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A Giant Step For PR

To the doubters.

To those who don’t think PR can add value.

Who think it’s just a bit of spin.

That communications directors don’t deserve a seat at the top table.

I give you two words.

Felix Baumgartner.

The man who climbed to the edge of space and jumped.

The worldwide media sensation who has shown what man is capable of.

And has proven how transformational PR can be for a brand.

Red Bull Stratos has achieved the holy-grail that brands everywhere are desperate to achieve.

Creating a global PR sensation.

It had over 200 global TV and 280 digital media partners who broadcast the live moment.

It smashed Youtube’s stats with 8 million people logging on to watch the jump.

It has been front page of national newspapers across the globe.

And a Twitter sensation with everyone from Arnie, Mike Tyson and Piers Morgan to NASA sending Tweets.

The world was literally watching as Felix jumped.

And guess what?

It was fueled by content-driven PR.

Red Bull is a brand that truly understands the power of storytelling through content.

They wanted Stratos to be a scientific endeavor on everyone’s lips and not just a PR stunt.

And TVC has been a partner to help achieve this.

We have helped develop an ongoing global PR and content programme for this mission; activating every story from the science behind Felix’s suit and capsule to each test jump Felix did.

We told the emotional story of the man behind the mission including his meeting with the then current record holder, Joe Kittinger.

And when the big day came, TVC had a team on the ground in Roswell helping to tell the world’s media about it.

Our job was to make sure when the big moment came that everyone was watching.

That they knew Red Bull was behind the mission.

And they understood why.

If we can learn anything from Red Bull Stratos it’s that PR works.

It’s that we’re no longer the poor relation to advertising.

We’re leading the way in brand communication.

And all it took was a man jumping from the edge of space to let us believe it.


The Brand Legacy.

What a summer!

It began with a spectacle by Danny Boyle and ended yesterday with a final victory parade through the streets of London.

It really has been the summer of a lifetime.

But as quick as it came – it has unfortunately gone.

And aside from the memories we are left us with one thing.


There’s been a lot of conversation about what London’s legacy will be.

Reigniting sport, regenerating an area and inspiring a generation seem to be the three key areas.

But what of all the brands that have been involved?

What will their legacy be?

There were 11 top tier worldwide sponsors, 7 London partners, 7 London supporters and 27 official providers and suppliers.

That’s over 40 brands.

And between them they invested an estimated £1Bn to be align with the Olympics.

And that doesn’t include any associated marketing activity – just the rights.

So what happens now it’s over?

Many of brands will simply move on.

They will be happy with their involvement but will already be on to the next thing – pursuing the shiny and new.

To me this approach doesn’t make sense.

Why invest all that time, effort and money in the summer of sport to then leave it behind when autumn arrives.

Surely Olympic sponsorship is more than just a large-scale badging exercise.

I believe the smart brands will use the success of 2012 as a platform for great things.

They will continue to invest in sport.

They will engage with sporting activity on a grass roots basis.

They will help our next generation get to Rio.

Most importantly, they will be aligned with the larger UK Olympic legacy story.

And I think the consumer will reward them for it.

Babies and the boardroom.

Marissa Mayer is big news.

The ex-Google executive is taking on the CEO role at Yahoo! and all the while openly admitting to being six months pregnant.

The media and social commentators have had a field day.

How will she cope juggling the boardroom with the playroom?

How quickly will she go back to work?

Won’t the child suffer as a consequence?

She has felt the need to reassure everyone saying; ‘My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.’

Presumably she can afford to have great childcare.

All these issues are being discussed but I don’t get what the big deal is.

Would the story attract the same attention if a man were to take on a senior role while having their first child?

Everyone knows that men take an increasing role in childcare when you both work (as I’ve learnt over the last 18 months having a child of my own) – it’s a joint responsibility.

So why is there such a furor when a woman does it?

I have spent my life surrounded by successful working mothers.

My grandmother worked her whole life while looking after three kids.

Her working spirit inspired my mother, who set up a business from her kitchen and 25 years on she is one of the North’s largest caterers (and in case you’re wondering, I had a happy childhood, have never been in therapy and am doing fine).

And she in turn inspired my sister who is now one of the UK’s most influential people in advertising – achieved while bringing up my four nieces and nephews.

Even closer to home, my wife is an award winning magazine editor, while being an amazing mum to our boy and we are expecting number two later this year.

So I can’t help but think, why is Marissa Mayer being pregnant even a story?

Maybe the answer is in the stats.

At the time of writing this, women make up just 15% of FTSE 100 boardroom positions.

It’s an improvement on previous years but there is a long long way to go.

Looking at our own industry, the PR stats are not much better.

According to the CIPR, the PR jobs market is dominated by women, who make up approximately 65% of the profession.

Yet the men in PR are more likely to hold a senior management or director position.

And it is the men who are twice more likely to be earning a salary over £50,000.

The math doesn’t really add up.

Times hopefully are changing.

The fact that Yahoo! is willing to employ a CEO who is so openly pregnant shows a massive shift in thinking.

Just 10 years ago, many women were hiding their pregnancies for 5 months for fear of reprisal from their bosses.

And now some are being recruited, whilst pregnant, to the top of the table.

I highly commend Yahoo! for selecting the best person for the job and for showing her wish to be a mother doesn’t mean she can’t also be an awesome businesswoman.

The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

It’s a fact that many women in their thirties want to have children – especially those who spent their twenties climbing the career ladder.

Working mothers need to be encouraged and not judged or the over 35 workplace is going to look very male-orientated and pretty grey indeed.

Let’s hope our own industry follows Yahoo’s lead.


Trench Power.

This week saw the very different news of Burberry and Aquascutum.

Two brands born out of beige trench-coats with a checked lining and rich British heritage – but one on the brink of going into administration and the other celebrating record profits of over £370M.

So what made the difference?

To me it is about the power of a brand.

Over the last ten years, under the watchful eye of chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, Burberry has rocketed ahead.

Their campaigns included many icons, such as Kate Moss, Aggy Deyn and even Emma Watson who they took from a teenage Harry Potter actor to a global fashion icon through their association.

And as a result the column inches followed.

Burberry was also the first luxury brand to truly ‘get’ digital marketing.

Early on they developed a stand-out digital platform with their ‘art of the trench’ photo sharing platform, which became a global sensation (partly thanks to collaborating with leading fashion blogger Scott Schuman – The Sartorialist).

They changed fashion weeks forever by live streaming runway shows and allowing shoppers to buy direct from the catwalk using iPads.

This constant innovation has resulted in over 12 million Facebook fans who they engage with constantly and fueled an insatiable demand for the Burberry brand across the globe.

It is no longer just about trenchcoats – but fashion, leather goods and accessories.

They are a brand that puts marketing and digital at their heart and the success has followed as a result.

Can Aquascutum be turned around and mirror this success through a new purchaser?

There is a growing global demand for British brands with a rich heritage across the globe so there is an opportunity for Aquascutum.

But this industry is now based on much more than just good product.

Aquascutum would need to become a brand with meaning that people want to be part of.

And this will only be achieved through solid investment, innovative thinking and engagement with a global audience.


We Are Connected

Last week I saw a new music video by Danny Shah.

You won’t know Danny.


He isn’t signed to any label.

He’s just passionate about making good music and does it from his bedroom.

Like many other musicians, Danny decided to put a clip onto Youtube of his first ‘single’, We Are Connected.

But the difference between Danny and most other budding musicians is he  created a cheeky ‘music video’, which included many of the planet’s leading popstars in it to show him ‘conneccted’ with them.

I saw the clip on Thursday and it had just 300 views.

Radio 1 DJ, Chris Moyles saw the clip soon after.

And he loved it.

So much so that he tweeted his 2million+ followers to tell them about it.

Hey people. Wanna see something cool..? Click here and watch. It’s very clever. Don’t know him but liked it.

And a few hours later he tweeted them again.

Much love for this clever video so here’s the link again He is @dannyshah. RT if you like it. #weareconnected

The result?

The video has gone viral.

It’s been viewed over 750,000+ times in just a few days and it will probably reach a million.

Danny is on his way to becoming an Internet sensation.

And he will probably get signed off the back of it all.

I think the song is good – but there are a lot of good songs and artists out there.

In the competitive world of music you need more than just talent alone.

You need buzz.

And this is a real case study that agencies can learn from about good content creation and the power of seeding.

I asked Danny Shah what he thought of everything that has happened.

He replied:

“Aaarrrrggghhhhh. This is totally mental. It’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me…”

I hope he does get signed.

He already sounds like a rockstar to me.


Here’s the link to Danny’s video, We Are Connected:


Why radio is still cool.

Radio is cool.


I said it.

We’ve all seen hundreds of infographics telling us why Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and friends are the cool kids on the block.

But we always forget little, old radio.

Often viewed as a poor relation in PR and advertising, radio is actually more like the quietly confident cousin that treads its own path.

It’s not in total decline like people think. Read More

A creative lesson.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting The School of Communication Arts (SCA) as a mentor to their students.

The SCA is a small school that is creating and shaping the next generation of advertising creatives.

And the school itself is a creative proposition.

Its course has been co-written by over 100 advertising practitioners in what may be the worlds first wiki-curriculum. Read More

Meeting Jimmy

I met up with Jimmy Wales for lunch

If you don’t know Jimmy, you’ll know his

He is Mr Wikipedia.

Read More

From Rap Star to Global Brand

I’ve always loved Dr Dre.

Growing up as a young, middle class Jew in suburban Manchester, his Gangsta rap was a natural fit.

My first encounter with Dre was through the NWA album, Straight Outta Compton with now-iconic tracks like Gangsta Gangta and F*ck Tha Police – which protested police brutality and racial profiling.

The music was controversial. Read More

The curse of the agency promo video

We’ve all been there.

Sat in a brainstorm.

Talking about how to promote the agency.

When someone comes up with the bright idea of doing a promo video.

And everyone then agrees it’s a good idea.

After all, content is king, and what better way is there to spread the agency’s message in a creative and interactive manner? Read More

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