, but it can feel old-fashioned now compared with what’s happening in the Far East. You can’t help but be amazed and inspired.

How do you switch off? I’ll head over to Ibiza for a summer holiday with my family. We’ve been going there for ages. We hire a villa for the summer in the same area, just north of Santa Eulària. Winter means skiing; I like to go to the French Alps. We’ve visited some interesting places in Alaska, North America and Alagna in Italy.