Blog : Stripe

Rowing For Home: Help Stripe back Sleep in the Park to fight homelessness

Rowing For Home: Help Stripe back Sleep in the Park to fight homelessness

Stripe is joining the fight against homelessness in Scotland by taking part in Sleep in the Park, the world’s biggest ever sleepout, and we need your help.

In just over a week a group of Stripes will be among 9,000 people bedding down for the night in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens with event organisers Social Bite, who have set themselves the ambitious target of eradicating homelessness in Scotland in five years. In addition to charity events like this, they are creating a nationwide jobs programme for homeless people and introducing new housing solutions for the homeless population.

We have pledged to raise £3,000 for the cause and are doing this through a range of events including a bake sale, wine tasting and our Senior Account Director, Sam Crawford, has even agreed to shear off her beautiful, ginger tresses for the cause.

Spending a night in the open in a sleeping bag safe in the knowledge we have our own homes to return to hardly represents a hardship, certainly not when set against the daily trials of homeless people fighting for survival, but hopefully, the donations will help to deliver the long-term goal.

So what’s next in our bag of tricks for donations? We’ll be taking on the nautical spirit of our original home, Leith, and rowing on top of The Barge at The Shore…while dressed as pirates. In stripes, naturally.Our special Rowing For Home day will take place next Tuesday 5th December, so if you happen to be passing and see us huffing and puffing out on the top deck, you’ll know why.

And if you aren’t, please spare a few quid here.

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.”

Full Speed Ahead For Team Stripe at Mountain Bike World Cup 2016

Full Speed Ahead For Team Stripe at Mountain Bike World Cup 2016

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William has legendary status amongst the global mountain bike community. Every year, thousands of fans, riders and media make the pilgrimage up to the Scottish Highlands to watch the sport’s elite stars battle it out on the slopes of Aonach Mor in the hope of winning a World Cup crown.

This year, organisers Rare Management, tasked Stripe with building pre-event awareness and engagement on and offline to help drive ticket sales and excitement.

It’s the eighth consecutive year Stripe has been responsible for delivering communications activity at one of Scotland’s major annual sporting events. Our role is multi-faceted and ranges from maximising opportunities to raise the profile of the event through media relations, social media activity and stakeholder engagement to managing UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) media accreditation and photographers from across the globe in the onsite press office.

With a shift towards a more clearly defined digital strategy, we used Facebook and Twitter as our key communication channels to connect and resonate with die-hard fans, as well as engaging with families looking for something different to capture their kids’ imaginations.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-Steve Peat and Legends of the future

Supported by strong media moments, including a high impact press launch with Fort William legend, Steve Peat, we achieved some great media cut through for a sport that continues to struggle for column inches in the British press. The results have so far been epic, and we’re not just talking about this year’s winning riders, Rachel Atherton and Greg Minnaar, who stole the show in the women’s and men’s elite downhill events.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-female winners-stripe

In the month leading up to the downhill action, our social media content reached more than 450,000 people – almost 7,000 Facebook page views and 44,000 post engagements took place during the event alone, where activity peaked.

We also secured a wide variety of earned media coverage in national print, broadcast and online media titles, as well as mountain bike trade magazines.

Early indications suggest it’s been a bumper year for ticket sales.

Thanks to the glorious Highland sunshine as well as some incredible sporting moments, there’s no doubt this year’s Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup has been one of the best yet.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-bowl-Stripe

Stripes shooting through the ranks

Stripes shooting through the ranks

We’re kicking off this week with a bundle of brilliant promotions among our talented team.

Hannah Murray has been promoted to Senior Digital Account Manager after wowing us with her digital smarts since joining the team last year

Alex Crate has been promoted to Account Manager having delivered some excellent work across John Lewis and Scottish Government Greener. So too has Georgia Lea who’s impressed the corporate team with her contribution to the business.

Moving into the role of Senior Account Executive is Yasmin Ahmad with her hugely successful content and creative ideas on social and also Kara Gaughan who has joined our team in London and blown them away with her enthusiasm and attitude.

 We’re also excited to announce that Ben Philip who joined through our Stars and Stripes graduate scheme has been promoted to Account Executive.

 Big congrats all round!

Planet 50-50: The greatest emerging economy the world has ever seen

Planet 50-50: The greatest emerging economy the world has ever seen

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. I hesitate over the word ‘celebrate,’ as while progress has been made, the statistics show women are falling woefully short. According to the World Economic Forum we are 117 years from global gender parity, meaning it will be 2133 before true equality.

While this gobsmacking statistic is depressing and hard to take, I do feel a slight sense of optimism. That optimism is based upon the sheer force of economics. The fact is women are not just good for business, they’re great. As you will see from the following graphic, women are arguably the largest emerging economy the world has ever seen. And, let’s face it what business would want to miss out on what could be the greatest competitive advantage ever?

So, today on International Women’s Day please take a moment to acknowledge the enormous potential of women in, and for, business.

#PledgeForParity

International Womens Day - the biggest emerging economy

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.

A new Stripe force in London

A new Stripe force in London

It’s official… We’re excited to announce the opening of our new London office and the appointment of Chris Stevenson as our London MD.

Chris joins us from Emanate and over his career has worked with some of the most respected agencies and exciting brands to deliver PR, digital and communications strategies for clients across consumer tech, entertainment, FMCG and sports. He brings his expertise and innovative thinking to lead the business and nurture and grow our reputation in London.

But that’s not all we’ve been up to, as we continue to develop our strategic, creative and digital offering. We’re excited to announce that we have three further new senior players to add to our team.

Anna Russell, former General Manager, Brand Marketing at Audi of America has joined us as Director of Strategy. Anna will be expanding Stripe’s strategic and creative services and continuing the digital evolution of the agency.

Lesley Morton was part of the original start-up team at Stripe and returns as Head of Brand Entertainment. For the last four years she has been working on global brand campaigns and brings communication specialisms across music, arts, film & TV from her previous role as head of the Music & Entertainment team at CSM Sport & Entertainment.

And last but not least, we announce Hilary Joiner as our new Creative Director. With 20 years’ experience in both traditional and digital arenas, Hilary will be responsible for developing and delivering Stripe’s creative capabilities and ensuring that great ideas continue to be a part of our DNA.

We’re kicking off 2016 as we mean to go on. It’s our tenth year and we’re as ambitious now as we’ve ever been. The demand from our clients for integrated communications continues to grow and at Stripe we’re committed to innovating and differentiating our business.

Watch this space…

Love, Emojis and Heroes – What’s Rockin’ 2016

Love, Emojis and Heroes – What’s Rockin’ 2016

2016 is the year of the consumer. Through all platforms, across all trends, the customer is claiming back their mind and their body and is in full control of their media space. So adapt or die.

Digital comes of age. It’s still the media juggernaut, but this year we’re digging deeper into the analytical matrix.

The consumption of digital content is through apps and is fully mobile. Our desire for portability and our rejection of always digesting information in real time is set to continue, so we must continually maximize content to match and strive to work out where, how and when.

What’s new this year is the way we’re evaluating our digital data and its impact on strategy, which aims to make social more viable and valuable. Businesses want ROI and so ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ aren’t enough. Although they demonstrate awareness, in 2016 we’re looking for love.

Creative virility is super for vanity, but advocacy now reigns supreme. Excellent consumer experience converts consumers to brand activists and thus maximises social connectivity. The focus is on follow through, so perpetuating the circle of client happiness and truth. Even our beloved emojis, (now used more than not) are to be scrutinized for the data they can yield. (Insert happy face with wrinkles, drinking a nice Riesling).

Content will see a further move away from static to video. Interactivity will keep your customers clicking in the appropriate direction. Understanding the right degree of personalization and making content relevant is crucial too. Know your platforms, be ready to pounce on the new. But the big technological trend that will impact content is virtual reality, already popping up on Facebook and YouTube with the emergence of 360 Video.

It’s an Olympic year, so sport and our pursuit of a healthy lifestyle are on the podium. Keep up with the gurus and influencers in this spectrum; the frontrunners will be worth their weight in gold. And let’s not forget there’s an American election in November so corporate and financial businesses should be on high alert with their spin on this.

Creativity, our stalwart, is always about the story leading the customer through the media jungle, entertaining and delighting them on the way and delivering them a happy ending. A campaign with a conscience is a seasonal vogue, but if there’s one thing that’s always in style, it’s an honest to goodness, strategically grounded, fantastic idea.

Our affection of all things seventies has been turbo boosted into the stratosphere with the sad death of David Bowie. As music is fashion and fashion is music and Bowie’s creative brilliance is the embodiment of both, never has he been so culturally pertinent. See his genius penetrate through both artistic mediums and long may it continue.

And that’s it, health and prosperity (with a bit of strategy, innovation, creativity and integration) for 2016 from Stripe HQ.

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

By 11am last Thursday there was some pretty big questions being asked of the delegates at the Marketing Society Scotland’s Digital Day 2015. Namely, how do you want to change the world? We’re talking in the context of brands here so not me personally, but even still. My exact thoughts in response were: Coffee. First. Please.

The speaker was Andre Campbell, Global Manager of Integrated Digital Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Microsoft and despite the enormity of that specific question he was doing a pretty slick job of convincing us that really, if you can’t answer that question then your brand is going to lack purpose. And these days it’s ALL about the purpose (Note: purpose, not proposition).

Andre is a really passionate speaker and got me thinking about how important it is to tackle these tricky questions up front and put them at the heart of how we, as marketers, build brands. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive world then you need to be so much more that ‘just another great product’. That helps of course, but it’s not everything – in fact, far from it. Brands need to show heart. Lots of heart.

I had a discussion with a colleague a couple of days before where her words echoed a similar sentiment – ‘start with the heart and the rest will follow’ and she’s right. Create a purposeful brand that stands for something. Evoke emotion. Take action. Win hearts and minds. Sounds good, right?

So how does this translate to content – today people want more from their brand and therefore more from their content. Andre states quite simply ‘build stories that matter’. This sounds like common sense to me but this stuff needs to be said out loud, because, well, sometimes common sense isn’t that common. And you only have to look at your own social media feeds to see the brands guilty of churning out content that does not matter.

Having said that there’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty awesome – Andre cited the Nike ‘We Own the Night’ campaign. I love this. They totally nailed it. Nike created a meaningful space for its female fans – it invested time and energy in them and the result was gold for everyone. I’m just gutted I wasn’t there.

For me, what this comes back to is thinking about the quality of content – Nathalie Nahi touched on this in her workshop around the science of online persuasion – and Tom Ollerton of WeAreSocial discussed it more detail asking another big question of the day, ‘if you stopped doing social now – why would anyone miss you?’. Yikes. So you can be timely, relevant, informative and entertaining but to really succeed you need to give your fans a reason to miss you – give them the content that they can’t get anywhere else. While exclusives are nothing new, we need to think hard about the audiences and channels we apply them on.

Digital Day 2015 definitely threw-up lots to think about relating to the role of content in building a really strong brand led-business. But for me it was all about the big questions. I was so intrigued that evening I asked my six year old how he wanted to change the world. His answer: make a donut robot. When I asked why, he simply said, can you imagine how happy everyone would be. Start with the heart and the rest will follow, maybe it is that simple.

Magfest 2015 – Create Inspire Evolve

Magfest 2015 – Create Inspire Evolve

On Friday 18th September we headed to Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall for the fourth PPA Scotland Magfest. A day of presentations, discussions and celebrations of all things magazine. In 2015, this means not just chatting print, but addressing the various communications channels and challenges that modern publishing is presented with.

Create

Magfest 2015 kicked off with Cannes Lions CEO Phil Thomas tackling the topic of creativity head on. ‘Any brand can be creative’ he said, and the award winners at Cannes Lions illustrate this as well as anything else. Just consider the now infamous Volvo trucks spot featuring Jean Claude Van Damme – the biggest winner the festival has seen yet, despite the distinctly ‘unsexy’ product. Creativity matters not just because it can be a force for change and for good, but because it directly drives higher ROI for businesses. This is important for brands to get their heads around, and for the agencies that work with them to reiterate. Not their capacity to be creative – all know this, though not all apply it – but the evidence that great creative work itself delivers higher share value and drives long term business impact. Bravery pays off.

This sentiment was echoed by several other speakers. For BBC Worldwide, creativity is part of how they do business, not something they apply from time to time. Marcus Arthur explained that the BBC Worldwide team know that if they’re creative and build the reputation of the BBC then financial success will take care of itself. This focus on being creative and getting the best ideas to come to fruition delivers better results than focussing on the finances as the sole end in themselves.

Driving Online revenue Panel Discussion at Magfest 2015

Throughout the day the spectre of ‘disruption’ was present: disruption of the publishing industry, of TV, culture, advertising models, customer loyalty and news discovery. For the BBC, as for many of the other businesses in attendance, creativity has been what has allowed them to overcome some of the challenges that disruption has created and led to new and exciting outcomes they perhaps had not anticipated.

Inspire

Disruption need not be seen as a negative force, but an opportunity that should inspire change. For example, the last few years have seen ever more conversations about the ‘death’ of newspapers and the decline of print, but to paraphrase Francesco Franchi of IL magazine, “it’s not that newspapers are dying, it’s that one way of making newspapers is coming to an end”. This is by no means unique to the newspaper business, and how individual companies react and adapt is helping to inspire others and shape the long term future of a swathe of industries.

Evolve

To mitigate some of the risk that goes hand in hand with treading new ground, more and more publishers and brands are looking at how they can intelligently apply data. Our own Darcie Tanner spoke about how organisations of any size can make sense of ‘big data’ and draw useful insights from the mass of information out there and data got called out as a priority consideration in a number of talks throughout the day.

Darcie Tanner, Stripe Communications at Magfest 2015

Kerin O’Connor revealed some of the ways they’ve used data at The Week to inform their evolved print and digital model and consistently grown both strands by ensuring they really understand their audience. With staggering renewal figures and a progressive test and learn approach to new activity, they’re continuing to see returns and have sidestepped the issues that have affected many peer publications.

Kerin O'Connor, The Week at Magfest 2015

Understanding your audience was also at the core of Mimi Turner‘s session, where she discussed how The LAD Bible has come to know more about the tricky to reach 18-24 males group in the UK than perhaps any other organisation. With a reflective, community led proposition they are committed to going where their audience directs them and making it easy for them to find what they want. She advocated a shift for publishers from being ‘doers’ (which is a role now belonging to the audience) to being listeners. This is a tricky notion for some brands and publishing businesses to apply, having kept customers and audiences at a distance from the inner workings of their business , but if they’re to succeed in a modern, integrated communications landscape then it’s something that can’t be ignored.

What was clear from all of the speakers and the discussions amongst attendees was that the sector isn’t sitting still and there’s a lot of positivity about what the future might hold. With so much changing and so much interesting work happening to meet the challenges this brings, it’s an exciting time to be involved in publishing.