Whoop! 4 award noms for us!


We’re super excited to be nominated for four (count ‘em) Drum Network awards! We’re up for Retail Campaign/Strategy of the Year, Food & Drink Campaign/Strategy of the Year and B2C Campaign/Strategy of the Year, all for our work on Iceland’s new store concept…. plus the big one, Agency of the Year for Design/Brand Consulting. All things crossed for 28 November!



Sean Dwyer

Who let the dogs (and cats) out?

We’re thrilled to see our new outdoor campaign for animal charity Mayhew go live this week across London. It’s the charity’s first ever campaign,  showcasing their new branding since changing their name to Mayhew earlier this year to reach a wider audience and better reflect the work they do in the community. Our four digital ads, seen in rotation across 35 sites in London this October and November, bring a bold, colourful look and feel to communicate their key services with a championing copyline and engaging cut-out photography. Pawsome.




Sean Dwyer

The art of writing a headline? Let’s leave it to the robots…

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Last week we had an excellent day out by the seaside. Not so much fish, chips and deckchairs, but word-nerds and er, Hawaiian shirts. This was the annual gathering of copywriters at the pun-tastically named ‘Copy Cabana’, run by the brilliant Andy Maslen, Vikki Ross and Matt Desmier. Thirteen speakers, a pad thai eaten precariously while trying to shake hands with hundreds of like-minded people and a LOT of cake later, these are a few highlights…

Headline 101

Among the glittering line up of speakers was the esteemed Steve Harrison, winner of more Cannes Lions in his discipline than any other creative director in the world no less, who reminded everyone not to slip into laziness when it comes to writing headlines. The best example? ‘The Art of [insert name, product, business here]’. You wouldn’t believe how many ‘things’ can become an art, if we copywriters are to be believed. A slide share of around 50 examples had the audience in stitches, with everything from ‘The Art of tailoring’ to ‘The Art of Coffee’ to the ‘Art of the Sublime’ to the ‘The Art of Guttering’ (I kid you not though I question the client that briefed ‘make our guttering artful’). The point being, Steve said, that lines like this may make the client feel good but they do nothing to solve the customer’s lifestyle problem, only the client’s marketing problem. Headlines which arouse curiosity, that are newsworthy, and that answer the customer’s question ‘What’s in it for me?’ are where it’s at. Artful advice indeed.

The march of the bots

Elsewhere, Glenn Sturgess and Peter Stephen of OgilvieOne Business scared us slightly (before making it okay again) about the rise of the copybots coming to steal our jobs – which is absolutely going to happen. AI is rapidly advancing to the ‘point of singularity’ where machines become conscious, but until then, it’s pretty likely that in the next 15-20 years, robots will very easily be formulating the perfect headline to drive better traffic (I’ll help you out here copybots, it’s not ‘The Art of’). However, all will be well for humans, since we possess such things as common sense, empathy, creativity and context. We can dream, robots can’t, and all this means we can work with the robots to develop compelling copy that appeals to the human emotions, leaving the bots to do the slightly drier, data driven work.

Is your writing sexist?

That was the question posed by Elle Graham-Dixon of BBH who got us all questioning our ingrained prejudices with this riddle:

“A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, ‘I can’t operate – that boy is my son!’ Explain.”

Got it? If you guessed the surgeon is a woman, nice one. But don’t worry if you didn’t, this is a piece full of masculine words, leading most of us to think the boy has two dads at best, or subconsciously, to be completely stumped since we simply still don’t think of women as surgeons. A few feminine tweaks to the piece and studies show we’d all guess differently. It shows that diversity is as much in the hands of a writer as it is in the HR department.

That’s a snippet of just three of the brilliant and thought-provoking talks given. We were also treated to the Top 10 tone of voice types by the hilarious Nick Parker; got the inside scoop on copywriting for Ben and Jerry’s from Kerry Thorpe; heard poetry in motion from the inimitable Rishi Dastida and words of wine wisdom from Joe Fattorini and somewhat randomly, met organiser Andy Maslen’s window cleaner, who – turns out – is turning his hand to copywriting, and pretty nifty he is too! Phew! We’ll be back next year…



Sean Dwyer

The times, they are a-changing

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It’s eight years since Waitrose introduced their Essential range, which has since become the mainstay of many a shopping trolley in middle England and has done well to shift the high price tag perception of the brand.

But 2017 is not the same as 2009, and in a world where halloumi, artichokes and ironing water are now (apparently) considered ‘essential’ by many consumers, and the German discounters continue to spring up in every town, Waitrose has refreshed the range with a two-pronged strategy.

Firstly, they’ve introduced around 300 new products to take account of our changing tastes, and secondly, they’ve dropped the price on hundreds of existing Essential products. They’re campaigning the refreshed range heavily (more on that shortly)… but it got us wondering, who exactly is this move aimed at?

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Is it to reassure the hardcore Waitrose shopper (who is no doubt flirting heavily with Lidl and Aldi, probably somewhere in the Luxury aisles) that there’s no need to go elsewhere? Certainly it seems that way when you you dig a little deeper into the new campaign messaging: ‘at the heart of our essential range is the belief you shouldn’t have to compromise your standards’. Ouch.

The ‘new lower prices’ part of Waitrose’s strategy certainly back this up… because when you’re buying halloumi every week, you’d surely welcome a permanent 30p price drop…

Or is the campaign trying to attract the steadfast Lidl and Aldi customers who have so far never shopped at Waitrose? And if so, how likely are these customers – loyal to the discounters for price over quality – to give Waitrose a try? Particularly when the halo perception of the brand remains undoubtedly ‘posh’?

The answer is probably, both. And as such, it’s a canny move from Waitrose. Plus we do commend their brilliantly simple campaign creative. A clean white background with single hero products, and a simple rectangular device for messaging and price all cleverly matches the pared back nature of the products in the range. Nice work Waitrose.



Sean Dwyer

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