Marketers from companies including Arcadia, GSK
and Universal Music
convened at The House of St Barnabas in Soho, London, last Thursday morning for a breakfast event co-hosted by Contagious
and creative agency Devilfish
. Speakers took to the altar in a beautiful chapel and the event wound up with gastronomic delights at a small farmers' market in the garden at St Barnabas.
The 80-strong congregation, chaired by Contagious co-founder and editorial director Paul Kemp-Robertson
, listened to marketing gospel from Gav Thompson
, founder of mobile network giffgaff
, Jon Mitchell, Spotify
's UK managing director, and Louise Kjellerup Roper
, chief ripple maker at Method
. Devilfish contributions from Matt Cole, creative director, digital and founder and creative director Richard Holman all followed the theme for the morning, which was 'Punching above your weight: the value of a twinkle-toed approach
Holman shared Devilfish's five principles: be bold; make friends; keep talking (and listening); make a difference; and spend less, think harder. All five could be golden rules for marketers. Matt Cole
then showed how the agency put these principles into action with some dazzling work for Cutty Sark
whisky. Under the banner of 'enjoy the creative blend', Cole demonstrated - with assistance from several maritime metaphors - how Devilfish had revitalised the brand thanks to collaborations with artists and musicians, most notably Asian Dub Foundation
. Cutty Sark had invited artists to submit interpretations of the brand, drawing on its London heritage (example pictured, above), while Asian Dub Foundation provided content for cuttysarksessions.com
: the first three films released generated 100,000 hits and, with two full time community managers dedicated to the brand on social media platforms, helped to promote and sustain the brand's personality.Gav Thompson
, giffgaff creator and head of brand strategy at O2 in the UK, shared the story of how a few jotted scrawls in the back of his notepad during a dull conference became the basis for a business which is now going from strength to strength. Contagious has reported about how giffgaff works in previous posts; you can refresh your memory here
A mobile network run by people, Thompson described it as 'an annoying pesky cousin of O2' which first promoted itself with the innovative idea of unorthodox tool hire where people could hire a cuddle monster or a gimp and upload videos of themselves and their 'tool'. Read more here
. The concept prompted 156 videos, 615,000 views, 43,301 visits to the tool hire website and reached 1.2m people on next to no budget.
Thompson suggested that giffgaff's model could be extended beyond mobile and predicted that the community-run business is the blueprint for the future. However, it doesn't happen overnight: 'It's a slow burn,' he said. 'But I have big plans for giffgaff to take over the world.'
Speaking of which, Louise Kjellerup Roper
from Method showed how the cleaning brand was the David which took on the Goliath of its much much bigger rivals. Created in San Francisco 10 years ago, Method has created remarkable products, promoted trust through transparency and listened avidly to the people who sign up to join its indigenous People Against Dirty
movement, using its products as killer marketing tools. As a case in point, she revealed that a button on the Method website enabling visitors to be sent a sample of Method's new laundry detergent generated 20,000 requests in just 56 hours.
A recent Contagious interview with Richard Fine
, CEO of Help Remedies
(above) - filmed with the event in mind - shows how his company has achieved a similar coup in the staid pharmaceutical industry. As well as the importance of putting the product front and centre, Fine also argues that the ability to 'embrace randomness' - to be nimble and make changes on the fly - has been crucial to their success - a point that was raised a number of times during the morning.
Another challenger brand which has shaken up its industry is music-streaming service Spotify
, and Jon Mitchell shared the story of how the brand launched in the UK. 'We had some luck but made mistakes too...but learning from mistakes makes you a better company.' Spotify's launch took place initially via word of mouth and seeding, before broadening out to become more PR-driven, and reaching a tipping point when a three-minute item dedicated to the service appeared on the BBC News At Ten.
Crucially, Spotify didn't react to negative comments from the press or snipe at the competition, and it opened up its API so that developers could help build an eco-system around the brand. Spotify now has 8m registered users in Europe, and works with brands including Citroen
Summing up the morning, Richard Holman reflected on all the brands' 'inventiveness, creativity and inspiring openness'. He added: 'Most successful and dynamic brands get somewhere because they have a philosophy and a genuine passion and authenticity.'
* As well as its credentials with brands, Devilfish also owns The Smalls, an online community for independent film-makers, which is hosting The Smalls Short Film Fest over two days at The Gallery Soho, 125 Charing Cross Rd, during The London Design Festival, on 22-23 September. Deadline for entries is 6 September. Find out more by visiting The Smalls
Contagious subscribers can access a full case study on Method here