The hardest working
direct response
advertising agency in the UK


A direct competitor to Screwfix, Toolstation is a company selling building materials and tools to the trade and the consumer. Thanks to AJ, Toolstation has gone from a newcomer to the market to challenging Screwfix for the number 1 position in the UK. Toolstation’s success led to its recent purchase by Travis Perkins.

With  the hugely successfull “NAIL IT” commercial, first in the TV trilogy, we added a range of off-the-page press ads.

AJ started working with Toolstation in 2005 when they were just 12 months old. DRTV was used to build a database via a brochure request (delivering a CPL 2% below its nearest competitor). Toolstation's database grew rapidly and store launches began database mailing with a 8 mile radius ensuring instant footfall. Investment from Travis Perkins allowed rapid store aquisition, with an average 3 stores opening per month until they reached 100 stores nationwide. Travis Perkins bought the remaining shares for complete ownership in 2012

Second commercial, “Hokey Cokey”  was established to drive footfall whilst still building the Toolstation database via brochure requests.   Third commercial,  “The Heist”  focused on driving viewers  to their website and brand  building.



Working together

With a constant stream of late space offers coming into the agency, the media and creative departments at AJ need to work closely together to take advantage of them. This often means creating or re-sizing an advert within minutes of a booking and supplying it to a waiting publication within a few minutes more. How about that for team work!

  • Alice Buttling-Smith
    Media & Managing director


    Alice Buttling-Smith, Media & Managing Director/Joint owner

    Media is key at AJ and Alice’s many years of experience have made her one of the best buyers there is. No one generates greater value from a client's budget or a better return on investment.

  • Ann Gardiner
    Client service director


    Ann Gardiner, Client service director/Joint owner

    At AJ we want our clients to feel cared for as well as successful. Ann does a great job of liaising between client, media, creative and production and keeping everybody happy.

  • Tim Blackshaw
    Creative director


    Tim Blackshaw, Creative director

    A true all rounder with many years of brand as well as direct response experience. Tim is the best in the business for being able to produce impactful, highly responsive advertising that looks good too.

  • Vicki Hampton
    Financial controller


    Vicki Hampton, Financial controller

    With AJ’s spending many thousands of pounds on media bookings every day cashflow is crucial to ensure everything runs smoothly. Vicki does an amazing job of making this happen.

  • Lesley Bowman
    New business director


    Lesley Bowman, New business director

    A difficult job but one that Lesley handles with relish thanks to AJ’s wealth of experience across a wide spectrum of products and services. She also never gives up!

  • Gillian Orford
    Office Administrator


    Gillian, Office Administrator

    A key role here at AJ, with media owners constantly calling with late space opportunities, it's important they’re passed through to the right person as quickly as possible. Gill does this seamlessly and keeps the agency running smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

  • Jack Gillett
    Media Executive


    Jack Gillett, Media Executive

    A great relationship builder, Jack’s key role is providing our clients with the best agency service possible. Always looking for a deal, Jack’s daily contact with our publishers ensures clients benefit from the most competitive rates in the market on a regular basis.


  • Billie Arnold
    Production and Artwork


    Billie Arnold , Production and Artwork

    Billie ensures the daily flow of media bookings into the studio is matched with the artwork needed and then dispatched in time. Additionally, her core skills include fast and accurate artworking and Billie does a great job keeping clients, publishers and the studio happy.

  • Sam Wakeman
    Head of Studio


    Sam Wakeman, Head of Studio

    One of the most technically skilled art workers in the business, Sam’s lightening speed on the Mac enables the studio to meet the constant need to generate last minute artwork for late space bookings with ease.

  • Vince Hunt,


    Vince Hunt, Artworker

    Vince’s previous experience with catalogue artworking means he’s a master of detail. A highly creative as well as professional art worker, his retouching skills are in use on a daily basis.

  • Rachel Powell


    Rachel Powell, Artworker

    Talented and creative, Rachel’s fast and accurate art working is vital to our service. Rachel can react at a moment’s notice to any late demand or unexpected media booking, ensuring our clients – and the media houses – are always happy.

  • Helen Gower
    Insert Media Planner/Buyer


    Helen Gower, Insert Media Planner/Buyer

    An integral part of the team, Helen joined AJ in 2005. An inserts specialist, what Helen doesn’t know about inserts isn’t worth knowing! Knowledgeable, patient and analytical, Helen ensures her clients benefit from great service, the keenest prices and the best results.

  • Jamie Home
    Media Executive


    Jamie Home, Media Executive

    Jamie’s responsibilities include looking after TV advertising, primarily through BRTV and assisting the media team with the planning/buying process. His background in customer service and audio engineering enables him to balance strong relationship management with technical knowhow.

  • Fiona Carruthers
    Media Executive


    Fiona Carruthers, Media Executive

    With many years’ experience in marketing and communications Fiona helps AJ shout about our services and achievements. Her expertise in tailoring communications to key target audiences, gained in the UK and New Zealand, means Fiona is ideally placed to get the right message out there.

Illustrations by Sam Wakeman