Blog : Morna McLelland

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

I attended an event this week at the £3million freshly refurbished Scotch Whisky Experience that got me thinking; with other tipples like gin, craft beers and even wine (apparently ‘wine punks’ is an actual thing) experiencing shake-ups, challengers and consumption renaissance, why is Scotch finding it so hard to join the party?

Undoubtedly whisky is one of the UK’s greatest exports (38 bottles were shipped overseas every second in 2015, generating £3.95billion for the UK balance of trade), building this success on quality, craftsmanship and provenance. But as it continues to wrestle with itself on how to attract younger UK consumers, so essential for sustained growth, whisky may be being shackled by the very image it’s strived to create.

On the one hand an appreciation of the finest spirit, lovingly and slowly created, to be taken seriously, savoured and appreciated, and on the other, the declaration that there are no rules, no drinking rituals (to add water or not), cocktails are fair game and hey, just have it your way. It will be argued each has their place, but are they complementary or contradictory?

Now I totally understand the importance of history, of brand essence rooted in truth and of premium product quality, and I’m certainly not advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater (there are some whisky brands doing really beautiful, unique things), but there are lessons to be learned from other heritage brands – Mulberry, Burberry or Pringle – that have successfully managed to marry time-honoured craftsmanship with contemporary appeal and aspiration. The way these brands are choosing to make and market themselves in a way relevant to consumers today is critical – both to current growth and to future longevity.

Having worked in-house at The Glenmorangie Company after its sale to LVMH, a whole ‘new world’ of whisky marketing was embraced. It was different. It was exciting. It was refreshing. Today there are some whiskies; Haig, Ardbeg, Bruichladdich that I believe are doing it differently; creatively attracting, engaging and targeting (younger) audiences, but they are in the minority.

So while there are buffs who may consider this post in itself blasphemy, without adapting to the digital expectations and marketing savvy sophistication of modern, younger consumers, whisky could be in danger of alienating the very drinkers it will come to rely on.

A new chapter for Stripe

A new chapter for Stripe

It’s exciting times here at Stripe HQ as we announce a strengthened management Board and raft of team promotions, as part of an overall restructure.

After eight years at the helm, Juliet Simpson is moving to the role of Chairman to focus on providing senior client counsel, business strategy and exploring expansion into new sectors and locations.

Morna McLelland, who has been with us since 2007, will head up the UK agency as Stripe Managing Director.

Two further additions to the Board – Jenny Ingram and Stephanie Robertson – together with the recent appointment of Digital Director Darcie Tanner, further support our strategic growth plans. At management level, Simon Ebbett and Stuart Martin have both been promoted to Senior Account Director.

As Juliet put it: “2015 is set to be our biggest year yet and our restructure is all about fulfilling our growth ambitions”.

We’re off for a celebration!

Dundee selects Stripe for ‘One City, Many Discoveries’

Dundee selects Stripe for ‘One City, Many Discoveries’

Stripe Communications has been appointed by Dundee City Council to provide PR and media relations support for its ‘One City, Many Discoveries’ campaign.

‘One City, Many Discoveries’ is the city’s key destination marketing campaign, focused on attracting people to live, work, study and invest in Dundee.

As excitement mounts in the city with the £1billion transformation of Dundee’s waterfront, Stripe has been tasked with building on PR activity to date, to deliver a campaign that dovetails with existing marketing activity and maximises opportunities and resources to strength Dundee’s reputation as an innovative and enticing city.

The remit includes engaging with audiences across the city, in particular the business community, promoting its Christmas Night Light activity, and leveraging fresh and engaging ideas to maximise campaign impact and reach.

The 12 month contract starts immediately with the Stripe team, headed up by Director, Morna McLelland, reporting in to campaign manager, Jennifer Caswell.

Morna McLelland, Stripe Director said; “One City, Many Discoveries is a well established and forward-thinking campaign that showcases all that the city has to offer, attracting more people to live, work, study and invest in the city. We’re looking forward to working with the Dundee team again this year to help re-ignite interest and excitement in the campaign and continue to drive momentum through inspiring and creative PR tactics.”

Stripe Continues to Grow with New Talent & New Office

Stripe Continues to Grow with New Talent & New Office

Stripe today announces four new appointments and office expansion as it grows its team to 25.

Associate Director, Stephanie Robertson, joins Stripe from Weber Shandwick, bolstering the agency’s senior management team. Stephanie brings over 15 years’ experience as a broadcast journalist and specialist in media and community relations across the public and private sector. Having led behaviour change programmes for organisations such as Digital UK and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, in addition to consumer campaigns for leading brands including Glenmorangie, Whyte & Mackay and Seafish, she will play a major role on the agency’s client portfolio and new business activity.

Jonathan Perkins joins Stripe as a Senior Account Manager from Freshwater UK, where he worked on high profile accounts for the Forestry Commission, National Grid and The National Trust.

As a further commitment to growth and developing young talent throughout the PR industry in Scotland, Stripe has also appointed two graduates, Emma Paul and Chelsie Harris, onto the ‘Stars & Stripes’ trainee programme. Now in its third year, the programme offers graduates a six month full paid position, providing dedicated training and development, combined with hands on practical skills. All previous ‘Stars & Stripes’ trainees have been offered permanent roles within the agency.

In line with its continued expansion, Stripe also announces that it is to relocate to new premises in Commerical Quay, Leith, alongside sister digital agency Blonde, having outgrown its existing Edinburgh office space. Stripe and Blonde will move to their new offices by the end of this year.

Joint Managing Director, Morna McLelland, commented: “As we celebrate our sixth year of growth with an expanded team and a new office, we’re strengthening our position as the largest consumer PR agency in Scotland, and putting the foundations in place for future growth and service development.

“Central to this is our team and so we’re absolutely committed to investing in talent at all levels throughout the agency. Stephanie brings invaluable expertise to our management team and client services, whilst Jonathan and our graduates look set to be shining PR stars of our future”.