Martin Ballantine - Rendered on: 30/03/2017 05:51:52
A mongrel - dad a Kiwi, mum a Liverpudlian - Martin had a well-fed childhood enjoying the fruits (and veg) of both northern and southern hemisphere home cooking. From the English side, rhubarb crumble was a particular favourite – though it could never clipse that brilliant Kiwi invention, the pavlova. His dad also introduced him to the delights of the kumera (sweet potato) - a staple food in New Zealand but, in 70s Britain, a rather ‘exotic’ vegetable.
After school, Martin hitch-hiked round the world - earning cash en-route by picking several hundred kilos of apples and kiwi fruit (technically, ‘Zespri’). At the height of this odyssey, Martin was interviewed on NZ national TV - about what it was like to be an ‘itinerant fruit farm worker’. Heady stuff.
Returning to the UK, he went to university to study the serious science of Sociology. Food appreciation in that time was limited – mostly to curries and Pukka pies. This was followed by six months of cooking hundred gallon batches of (non-artisinal) chilli con carne to pay off his debts.
Martin then started his PR career in a small Nottingham agency. Unfortunately, it collapsed 11 months later (not his fault, honest). Subsequently he moved to London and spent four years in a large consumer agency. Then, in 1993, he set up the soon-to-be-award-winning Revolver Communications. Amongst its food accounts were Sharwood’s, PG Tips, McVitie’s, Green and Black’s and Ben & Jerry’s - for whom the agency worked for eight rip-roaring, category-disrupting, years.
Martin left Revolver twelve years ago, then moved to just outside Tunbridge Wells with his wife and two boys. He set up Piracy Corporation in the town in 2008 as an integrated PR and Social Media agency. Its clients are mostly food and drink ones - and have included Capsicana, Cawston Press, Chang beer, Coldpress, Gaymer’s, Montezuma’s chocolate, Nature’s Path, Nix&Kix, No.3 gin, Orangina, Rowse honey, Snow Leopard vodka and Two Chicks.