Blog : Bright Ideas

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!

HOME TO THE OCEAN – AN EPIC STORY GIVEN A GLOBAL PLATFORM

HOME TO THE OCEAN – AN EPIC STORY GIVEN A GLOBAL PLATFORM

Senior Account Director, Andrew Boocock, reflects on the epic nature of delivering a historic global PR & Social Media campaign to tell the story of the world’s first open water sanctuary for beluga whales.

Waking up at 4.45am in the Hotel Vestmannaeyjar on Friday 7th August, the calm Icelandic dawn brought a reassuring sense of inevitability.

After years of planning, logistical hurdles, weather postponements and a global pandemic to overcome, this was the day that two former captive whales, Little Grey and Little White, would finally be reunited with the sea after spending the majority of their lives in captivity.

As I reluctantly swallowed my daily shot of cod liver oil, I had to pinch myself. Not in response to this frankly disgusting breakfast I had routinely adopted, but at the sheer scale of the journey myself and the team had been on with the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary project.

We were about to help tell the story of a historic moment in marine and animal welfare which had never been done before. Gulp!

 

From Shanghai to Iceland: a global strategy to build love, excitement and sentiment

Almost three years earlier, I had relocated my family from Edinburgh to London to start a new life in the capital. The SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale Sanctuary project represented a massive opportunity to fulfil my ambitions for travelling the world and being part of an agency delivering campaigns with purpose. As a global communications brief, it didn’t get more epic.

This was a multi-faceted story to tell, not least in its scale and complexity. No-one had ever created a campaign strategy for a beluga whale sanctuary before.

We were starting from scratch, but at its core the team set out with a clear vision and objectives:

  • Build awareness, love and excitement for the Beluga Whale Sanctuary to take a global audience on a journey of discovery
  • Deliver engaging and educative content to grow a community of advocates and show the different stages of Little Grey and Little White’s journey to the world’s first open water sanctuary
  • Protect and manage the reputation of the associated brands and the Beluga Whale Sanctuary on a global scale during each stage of the project.

Using a multi-channel approach, our content strategy focused on amplifying major media milestones in the journey of Little Grey and Little White, whilst creating a drum beat of news and regular updates on the whale’s progress to help grow a community of fans on social using video and beautiful imagery.

From the initial project announcement in June 2018 to Little Grey and Little White’s 6,000 miles journey by land, air and sea from an aquarium in Shanghai to a remote Icelandic island called Heimaey last year, we have focused on maximising visibility and engagement at every phase of the campaign.

But amongst all the media coverage, Twitter moments and boots-on-the-ground assignments, there is one principle which has been integral to the campaign’s success: building relationships.

 

Home to the ocean

I learnt early on in my career that starting conversations, building connections and establishing relationships matters. People work with people, and over the past three years the relationships the team has cultivated and trust this has forged with the client, their stakeholders and international media contacts on an individual level is what has helped to make each moment fly.

The relationship forged with a media partner such as PA Media, for example, has been critical to the lifeblood of the story. Capturing video content and stills assets at different stages has not only helped to manage the flow of comms but also to inspire people’s love for the whales and the project.

Thanks to the beluga care experts, vets, Icelandic volunteers and none other than TV presenter and comedian, John Bishop, who is narrating an ITV documentary series on the project due to be aired this autumn, I’m pleased to say Little Grey and Little White are doing well after moving from their landside care facility to the sea sanctuary care pools.

John Bishop with Andrew Boocock, Senior Account Director, Stripe Communication, at the SEA LIFE Trust Beluga Whale SanctuaryBefore a big story breaks, there are always anxious moments the night before. How will the media react? Will people engage as you had hoped?

When the embargo lifted on Monday 10 August, I believed we had done all we can as a team to give the story its best chance.

Two UK national news front pages, a BBC Breakfast and ITN News at Ten feature later, the press office email has not stopped. We’ve set up interviews and responded to media as far away as Los Angeles in the West, and Seoul in the East.

But it’s the small things that matter which brings me back to my point about relationships.

At the end of a long and busy week I received a WhatsApp from one of the key visionaries behind the project.

‘Have a fab weekend and thanks again for all your support with this project. The biggest piece of this is about inspiring the public by getting the message out…’

Time for another one of those pinch-myself moments.

 

VIRTUAL STRIPE ACADEMY LAUNCHES

VIRTUAL STRIPE ACADEMY LAUNCHES

Are you a student or graduate thinking about a career in communications? Do you have smart thinking, bright ideas and a passion for communicating?

We know this year will be tough for people starting out in the communications industry. To help talented people kick-start their careers, we’re launching the Virtual Stripe Academy to provide free online training on how things work at an award-winning communications agency.

The Virtual Stripe Academy will provide 12 online training sessions over four weeks. You’ll meet Stripe’s senior team and learn from their experience and expertise – providing industry insight and the skills you’ll need to get started. You can check out the full schedule here. It will run on Zoom from 10 August to 4 September 2020.

The programme is open to anyone studying at college or university as well as those who have graduated in the last two years. You don’t need to study any specific course, but you should have an interest in pursuing a career in the communications industry in the future.

Everyone who completes this training course will be offered the chance to join the new Stripe Mentor programme. The top 10 applicants will be mentored for three months by a senior member of the Stripe team – getting one-to-one career advice and help into the industry.

Registration for Virtual Stipe Academy has now closed. 

Bringing bingo back with Mecca

Bringing bingo back with Mecca

As lockdown kicked in back in March and we at Stripe all moved to remote working, our client Mecca Bingo’s clubs closed across the country. Following this, we didn’t expect to have such a ‘Mecca’ busy few months.

Mecca Bingo is a brand at the heart of local communities across the country and in response to the crisis it stepped up: calling regular customers to keep in touch, giving away Easter eggs, celebrating milestone birthdays with regulars and providing over 50,000 meals to local communities.

 

#MeccaTogether

As all this great work went on, #MeccaTogether was born to keep the community connected, albeit remotely. Alongside this reactive activity, we recognised the importance of having a strong strategy ready to go ahead of our being able to announce the reopening of clubs. A crucial part of this was getting the messaging right to reassure customers that everything possible was being done to keep them safe when they were ready to return. Alongside our client, we were proactive and started planning for reopening from the moment the doors closed. The key to success was this preparation and forward planning, preparing our materials in plenty of time and creating a clear narrative – bingo is back and it’s safe to come to Mecca.

 

Bringing Bingo Back

This preparation put us in good stead to be the first bingo brand to announce reopening, and meant we were ready to go in response to the Government announcement. We identified key opportunities with media targets aligned to Mecca’s audience and offered exclusive first look access to the new way to play and visit Mecca.

As part of their ‘Bounce Back Britain’ campaign, The Sun Online came to Mecca Dagenham and made an exclusive video feature showing the new safety measures in place and interviewing Mecca’s Head of Venues. The video landed all key messages and featured alongside photos to show how the new Mecca Bingo experience would look so customers could get more insight.

We had a LOT of fun working with ITV’s This Morning, getting Alison Hammond into Mecca Oldbury for a live broadcast segment. She was brilliant and even had a go calling bingo numbers whilst Ruth and Eamonn played along in the studio, which saw Ruth win! To extend the relevance of this live piece online as people watched, we also created a play along game for our audiences that was shared via Mecca social channels.

The next step to tell more of the story behind Mecca bringing bingo back was a wide media sell in to national and regional titles. This secured over 300 pieces of coverage and saw Press Association, Getty and Reuters visit Mecca Luton on the night of opening.

 

Celebrating a (socially distant) Full House

Not only has Mecca Bingo reshaped the experience for customers to ensure safety with measures such as social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, a capacity cap and use of technology but is also evolving its offering to broaden beyond bingo and firmly put itself on the map as a great entertainment offer. We helped them to tell this story in all reopening comms and we’re looking forward to working with the Mecca team to celebrate and hero some of the brilliant upcoming events.

Content, Distribution and the Chuckle Brothers

Content, Distribution and the Chuckle Brothers

I have read the headline ‘Content is King’ many times since lockdown and I roll my eyes every time I see it. It is such a cheap, throwaway statement. Essentially, it’s only driven by the notion that right now, people have no option but to sit at home and watch it, because they have nothing better to do whilst on lockdown. A captive audience (not in the good way).

Content is like a good joke. You probably remember 1 out of a 1000. Anyone can make a respectable piece of content that has the core elements to make it digestible. But using my lockdown weight gain as a source for inspiration, who wants a dull, digestible and waistline diminishing rice cake, when you can have an enjoyable, indulgent ‘I need my fat trousers’, memorable, doughnut.

Content can appear in your social feed like getting unwanted attention from a stranger on the bus, peering over your shoulder and commenting on what you’re reading. You don’t welcome the intrusion and the contents of such an intrusion is usually arbitrary and irrelevant. So how do doughnuts and creepy people on the bus shape our thoughts on content?

For the past two years we’ve been developing a feature length documentary that started life as a pitch concept. The film is called David vs Goliath and is currently on Amazon Prime (soon to be appearing on iTunes, Google Play and others.) In the first month it was trending in the most popular movies in the UK and sustained in the top 10 documentaries for three weeks. It was brand funded. The premise of the story was: we take David Haye (David) a man who had never played a hand of poker in his life and challenge him to take on Grosvenor Casinos’ ‘Goliath’ (the biggest poker tournament outside of Vegas) and we follow his journey over 18 months, in a fly on the wall documentary. That was it. Simple.

David vs Goliath Film Poster

We protected the story and the narrative arc of the documentary like a drunken 20 year old would protect their kebab, staggering home at the end of the night. We knew that the brand would not only flourish when not forced in to the conversation, but facilitate the story and be seen by customers as a means to potentially facilitate both a perception change in their view of poker, but also the environment in which it’s played.

We live in an era where we obsess over short form content, with limited attention spans, with draconian social media platform restrictions with which we wrestle vociferously to shoehorn in key messages, etc. But there is an exciting opportunity in long form story telling. The art is finding the story, the author, the principal characters, the book and shop in which you’re going to sell it (if you follow the analogy) – but most importantly an interesting reason for existing in the first place. A lack of focus on any one part and you’ll never make it on to Richard and Judy’s illustrious book club. In the case of David vs Goliath, distribution was critical. In the case of long form content, the right distributor holds the key to unlock access to platforms to reach your consumers and create a subsequent, desired behaviour change among them.

Grosvenor Casinos, who were the client for this project, understood (here comes another analogy) that if they didn’t come across as the desperate tinder date, obsessively texting, sending selfies, and talking about themselves, but appeared as discreet, intelligent and discerning in their presence, then they would be lucky in love. Not endlessly waving their brand in the face of would be suitors (no associated analogy please note) was the way to earn respect, credibility and meaningful engagement.

If you’re a client, don’t be intoxicated by your own brand and its story. Listen to objectivity and the challenge of your agency consultants to help shape and craft your story for consumers. If you’re an agency, don’t kid your clients or waste their money on puff content that the you ‘at home in your pyjamas, eating your indulgent doughnuts’ wouldn’t give a moment’s attention. Obsess over the craft of the story.

Finally, think about distribution. Think about your content, short form or long form. Think about the journey and the emotional connection you are attempting to make and the natural role the brand can play in that equation. If a natural role does not exist, start again.

So Content isn’t King. A final analogy to leave you with. Content is ‘Barry’ to Distribution’s ‘Paul’ Chuckle. And we all know with only one chuckle brother forming the all important partnership, all you’re left with is a sad ‘to me…’

Merlin Entertainments appoints Stripe Communications London as retained PR and social media agency for all London attractions

Merlin Entertainments appoints Stripe Communications London as retained PR and social media agency for all London attractions

We’re very proud to announce the expansion of our partnership with Merlin Entertainments as the retained PR and Social Media consultancy for the London portfolio of attractions including; Madame Tussauds London, The Coca-Cola London Eye, SEA LIFE London, The London Dungeon and Shrek’s Adventure! London.

We were first appointed as retained PR consultancy for Madame Tussauds in 2016, and our work with Merlin Entertainments now includes the entire London portfolio of attractions, providing domestic and international press office management, brand campaigns, news hijacking and all issues and crisis management for the London attractions. Our social media remit includes development and implementation of social media strategy for all attractions plus ongoing community management and influencer strategy and engagement.

Some of our recent work with Merlin Entertainments has included; when Madame Tussauds London displayed Donald Trump outside the US Embassy when the US President declared on Twitter that he would not be visiting the UK to open the new London embassy building in Vauxhall. Also, recently in December when the London Eye played host to the nation’s favourite nanny to coincide with the European premier of Mary Poppins Returns.

Our London Managing Director, Chris Stevenson, said, “It is a privilege to work with some of the UK’s most iconic attractions and a team with boundless ambition to produce bold and innovative work. It is a tremendous collaboration between the Stripe team and Merlin Entertainments London marketing team and we are confident 2019 will be another huge success working closely together.”

Gemma Cracknell, Marketing Director, Merlin Entertainments said, “Stripe have been a valuable agency partner to us since their original appointment and we are delighted to have expanded the scope of their role to include all of the London attractions. They have already delivered some outstanding results for us across our attractions and we look forward to continued success with Stripe as a key agency partner.”

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.