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Posting on BR’s Comment Central blog

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 Appointed to launch Falk Outdoors’s new Tiger outdoor navigation system


AgencyUK has been appointed by Falk Outdoor, a leading German satellite navigation brand, to handle the European launch for their new consumer product, Tiger. AgencyUK was appointed following a competitive two-way pitch and the brief encompasses a new brand and market strategy for Tiger, as well as developing packaging, creative and web assets ready for their launch in supermarkets and retailers throughout Europe. Tiger is Falk’s first product designed specifically for the mass market consumer, providing an easy to use satellite navigation system for leisure users whilst walking and cycling.

“We are really excited about working with Falk Outdoor. They have fantastic capabilities with their maps and developments within their software. As a brand they are extremely well known in the German market, and Tiger presents us with an opportunity to really capitalise on their brand whilst taking mass market share” said Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director at AgencyUK.

Falk Outdoor has previously faced competition from brands such as Garmin and TomTom, but Falk’s track record, tenure in the satnav market and diverse b2c and b2b product range has meant it has stood the test of time and laid the foundation for future growth.

“We occupy a very competitive space in the market, and our products need continuous innovation to stay ahead of advancements in technology. Launching new products like Tiger helps us reach new customers who might recognise the Falk Outdoor brand but may never have owned one of our products” said Nikolai Kesting, Managing Director, Falk Outdoor.

This is the third new account for AgencyUK since September and is fresh off the back of #LloveLlamb, the new fully integrated national TV, advertising and social campaign for Welsh Lamb which is currently live. AgencyUK has also tipped the polls in the 2015 Drum National Census, being ranked the UK’s No.1 Independent Agency for the second year.

AgencyUK’s creative is judged cream of the crop

Cream Awards

AgencyUK’s creative team has returned from a successful night at the Cream Awards in Birmingham, earning six wins from six nominations.

With two Gold awards and four Silver, the night showcased the strength and breadth of AgencyUK’s creative product, with category wins embracing TV, posters and press.

The funny and disruptive ‘Station Posters’ campaign for Hornby – which featured spoof rail information announcements placed on real railway station platforms – won Gold for both outdoor campaign and 6, 4 or smaller sheet poster, and a Silver for copywriting.

Creative Director Zane Radcliffe explained: ‘We wanted to wrong-foot commuters with a campaign that not only celebrates the authenticity of the Hornby experience but captures its playful spirit.’

Other Cream Award successes included two Silvers for Indian sauce brand The Spice Tailor, recognised in Best Press Campaign and Best Consumer Press Ad. And our Welsh Lamb TV ad was also awarded a silver in Best TV/Cinema, ahead of Specsavers (Should have gone to AgencyUK!)

Zane added: ‘It’s particularly pleasing to win awards for three different brands, which is testament to the both quality and consistency of our creative solutions. We must also congratulate our clients at Welsh Lamb, Hornby and The Spice Tailor, for recognising and backing great ideas. ‘

The Cream Awards aim to showcase the best work within the Midlands, East, South West & Wales. Open to those working in the advertising, design and digital sector, the awards are a benchmark of the very best in creative and design in the region.

Last night’s success has added to an exciting week for AgencyUK who recently found out they have been nominated for six awards in this year’s Drum Network Awards. The team hope for further success in the following categories: Southern Marketing Business of the Year, Creative team of the Year, Social Campaign of the year, Food & Drink Campaign/Strategy of the Year, Experiential Campaign of the Year and Crisis PR Strategy of the Year. Results will be announced on 3rd December at the Emirates Stadium in London.

AgencyUK ‘in pieces’ over success of the first ever National Jigsaw Day

Chris Evan's NationalJigsawDay

Last week the inaugural National Jigsaw Day was celebrated around the UK. The campaign was orchestrated by Bath-based integrated marketing agency AgencyUK on behalf of client, Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, who recently appointed the agency to look after an integrated Christmas campaign.

AgencyUK’s Social & PR team devised a campaign which celebrated the simple pleasure of the jigsaw in our digital age. The activity included registering the first ever National Jigsaw Day to be held on 3rd November, securing news and Christmas Gift Guide coverage, blogger outreach, press gifting of a limited edition National Jigsaw Day puzzle, and social media activity, including an hour long Twitter party.

Over the course of National Jigsaw Day (3rd Nov), the campaign gave customers over 20 million opportunities to see or hear a piece of coverage in just 24 hours. The highlight of the activity included the head “jigsaw cutter” at Wentworth Puzzles, Steve Hoare, featuring as the mystery guest on the Chris Evans Radio 2 breakfast show to an audience of over 9 million, and the show’s music tracks themed around jigsaws. Other coverage included Wentworth Puzzles’ Marketing Director, Sarah Watson, featuring on BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Suffolk, coverage in both the print and online version of Daily Express and Yours magazine.

The #NationalJigsawDay hashtag trended at 1:40pm across the UK and had over 3.5 million impressions in 24 hours, reaching over a million accounts. This also led to almost a 1000% increase in traffic to the Wentworth Puzzles website from the twitter page for the day.

Now Wentworth’s Christmas campaign turns to delivering Christmas Gift guide coverage across national and lifestyle titles, and running a search for the first-ever ‘Minister for Jigsaws’ who will be recruited by Wentworth Puzzles to test and help design new jigsaws. You can find more information about this here.

National Jigsaw Day kick-started AgencyUK’s fully integrated Christmas marketing campaign for Wentworth Puzzles, the world’s leading wooden jigsaw maker. The TV ad created by AgencyUK will air on 16th November, and print advertisements have been rolled out across daily national newspapers and glossy monthly magazines from the 7th November.

Social & PR Director at AgencyUK, Lucy Aston said: “Timed perfectly, just after the clocks changed and as the nation begins to legitimately think about Christmas, National Jigsaw Day has reminded people of the simple pleasure of doing a jigsaw in a very device-focussed world. The campaign really put the spotlight on Wentworth Puzzles and cemented their place as the leading wooden jigsaw manufacturer in the UK. The reaction we got from ‘jigsaw-lovers’ across the UK and on social media was incredibly heart warming.”

Sarah Watson, Marketing Director at Wentworth Wooden Puzzles said: “We have been blown away with the success of the campaign. On National Jigsaw Day, we had our highest volume of web traffic in our Company’s history and an increase of 435% on our year on year online sales revenue. We hope to build on the success of National Jigsaw Day for 2016.”

How to keep commercially focused in an agency/client relationship


by Amy Stobie, Commercial Director at AgencyUK

Organisations invest in marketing because it has the power to create value for their brands. And the work agencies are commissioned to undertake for these brands is becoming more measurable by the day. When marketing communications works it’s the most powerful way to quickly build a base of customers and drive sales. But that’s not to say that agencies and their campaigns can work in isolation.

Most agencies today aim to be as commercially viable as possible – mindful that they are engaged with clients and their brands in their world, and their goal usually centres around making a profit. Historically for advertising agencies this was a concept seen as foreign, out of kilter with a creatively flourishing ecosystem. But times have changed. Now the most valuable client/agency relationships are based on clear commercial understandings. It’s an obvious thing that successful agency work will build client trust, build agency reputation and bring other greater mutual benefits. Most agency owners I know subscribe to the “if you grow, we grow” partnership model.

So being “commercially focused” is the key and it starts by getting your agency teams to think commercially on behalf of your clients, understanding risk allocation, developing strategic partnerships, and applying commercial expertise when meeting their business objectives.

With this in mind, here are my top tips to keep you and your team commercially focused, and your client/agency relationships strong.

  1. Understand risk allocation
    Often overlooked in smaller agency outfits and particularly pertinent when working on projects within your team that involve third parties, it’s critical to be able to understand and evaluate where the project risks lie. If you understand them you can fairly and equitably allocate them between your client and your agency. Understanding the risk ensures alignment of both your expectations, and it enables accurate and reasonable pricing of risk.
  2. Implement a peer review process
    No matter how senior the individuals are or how strong their commercial acumen skills are, it is human nature to make mistakes. Therefore when costing up projects or preparing a proposal it’s important to get someone independent to commercially evaluate your work.
  3. Understand how your business and your clients make money
    The main objective when pricing a proposal is to ensure it is competitive as well as providing you a reasonable return. It’s also important to understand the pricing models that your clients/suppliers use to make money as this will enable a commercial assessment of whether they’re making fair margins and if the services they’re providing represents fair value for you.
  4. Manage your projects to deliver on agreed outcomes
    Agencies over deliver, and usually take pride in it. But that’s not always good business and a reasonable balance needs to be struck. After you’ve planned your project for success it’s essential you ensure all the good work that was done upfront isn’t lost during the project delivery. It is critical to define and assign roles and responsibilities. Find alignment in each of these between you and your client’s team. Remember to continuously measure and monitor the outcomes to ensure you stay on track.
  5. Keep your end goal in mind
    Knowing the big picture for your agency is as important as understanding your clients’ business. Use this to understand the higher level strategic objectives and find alignment between them.

Wentworth Wooden Puzzles appoints AgencyUK to handle Christmas campaign


Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, the world’s leading wooden jigsaw puzzle company founded in 1994, has appointed AgencyUK to help develop its consumer acquisition strategy and launch its Christmas advertising campaign. The appointment follows a 3-way pitch that included a high level strategic approach for scaling the company’s domestic and overseas sales.

Wentworth developed the technology for automated manufacturing of some of the most intricate wooden jigsaw puzzles on the market, and over the years developed a loyal consumer following, engaged by their rapid product development and exciting range of puzzles for adults and children. As the direct to consumer business has exceeded their annual targets, the successful integration of their online and offline marketing has become a vital component, linked directly to their scalability as a business.

“AgencyUK presented a compelling strategy for supporting our company’s rapid growth, much of which is coming from export sales. We have confidence in their commerciality, creative prowess and analytical judgement when it comes to multi-channel campaigns” says Sarah Watson, Marketing Director, Wentworth Wooden Puzzles.

AgencyUK have worked closely with a number of similar companies in the past, such as Eaglemoss on their Marvel chess collections and the London Mint Office on their Waterloo 200 commemorative medals. Both organisations saw significant returns on their online and offline campaigns once an integrated strategy had been adopted.

“Wentworth Wooden Puzzles are an innovative manufacturer using some really exciting laser technologies to produce complex and challenging wooden jigsaws. They can even do one off personalised pieces. Our job is to find new ways of accessing their niche target audiences and helping them to grow their customer base profitably, and online is the key to that” says Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director, AgencyUK.

The news of the involvement follows a number of high profile account wins for the recently rebranded AgencyUK (formerly known as The Agency). AgencyUK have also been ranked the UK’s No.1 Independent Agency 2015, the second time it has been awarded to them by The Drum National Census.

How to avoid social media campaign fails


by Laura Farrington, Social & PR Executive at AgencyUK

For many, social media seemed to appear overnight, and therefore somehow gained a reputation of being a fad or unprofitable marketing tool. But the huge potential of social media marketing is now becoming more recognised and social media is shifting from novelty to purpose. With 72% of all internet users now active on social media, and 93% of shoppers buying decisions being influenced by social media, it is impossible for brands to ignore social media’s potential to increase their sales.

Although social media is now a necessary component of most marketing strategies, brands are still making silly mistakes in their approach. Just one ill-timed or insensitive tweet can damage a reputation and waste resources when trying to fix damage, or a hijacked hashtag can gain momentum and even negative press.

The best way to avoid this is to treat your social media as you would any other part of your business – with planning and strategy taking the centre stage. Here are a few tips on what to consider when looking at your social media campaign:

  1. Keep your business objectives at the forefront of your social strategy

Look closely at your company’s business strategy and decide how using social media will help you reach your goals. You might want high levels of engagement, but be aware of your brand’s “shop window” that will appear whether a consumer is following and interacting with you or not. Your social media objectives should add to or assist your overall marketing objectives in some way.

  1. Understand what followers want from you

“Interesting content” is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media. Users check Facebook 14 times a day, and if you’re lucky, they might just come across some of your content and want to share it with their friends. Snack-size content is becoming more and more popular as our minds want smaller, faster and easily digestible information. The more “snackable” your content, the more sociable it will be and therefore will produce better results for your campaign.

  1. Understand you’ll have to invest

Investing in social needs time, and in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “time is money”. Many brands still look for a quick fix when it comes to social media, but what you want to do is to build your brand online and advocate your company culture and values. To maximise social opportunities, brands need to invest. But rest assured that your investment is worthwhile. Paid Twitter and Facebook advertising are particularly cost-effective; out of all ads in history they offer the lowest cost per 1,000 impressions. And you can accurately monitor the ROI in real-time, and amend your approach in line with the results to maximise the ROI.

  1. You need to be reactive or ‘always on’

Being responsive can mean tailoring your content to the broad reactions of millions of people just as much as having to reply and engage with every consumer who comments on your activity. If brands are only driving scale during campaign spikes, then they’re not delivering on building a trustworthy social community for their consumers. You want to keep consistency all year round. Social media is 24/7 and consumers have come to expect immediate responses from brands; research shows that 42% of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within 60 minutes.

  1. Look to the future

Finally, you need to keep up to date with what could be the next big thing in the social world. Do you need to look into Periscope or invest in an influencer who will promote your brand on YouTube? Among the largest social media sites, YouTube drives the most highly engaged web traffic. You need to keep reading and following up on the latest in social media.

Focus your social platforms on long-term relationship building to build brand momentum and loyal customers and plan ahead to avoid any nasty surprises.

AgencyUK earns six nominations in the 2015 Cream Awards


The Cream Awards aim to showcase the very best work within the Midlands, East, South West & Wales. Flying the flag for the South West, AgencyUK has received an impressive six nominations in categories that include best TV/cinema advert [Welsh Lamb], press campaign [The Spice Tailor], outdoor campaign [Hornby], copywriting and item of self promotion.

Open to those working in the advertising, design and digital sector, the awards are a benchmark of the very best in creative and design in the region. The nominations have added to a successful year for AgencyUK’s creative team who won four category awards along with the Grand Prix award at 2015’s Chip Shop Awards.

Creative Director Zane Radcliffe said: ‘We’ll keep our fingers crossed for a successful evening in Birmingham. We’re quickly building a formidable creative reputation at AgencyUK and this is well-deserved and hard-won recognition for the fantastic talent I have in my team.’

The results will be revealed at the Jam House in Birmingham on the 11th of November where each nominee will find out if they are a lucky gold, silver or bronze winner.

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

AUK HEARTresized

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’.