Stripe Communications Blog

STARS & STRIPES 2022: APPLY NOW!

STARS & STRIPES 2022: APPLY NOW!

Our entry-level programme, Stars & Stripes is back for 2022! If you want to kickstart your career in communications we’re looking for clever candidates who have a positive attitude and big, creative ideas.

We want to bring bright, new talent into the industry, so our Stars & Stripes programme is open to both grads and non-grads. If you’ve got a passion for communications and creativity, we’re offering three outstanding candidates permanent, paid positions – two in Stripe’s Edinburgh HQ and one in our London office.

We’re an integrated communications agency delivering brand, social, PR and digital – so if you’re interested in any of those areas, Stars & Stripes is open to you.

If you’re successful you’ll be working with some of the UK’s most exciting brands, taking part in Stripe IQ – our immersive training and development programme – and being mentored by some of the industry’s smartest minds.

You must also respond to the following challenge:

  • Tell us about yourself in 280 characters or less, or via a short piece to camera
  • Write a short, snappy piece of up to 400 words describing a recent creative communications campaign that you loved and why

The closing date for applications is Friday 10 June at 5pm. The candidates with the strongest submissions will be invited to a selection day at Stripe and successful applicants will join the Stars and Stripes programme in September 2022.

STRIPE ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH THE TAYLOR BENNETT FOUNDATION

STRIPE ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH THE TAYLOR BENNETT FOUNDATION

We’ve launched a new long-term agency partnership with the Taylor Bennett Foundation, an award-winning charity that encourages people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to pursue careers in communications.

Stripe is on a mission to help more young people from ethnic minority backgrounds into the communications industry. As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and equality for all, a Diversity & Belonging Taskforce has been appointed to develop policies and initiatives to promote positive workplace DE&I.

The 12-month partnership will include three Taylor Bennett Foundation internships within Stripe’s London and Edinburgh offices, participation in the Foundation’s training programme to support the development of young people trying to break into the industry, and promotion of Stripe’s Stars & Stripes talent programme to the Foundation’s network.

Melissa Lawrence, Chief Executive of the Taylor Bennett Foundation, said:
“There is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the PR & Communications industry that the Foundation has been working on for over a decade to address. We do this by delivering programmes that educate, inspire and motivate young people to consider a career in the industry and by providing opportunities for them to start and progress in their careers. We know we make an impact, but there is much work still to be done.

“We cannot do what we do without the support of the industry and that is why I’m delighted that Stripe Communications have committed to supporting all of our programmes.

“The next 12 months will see us partnering together to create more opportunities for our young people. They will be able to explore careers in PR & Communications and gain practical experience of what it’s like to work in this exciting industry. Our partnership will help young people make better-informed decisions about PR & Communications and will provide them with the professional capital they need to progress in their careers.”

The collaboration is part of Stripe’s ongoing commitment to building a diverse culture where difference is valued. We have set targets to increase ethnic diversity through recruitment and retention – with a programme to make our team more than 20% ethnically diverse by 2025.

Juliet Simpson, CEO of Stripe Communications, said:
“At Stripe we’re committed to increasing diversity by reducing barriers to success, so everyone has the chance to succeed based on talent, passion and values. For years we have been passionate campaigners for gender equality in the workplace and are extremely proud of what we have achieved in this area.

“We recognise that we still have a very long way to go in creating an ethnically diverse business and that we have a responsibility to society to do that.  At Board level we are committed to delivering demonstrable change, but we know this is not something we can do on our own.

“The Taylor Bennett Foundation has an in-depth understanding of comms and a wealth of experience in delivering results.  We hope to play our part in leading change across the industry and supporting our own business to become more diverse, which will ultimately deliver a better culture for our people and better work for our clients.”

Stripe has always been a passionate believer in providing equal opportunities for everyone to reach their full potential. We have a 50:50 gender balanced Board, two-thirds of the agency leadership team is female – mirroring the rest of the organisation – and a quarter of the leadership team identifies as LGBT+, which also mirrors the rest of the organisation.

In response to internship freezes during the pandemic, we ran a Virtual Stripe Academy programme to support the next generation of comms talent. More than 160 young people joined from across 32 colleges and universities streaming more than 1,500 hours of free training.

In 2019 we were awarded a Silver Stevie International Woman in Business Award for ‘Best female led workplace’. This followed work to promote gender equality in the communications industry through programmes with WACL (Women in Advertising & Communications Leadership), The Marketing Society and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

STRIPE ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD AND SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM APPOINTMENTS

STRIPE ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD AND SENIOR LEADERSHIP TEAM APPOINTMENTS

Stripe today announces a series of promotions that strengthen its Board and senior leadership team across Edinburgh and London.

Planning Director, Gemma Bell, who has been with the business since the first year of trading is being promoted to Board Director joining the Stripe Group Board. Gary Coventry Coyle who was previously Head of Finance is being promoted to Finance Director also sitting on the Group Board.

Stepping into new Associate Director roles are Shaun Bell, Kirsty Grierson and Emily Puddephatt in Edinburgh and Andrew Boocock in London who were all previously Group Account Directors.

CEO, Juliet Simpson, said:

“Our talent strategy has always focused on growing and nurturing our own people and these promotions are testament to that. Over the last 14 years Gemma has played a key role in the success of Stripe, not only developing award winning campaigns for clients but in supporting the strategic direction and growth of the business. We look forward to welcoming her to the Board.

“Our new Associate Directors have all been with us between 6 and 10 years and nothing makes me prouder than recognising their individual talent, passion and commitment.

“We have always been a growth orientated business and our strengthened senior leadership team will allow us to deliver on our ambitious plans for 2022, ultimately creating more opportunities for people to thrive and fulfil their true potential.”

Easing back into events – how will we make the transition from URL to IRL?

Easing back into events – how will we make the transition from URL to IRL?

London’s BT Tower said it best on Monday as it displayed a special message to herald the next phase of reopening – “Less URL, more IRL. Welcome back.” 

For the past 12 months, comms industry work has been conducted very much online, virtually, and with little opportunity for face-to-face interactions. With 17th May now past and us all enjoying a bit more freedom, thoughts are turning to the 21st June and the prospect of real-life events and experiences for our clients.  We’re all VERY much looking forward to the return of media launches, experiential opportunities, and at this pace we might even be able to squeeze in a few of those industry favourites – a Christmas in July – but how will they look and what can we expect as we head back into the events world?

Everything has changed

2020 has been dubbed the year of great acceleration. At no time in recent history has such a great number of people (literally billions of us) changed their day-to-day behaviour so quickly and dramatically. With the huge swell of change has come new technology, new developments, new ways of working and for many completely new life perspectives that allow us to tear up the rule book, and create a new path going forward. We don’t have to do things a certain way because ‘that is how they were always done’ anymore – if there was ever a time to question the old way, this is it. 

‘Enthusiastic caution’

It’s a phrase we have seen crop up more and more recently in relation to events and experiential activities. We want to get back out there. Our clients want to get back out there. There is an overwhelming sense that we all just want to be together, but cautiously and with an understanding that there is now a whole number of factors we need to plan for and consider in terms of safety guidelines, risk assessments and back-up plans that were unheard of 18 months ago.  From considering how people enter the venue, to break out rooms for those looking for some space and handwashing facilities – considering our guests’ comfort and safety will be as important as ensuring they have a good time and we land our client’s key messages. 

 

Friends eating together

Togetherness

This will be a key theme, catching up & creating post-Covid memories with friends & family. At the end of the day one of the key things that makes us human is the need to connect with our communities and our loved ones. Brands who help facilitate opportunities for us to come together and cater for different interests across the friends and family spectrum are going to prosper.

More open to new experiences in small ways

So many of the things we love to do were put on hold in 2020 and most of it was the really fun stuff. In 2021, expect a desire for people to hit their bucket lists, make up for lost time and push themselves out of their comfort zones. It might be small things close to home, be it new hobbies, new cuisines, new cultural experiences, but we are all going to be more willing to try new things – so how can we support this through the events and experiences we offer? It might be cautiously at first (there is that word again) but once we get into the swing of it, and with travel still restricted, we’ll all be looking for adventures and excitement close to home. 

 

People drinking outside

Less fear of the weather

The sun is great, we all love it and with outdoor events it really helps, but the past few months have also taught us we can adapt and change. In the last year we have also learned that meeting friends outside for walks, outdoor cinemas, dining under blankets – as long as it isn’t raining – can be quite cosy really. With scientists stressing that fresh air and ventilation is one of the best ways to prevent Covid spreading, we won’t be going inside back to our laptops if we can avoid them. Expect to see more outdoor experiences (drive-in cinemas are now again a thing) and activities year-round. 

Hybrid events

Before March 2020 it’s fair to say that not many of us had watched a theatre production on YouTube, enjoyed an Art Gallery tour remotely or had even heard of Zoom, let alone used it for working, learning and socialising for nearly 18 months. Whilst there is a desire to get back out into the real world, what the past 12 months has shown us is that you really don’t always have to be physically present to experience it. So, as we return to real-life events, there will still be opportunities for those who can’t be there to still, well, be there. The hybrid event – where there will be options to either attend online or to stream in – either live or as a post-edited performance, is already being very much seen as part of the new way. 

HOW ONE DYSLEXIA FRIENDLY PLATFORM AIMS TO REMOVE BARRIERS IN CREATIVE EDUCATION

HOW ONE DYSLEXIA FRIENDLY PLATFORM AIMS TO REMOVE BARRIERS IN CREATIVE EDUCATION

Last month, we helped to launch a new and free eReading platform called LEO that has been designed to offer advertising students with dyslexia a way to access course material in a form that works for them. It was a project that further opened our eyes to the challenges that dyslexics face, but also just how many dyslexic creatives there are in the industry that are thriving.

I am no expert when it comes to the challenges that people with dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions experience, but I have witnessed and tried to help tackle some of the hurdles impacting those that I’ve worked with.

Dyslexia is a learning difference that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words. It affects areas of the brain that process language – making it more of a challenge to digest information from text than neurotypical experience.

Nine out of ten dyslexics have poor spelling, punctuation and grammar, but many are brilliant communicators and creators. They’re usually better able to connect the dots, see patterns in stories, understand big ideas and are better at explaining them to others – these are just some of the reasons why dyslexia is often referred to as a superpower by the advertising industry.

However, according to research conducted by LEO, thousands of students with dyslexia looking to break into the industry are still being put at a disadvantage due to the reading lists.

LEO was conceived after advertising professional, James Hillhouse, came across a dyslexic student that he was working with through his organisation Commercial Break – a youth transformation agency designed to give working class talent a break in creative industry. The student was considering dropping out of an advertising university course because of the difficulty of the reading lists. James decided to investigate and, after commissioning research, found that almost two thirds of dyslexic students are not able to complete their reading lists, putting them at a disadvantage compared to neurotypical students, and a third are being put off going to university altogether.

It was that finding that inspired James and his business partners Kat Pegler and Alex Fleming to create LEO. The team worked alongside UX designer Evert Martin, who himself has dyslexia, and called upon his own experience with dyslexia growing up to help inform the platform interface and functionality.

LEO allows users to personalise how they consume the content to suit what works best for them, using text customisation, audio and video.

The platform launched with its first book ‘How to do Better Creative Work’ by Steve Harrison, who is regarded as one of the greatest direct marketing creatives of his generation. Each chapter is read by a different creative luminary of the advertising industry, such as Rosie Arnold (BBH and AMVBBDO), Joe Staples (Mother LA), Aidan McClure (Wonderhood Studios) and Stu Outhwaite-Noel (Creature). Staples and McClure are two of the most high-profile creatives in the industry with dyslexia.

Kate Griggs, Founder and CEO of the charity, Made by Dyslexia, once said: “In the real world dyslexia is an advantage, but in education it is a disadvantage”. But, with two more books due to launch on the platform later this year, LEO is on a mission to make the future of education more accessible for dyslexic students, and is calling for the help of authors, brands and potential funders to join the cause and back the platform.

If you’re interested in finding out more about dyslexia and working in the creative industry, check out The Bigger Book of Amazing Dyslexics’, authored by Kathy Forsyth and Kate Power – it’s full of encouragement and wise words from successful dyslexics working in the creative industry, from comedy to architecture.

You can also hear more from Kate Griggs in the video below – she kicks off with a clever stunt when she opens the world’s first dyslexic sperm bank – watch the video to see how she tackles some misconceptions…

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

UNLOCKING TEAM WELLBEING DURING COVID

The thought of exercising on a cold winter morning was a mountain I was not willing to climb at the start of 2021. Despite the best intentions for a daily dose of activity before the working day, my snooze button was beginning to see more action than my push-bike.

I was not alone in my sedentary start to the new year. According to former Olympian and leading sports scientist, Greg Whyte, the combination of Lockdown 3.0 with a further reduction in activity levels during winter, meant Britain was headed for a ‘perfect storm’ on physical health and mental wellbeing.

The new normal of working from home and its negative impact on our co-workers’ wellbeing has long been at the forefront of all our minds since the pandemic hit. We believe in taking a people-first approach – so it was important for us as an agency to be proactive and create simple initiatives to engage and help support the Stripe team during what has been a difficult time for everyone.

 

Small steps to positive change

12 months ago, we formed an all-agency wellbeing committee, putting in place an action plan focused on supporting the team’s mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.

Small and simple changes to daily working routines were soon implemented; regular screen breaks, no meetings over lunch, option to use dial in ‘walking-talking’ meetings rather than desk-based zooms, fortnightly check-ins and coaching to ask how each other was getting on, a weekly all staff meeting to share news and keep people connected, and an optional online social to bring some humor into the working week.

We also offered our teams online yoga practice and meditation every fortnight in rotation. The sessions are still ongoing and allow people to wind down and bring relaxation and movement to their week.

 

Stripe Edinburgh to London challenge

One of our biggest initiatives this year in defiance of the cold winter months and the start of Lockdown 3.0, was the launch of Stripe’s Edinburgh to London Challenge, encouraging the team to cycle, run or walk the 406 miles distance between our two offices.

The focus of the challenge was not to find out who was the strongest or fittest Stripe in the agency but supporting each other to be more active and making the challenge as accessible as possible, with a mutual goal which we could all work towards.

Using the Strava App and setting up a dedicated Stripe Club, the team was able to record their miles whilst providing kudos to their co-workers in real time. We created an all-agency Spotify playlist of tunes to help us stay motivated during a workout and relayed progress updates to the team on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A total of 33 co-workers joined the challenge and for some, the idea of taking part in a collective exercise activity was just the spark they needed to change their routine from the couch to getting outdoors.

The team smashed their target, completing 554 miles in less than a month with prizes given out to those in each office who completed the most miles.

As an agency, we have all felt the benefits of investing in team wellbeing. Helping to keep each other motivated and engaged during this time has helped to foster a new sense of purpose and camaraderie amongst us all which will continue long after lockdown ends.

And as for my snooze button: What can I say? Balance is now my new mantra on how to be more active and lead a healthier and happier lifestyle during lockdown.

LGBT+ HISTORY MONTH & THE CAMPAIGNS THAT HELPED MAKE MODERN HISTORY

LGBT+ HISTORY MONTH & THE CAMPAIGNS THAT HELPED MAKE MODERN HISTORY

As LGBT+ History month comes to an end, we’ve looked back at recent campaigns and content that have championed equality, sparked conversation, led to changes in UK law and society and inspired us the most.

For more than 50 years the LGBT+ community has campaigned for change. Here are some amazing campaigns that made the UK sit up, take notice and unite to drive action.

 

World’s First Blood Bank For Gay and Bisexual Men – LADbible & Freedom to Donate

LADbible & Freedom to Donate - The Illegal Blood Bank

Until this year, gay and bisexual men couldn’t donate blood unless they were abstinent for three months – even if their blood was completely safe to use. For many years equality campaigns had called for changes to the law and in December 2020 new policies were finally announced in the UK. From this summer, gay and bisexual men can give blood if they have been in a relationship for more than three months.

In 2019, LADbible together with FreedomToDonate created the world’s first illegal blood donation clinic to challenge the government on their discriminationatory laws against gay and bisexual men. It was a bold campaign that opened up the conversation on why the law was in place and how it could be changed.

 

Every Name Is a Story – Starbucks

For people who identify as trans, non-binary or non-gender conforming, Starbucks’ Every Name Is A Story campaign shone a light on a big problem.

Most of us wouldn’t assume someone’s name, pronoun or gender identity without asking. But some people and businesses do.

This campaign explored the challenges of changing your name and the way businesses can support their customers through a transition. When you think about Starbucks, one of the first things that comes to mind is the personalised cups. The brand turned this into a powerful message about calling people the name they’ve chosen for themselves.

 

The U=U (Undetectable = Untransmitable) campaign

The “U=U” campaign message started back in 2017 and has helped inform the public that people with HIV can lead long and happy lives. It addresses stigma and misunderstanding that grew over decades following the global HIV pandemic in the 1980s.

Last year, a powerful U=U video was produced for World AIDS Day 2020. The short animation fights stigma with knowledge through the ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ message that people with HIV on effective treatment can’t pass on the virus.

 

Time for Equality – Love Equality

Until January 2020, Northern Ireland was the only region of the UK that hadn’t legalised same-sex marriage. It was a decades long battle to make change happen.

Campaigns like Time for Equal Civil Marriage by Love Equality built up huge support at pride events and marches all over the UK. The hard work, passion and dedication of grassroots campaign teams secured public support and resulted in legislation change.

 

It’s a Sin – Channel 4 & Red Production Company

It would be a sin (pardon the pun) if we didn’t shout out about It’s a Sin by Russell T Davies. Since it aired in January, the programme exploring the lives of young gay people in the 1980s and early 90s has captured the hearts and minds of TV audiences around the world.

The show has also been used as a platform by its young cast to bring the darkest days of British LGBT+ history into the mainstream and address the ongoing challenges facing the queer community today. We won’t give you any spoilers but it’s incredibly powerful stuff.

 

As well as bravery, realism and empathy, all this game-changing content shares the determination and drive of courageous individuals, brands and communities to get us all talking, challenging perceptions and championing diversity and equality for all – and thanks to that courageousness, we’re a better society for it.

Stripe’s Super Bowl ad top picks

Stripe’s Super Bowl ad top picks

I’m not a fan of American Football (I had to google ‘American Football sports terms/puns to write this) – but, I am a fan of the Super Bowl ads.

So, while some stayed up all night watching the game. I got a good eight hours and then opened up YouTube to watch (and rate) the collective creativity of the ad industry.

So here is my, and several of my fellow Stripes, play-by-play on the ads that scored a touchdown this year.

 

Oatly

Let’s kick off with the big winner in my eyes – Oatly.

Oatly’s ad saw its CEO singing about oat milk, in a field of oats. Most people seem to think it wasn’t great – but I can’t help but admire the simplicity of the ad, or deny that i’ve spent the morning singing the tune ‘Wow, wow! No cow!’.

With the brand releasing shoppable t-shirts straight after the segment saying ‘I totally hated that Oatly commercial’ its clear they were looking to split the audience to get people talking. And they did just that, trending on Twitter last night. A win in my books.
 

Squarespace

Squarespace also knocked it out of the stadium with a remake of Dolly Parton’s famous tune 9 to 5. Its update (5 to 9) played perfectly into the pandemic passion project trend, and encouraged people with more time on their hands now the commute is waning to follow their dreams and start up a side hustle. Short, sharp, clever and clear with a strong insight at its heart.


 

Reddit

Reddit blew its entire marketing budget on a five second add celebrating the power of the underdog and capitalising on Game Stop fame. Very on brand and the right moment to do it.

 

General Motors

Finally from me – General Motors harnessed the spirit of the Super Bowl and America’s love of competition and pointed it towards positive change for the planet challenging America to suit up and beat Norway by buying EVs. Let’s hope it gets people pumped about saving the planet!


 

Stripe Team Verdicts

Naomi Penn, Senior Account Executive

This year’s comical hit from M&Ms suggests that the chocolatey treat is the perfect way to say sorry. From common mishaps such as kicking the seat of the person in front of you on a plane, to topical apologies such as “I’m sorry for calling you a Karen”, the gift of a bag of M&Ms makes it all better.

“I loved the advert for its tongue-in-cheek take on the things we often don’t think about apologising for (Mansplaining, anyone?), and was thrilled to see a guest appearance by my personal TV treasure, Dan Levy, star and creator of the award-winning Schitt’s Creek.”


 

Tom Hallam, Senior Account Manager

Pure star power, with Mahomes and Rodgers getting attention before you even get to Paul Rudd and Drake.

“Super simple for the talent to act to, doesn’t push a product, just keeps that longstanding association and presence in American life ticking over in consumers minds.

“Uses the ‘neighbour’ concept at a time where our social circles are smaller and reliance on neighbours probably has gone up. The comparison between a massive insurance company and being a friendly local neighbour is tenuous but they get away with it with the comedy.”


 

Sarah Jackson, Director

“Taking inspiration, I am sure, from the Google ‘Home Alone’ ad’s and the Jeep Groundhog Day retelling last year, Cadillac this year recruited Winona Ryder and the current “homme de l’heure’ Timothee Chamalet for an Edward Scissorhands inspired advert to promote their new electric Cadillac Lyriq.

“However this was far from jumping on a bandwagon. It is a beautifully shot ad in homage to Tim Burton, well cast with Timothee, and the perfect way to promote Cadillac’s self-drive vehicles – demonstrating their ease of use even when you have blades for hands. The ad was a touchdown for ad agency Leo Burnett for me.”