40 Years of Adlab: Our Story

May 25, 2023 Morgan Menzel

On May 1st, 2023, we celebrated Adlab’s 40th birthday—a monumental achievement for an agency, operating within a highly-competitive and fast-changing industry. However, this milestone would not be possible, had it not been for original owner, Lynden Burns, and his dream in 1977

Where the history of Adlab begins…

In the Beginning

According to Lynden, Adlab came to be aboard a flight from Los Angeles to Adelaide, after 3 months working in the USA for his employer, Repco. Within Repco, Lynden worked in their Advertising Department for 12 years, progressing quickly due to his contribution of innovative changes to their advertising and marketing strategy.

As he explained, “prior to my promotion as Advertising Manager, the company was sending all graphic work to outside providers, a practice I felt could be improved upon. Management granted me free reign to develop an in-house operation that was so successful that it was adopted by most Australian states and resulted in significant cost savings”.

Following this successful change to their advertising model, Lynden was asked to travel to Los Angeles to develop a similar advertising and marketing strategy to the Australian Model, for Repco’s recently bought-out company, British Auto Parts/Geon Automotive—a journey which would lead to that flight in 1977, and the beginning of Adlab.

1983: The Year a Legend Was Born

In 1983, in what Lynden described as “the greatest risk of my life”, he made the difficult but exciting decision to resign from Repco, and at just 30 years old, register for his own business. On May 1st that year, Adlab was born.

As with any new business trying to make its mark in a highly-competitive industry, Adlab’s early-days were difficult. However, with the support of contacts Lynden made during his 14 years at Repco, Adlab eventually found its first client in Hunter Engine Reconditioners at Dry Creek.

Owned by Lynden’s ex-Repco colleague, Wally King, who offered him much encouragement, Adlab’s first project involved designing a new look for his company—including graphics, signage, stationery and promotional material, which saw Mr King’s company transform into ‘Adelaide’s leading Engine Reconditioning company’.

The Expansion:

In so doing, this put Adlab on the radar for other Automotive clients and the Furniture Industry—requiring an expansion of the business.

From this came new employees with specialised skills, including current Co-owner of Adlab, Kate Evans (formerly Mons), and Graham Lemar, who is part of our Signage & Logistics team.

The expansion of Adlab’s name also welcomed one of our biggest clients (who we still work with today), Coca-Cola. This, according to Lynden, completely transformed Adlab as our business “became linked to a reputation of honesty, and reliability across the nation”—a feat bigger than he could ever have imagined back in 1977.

A New Era:

However, in 1995—as the digital era dawned, evolving the traditional ways of advertising and design, Lynden came to a hard realisation. Not only did he struggle with the expertise required for the digital world, but also lacked interest in this new practice.

As a result, this same year, Lynden made the decision to sell what was ‘his dream’ to Kate and Ashley Evans, who continue to grow Adlab and achieve success 28-years later.

40 Years On:

40 years on, Lynden said that “I knew from day one that Adlab would be successful, regardless of the statistics that most new businesses fail in the early years. I had the utmost faith in my staff, and we always rewarded each other with a happy fun loving work environment and shared in each other’s ups and downs in life. I am so proud of Kate and Ashley in that they have retained the Adlab name which carries my initials, and to all the Adlabbers, past and present who have carried my basic working principles through 40 years.”

As we celebrate Adlab’s 40th birthday this month, we must thank Lynden for his hard work, determination, and commitment over the years towards helping businesses improve their image, best impact their markets, and meet their business goals—values we continue to uphold in everything we create today.

For without his dream aboard that flight 46 years ago, Adlab would not be the proud, successful agency it is today. Want more ’83 content? Check out our team the year Adlab was born… though some weren’t born yet!