We’re very sad to announce the sudden death of our co-founder and creative director, Peter Holden.
Peter, 70, passed away from natural causes on the morning of Saturday 3rd February and all the family were present.
Peter Alan Holden was born on 11th October 1947 in Warrington and went on to study at what is now The Winsford E-ACT Academy.
He then studied at London Road in Northwich, where two of his children – Tim and Esther – and one of his grandchildren have since studied, and then went on to Liverpool Hope University where he graduated with a design certificate in advertising and design.
Even before he graduated, Peter had managed to get a foot in the door at Osborne Peacock as a design intern, which had just been acquired by Royds (now McCanns) in London and was the largest advertising agency headquartered outside of the capital.
After graduating in 1969, Peter took up a full-time position as visualiser at Royds and quickly rose through the ranks. By the mid 1970’s, he had secured the role of deputy creative director alongside then creative director Tom Reddy and managing director Keith Wride.
Tom and Peter formed a formidable creative duo of copywriter and creative, producing award-winning campaigns for national brands such as Girobank, Bradford & Bingley and Associated British Foods among others.
In 1971, Peter directed a TV commercial for Danish pharmaceutical company Natusan that would go on to win a Cannes Lion award, which is thought to be the first time a Manchester-based agency had won this prestigious accolade.
Together, Tom and Peter grew their department to more than 50 creatives and oversaw the hires of some of the region’s most exciting young talent that would later go on to head up their own agencies in Manchester and around the world.
Tom, who would become a life-long friend of Peter’s, described him as a major part of the creative revolution taking place in the 60’s and 70’s and praised his style, work-ethic and knack for unearthing big ideas.
After a stint as creative director at Harrison Cowley (now part of the Huntsworth group) in the early 1980’s, Peter decided to branch out on his own, first as a film director and then as a freelance advertising consultant.
The Peter Holden Company would go on to work with brands such as Dunlop, Booths, Beaverbrooks and Greenall Whitley.
After 30 years, Peter (not one to retire) joined two of his sons – Ted and Olly – in setting up a new full-service creative agency called Holden & Sons, now Holdens. Peter relished this opportunity.
He worked closely with his sons to grow the agency to the success it is today and was a very hands-on creative director up until the day he died. When asked about retirement again years later, he replied: “But what else would I do?”
In his role as tireless advocate of creative thinking and the pursuit of big ideas, Peter regularly delivered lectures at MMU and he was instrumental in helping to launch the careers of design students there and at other institutions such as Shillington.
Peter also had a huge influence on his family’s creativity, with his eldest son having studied fine art at the Royal Academy of Art. All of his children have careers in the arts and creative industries, with his grandchildren also following in his footsteps.
A much-loved and charismatic character in Manchester’s creative community, he brought a smile to anyone that had the pleasure of meeting him and will leave a lasting legacy of brightness and positivity.
PETER HOLDEN 1947-2018