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Planning, managing and celebrating #TheMoment with Glasgow 2018

Planning, managing and celebrating #TheMoment with Glasgow 2018

After 11 days of incredible sporting action, the inaugural multi-sport European Championships drew to a close on Sunday evening. Titles were won and lost, world records smashed, and we were right in the thick of it.

Stripe’s work on Glasgow 2018 started way back in February last year. Our first task after being appointed as the Championships’ digital agency was to set out a unique strategy to reach sports fans, families and the local community in the run up to the Championships, to generate awareness and help people understand what this new event was all about. With a focus on organic and paid social we set this strategy in motion, engaging these audiences and encouraging them to help us bring #themoment to life, starting with the first of our key milestones: 500 days to go.

In the 500 days that followed we delivered some amazing work: created thousands of assets; planned and published posts across Glasgow 2018 profiles; produced films for online and TV; launched the official mascot Bonnie the Seal; recruited volunteers; live streamed with athletes and ambassadors; ran over 200 hundred social ad campaigns; measured and reported on all digital activity; and a whole lot more besides.

With Glasgow 2018 marking the first time that the six featured sports have come together to hold their European Championships, we needed to constantly analyse, evaluate and evolve our approach. Established multi-sport events like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games and recent single sport events here in the UK like London 2017 offered insight into what can work to engage sports fans and non-fans alike, but a new format presented new challenges.

We knew that the awareness and understanding piece of our work was going to be a much bigger challenge than that faced by other events and we weighted our strategic focus accordingly. This meant conducting a detailed research piece at the outset, really digging in to the conversation about other events, Glasgow as a host city, and the individual sports. We profiled our domestic and international audiences, segmenting our tactics for each based on all our findings to help us tailor both organic and paid social activity.

We also developed a bespoke measurement framework specifically for Glasgow 2018 that allowed us to evaluate activity in terms of not only the awareness and engagement benefits, but also hard metrics such as sales for ticketing campaigns. By combining in-built social platform insights, website analytics including UTM tracking, social listening tools, custom attribution modelling and enhanced ad reporting thanks to employment of the Facebook pixel, we’ve been able to accurately measure everything we’ve done and consistently deliver results.

Throughout the journey to the Championships, our priority was balancing of great creative with great insight: delivering brilliant ideas and content that really resonates whilst ensuring we were able to measure the value of what we do and provide genuinely useful insight that helped the combined Glasgow 2018 and Stripe team push things forward. As the Championships themselves kicked off two weeks ago, our day to day activity changed but not the way we worked.

On the 1st August we changed gear and moved to near round-the-clock measurement and monitoring of conversation surrounding the Championships, seven days a week. For twelve days we tracked key conversations, influencers, opportunities and issues. We watched Adam Peaty break another world record and set Twitter alight, we shared the home crowd’s disappointment when Ross Murdoch just missed out on a medal by the narrowest of margins, and we celebrated when Laura Kenny’s comeback led to a well-earned gold (and a mention from Elton John).

The Stripe team was responsible for gathering data and insight on all online discussion in real time and delivering reports at regular intervals each day, as well as spotting and working up reactive content and creative opportunities to maximise impact during the Championships.

Now that the event is over, all that’s left is to reflect on an amazing 18 months of preparation and hard work that resulted in one heck of a payoff. We’re still pulling together our wrap up report of everything that’s happened since that first milestone campaign, but we already know for sure it’s going to point to a hugely successful event and we’re so proud we got to be a part of it.

Trump embassy visit: Using fake news to make news

Trump embassy visit: Using fake news to make news

On Friday 12 January, the world woke up to the news President Trump had cancelled his visit to the UK, originally scheduled for February, citing the US embassy in London as his reason for the change of plan.

For many, it was just another ill-advised tweet from Trump. For us, it turned into the perfect newsjacking opportunity, putting Madame Tussauds London front and centre of the international news agenda and giving the people of Britain what they were promised – Trump.

As other people began arriving at their desks, we’d already pitched the idea of taking Donald Trump’s wax figure to the US Embassy. Whilst domestic and international media descended on the London Embassy, we would bring them what they really wanted – the most infamous man in global politics.

The first call was to our friends at the Press Association, to validate they’d be interested and to package our content. Was it something they’d be interested in? Obviously! Next, the amazing Madame Tussauds PR team sprang into action, getting Donald’s figure out of the world-famous attraction and ready for his moment in the spotlight with only a moments notice. There’s nothing better than a client that works fast and shares your vision, just as determined to make it happen as we were.

As we arrived at the now infamous (and amazing!) US Embassy we were greeted by the world’s media. Our number one priority was to protect the wax figure, then to give everyone the shot they wanted when we were ready for them. Not easy surrounded by over 100 people. In fact, before we’d even had the chance to fully unveil the uncanny likeness, photographers were snapping and members of the public were trying to capture their selfie.

We stayed outside the embassy for 30 minutes – in that time we did live broadcasts with BBC and Sky News, we facilitated interviews with Washington Post, CNN and Al Jazeera and we dealt with the courteous Metropolitan Police who had been notified of the media scrum. We drafted media comments, quotes and news alerts within the space of 20 minutes.

CNN Trump Tweet Madame Tussauds Stripe

While we were busy working to finalise the stunt, a social media storm was taking place. Our content was being shared by major news outlets, publishers, celebrities and influencers across

Trump madame tussauds wax work Stripethe globe. And all of it positive, congratulating Madame Tussauds London for their wit, satire and speed of reaction to deliver this moment. Highlights included CNN, Mashable, Sophia Bush and The Poke. Then came the Twitter Moment, a personal career highlight!

Brands clamour to create newsjacking opportunities but few succeed and only a handful have succeeded to this scale. Four words define successful newsjacking: Relevance. Timeliness. Simplicity. Distribution. We take for granted that this was a simple activity to execute, but its simplicity is only driven by a well tuned and tried and tested approach to capitalise on these moments when they arrive. Use the media to craft your story, don’t second-guess them. Build strong relationships so that they become a sounding board to deliver them what they need, how they need it.

Madame Tussauds London was featured on the six o’clock news across BBC, Channel 4 News, ITV and Sky News, was covered internationally on CNN and Al Jazeera – as well as securing front page of Saturday’s The Times. Despite this, it was the social content, both earned and owned, that delivered above and beyond what we had hoped for.

How often are we asked to make something go viral? Well, this time we did it. With over 24,450 online mentions and over 27m impressions within a 48hour period, it may have been a bad day for Trump, but it was a good day for Stripe and a GREAT day for Madame Tussauds London.

Craving experiences

Craving experiences

Last month, Madame Tussauds London launched Alien: Escape, a terrifying multi-sensory experience, developed with one of the most genius creative companies in the world – Creatures Inc. When we first began working on Alien: Escape, I didn’t know what to expect. Isn’t that the beauty of working in PR though? You start a project with no previous knowledge and by the end you’re an absolute pro – whether it’s a video game, a food product, a documentary, or an experience inspired by a popular film franchise.

Alien: Escape is a multi-sensory experience, which follows the release of the critically acclaimed blockbuster film, Alien: Covenant and challenges guests to navigate a trail of blood, gore, chaos and danger. The mission is simple: Run. Survive. Escape. It is also the most terrifying experience Madame Tussauds has ever worked on, with a recommended age of 15+. If you don’t believe us, you can see how terrifying our celebrities rated it at the launch event.

Madame Tussauds London introduces Alien Escape
Michael Fassbender Alien Covenant

But why do we need them? Are we craving new experiences more than ever before meaning that we no longer need material belongings? Not really. In my opinion, we are still very much a commodity focused society. We love our products and we definitely like to show off with them even if we don’t admit it.

And because we love our products so much, they have been made much more accessible for us. In Western societies, it seems almost unreal to own an iPhone with a model starting below the number 5. No really, who has iPhone 4 anymore? The market is overly saturated and since we all use similar brands and products, we have changed the focus and become much more ‘spiritual’. We’re frantically looking for things to do, because we have everything.

Certain brands have realised this social trend and have adapted accordingly. Snapchat and Instagram are all about experiences – capturing places, people and things we have seen. Facebook has added a permanent “Feeling (happy, excited, tired, sad etc.)” to our status updates.

Any forward thinking brand that seeks leadership in its sector has to realise the potential in triggering some sort of emotion – whether this would be comfort, loyalty, excitement or fear. Madame Tussauds London has definitely raised the bar with getting its audience to show fear with their horrific new Alien: Escape.

ScottishPower appoint Stripe to UK PR and communications brief

ScottishPower appoint Stripe to UK PR and communications brief

Fantastic news! We’ve been appointed by ScottishPower to support its PR and communications across the UK.

Following five years of working closely with ScottishPower, we will continue to provide strategic campaigns to promote ScottishPower across CSR, sponsorship, retail, SME, renewables and SP energy for the next two years.

Simon McMillan, Head of Media Relations at ScottishPower, said: “We operate in a competitive marketplace so it’s essential that ScottishPower stands out. Stripe’s commitment to matching our requirement for excellence in supporting all our campaigns has again set them apart from the crowd, and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with them.”

Juliet Simpson, CEO and Founder of Stripe, said: “We’re thrilled to have retained such an important piece of business. It is testament the strong relationship which we have worked with ScottishPower to develop that they have shown their continuing confidence in our values and approach. As leaders in delivering sustainable and greener energy, this is an exciting time for ScottishPower and they have a strong and differentiated narrative platform for us to work with. We’ve really enjoyed working with the team over the past five years and are looking forward to the next stage of our journey with them.”

The Best of Burns Night 2017

The Best of Burns Night 2017

Yesterday evening saw all the MacDonald’s and MacDougall’s, Campbell’s and Cameron’s and all those with the slightest inkling of Scottish heritage celebrate one of the foremost aspects of Scots’ culture.

Every year, parties gather from Anchorage to Adelaide, Santiago to Seoul to boldly Address the Haggis. It’s also another perfect excuse to cross arms, join hands with your fellow Scots and revel in Auld Lang Syne once more, having most likely belted out the same tune just weeks ago at Hogmanay.

Burns and Scottish culture can, and has been celebrated, in a whole host of ways. Here are some of my favourite moments from brands and organisations marking #BurnsNight2017

Up first, the UK’s leading haggis producer, Macsween of Edinburgh, created Haggis Watch for their social media channels which saw gamekeeper Archie go on the hunt for the mythical creature that is haggis. Burns is a time for celebration in Scotland and Macsween wanted to have some fun with it and show the diversity of Haggis. A great series of video content.

The quintessential Scottish brand, IRN-BRU, celebrated Scotland’s bard in their own inimitable way with a poem dedicated to our national ginger drink.

But a spotlight on us Scots doing things differently goes to Universities Scotland, who held a Burns Night with a twist. The body that represents all nineteen higher education institutions in Scotland hosted students from over 180 countries to celebrate the richness, diversity and strength of Scottish culture. Guests were invited to attend the event at Edinburgh Corn Exchange in their home countries’ national dress. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there to welcome guests, stating that if Robert Burns were alive today, he would celebrate the diversity and culture of Scotland. The event was used to launch Universities Scotland’s latest campaign #ScotlandWelcomestheWorld. An evening to remember and a campaign to look out for!

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Finally, we spotted Scottish designer, Anna McManus, re-imagining Burns as a modern Trainspotter in the mould of Begbie, choosing tracksuits, choosing Buckfast, choosing life. Timely and quite simply, fantastic!

This year, us Scots continued to mark the 25th January with a bit of humour, a whole lot of celebration and a reminder of our inclusive and diverse culture. Now for next year!

 

UBISOFT UK APPOINTS STRIPE FOR CONSUMER AND CORPORATE PR BRIEF

UBISOFT UK APPOINTS STRIPE FOR CONSUMER AND CORPORATE PR BRIEF

We are delighted to announce that we’ve been appointed by Ubisoft UK as the retained agency for its consumer and corporate PR, working alongside the in-house PR team. Our brief is to deliver creative PR communications plans supporting all of Ubisoft’s major video game launches in the UK including Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Watch_Dogs 2 and South Park: The Fractured But Whole. In addition to this, we’ll support the French video games giant with corporate positioning and issues management in the UK.

Ubisoft logoThe account will be managed by our London office and will report in to the Ubisoft UK marketing and PR team with work having commenced from June 2016.

Mark Slaughter, Ubisoft UK Marketing Director, said, “Stripe have demonstrated a quality of creative thinking that will deliver real impact to our national campaigns this year. The team showed strength in that they could not only deliver great product campaigns but also help us realise our ambition to be recognised as one of the world’s leading entertainment brands.”

Stripe’s London office is headed up by Managing Director, Chris Stevenson, who joined in January 2016 and has overseen the rapid growth of the agencies client roster which includes Magners, Paddy Power and now Ubisoft.

 

Creating an ‘offal’ stir: Burns Night with Macsween

Creating an ‘offal’ stir: Burns Night with Macsween

I’ve spent the last three months in a haggis whirlwind. Tasting, researching, delivering, analysing, pitching, writing, and even dreaming about the iconic food stuff made famous by the 18th century Scottish poet. This is what happens when you’re working with Macsween, pioneers of Scotland’s national dish, in the run up to one of the most important periods in their retail calendar, Burns Night on 25th January.

In the fickle and fast paced world of product communications, creating a strong seasonal story is more competitive than ever as brands vie for the same space and media attention. As communications consultants, it’s our job to get underneath the skin of the brand (or haggis in this case) to understand our clients’ objectives and how these translate into stories to reach the right target audiences at the right time. It isn’t enough any more to be the market leader and have a good quality product – to make headlines, you have to have a strong narrative to back it up and get people talking.

The brief for this project was straightforward – how were we going to make a splash around Burns Night, own and ‘premiumise’ the occasion and ultimately help sales to soar?

Our solution – launch the world’s most expensive haggis to highlight Macsween’s commitment to creating only the most delicious, hand-crafted products.

As you can probably imagine, launching a one-off gastronomic masterpiece such as this doesn’t happen overnight. It requires weeks of planning and working closely with the marketing and product development teams client-side to build something worthy of a story; no small feat. In the end, the talented and imaginative team at Macsween concocted a real culinary showstopper – a 3.7kg haggis consisting of Highland Wagyu beef, white summer truffle and edible gold leaf with a £4,000 price tag.

 

Macsween Haggis Coverage

 

Once the product was in place, it was then a matter of developing simple yet effective supporting assets to bring it to life across multiple channels. Like all seasonal stories, timing was key. With January 25th falling on a Monday this year, we needed the story to land before the weekend, targeting shoppers and putting Macsween top of mind for Burns revellers.

The luxury haggis has made headlines across the world, reaching as far as the US, demonstrating that even within the competitive and complicated landscape of brand communications, simple stories are still relevant and can sometimes create the most impact. The power of haggis should never be underestimated.

Flashback Friday: remembering Glasgow 2014 & IRN-BRU

Flashback Friday: remembering Glasgow 2014 & IRN-BRU

We’re feeling a little nostalgic this morning. A year ago today we met Jock, the star of the show at Glasgow 2014. We presented him with his new IRN-BRU tartan coat and introduced him to his adoring fans at the IRN-BRU Store.

What an amazing few weeks for Scotland. And amazing 12 months since then…thanks to all our hard work we have picked up a flurry of awards including two golds at the Marketing Society Star Awards and a Gold for Consumer Relations at the PRCA Dare awards.

Stripe gets pretty muddy with ScottishPower & CRUK

Stripe gets pretty muddy with ScottishPower & CRUK

As you all know, here at Stripe we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. This was proven yet again at the weekend as we spent the day with broadcaster Cat Cubie and brave cancer survivor, Kate Bowman, to support 300 ScottishPower employees who took part in Race for Life’s Pretty Muddy event in Glasgow to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Cat offered her support to highlight the important role that fundraising plays in helping to beat cancer sooner. The broadcaster and columnist knows first-hand the importance of research, having lost her grandmother to breast cancer. She was joined by brave cancer survivor and former Motherwell FC cheerleader Kate Bowman, who discovered she had a rare form of cancer when she was just 23.

Cat and Kate supported ScottishPower’s army of fundraisers and started them off as they began the Pretty Muddy event to raise money to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. ScottishPower has already raised £7 million for Cancer Research UK and doesn’t intend to stop there.

Inspired by the mud and the phenomenal fundraising, some Stripes even said they would sign up next year…

Shining Gold and Silver with IRN-BRU at the Star Awards

Shining Gold and Silver with IRN-BRU at the Star Awards

Stripe scooped two golds and a silver last Thursday at the Marketing Society Scotland Awards. Held in Glasgow this year the awards celebrate the very best of marketing talent in Scotland and Stripe was proud to be rubbing shoulders with the brightest sparks in the industry.

In partnership with the Leith Agency and Blonde we won Gold in the ‘Food & Drink’ and ‘Sponsorship’ Categories for our work with IRN-BRU and their sponsorship of Glasgow 2014 – and we secured a further silver in the PR category.

All in all a great night for the agency and more reasons to pop a can of the fizzy stuff.

You can see a list of all the 2015 Star Awards winners here.