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As you probably noticed we recently relaunched Brand Republic blogs to a new platform. Keeping it simple, we moved to Word Press, which is a much easier to use and more flexible system than we previously had.

The move has meant some change to how contributors to Comment Central blog. In future if you would like to blog here what you now need to do in the first instance is drop our social media editor, Gordon MacMillan, an email and we will set you up and account. After that you will be free to post as before.

AgencyUK Creates Tailor-made Campaign for Indian Sauces

The Spice Tailor

AgencyUK has teamed up with The Spice Tailor to promote their unique brand of Indian sauces in the UK and Australia.

Created by TV chef Anjum Anand, The Spice Tailor utilises authentic ingredients that can be ‘tailored to taste’ in a convenient, three-step cooking process.

AgencyUK was tasked with launching an above-the-line campaign for the brand, which encourages home cooks to quickly create their own dishes, tailored to taste.

The campaign of three press ads features visual coincidences that allude to authentic spices being ‘tailored’ into the sauces. Cumin seeds are represented as stitching, peppercorns become pinheads and slices of fresh ginger and turmeric resemble buttons. The campaign was created by Zane Radcliffe and Jamie Bush, and photographed by Bristol’s Kirstie Young.

‘Because this is the first above-the-line campaign for The Spice Tailor, it’s crucial that we get the brand name out there,’ said Radcliffe. ‘The creative idea visually dramatises the name The Spice Tailor in the coming together of tailoring and food preparation.’

The print campaign will be rolled out in retailer and consumer magazines, starting with the November issue of Sainsbury’s Magazine.

Putting the digital consumer at the heart of your brand

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All brands must evolve to survive and thrive, so in the marketing communications industry we naturally see the push for innovation taking place in the digital space. Most marketing directors, if pushed, would probably admit to briefing their teams at some time on a new mobile app or a campaign that utilises augmented reality, just because they want their brand to be perceived as ‘innovative’.

But truly innovative brands are able to redefine their relevance with their consumers and this isn’t built on gadgets and gizmos. It is built on useful and often surprising brand experiences.

So what does today’s digital consumer expect from a brand? Consumers expect brands to be relevant, useful and functional. This doesn’t mean throwing out the creativity, but it does mean getting everything that must work to work flawlessly.

1. Assess the experience

Today user experience (UX) is rather confined to the optimisation of web pages and funnels, but these principles should really be expanded to every touch-point where a consumer can interact with a brand, whether it’s online or offline. We often start by documenting every touch-point before assessing how these engagements deliver on the overall brand experience. Today’s multi-channel environment is infinitely more complex and automated, so it takes time to review the call centre, the web checkout, the CRM emails, the advertising and the social media channels.

2. What are the hygiene factors?

Web pages have to load on smartphones, enquiry forms have to submit, and checkouts have to process payments – quickly. These are hygiene factors. List the things that have to work and focus on them. A bad experience travels with social currency, but a good experience is usually a basic expectation.

3. Use tech to enable

Innovation is about being useful, a methodology that’s sometimes lost on marketers. So you can’t start by dictating the tech, ‘we need a mobile app’ or ‘we would like to use augmented reality’. If technology is the bedrock of a new campaign, then start by defining what it will do and how it will help your customer. Technology is its own stakeholder, ensure it has a meaningful and affordable role.

4. Be surprising

Always remember that people like to discover new things, and this is where innovation has an opportunity to shine. It’s in these moments that brands get to define themselves. Whether it’s a ground breaking advertising campaign that engages people in new ways or a new way of experiencing products, if it’s relevant, helpful and surprising then it’s innovative.

At AgencyUK, we pride ourselves on developing meaningful brand experiences that are enabled by new technologies. They’re effective because we believe today everyone is a digital consumer, and they must be placed at the heart of all brand communications. We encourage our clients and each individual in our organisation to think of themselves as an influencer, one who remains alive to changes in technology, trends and tastes. That’s how we remain innovative, on behalf of ourselves and our client brands.

It’s a holistic approach and a habitual one. It’s in our nature. And nature evolves.

This article originally featured in The Drum on 17th September 2015.

‘What does success look like?’


As featured in Insider Magazine

by Zane Radcliffe, Creative Director at AgencyUK, on the pursuit of commercial creativity.

When agencies sit down with our clients to write a creative brief, there is a critical question that should be asked at the outset. And I don’t mean ‘Who are we talking to?’ or ‘What is the single-minded proposition?’.

The one question that should be on every client brief is: ‘What does success look like?

The answer to this could be as cut and dried as: ‘Increase sales by 5%’. It could equally be: ‘See my brand stocked in Waitrose’, ‘Become the most talked about sandwich loaf on Mumsnet,’ or ‘Make petrol-driven propulsion obsolete.’

The point being that ‘commercial’ success can take many forms. It follows, then, that ‘commercial creativity’ can take many forms too. In a sense, the only thing that should matter is that your campaigns matter.

Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark recently argued that, in a socially connected world where more than five billion pieces of content are shared daily on Facebook alone, creativity is the key to distinguishing content as commercially effective:

‘Driving business results in terms of volume, revenue and profit growth are all critical to us, but it’s not where the story ends. It’s absolutely essential that we use creativity to fuel differentiation, engagement and (therefore) effectiveness in our work.’

Why is it, then, that ‘creativity’ and ‘effectiveness’ are so often regarded as mutually exclusive? I once had a client reject a campaign idea because he thought it would win me awards at the expense of winning him new customers. In other words, he thought the creative was strong and distinctive enough to be lauded by an awards jury (above all other competitors that year), yet somehow would fail to cut-through with consumers. Clearly he hadn’t read the IPA’s 2013 report that stated: ‘Creatively awarded campaigns are 11 times more effective than non-awarded campaigns.’

We work in a creative industry, yet there is still much suspicion around the word ‘creativity’. Creativity is a vain pursuit, a dark art conjured from gut, intuition and soft, immeasurable metrics, or so some believe. Commerciality, on the other hand, concerns itself with hard data and verifiable facts.

The truth, which I have experienced first-hand, is that the two are inextricable. As an advertising copywriter who founded a successful agency in Scotland, I had to wear two hats – those of ‘creative’ and ‘businessman’. For me to succeed, my commercial goals had to reconcile with my creative ambitions. And it became quickly evident that one fuels the other. I needed my work to ‘work’ for my clients and their brands, or my own agency brand would suffer. David Ogilvy, another copywriter with his name above the door, put it succinctly: ‘we sell or else.’

Clients and agencies should remember that we both want the same thing. You will not give your agency a brief unless you want to effect a change (‘Make petrol-driven propulsion obsolete’). Creativity is the tool your agency will use to precipitate that change and generate new thinking, new behaviours, new audiences and new experiences.

I’d call that a ‘success’.

AgencyUK top Digital Agency in the South West


AgencyUK (formerly The Agency) has been revealed as the top digital agency in the South West, according to The Drum’s Digital Census.

The prestigious piece of research produced annually by industry publication, The Drum, reviews the UK’s digital agency sector, taking a measure of its health and success over the previous year and providing a benchmark for clients.

Bath-based AgencyUK ranked fifth of all agencies with under 25 staff in the whole of the UK, and was the leading digital agency in the South West across all size categories.

Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director of AgencyUK said: “The South West has a strong digital skill base and has developed into a globally recognised tech hub, so we have some stiff competition. To rank first in the digital census is a proud moment for the entire team”.

The Digital Census provides the most comprehensive review of agencies supplying digital services, highlighting the key players in terms of financial success and client satisfaction. The census classifies agencies by digital staff size, meaning companies are ranked against only those of equivalent numbers of digital staff and ranks agencies according to criteria including Client satisfaction tables and Financial performance.

Of almost 200 agencies participating in the census, the majority showed positive growth over the most recent financial year, with fee income growth totalling over £188m.

AgencyUK launches new TV campaign for Welsh Lamb


AgencyUK (formerly The Agency) has released its first fully integrated TV-led campaign for Welsh Lamb.

The TV ad, entitled ‘First words’, launched on 2nd September and features the brand’s new strapline: ‘There’s lamb… and there’s Llamb’.

The action opens on three generations of a family enjoying lunch. The young boy announces ‘Lamb!’ when it is brought to the table and, while his doting mother celebrates his ‘first word’, his foodie father is less impressed, setting the boy straight on the provenance of ‘Welsh Lamb’.

‘First Words’ was written by AgencyUK creatives Zane Radcliffe and Jake Pole and directed through MTP by Damien O’Donnell, best known for his feature film East is East.

The TV ad is supported by outdoor, online and social content, including an innovative and interactive presence at key music festivals where event goers are given cards with ‘double L’ words on them – Llive, Lloud, Llandscape, Llove, Llaughs, Llush – and invited to capture and share relevant pictures featuring the words.

The ‘Double L’ campaign uses a letter in the Welsh language to celebrate the provenance of Welsh Lamb and distinguish it as a premium product in a category of its own: ‘There’s lamb… and there’s Llamb.’

‘Reclassifying Welsh lamb as ‘Llamb’ just seemed like a wonderfully simple shorthand that sets the brand apart,’ said creative director Zane Radcliffe. ‘We were tickled by the idea of taking a classic family moment – the shared joy in a child’s first word – and turning it on its head.’

The ad will be aired on a total of 26 varied satellite and cable channels including S4C, Sky News, Channel 5 and More4 for a period of six weeks, garnering over 15 million viewers.

The recipe featured in the TV ad is Welsh Lamb shank with Rogan Josh Ragout.

Award-winning The Agency rebrands as AgencyUK

The award-winning integrated marketing firm The Agency is entering a new era, with a complete rebrand and the addition of new flagship services.

From the start of September, The Agency will be known as AgencyUK. Founder and Managing Director, Sammy Mansourpour said:

“It’s a natural evolution for our business and one that better reflects our growth, our on-going investment in the very best people and our position as the UK’s No.1 Independent Agency.”

As well as a new name, logo and website, there are other changes afoot at AgencyUK, having recently opened an already thriving Social & PR division, headed up by the experienced and well-connected Lucy Aston, which embeds the true integration within the agency and completes AgencyUK’s vision of putting the digital consumer at the heart of all brand communications.

AgencyUK offers a full range of services from Strategy, Creative, Technology, Social & PR and Media.

Born in the midst of a global crash, The Agency was a small “crea-tech” shop that located itself in the beautiful but unlikely surrounds of Bath. Now The Agency has cemented its place as one of the UK’s fastest growing independent agencies by rebranding as AgencyUK. The company’s impressive trajectory has been fuelled by an early conviction that the digital consumer be placed at the heart of all brand communications.

“We set out with one clear aim, to create an integrated marketing communications agency built for the modern world,” explains Mansourpour. “We have achieved this by creating work that stimulates conversation at every point of contact.”

It is a guiding principle that has attracted an impressive portfolio of clients that number well-loved brands and what AgencyUK describes as ‘best kept secrets’, be they entrepreneurial businesses or more recognised ‘dormant’ brands in need of a refresh. British School of Motoring (BSM) falls in to the latter category and was an early success story for AgencyUK; “We overhauled their strategy, repositioned them as a youth brand, launched a top 10 iTunes training app and created huge operational efficiencies by introducing an optimised e-commerce website. Their business swelled 20% quarter on quarter.”

A flurry of awards followed, as did international recognition, and AgencyUK has grown to 30 people, billing over £3.5m. In May 2015 the company was ranked UK’s No.1 Independently owned agency by The Drum National Census, for the second year in a row. And under the reign of the AgencyUK’s recent appointment of award-winning Creative Director Zane Radcliffe recently earned the Creative team five category wins and a Grand Prix at The Drum’s annual creative shindig, The Chip Shop Awards.

“And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve scaled up our Tech, Strategy and Planning Services teams, allowing us to better embrace marketing automation, campaign performance and reporting, media planning and UX”, added Mansourpour.

It’s a growth story that continues apace, with AgencyUK recently adding Ladbrokes Bingo, Gigaclear and The Spice Tailor to a portfolio that includes Welsh Meat, BSM, Assurant, Almac and Quintiles.

“We love our independence and are committed to a truly collaborative partnership with our clients. Tech plays a huge part in todays marketing mix, and we were right to invest in these teams early on.

We believe the future will serve untold opportunities in mobile, marketing automation as well as brand experience. We have structured our agency for the future yet we always remain alive to change.” says Mansourpour.

Alive to change: a flexible approach to the ‘always on’ consumer

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All brands must evolve to survive and thrive. We’ve recently experienced a rapid period of evolution at the freshly branded AgencyUK (formerly The Agency), so we thought it appropriate to offer a few insights into the strategy that lies behind our own agency evolution.

For many, the past few years have shown signs of creative becoming increasingly commoditised. Digital is often the short-term answer to diminishing marketing budgets. Media convergence appears to have accelerated automation. And social can serve as a necessary, yet largely unquantifiable addition to the media mix. However, few can argue that an over-arching, well-coordinated brand experience is at the heart of most high performance brands.

But how can agencies keep our hands on the controls and navigate brands through an ‘always-on’ and ever-changing consumer landscape?

1. Be Integrated

Successful integration is more than just a floor plan. From day one – back in 2008 – our teams were set up to work intuitively and seamlessly, both on and offline, to create truly effective work.

By remaining lean, independent and flexible we are better placed to react, adapt and even predict changes in consumer behaviour, needs and wants.

Of course, one thing hasn’t changed. And that is the need to put the digital consumer at the heart of all your communications.

2. Be commercially creative

A big idea is a great idea, but people talk, share and collaborate more than ever before; spending their time amongst one billion Facebook users, watching four billion videos on YouTube every day and actively tweeting with 200 million people. In the UK, we divide our time across 11 media devices per household and choose to research products across 22 websites before making a purchase decision.

So the key to consistency is data intelligence, but commercial advantage is found in how a brand creatively applies it to their marketing.

Being commercially creative means two things: firstly, you need to be able to have great ideas that sell products. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you need to apply great ideas that enhance and protect brand image.

3. Be collaborative

We believe that in a successful 21st century agency, creativity must be found in every team and that includes our clients. Technologists are as close to user experience as strategists are to copywriters. Developing an effective agency service is about collaboration, and that’s why problems are better solved when the best minds are in the room. For some brands just getting the basics of marketing in place is still the priority, but for many it’s about maximising efficiency through effective collaboration.

We don’t believe the future is about rigid agency models, with roles so keenly defined that the result is akin to sterile, Swiss-like constancy. While such a model might be suited to offering brands ‘dependability’, the only thing you can truly depend on is the market outpacing, outfoxing and outgunning you.

At AgencyUK, we pride ourselves on our independence, which allows us to work collaboratively and freely in the best interests of our clients and our people. We encourage each individual to think of themselves as an influencer, one who remains alive to changes in technology, trends and tastes.

It’s a holistic approach and a habitual one. In other words, it’s in our nature. And nature evolves.

This article originally appeared on The Drum on 2nd September 2015. 

Welsh Lamb reach soars after The Agency’s Prince William Royal Burger PR stunt

Welsh Lamb

On 21st July 2015, Gareth Matheson, a former RAF Valley Chef revealed the top-secret recipe for Prince William’s favourite burger: The Royal Welsh Lamb burger. The stunt was orchestrated by Bath-based The Agency, the UK’s no.1 small independent marketing agency, who manage all consumer communications for Welsh Lamb. 

In just over a week, the stunt has resulted in widespread international media coverage for Welsh Lamb, with an OTS of 170 million which is growing every day. Coverage highlights include Loose Women, The Telegraph, two mentions in The Metro, Mail Online and The Times. Burger King even piggy-backed the stunt by delivering a bespoke lamb burger to Kensington Place. On social media, the story had 3,555,698 impressions and 1,820,758 accounts were reached.

The stunt came as part of The Agency’s summer campaign to raise awareness of Welsh Lamb. The Agency’s Social and PR team orchestrated the stunt by tracking down the chef who now resides in Bangor, arranging a photoshoot at the HCC stand at The Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells and ensuring appropriate branding at the location. The story and images were then distributed to the press that same afternoon. The ‘Royal Welsh Lamb Burger’ recipe was added to the Welsh Lamb social media channels consequently reaching 2 million accounts and was also uploaded onto

Social & PR Director at The Agency, Lucy Aston said:  “The ‘Royal Welsh Lamb burger’ story has really captured the imagination of press and public alike. There’s been so much interest in the recipe from around the world and across social media; the campaign has really put Welsh Lamb in the spotlight. The recipe is available now for everyone to make on their barbecues over the summer.”

Gareth Matheson cooked hundreds of meals for William and his colleagues over seven years at the Anglesey base. Gareth says although the Duke of Cambridge enjoyed a wide range of meals, his ‘Royal Welsh Lamb Burger’, which includes an unusual twist, was William’s absolute favourite. The ‘Royal Burger’ was unveiled to coincide with the second birthday of William’s son, George.

See the full recipe here.

The Bath Future Talent Programme launches

Bath Bridge

12 rising stars from Bath companies started their leadership development journeys this Tuesday (June 30, 2015) on a special, world-class programme to make more of the corporate talent in the city.

The initiative provides a premier development programme for a cohort of talented people who are seen as the future of their organisations. They are mainly aged between 25 and 35. They will be supported to take on business critical projects and responsibilities over the year that will deliver substantive value to their organisations and develop each participant’s innovation capabilities, leadership and project management skills.

The programme is organised by Bath Bridge, a community interest company concerned with positioning Bath as a place with a dynamic, beautifully inventive future, and it is masterminded by Lee Sears who has extensive experience in running such programmes for blue chip companies around the world.  Unusually, this corporate talent development programme is being run by people of the city, for businesses in the city, as a pro bono project with seven coaches and seven Bath Bridge directors giving their time.

Lee said: “The purpose is to provide a showcase developmental experience for people in the early stages of their careers, and equip them to become confident in acting as pioneers, innovators and change agents in their subsequent careers. Not only will they add value to their organisations, but the programme will create a powerful cohort that will enable a more connected business community across the city and send a message that Bath is a great place for talent to thrive”.

The Programme will be a blend of workshops, coaching support, mentoring guidance and project delivery. As well as taught modules and workshops throughout the year, each person will be supported by a personal coach and an external senior business mentor from the region.

The companies and organisations taking part are Curo, Gradwell, Mayden, Bath Rugby, Bath Rugby Foundation, Bath Spa University, Bath Mentoring Plus and Julian House.

Tarquin McDonald, Managing Director of Bath Rugby said:  “It’s fantastic to see Bath companies stepping up to this.  The programme will provide organisations in Bath with an unusually gifted vein of talent and really help Bath to become known as a magnet for talent”.

Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director at The Agency, also Bath Bridge Director, said: “This is a powerful and necessary initiative for businesses and young people in Bath, and it is fantastic that Bath Bridge has been the catalyst for such a scheme”.

What’s Your Story?



by Zane Radcliffe, Creative Director at The Agency

One of the first things we like to know about people when we first meet them is where they’re from and what’s their story. The same is true for brands. We refer to this as brand ‘provenance’; a word derived from the French ‘provenir’, meaning ‘to come forth’ or ‘originate’.

Which is all rather ironic for Kronenbourg, who last year fell foul of the UK Advertising Standards Authority for making claims about its ‘Frenchness’ that the brand could not substantiate. Parent company Heineken has appealed the decision, which would limit its ability to portray Kronenbourg as authentically French. If successful, the damage to the brand could be significant. After all, without a claim to a distinctively Gallic provenance, Kronenbourg is about as French as a McDonald’s fry.

This case highlights how provenance matters for brands, particularly in the food and drink sector, where it can provide a strong source of differentiation and, ultimately, competitive advantage.

Consumers value authenticity and will gladly pay a premium when the brand’s connections to origin run deep. Much of our industry research points to the fact that we put provenance before price and availability when shopping for food and drink. ‘Made In’, ‘Made By’ and ‘Made Since’ all matter. They have become the shorthand for all things consumers care about: quality, ingredients, health, animal welfare, environmental and labour concerns. In short, provenance equals confidence.

Of course, advertisers have known this for a long time. We’ve been handcrafting ads about provenance since 1623. Probably.

Even a humble bag of spuds can be covered in purple prose – often accompanied by a sepia-tinted photo of the very field from which they were plucked – in a bid to sell the unique provenance of its contents. Potato lovers aren’t merely buying the potatoes, they are buying into the farm, the field and the fingers that pulled them from the long-tilled earth. They are buying the story. Your story.

That does not mean you should instruct your agency to dress up your mutton as salt-marsh or black-faced lamb. Or that you enlist the services of Eric Cantona as your brand spokesman before you can prove that your Strisselspalt hops are grown in Alsace and not some greenhouse in Latvia. While there is a popular conceit that ‘all advertising is fiction’, the best and most effective advertising is invariably built upon truth.

If the consumer spots a hole in your story, their confidence in your brand can be obliterated. And digital consumers can be highly attuned to testing the veracity, or otherwise, of claimed provenance. From a communications perspective, brands simply need to get their stories straight.

Of course, many regulatory bodies and industry kite-marks exist to rubberstamp brand provenance. An unfortunate side effect of this is a proliferation of brands seeking to ‘flex’ the rules. Hence, our supermarket shelves are well stocked with ‘Greek-style’ yoghurt, ‘Belgian-style’ chocolate and ‘American-style’ pancake mix. Volvic piggy-backed the 2014 World Cup with a flavoured water ‘Inspired by Brazil’, surely stretching notions of provenance to their breakable limit. Unless you understand your core consumers and are absolutely sure that they’ll be similarly elastic in judging your brand, it’s a risky game to play.

Marketing begins and ends with your consumer. The digital consumer has a whole repository of tools to instantly gauge the strength of your claims and often a large audience to broadcast to, should they find your story lacking. It’s only worth you making origin a strong part of your brand marketing strategy if you understand their expectations about your brand category. Belgium works for chocolate. Not so renowned for pasta sauces.

If you’re a brand with strong provenance, leverage it and be truthful. For ‘comeback brands’, rediscover your heritage. For ‘new brands’, find your story. And if your provenance isn’t attractive – [Belgian Tagliatelle, anyone?] – don’t emphasize it.