Harvest Digital crowned 2nd most diverse agency in Bing Partner Global Awards

We’re proud to announce that we have been shortlisted for the award as the Most Diverse and Inclusive Agency in the Global Bing Partner Awards.

We came first runner-up in the award, and it’s no surprise that Bing has chosen to recognise two independent media agencies – especially after large conglomerate media agencies have been getting a kicking lately.

As one of the UK’s most diverse and inclusive agencies, we work hard to make sure that we are inclusive of skin colour, religion, sexual orientation and ability in all the work we produce.

At Harvest Digital, we embrace and encourage employing individuals from varying backgrounds and cultures, creating an environment of diversity, from which we thrive. Through the collaboration of a diverse workforce, we benefit from the creativity and innovation that comes from bringing different experiences and perspectives together.

We also celebrate the cultural identity of our staff – more than half of our team at Harvest coming from outside the UK. Equally, as a fast-paced, forward-thinking agency, we recognise that it’s about hiring for talent (and promoting based on skill) – it’s not just a numbers game.

We believe in an open and non-hierarchical structure where people can thrive and build their careers based on a meritocratic system.

We’ll be flying out to Seattle in May for the Global Bing Partner Awards ceremony, as well as the Global Bing Partner Summit that takes place the following day.

Fancy working for a diverse and inclusive agency? Drop us a line below, or find out what vacancies we currently have here.

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We welcome VisitDenmark into the Fold


Fold7 has been appointed by Denmark’s official tourism organisation, VisitDenmark, following a competitive pitch. We will be working on a new positioning piece for Denmark and various cross-national campaigns through the year.

“Fold7 are true ambassadors of Denmark. With an incredible insight about our culture they are giving us new perspectives on how to communicate Denmark as a travel destination. They won the pitch because of their strong creative approach and because we share the same ambition – to increase the awareness of the hidden gem – Denmark” Janne Grønkjær Henriksen, Marketing Director.


On the quest for simplicity



On the quest for simplicity


As we witness a decline in consumers’ trust in brands and a need for simplification as shoppers become more and more overwhelmed by choices in aisle, plenty of brands have switched their strategy to a ‘One Brand’ approach in recent years.

In an FMCG industry driven by innovation and newness, companies continue to look to new products and sub-brands for growth. Every small consumer trend or fad leads to a product in a variety of categories. Each introduction increases the challenges around product positioning, portfolio optimisation, channel strategies and marketing planning. A masterbrand’s existing equity would help to overcome these barriers by conveying an emotional connection combined with credibility, familiarity and quality perceptions; especially for iconic brands such as the following 3:

Coca-Cola: Their research has shown that not everyone understands the options available and benefits of each drink under the Coca-Cola portfolio; which is why Coca-Cola Great Britain have introduced a new “one brand” strategy.

Hersheys: understood the need to simplify their offering in the minds of consumers and to connect with them on an emotional level rather than fragmenting the brand’s equity across the portfolio. Moving forward, Hershey’s will be synonymous with happiness through the “Hello Happy. Hello Hershey’s” campaign in the US.

McCain:  The McCain masterbrand approach aimed to simplify the McCain products range and position it as the stand-out brand for all potato meal solutions, no matter the occasion. This approach is reflected in their ‘We are Family’ British campaign (link) featuring their frozen and chilled line-ups.

As the media landscape becomes even more fragmented, brands will increasingly find it difficult to identify and own unique positioning platforms for each of their sub-brands; it adds complexity to marketing plans and may drive lower efficiencies. A ‘One Brand’ approach will allow them to:

  1. Unify the brand under one personality and one single message that resonates with consumers/shoppers.
    By developing customer bonds with the masterbrand, companies can offset the loss of consumers when their product’s appeal is based on a discrete period, for example, a certain life stage.
  2. Drive efficiency in terms of channel strategies and higher return on investment.
    Promoting a single brand with a single campaign makes for more efficient media spend, and in today’s fragmented media landscape, the ROI will be stronger.
  3. Give the masterbrand stronger competitive positioning.
    Between the new start-up craze, consumers’ changing tastes and the rise of own-label ranges, it is has become easier for small businesses or retailers to build attractive brands and compete against the big players. However, a masterbrand with strong equity and combined resources will make it harder for these new entrants to overtake any category.


So what does this all mean for shopper marketing?

The ‘One Brand’ approach is executed more easily in shopper when the brand’s portfolio of products sits within the same category/aisle (e.g. frozen), however, when considering a masterbrand that spans multiple diverse categories e.g. Nestle, companies must ensure that any masterbrand message transcends all categories and is adding value for the various targets.

Like everything else in marketing and advertising today (traditional vs. digital, mass vs. personalisation), it is about finding the right balance and right level of integration between both approaches. In the case of McCain where their new range sits in the chilled category, a bit more effort is required from shopper marketing to educate consumers and prompt shoppers on auto-pilot to go down the chilled aisle looking for McCain for those food for tonight occasions.

As we move towards more and more simplification, keep an eye out for more FMCG brands that will follow suit. We are intrigued to see how they approach shopper under one umbrella brand.

If you’d like to read the full article, give us a shout at hello@capturemarketing.co.uk



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Audi Work Nominated for Webby Awards

  Our work with Audi has been nominated for two categories in the Webby awards! Vote for Spider-Man in the Film & Video/Branded Entertainment/Short Form category: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/film-video/branded-entertainment/short-form Vote for Think Faster one for Advertising & Media/Branded Content/Automotive: https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2018/advertising-media-pr/branded-content/auto-auto-services

Thank You

As I walk out the door for my official last time today, I look back in satisfaction on 35 remarkable years as a brand management principal at The Richards Group. I came in with that designation, and I proudly retire with it too.

When I joined Stan and his mighty band of 35 or so Groupers in 1983, I had already been blessed with a solid launch at Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago and almost ten years in marketing at Frito-Lay. I was 35 and, some would say, a bit full of myself. What I learned most from Stan, and all my colleagues here, is that the agency business is the ultimate team sport. There are no more important jobs – or less important jobs. They are all critical to our work, the growth of our clients, and the welfare of our people. Nothing else matters.

I have also grown to understand that hiring and developing smarter, more organized, and harder-working people will help you grow and ensure that your clients and the agency prosper too. And many of these wonderful people will grace you with friendships that will last a lifetime. I am also counting on many of them to lead the next generation of Groupers to carry on Stan’s legacy far into the future.

Every retiring agency person has enough client stories to fill at least one book, but in the interest of blog etiquette, I will keep to just a few. My first big new business “win” was Motel 6, and it wasn’t a real win but an assignment from one of Stan’s former clients.

The first thing I learned on Motel 6 is that advertising can do very little unless the product is at least competitive. Motel 6 delayed the launch of a new campaign until they finished some major remodeling and product enhancements, like putting telephones in the rooms. But that gave us time to really understand the motivation of the potential customer – and time for the creative and media folks to develop one of our most successful and longest-running campaigns, which is still running today. Though I passed the baton early to another principal, I was asked to take the helm again later in my career to ensure that we kept the business on track. Along the way, my wife, Becky, and I developed a lifelong friendship with our first CMO at Motel 6, Hugh Thrasher, may he rest in peace.

My next new business highlight – and I partnered with my good friend Jeff Upshaw on this one – was The Catfish Institute. We had been recommended to the institute’s president, Bill Allen, by a New York consultant. But Bill also knew of Jeff, whose family still farmed in the Mississippi Delta.

Jeff and I worked hard to understand the challenges of working for a farmer cooperative and had great fun plotting with the first creative team, Glenn Dady and Mike Malone, to help put farm-raised catfish on the menus of America’s white-tablecloth restaurants. And what fun we had along the way! I still count Bill and Jeff as two of my closest friends.

I was also blessed to lead the agency team that pitched and won Chick-fil-A. Though a couple of smarter, harder-working folks eventually took the ball from me and ran with it for the rest of our 22-year run, I was fortunate to be there at the start. Our team helped craft the Original Chicken Sandwich strategy that pitted us against the burger boys. A brilliant young creative team came up with the self-preservationist cows, and we were off to an incredible run – and a few more lifelong friendships including Steve Robinson, David Salyers, and Greg Ingram.

Another really interesting opportunity came our way with a call from Malmö, Sweden. The woman in charge of Perstorp Flooring’s advertising admired our work for The Container Store, Elfa’s primary retail outlet in the United States. She invited us to Fort Worth to meet Perstorp’s president, Lars von Kantzow, who had just signed Color Tile as their first U.S. outlet.

Stan wasn’t available, so Owen Hannay and I were on our own. We told The Richards Group’s story the best we could and showed our work to much nodding and laughing, so we knew there were no language or cultural issues. We then suggested that Lars consider Stan’s four conclusions that he hopes every client prospect will come away with at the end of a pitch: I like what you said. I like how you said it. I like you. Let’s do business.

Lars called the next day and said those conclusions right back to me. Together, we launched Pergo, the most successful new flooring brand in a generation. And I made another lifelong friend in Lars.

These are only a few of the stories about this place and our wonderful clients, but they are representative of my story here. They are part of why this place has meant so much to my career and why I have remained here so long. But in every story, it wasn’t just the business success – it was the people I had the opportunity to work with every day. They are what I will dearly miss.

Thank you.

The post Thank You appeared first on The Richards Group.

Aesop Storytelling Series; Season 2 – Episode 1

Back by popular demand, we’re here for another mind-expanding helping of the Aesop Storytelling Series, this time from the mind of our new Executive Creative Director, Brian Cooper.

In the last series we uncovered how the power of narrative could help build brands. Now we’re going one step further, and exploring the storyverse, what this means for brands, and how it might be the only way to reach the consumers of today.

Advertising in Tomorrowland—why every good brand needs a good storyverse

“Black Sunday” is a phrase one usually associates with a massacre or a financial crash. Not with Disney (unless I missed the subtext of Frozen completely. A film cryogenised Disney would identify with). However, Disneyland’s opening day was dubbed just that by the park’s employees back in 1955. It seemed like Walt’s new venture was set to be the crappiest place on Earth.

Flash back twenty years earlier and our man Walt is enjoying a lovely summer’s afternoon with the fam. Back then there weren’t the kind of amusement parks that Walt would make famous the world over. If you wanted some family fun in 1930s Los Angeles, you took the kids to the fairground piers, home to any number of wholesome pleasures: organ grinders, caged animals, hookers, freak shows. I know, it sounds great. But this was clearly no place for Walt and his daughters. “I’d sit there thinking there should be something better,” he said, “a place where adults and children could have fun together.”

So Walt set to thinking. He dreamed of a more salubrious, family friendly amusement park. One based, perhaps, on his string of already successful movies. It was a completely original concept in entertainment—one that extended the Disney brand from the silver screen to a magical in-person experience. Disneyland. Where dreams come true.

The vision was a ‘storyverse’ come to life. A place where you could visit Snow White’s enchanted castle, hang out in Davy Crockett country, or cruise round Autopia for a taste of the yet-to-be interstate system. Not to mention Tomorrowland, a vision of 1986 pieced together from the leftover set of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, featuring picture phones, microwaves, and lots and lots of plastic.

It was an incredible vision. A vision so incredible that no one had a clue what Walt was on about. He struggled to convince colleagues and investors. Even his own brother Roy thought he was nuts. When he started diverting money from the profitable studio business, his bro’s scepticism turned to outright hostility. It soon became known as ‘Walt’s Folly’.

But plucky Walt wasn’t going to give up that easily. Twenty years after first thinking up the idea, he secured $17m in funding and 160 acres of orange grove. But his troubles were only about to begin.

Construction was a nightmare. No one had ever built a princess’s fairytale castle before. The artificial rivers and lakes leaked and ran dry. The opening got pushed back, and pushed back, until finally the ribbon was set to be cut—right in the middle of a scorching summer. As the day approached, the heatwave descended. The mercury hit 110 fahrenheit, and the plumbers union went on strike.

As the gates opened it soon became clear that someone had been printing quite a few counterfeit tickets. The park had been expecting 15,000 visitors, but 28,000 passed though the turnstiles. The place was overrun with petulant crowds. Queues for the popular rides extended to hours. And the less popular rides were just awful anyway. Cries of WHERE’S MY CORNDOG abounded as the food and drink ran out only a few hours after opening.

A TV host called Ronald Reagan covered the opening for ABC. But even his soothing tones couldn’t cover up the fact that the day was spiraling out of control. There was a gas leak in Fantasyland and a sector had to be evacuated. The steamboat in the background nearly capsized.

“Walt’s dream is a nightmare… a fiasco the like of which I cannot recall in thirty years of show life,” said Variety. “Probably for the first time in his career, Disney has disappointed thousands of youngsters,” harrumphed the Associated Press.

But we all know that this didn’t last forever. Disneyland has been providing screaming kids and bleary-eyed parents with a break from the shitshow that is reality for over 60 years. And since that fateful Sunday nearly a billion people have traipsed through its gates across the globe, from Orlando to Shanghai.

But none of this happened by accident. Disneyland is what it is today for two reasons.

Number 1: persistence. Walt kept chipping away, sorting out the counterfeit tickets, rebuilding Tomorrowland. Disneyland was still open the following Sunday, and the one after that.

Number 2: he stuck to his storyverse. Disneyland is successful because people have an appetite for fiction, and what could be a more immersive fictional experience than a real-life fantasy land that you can touch, walk around in, and eat questionable themed snacks?

They say that fiction is seductive because it is an escape from reality. But such an all-encompassing storyverse as Disneyland is seductive because it bolsters the solidity of our own lives. ‘Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real’. Cheers Baudrillard for that badboy.

So, where was I? Oh right, advertising. All the best brands, like Disney, create their own storyverse. A world in which consumers can engross themselves in, time and again. A world in which their participation in the fiction validates their sense of realness—making them believe that their choices truly are rational, truly are their own.

A storyverse can have multiple narratives—but they all feel part of a unified whole. In the same way that ‘secret agent + crazy weapons + villain + hot girl = Bond film’, a coterie of colours, images, signs and symbols denote that something is McDonalds or Nike or Coca Cola, even without a name or logo. These storyverses allow consumers to fully participate in a brand, whether that’s watching an ad, in the store or just staring at two mountains next to each other and thinking ‘heck, I want a cheeseburger’.

And, if you keep at it like Disney, a robust enough storyverse will last you for generations, with a boundless scope for new stories and directions.

In this latest series we’re going to explore what makes a great storyverse (and a terrible one), and why this kind of approach to advertising is our last attempt to reach the consumers of our very own Tomorrowland.

Download Episode 1—Advertising in Tomorrowland.

Or, if you missed it, catch up on the entire first season.