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AgencyUK top Digital Agency in the South West

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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

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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

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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 eatwelshlamb.com.

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?

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THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTHENTIC PROVENANCE FOR FOOD AND DRINK BRANDS

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.

Bath-based The Agency Rated No 1 Independent Marketing Agency in the UK

The Agency

After a recent wave of awards success, Bath-based integrated marketing firm, The Agency has been announced as the No 1 independent agency in the UK, according to The Drum’s annual national Agency Census.

The research, conducted in partnership with the prestigious Recommended Agency Register, ranks agencies on three metrics to provide measures of success – financial performance, client satisfaction and peer recommendations. The census highlights those with the best average rankings across all three, earning them the coveted ‘elite’ status.

The Agency is ranked as the Number 1 independent elite agency in the category of under 25 staff for the second year running. The Agency was also awarded the same accolade in 2014, the first time this was achieved by an agency outside London.

Managing Director of The Agency, Sammy Mansourpour said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded the UK’s no 1 small independent agency. The census is so much more meaningful than awards because in its assessment, peer review, client review and financial performance are all participating factors. The fact it has come for the second year in a row is even more unexpected, but testament to the hard work and dedication of our people and our client partners.”

The news follows a wave of recent awards success after it was announced this week that The Agency’s creative team has gained its record number of nominations in The Drum’s annual Chip Shop Creative Awards after their work was shortlisted in five categories. Last month, The Agency picked up the top award for Strategic Thinking at the prestigious RAR awards which are based entirely on client reviews, feedback and ratings.

@TheAgencyUK Shortlisted for Eight Industry Awards

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Integrated marketing firm, The Agency is shortlisted in eight categories at the leading Industry RAR awards.

Six Tips For Successful Integrated Campaign Planning by @TheAgencyUK

PlanningIntegrated campaign planning is more in-depth than just coordinating different media channels, and we are now seeing brand marketers apply integrated methodologies to their everyday campaigns as a matter of course. In the most part, digital interaction is at the centre of marketing campaigns and this is stark recognition that today’s consumer is well and truly a digital consumer.

So what does integrated planning actually mean? Integration is what draws together traditional media campaigns with a multi-channel approach. Invariably this means offering tailored brand experiences at every consumer touch-point, and this is what causes marketers the biggest headache.

Successful integration requires multi-channel media planning skills, performance tracking and data interoperation capabilities, the application of marketing automation platforms by competent tech folk as well as a keen eye on creativity and user experience design. It is no wonder that the multi-channel media campaign management market is predicted to be worth $2.7 billion within four years.

Here are our six top tips when creating an integrated multi-channel media campaign:

1. Recognise the audience.

Any well planned campaign starts with your target market. Even more crucial when deploying multiple media channels. So get to know your audience, understand exactly who they are and what they’re looking for. Research will help, even if it means testing audience reaction in a live campaign environment. Different media will infiltrate different audience segments, so research and testing can be isolated and personalised, but expect some crossover and develop your messaging accordingly.

2. Create a detailed plan.

It’s all well and good having a presence across numerous media channels, but without a detailed plan of what will be posted, where and at what time your entire strategy will spiral. Line by line planning is what most media planners are weaned on, and no campaign manager should go into battle without one. Your line by line plan can also be used to set the framework for your media channel tracking dashboard, comparing channel performance over time. Be sure that when you set your goals you always keep them at the back of your mind, when you post content, activate new channels and ultimately report to your stakeholders. Not everything will work, it’s as important to track and eliminate those that don’t as it is to back the ones that do.

3. Keep on top of the specifics.

Successful integration is about the detail, and it is key that that every member of your team stays on top of the specifics: what is being published, to which channels, when and how it’s being measured. Knowing your audience and knowing the desired outcomes of your strategy will help to inform these decisions, but it can be hard to know where everything is going so referring to the line by line plan is essential. It minimises mistakes and eliminates duplication.

4. Listen to everyone and everything.

Consumers are becoming more vocal, and it’s not just social media perpetuating this. Consumer power has generally increased exponentially. For many brands this presents disempowerment, but for those that reach out to their audience and look to resolve any issues in the public space by being transparent with their practices, has opened up new opportunities to strengthen their brand. Look at Dell, John Lewis, even Dollar Shave. So integrate your social channels with your customer services. You may be surprised by the positivity that filters through to discussion boards and review sites.

5. Be contextually relevant.

The joy of the digital channel is that we can update them at the click of a button, so there’s no excuse to be behind the times. It also means we can try things out and conduct some user based research in real time environments. People appreciate that brands are now as connected as they are, so in turn brands need to do as much as possible to stay relevant.

6. Be valuable and emotive.

Finally, the wants and desires of the modern consumer have changed. What consumers want more than anything nowadays is an emotional connection to a company which provides them real time value. Creative is still how marketers will tap into the emotions of their consumer market whilst delivering a message of value. Get this right and your brand can almost guarantee marketing campaign success.