Stripe Communications Blog

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.”

What’s the deal with clubhouse?

What’s the deal with clubhouse?

There’s a new app in town and its creeping up the app charts as it blooms in popularity.

Could it be the antidote to lockdown loneliness and the desire to connect after a year of networking drought amongst the business community?

Clubhouse requires a nomination or referral from an existing member via their in-app invite list, or you can sit on a waiting list to get vetted by their team to bag a username, so get buttering up your friends who are on the app, they might just give you one of their limited golden tickets.

This Soho House style, member-get-member growth hack and exclusivity-tinged approach to community really drives desire amongst friends and colleagues to learn more and want to share the app once you have the keys to the door. It might be that there isn’t much going on in my personal life at the moment – I get excited about the weekly shop these days – but I was excited when I received the notification to know I was invited to join by a member of the community.

The combination of App-FOMO and kudos of being able to extend the golden tickets to your network is a power-move to grow a relevant and engaged base for the app.  There’s also an element of community moderation in this approach as the person who nominated you stays on your profile, a social media safety net to ensure members don’t misbehave on the platform by policing behaviour through those that know and endorse them.

Also, sorry Android users, its only available on iPhone at the moment.

 

So…what is Clubhouse?

They categorise themselves as a new type of social network using voice rather than the usual image and video supported by text that we have become accustomed to thumbing at all available moments of the day including second screening in the evening.

I described it as a podcast mixed with a live conference panel mixed with a WhatsApp voice note group of people you don’t know.

Members are able to host their own room with the topic of their choice with other members, and by other members I mean anyone on the platform to drop in. Rooms can be made private and by invitation only if you want to keep things limited.

Attendees listen in to the rooms speakers, hosted by moderators and raise their hands to join the stage to speak from a holding-pen on the apps screen, aka the audience.

The chat is managed by this host of the sessions, with attendees having the opportunity to chip with their point of view.

Those who aren’t that actively engaged, or shy, have the opportunity to listen on topics in rooms.

On setting up your profile you are asked to select from a long, and by long I mean long, list of interests. Hand over your data, they’ll be able to segment you later by your connections and listening habits.

There’s a calendar of pre-scheduled rooms based on this list and who you are or aren’t connected to. It very easily links with your calendars so you can be reminded when to join or schedule attendance into your day.

The schedule of room topics is varied, but there’s a lot of click-bait in the app at the moment around making millions and entrepreneurial self-optimisation. I attended a session about desk snacks on the platform which went from one recommendation for dried mango (organic, naturally), to experiments with nootropics after a stint on prescription drug Adderall, not recommended for coherent emails.

I have however joined sessions that are both interesting and valuable, talking about trending news topics for the day amongst social, digital and communications professionals. Social media tips from a group of social media managers with different backgrounds and perspectives with quick fire analysis of SME social.

Clubhouse is all about self-promotion at the moment, with people sharing their own expertise and hot takes on ‘of the moment’ topics.

Clubhouse is set up for executive profile and personal brand building for those looking to extend their reach or widen their knowledge by listening in. As with all social networking apps and networks the community will drive the content and there may be some interesting creative applications to the app on the horizon. I’m imagining a major integration with LinkedIn or twitter and their recent foray into audio tweets.

Clubhouse is tapping into something that we are all (is it just me?) longing for at the moment; watercooler chat about new news and serendipitous connections that we are all so desperately craving in a pandemic world. The familiar echo chamber of the social giants is out of the window here with the happen stance nature of people coming into rooms to share.

Can’t wait to see how the app develops in the coming months.

Social Media News: January 2021

Social Media News: January 2021

A new year means new news, so let’s kick off by looking at our favourite moments from the world of social from January.

 

Soon May The Wellerman come! 

Image: Polygon

In January the Sea Shanty took TikTok by storm! Started by Scot Nathan Evans, with his cheeky rendition of the Scotsman, TikTok users began to duet and remix the aged sea shanty and just like the crew of a ship would join each other in song to keep up their spirits on a long, isolated journey.

Don’t be surprised if you see one of the Stripes on your For You Page giving their best rendition. We simply can’t get enough of Sea Shanty Tok! 

 

Platform Updates of The Month! 

Instagram kicked off 2021 with a fresh start overhauling the layout for Stories on its desktop version 

We all got virtual runway ready with the new expanded Snapchat Bitmoji wardrobe. The platform was also trailing a new feature where more information on events can be activated through a sticker.

TikTok announced that all accounts of under 18 year old users will be private in an effort to protect their large community of teenagers on the platform.

 

A Fashion Icon is born! 

Image: @vulture

Cozy, casual and definitely iconic. Bernie Sanders made a fashion statement at the US Presidential Inauguration and we can’t get enough of the memes ever since. We might have also ordered our very own mittens…

 

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Social Media News: December 2020

Social Media News: December 2020

Welcome back everyone and a Happy New Year from the Stripes! 

While we are all excited to leave the last year behind us, we can’t resist a look back at our favourite social moments from December 2020.

 

THANK YOU NHS! 

Image: Campaign

We can all agree that there was a certain group of people, we were all really thankful for in 2020 and that was everyone working for our NHS. 

It seems we were not the only ones who wanted to share this sentiment as aside from offering free rides and discounts to NHS staff members Uber UK launched its #GratefulUK campaign on Instagram and Twitter to spread the love for the NHS and all they have done for us this year. Truly one of our favourite moments in the last year.

 

Platform Updates of The Month! 

December has been an exciting month for updates to our favourite platforms. Instagram added new creative tools to Reels and Stories, while Twitter returned retweets to the way they used to be. Facebook announced they will launch Facebook News this month and we can’t wait for the new feature.

No platform changed the world of social media in 2020 like TikTok. From the best dances to political activism you can read about it here.

 

All Hail Our Queens! 

Image: @bbcthree

Twitter was shook  when the cast of the second series of Drag Race UK was announced and to be fair so were we! Can we stan them all?  (Asking for a friend)

 

Follow @StripeCom on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Stripe. To stay on top of the latest news from the world of social subscribe to our weekly newsletter here: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/i/70D14C4CE95D6F6F

 

Social Media News: November 2020

Social Media News: November 2020

Ho, ho, ho – Happy December! To kick off the final month of 2020 we are back with our top social news from November and a look at who really ‘sleighed’ the social game! 

Grab a hot chocolate, put Mariah Carey on loop and dive into our favourite social news and trends from last month.

See you on the green mate! 

Image: Madame Tussauds London/ Instagram

The day Biden officially unseated Trump at the US Presidential Election, Madame Tussauds London gave his figure a little makeover, switching the suit for golf attire. Like the figures’ real life counterpart they will both have a lot more free time for golfing now! 

 

Platform Update of the month! 

Twitter joined the Stories party this month with their very own ephemeral content feature: ‘Fleets’. If you haven’t tried it yet, here is everything you need to know. 

Image: Techcrunch

 

A royal return

Image: @Telegraph

Twitter couldn’t get enough of the 4th season of Netflix hit show The Crown. In a thread users debated storylines and tried to tell truth from fiction. After uncovering what plotlines were really true, most of them were utterly shocked about what actually took place! 

And if the Stripe team’s reviews of the show on Zoom are any indication, you should definitely give it a watch! 

 

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NOTHING CHANGES, IF NOTHING CHANGES

NOTHING CHANGES, IF NOTHING CHANGES

This week Scotland became the first nation in the world to make period products free for all; a ground-breaking policy that’s a key step in addressing period poverty, reducing the shame and secrecy of periods, and changing mindsets and attitudes.

Similarly, in January, Stripe asked people to stop with the euphemisms that stigmatise menstruation and instead say it straight and just ‘call periods, periods.’  A campaign we’re proud to have delivered and one of the many social marketing campaigns that we’ve deployed over the past decade for the Scottish Government, confronting everything from excessive alcohol consumption, to reducing knife crime and increasing plastic bag use.

 

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While these campaigns are wildly diverse, they all share a common goal; to change attitudes and ultimately behaviour long term.

Every one of the 40+ campaigns we’ve devised and delivered have tested our thinking, our understanding and regularly made us rethink what we thought we knew…but no-one ever said championing change was easy!  So, what’s the key to delivering campaigns that really make a difference and can change social norms?

  • Challenge – be bold in your approach and your ideas. Change isn’t easy; it’s scary and difficult, but you won’t get the results you want if you always play it safe. Some of the most successful results have come from campaigns that highlighted an uncomfortable truth, made people realise they did that very thing, or had that very attitude. Confronting an issue head on often gives the standout you need. So, if you believe in it, stand up for it! We did this when we commissioned a ‘Drinking Mirror’ app showing what you would look like in 10 years’ time of you continued drinking at your current rate. We hit a nerve with the audience and media and secured over 800 media articles and 470,000 downloads.
  • Immersion – it’s obvious but understanding the issue and the audience is key and often this means leaving your own experience or viewpoint at the door. Resonance often comes after an issue is stripped back to the single most compelling insight, motivating factor or barrier to change, and addressing that head on.
  • Empathise – no point preaching, you’ll just alienate. Instead put yourself in their shoes; how do they feel, what’re they afraid of, what’s stopping them, what do they need or want to make change? If you can appreciate the challenge from a different point of view, you’re more likely to increase engagement, acceptance and change long-term.
  • Normalise – once you were weird if you recycled your egg boxes or took your own bags shopping, now it’s frowned up on if you don’t. That’s the power of normalising the desired behaviour and switching the narrative to celebrate those that do, and stigmatise those that don’t.
  • Engage – put simply, reflect the audience, talk their language, live in their world, use simple, fluff-free explanations, and make a clear ask. Use spokespeople they admire or respect or have walked in their shoes.  Get feedback, listen, learn, and overall make it believable and achievable.  In the past we’ve used testimony from knife crime victims to show the devastating impact it has on real lives, ultimately driving more resonance with the youth target audience than anything else.

Five points that make the steps to change seem simple, sadly it’s not.  Our talented planners and strategists work hard to get under the skin of every issue, to find the golden nugget for each campaign that we can use to engage audiences, drive media, excite influencers, drive social content and help make change happen.

Attitudinal and behaviour change doesn’t happen overnight, but with multiple award-winning campaigns under our belt, it’s a challenge we relish and rewarding work we enjoy. And whether we like it or not, one thing is certain; change is constant!

2021 COMMUNICATION TRENDS – REDEFINING VALUE-BASED SPENDING

2021 COMMUNICATION TRENDS – REDEFINING VALUE-BASED SPENDING

Whilst this year we’ve all learned that future-gazing is not without its risks… as we come to the end of 2020, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the seismic shifts that have happened across society in 2020 and what that might mean for communications in 2021.

One big trend for 2021 will be consumers redefining what value-based spending means to them – and this is a big watch-out for brands heading into 2021, especially for those whose defining consumer-facing CSR messages haven’t been a priority in recent years.

 

What is Value-based Spending?

Value-based spending is a term traditionally used when talking about budgeting. The principle behind it is that you should spend your money on the things you personally value the most in life – be that holidays, your children or the latest tech, and be more stringent with things you have less interest in (…stop browsing Deliveroo). The thinking being, that you then don’t feel you’re wasting your money on things you don’t want and are more appreciative of the value of what you buy. Think of Marie Kondo and her “Does it spark joy?” line of questioning around your household clutter… and you get the idea.

However, in 2021 it won’t be enough for our latest interior purchase to spark joy for us as individuals, we will be increasingly asking ourselves – does it spark joy for communities, the environment and social good? In 2021 value-based spending won’t be about what we personally value in life – but also what the positive value of that purchase is to a greater good.

 

Good guys vs bad guys

It’s fair to say many consumers before 2020 were increasingly aware of positive habits with their spending – with increased emphasis on shopping local, avoiding single-use plastic, being mindful of where goods were produced and so on. But 2020 has lifted our social consciousness on spending to (dare I say the word) unprecedented heights.

Covid, and its subsequent impact on all areas of our lives, saw brands being either lauded or named and shamed daily in the papers. Leon and AirBnB are examples of the good guys Vs Wetherspoons and Topshop who were heavily criticised for their treatment of employees. The increased focus on Black Lives Matter sees many of us now seeking out BAME run companies to show our support. Whilst lockdown and its restrictions have seen a shift in support for smaller, local businesses, the dramatic move to online shopping and, as holiday plans were kyboshed, millions of us planned home makeovers instead.

 

Hopping off the fence

Added to this – sitting on the fence in 2020 is increasingly seen by many as picking the ‘wrong side’. Brands who have been silent have been called out as much as the bad guys, whilst others are more open to making stands in terms of their political opinions and social causes. Burger King’s recent campaign to encourage customers to also shop with competitors, ITV’s public support of Diversity following their record number of complaints to OFCOM from their charged performance on Britain’s Got Talent and McDonald’s donating 1 million school meals after the Government was accused of not doing enough are recent examples. Will those brands supporting the consumer perceived ‘wrong’ side also come under increasing pressure? They certainly have across the Atlantic, as the #grabyourwallet campaign to boycott brands that supported Trump shows.

It is also probably no coincidence that it is in 2020 – it’s 18th year, the charity Movember has finally got Julius Pringles to remove his moustache, the first time the brand’s iconic identity has been changed since 1968 (over 50 years).

 

So, where next?

CSR and cause marketing are not new additions to the marcomms handbook. However, as we head out of 2020 and into 2021, ‘CSR campaign’ can no longer be a line in the budget. Brands will be expected, as a given, to communicate their brand values and contribution to society – be that their local community or on a wider scale. This acceleration in value-based spending means that consumers will increasingly spend more with brands who care about the same issues they do.

And, as a final prediction – in 2021 what will those issues be? It is not unreasonable to predict that as 2020 comes to an end, with the Covid vaccine hopefully helping us see a way out of the pandemic nightmare, Biden’s incoming presidency and hype around the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference COP26 already starting to build, climate change and the human impact on the environment will return to the headline news and brands should be ready for it.

Are you?

VOTE FOR SHAUN!

VOTE FOR SHAUN!

This month is all about elections as Stripe Group Account Director, Shaun Bell is standing as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Scotland and we’re giving him our support.

Under his manifesto, Shaun plans to bring together the thriving community of PR professionals in Scotland, grow CIPR membership and importantly,

  • Illustrate how CIPR Scotland members and the wider PR community can get support through tough times
  • Increase visibility and understand of PR in boardrooms
  • Support PR careers and inspire the future leaders of our industry
  • Improve diversity in the Scottish communications industry

Shaun is truly passionate about life-long learning, career development and innovation so we’re not surprised he’s pledging to launch a ‘Here To Help’ initiative to support the PR community, introduce a ‘Director Skills Series’ to boost boardroom skills, and the expansion of the CIPR Scotland’s Future Leaders and Fellows Mentorship programmes.

With proposed new partnerships with the IoD, Marketing Society, PRCA, NUJ and Women in Journalism on top, we think Shaun has the interests of all comms professionals working in Scotland at heart.

So, join us and vote for Shaun – you can read his manifesto here and CIPR members can register to vote at the Scotland AGM here.