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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.

Practically perfect appointment for AgencyUK

8.2.16 - Corsham.The launch a new one hour training programme by Norland Nannies entitled ‘Internet in Our Children’s World’ which aims to keep children safer online at Corsham Primary School. With pupils Evie year six (11) and Jake year five (10) arefrom left, Kerry Parker, head of school, Lauren Sherrin and Claire Burgess from Norland Nannies.Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

Award-winning communications firm AgencyUK has been appointed by fellow Bath brand Norland College to look after future PR campaigns.

Norland College has trained Nannies and Childcare professionals for over 120 years and appointed AgencyUK’s Social and PR team to handle the media launch of the college’s latest initiative, a training programme to help children stay safe when online.

Norland College has worked with Corsham Primary School in Wiltshire to develop a pilot training programme for teachers, teaching assistants, parents and children. ‘Internet in our children’s world’ was launched ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 9th February.

Unlike other training and resources offered in the UK, Norland’s training looks at internet safety from the child’s perspective. Once the pilot phase is complete, Norland plans to roll the training programme out nationwide. Norland College will also deliver the programme to its own students many of whom are training to be Norland Nannies.

Norland Nanny and Early Years Consultant at Norland College, Claire Burgess said:
“In a world where children are teaching adults how to use technology, how are adults able to safeguard children from this exposure? We want to strike a balance that keeps children safe without holding them back from using the internet altogether for educational and entertainment purposes.”

AgencyUK Social & PR Director, Lucy Aston added:
“AgencyUK is thrilled to be working with such a prestigious and respected brand as Norland College. We are all aware of the potential dangers for young people growing up in an online-saturated world. Internet safety when it comes to children is quite rightly a hot topic at the moment, and the training programme Norland has put together has been of great interest to the press.”

The news follows last month’s recent client win for AgencyUK, when it was appointed by founder and serial entrepreneur Mathew March-Smith to launch Pestle Herbs, his latest venture catering to the increasingly aware ethical consumer.

AgencyUK Appointed to Launch e-Tailer PestleHerbs.co.uk.

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AgencyUK have been appointed by founder and serial entrepreneur Mathew March-Smith to launch Pestle Herbs, his latest venture catering to the increasingly aware ethical consumer. Mathew has a string of successes under his belt, including a leading London digital agency and the much-revered PongCheese.co.uk.

PestleHerbs.co.uk is a unique online business that fills the retail gap for consumers who are looking to introduce a level of natural living into their everyday lives. AgencyUK have been appointed to develop the Pestle Herbs brand strategy as well as roll-out the new website user interface and all future Social, PR and advertising communications.

The website itself focuses on herbs, their unique properties when it comes to human health, as well as their role in everyday household items, from luxury products to cleaning aids. For example, visitors to the site are able to purchase herbs and the required ingredients that enables them to make their very own household cleaning products, or choose pre-packaged items for their convenience that have already been carefully vetted by the Pestle Herbs team.

Matthew March-Smith, Managing Director, Pestle Herbs, said:

“We have been aware for some time that there is a desire from many people in the UK to know and understand what is in their products and where the ingredients come from. It is a step towards a healthier way of life and independence from the conglomerates that might corner us in the supermarkets. Pestle Herbs is a place where likeminded people can gather. We needed an agency that understood our market, and AgencyUK are unique in their approach to digital consumer centricity. They also came recommended – and are a totally nice bunch!”


Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director, AgencyUK, said:

“We can see there is an active marketplace, and we already have considerable experience marketing to this consumer profile often referred to as Cultural Creatives. They are vocal, keen to learn, hungry for content and eager to share. So working with the Pestle Herbs team feels like a natural fit for us.”

The news follows a series of client wins for AgencyUK which span a number of industry sectors, such as food, drink, gaming and financial services.

Sammy M: Marketing trends to look out for in 2016

Trends

AgencyUK Managing Director, Sammy Mansourpour, looks to 2016 and discusses what trends he thinks will be big over the next year.

There are 3 big marketing trends currently underway and I think we’re likely to see significant momentum in the coming year, so it’s worth getting up to speed with them.

  1. Marketing Automation

or the “not-so-simple” dream combination of building your sales pipeline using software

Marketing automation has been largely pioneered by organisations like Amazon, and it’s the process of using software to nurture prospects and turn them into customers. It starts with building a prospects database – then you can use all sorts of communications from email to social media, all of which plug into the prospect journey over time.

The great thing about marketing automation is that there are now really affordable software platforms available, such as Marketo and Act-On.  It is becoming easier to integrate the principles of marketing automation into much smaller organisations, and you don’t need to sell online to be able to apply them.

However, marketing automation has become a bit of a buzzword, and getting it right takes time and lots of testing and applied learning. It works well with B2C but has a way to go before we see it relevantly applied to B2B.

But we’re sure to see some vast improvements in 2016 as the software becomes hardy and the knowledge base to set it up becomes wider.

  1. Programmatic Marketing

or “problematic marketing” for those brands who fail to keep up

Long gone are the days of finger picking TV media schedules and tactically buying advertising based on a negotiation over lunch at The Ivy. Today, the world of automation has seeped into media channels, where it is now possible to automate the buying, placement and optimisation of media inventory. Think Google Adwords but applied to everything. In fact Marketing Week has reported that UK programmatic marketing is receiving such significant investment that it is likely to increase to 66.2% (£1.8bn) of media placement in 2016. That’s 59% of the entire UK’s advertising spend, so it’s something to get on board with.

But for those brands failing to keep up, it’s going to get harder and harder to see the returns on their traditional marketing effort. So my prediction for 2016 is that many companies will start getting their ship in order, and we will finally start to see the back of traditional advertising, and instead integrating offline and online channels will finally start to make sense for most.

  1. Social Media

or it’s now all about “Content Curation” not “Content Generation”

Now that Social Media has been more appropriately segmented into Social Commerce, Social PR and Social Media Advertising, we can all finally start to make sense of the world, and the fact that Social Media is an effective way to build an “open source” database of prospects and customers.

But the past two years have seen brands clamber for control by coming up with news stories, comment pieces, thought pieces, blogs and even potentially “viral” content that is usually “zany” and “hopeful” before it crashes and burns.

The order we now have is that content is still linked to search rankings, but only if it’s useful and significant. So in 2016 I predict we will see far more brand managers thinking up ideas to generate really interesting and engaging content that’s meaningful and relevant. And when the sales team just want to bang out a few orders, then there’s room to seed a voucher or two and get those sales coming in. Thankfully we’ll see that work stream filed under Social Commerce, to eradicate any potential confusion with the quarterly results.

Bath artist creates AgencyUK’s Christmas card with festive songs hidden in snowy scene

AUK Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us and award-winning integrated marketing firm AgencyUK has commissioned local artist Kate Davies to create an interactive Christmas card.

The festive scene was hand painted by Kate Davies, an illustrator and watercolourist. Kate works from her studio at home in Colerne, Wiltshire to create beautiful, illustrative art with English charm and humour.

This year, Kate turned the AgencyUK Bath office  into a snowscape crammed full of Christmas musical chaos. 25 festive song titles are hidden in the scene ready for viewers to hunt them out. As part of the project, AgencyUK filmed behind the scenes creating a timelapse video of Kate in action using a GoPro Hero3 and Canon 550D.

Everyone is encouraged to visit the interactive festive mini-site (http://happychristmas.agencyuk.com/) to try and spot the 25 seasonal songs tucked away into the snowy scene. Sharing the image on social media will take users to a spotify playlist which reveals all of the featured festive tunes.

Zane Radcliffe, Creative Director of AgencyUK, said: ‘We wanted to create a Christmas communication that people could interact with, and have a little fun. Hiding 25 Christmas songs in a seemingly traditional Christmas card makes it as challenging as it is charming, and it’s something we hope people will share. Kate’s hand-painted watercolours are a lovely and endearing alternative to a lot of the digital design that we do.’

Kate Davies, artist, said: “I was delighted to be asked by AgencyUK to illustrate their Christmas Card this year.

They wanted a scene which featured the AgencyUK offices in Beehive Yard in Bath, as well as lots of snow and Christmas sparkle and 25 hidden Christmas Songs illustrated in the scene.  Agency UK’s Creative Director, Zane Radcliffe had done a lot of the hard work, choosing the songs and possible ways of portraying the songs in pictures.

I so enjoyed doing this illustration – it was right up my street!  I hope it brings lots of Christmas merriment, amusement, and joy (if not a little frustration as you try to work out just what are all the 25 Christmas Songs illustrated here??!)”

AgencyUK is hoping that hunting for the hidden answers will cause more fun than frustration this season and spread the Christmas joy – as well as a great Christmas playlist!

AgencyUK takes home prestigious Chairman’s Award at Drum Network Awards

AUKdrumnetworkaward

Leading integrated marketing agency AgencyUK has rounded off a successful year with five wins at the prestigious Drum Network Awards, including the coveted Chairman’s Award for its work with Welsh Lamb.

AgencyUK also took home awards for Agency Creative Team of the Year, Crisis PR Strategy, Food and Drink Campaign of the Year for its work with Welsh Lamb, as well as Southern Marketing Business of the Year for the third year running.

The Drum Network Awards held at the Emirates stadium in London are now in their seventh year and recognise excellence in agencies across the UK.

AgencyUK’s Social & PR division was established in April this year and the team has already won a number of new business wins including a Christmas campaign for charity Send a Cow, Ladbrokes Bingo and Wentworth Puzzles.

Social and PR Director at AgencyUK, Lucy Aston: “We are particularly thrilled to have won the Crisis PR campaign of the year for our work to promote Welsh Lamb during a ‘perfect storm’ of troubles. The strong pound as well as increased competition from overseas markets meant that farmgate lamb prices were  lower than in previous years.  Our ‘Royal Success Story’ campaign revealed the top-secret recipe of HRH Prince William’s favourite Welsh Lamb burger and generated 170 million positive opportunities to see a piece of coverage in just over a week, creating incredible consumer demand at a very difficult time for the industry.”

Philippa Gill, Brand Marketing Executive, Hybu Cig Cymru, responsible for promoting Welsh red meat said: “- We are delighted with the outcomes of AgencyUK’s campaigns this year. The results have not just come through in the awards we have received, but also in the engagement levels and enthusiasm from consumers for Welsh Lamb.”

Creative Director Zane Radcliffe is delighted with his team’s award. ‘We’ve put in place an entirely new creative team in 2015, bringing together experienced leading lights alongside some of the best young talent in the industry. We’re thrilled to have our work recognised so quickly on the national stage.’

The Network awards build on recent success at The Cream Awards, where AgencyUK  took home six wins from six nominations.

AUK Creates  ‘Panto Farm’ Mockumentary for Local Charity

AUK_SendACow_700x525

AgencyUK has launched an online Christmas film for Send a Cow, a Bath-based charity dedicated improving the lives of African families.

Panto Farm’ was shot as a spoof documentary concerning a rural cattle farmer who breeds pantomime cows for panto season. Assisted by his ‘principal boy’ Beth – sorry, Bob – he fattens up his herd on Brussels sprouts, takes them to the milking shed to learn how to milk applause, before auctioning them to theatre directors for magic beans.

The 80 second film invites viewers to ‘turn panto season into planting season in Africa’ by visiting sendacowgifts.org and gifting practical items – like seeds and tools – to help African families become self-sufficient. Between now and 31 December, all donations to Send a Cow will be matched £1 for £1 by the UK Government.

The spoof features actor Marc Danbury who has also appeared in Casualty, The Bill and the film, Johnny English.

‘It was a real team effort,’ explains AgencyUK Creative Director Zane Radcliffe. ‘To maximize budget, the agency and client teams had to literally muck in. Our Client Services director acted as producer. I stepped in to direct. AUK and Send a Cow personnel performed convincingly as the front and back ends of the cows. And we shot next door to the home of the agency owners.’

The team was ably assisted on camera and sound by Wow Video Productions.

Send a Cow’s Christmas catalogue is available in print and online. For more information go to www.sendacow.org or call 01225 874222.

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

Falk

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

Focus

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.