ukvine newsletter

Denbies enjoys 30th birthday

Published March 29, 2016

The UK’S erratic climate and frost-prone landscape have been substantial challenges for England’s largest winery, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

Denbies Wine Estate, established in 1986, is England’s largest single estate vineyard, and comprises 265 acres of vines across the North Downs.

It is perhaps best known for its maiden wine, Surrey Gold, which was first released in 1993. Thirty years on, it now supplies the UK’s major supermarkets with still and sparkling wines of all flavour profiles and prices.

Chris White, CEO of Denbies Wine Estate, said that the English weather had always been the biggest barrier to successful wine growing. The producer’s recent investment in a ‘tow and blow’ machine, however, has proved effective in combating frost in the vineyard.

While weather has been an issue, the unique environment of the North Downs – with its south-facing slopes, chalky soil and micro-climate – has allowed Denbies to produce some of the best-selling wines in the UK.

White said: “It is classic, cool-climate vine-growing country. We have a high count of sunshine hours and marginally less rainfall than the costal vineyards of the South Downs. This enables us to leave the grapes to mature on the vines for longer at the end of the season, for further development in the flavour profiles of the grapes we grow.

“The geology of the soil at our site lends freshness and minerality to many of the wine styles we make – particularly through the chalk and flint content.”

The size of the site has also allowed Denbies to experiment and innovate in ways that other wine producers have not been able to.

While all other English winemakers pick the harvest by hand, Denbies has the only picking machine in the UK. Due to the scale of the site, the winemaker is able to pick out specific vineyards plots on which to make some exceptional small parcels of limited release wines.

White said: “The size of the site means that we have vines of a single variety growing in up to four separate parcels around the estate – and the difference in the flavours of the fruit from different parcels is significant. This is due to variation in soil type, altitude, slope aspect and slope gradient.”

These economies of scale have placed Denbies at the forefront of the boom in the English wine market, which for Denbies extends beyond just the UK.

White said: “We can predict an increase in exports over the coming years, as English wines are now creating a stir at international level.”

In order to meet this growing market, Denbies’ future plans are focused on wine tourism. Although already one of the most visited attractions in the South East, the winery plans to open a boutique wine hotel on the estate, with an emphasis on location and wine.

They’ll be celebrating their 30th anniversary with the launch of a feature-style film, ‘The Vineyard Through the Seasons’, and the release of new, limited-release premium wines from the vintage of the decade 2014.

Brighton & Hove Independent

Stop the Cull march arrives in Brighton

Published March 4, 2016

Armed with badger masks, placards and an unyielding spirit, protestors took to the streets of Brighton on Saturday to march against the government’s badger cull policy.

Their aim was simple: to persuade politicians to put an end to the policy which has seen more than 4,000 badgers culled in England because of their link with bovine tuberculosis. The march, organised by The Badger Trust, saw protestors march from the Theatre Royal to the seafront.

Julie Donaldson said: “We’re marching because we believe badgers are being used as scapegoats. It hasn’t been scientifically proven that badgers transmit TB. And we’re here to get that message across to the government.”



Retailer’s view

Published January, 2016

ukvine writer Estelle Hakner visited Butler’s Wine Cellar in Brighton to catch up with Henry Butler, one of the wine trade’s most colourful retailers, for a Q&A session.

What’s your view on the current state of the English wine market?

It’s a good time for English wines, I’d say. I think there’s a swelling public support. Obviously we’re at the mercy of the British weather, and getting a good run of vintages means we need summers better than the one we’ve just had, but the capabilities of wine makers are ever growing. Some English sparkling wine producers are starting to build up a good back catalogue of stock which means they’re able to think about making a non-vintage fizz—a much more flavoursome wine with more depth—which will stand them in good stead for the future.

Of course we still come across people who have made up their mind about English wine, and take a negative stance, often without trying the wines. Or they might have had a bad experience and assume that it’s all going to be low in alcohol, sweet, poor quality, and made from German grape varieties. Thankfully many customers are now actually switching from Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc to Baccus and other blends that we have over here, which are not dissimilar on the flavour spectrum. It makes sense. The market is changing for the better.

Can you tell me a bit about your selection of English wines?

The wines we stock really have to justify being in the shop. Some wine retailers might stock English wine as a token gesture, but here in Brighton they are part of our community and we really get behind them. We know the producers personally and work with them closely, and most of our customers will know of them too or might have visited their vineyards. I think having many vineyards in close proximity to us helps us tell the local story.

Much of our selection is made up of English sparkling wines. We actually sell more English sparkling wine than any other type of fizz. We work with the likes of Ridgeview, Wiston, Breaky Bottom, Court Garden, and we also have a strong connection with Plumpton Wine College which is just up the road from us.

There are three producers which are most popular with our regular customers, and these are also the ones we use on our restaurant accounts. We’ve been working with Ridgeview since they started, pretty much, so our customers are really familiar with the labels now. In fact, when they come in looking for English sparkling wine, they actually ask for Ridgeview. It’s almost like they represent English sparkling wine. We also do well with Wiston, which are great wines for customers who are trying English fizz for the first time because the style is very distinctive and easy to describe. They’re super clean and super dry. Albourne Estate’s dry whites do well too. Their packaging is not quite so twee as that of some English wines, which makes a difference because it shows a modern approach to the market. The label is like a new world wine label rather than your traditional text and flowers. We find that English wine is often bought as a one-off gift, perhaps for someone who’s come over from another country, but these three producers are firm favourites with repeat custom.

We do sell some reds, however in the past we’ve found it difficult because they’ve been under-ripe, mean, thin and just too expensive. The reds from the Bolney Wine Estate 2013 vintage have been pretty good, though. We’re currently stocking the Bolney Pinot Noir and the Gusbourne Estate Pinor Noir, which are both gaining a bit of traction now.

What do English wine producers need to do to move the market forward?

At the moment, the problem is cost. We could really do with some English wine that’s less than ten pounds, wines for the independent market. Saying that, all the wine news at the moment seems to be about increased vineyard plantings, so perhaps some £6.99 or £8.99 wines will come through that way. But the UK market isn’t necessarily going to drink more English wine just because more is  being produced, so I think wine producers will need to seriously address the export market if business growth is going to be sustainable. These vineyards are going to start pushing out a lot of extra bottles and I worry about where they’re all going to be sold. There are only so many outlets around the UK.

I also think that English vineyards need to encompass tourism if they’re going to keep growing. There’s a shift in the market, particularly in Sussex but into Kent as well, to make more of a tourist attraction of the vineyards. The Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival already have their Sussex Wine Bus Tour, which takes people to see different vineyards, restaurants and breweries in the area. We’ve noticed too that producers are starting to become more focused on what their tasting room is like—Ridgeview have got a really swanky tasting room which looks out over the vineyard, and people can hire it out for parties or functions. These are add-ons that we should really make the most of down here because we have so many different producers in a small area. I’d go out for a day to see three or four producers; I think it’d be really cool. Producers need to think beyond just the sales of wine if they want to drive the market forward.


Figaro Digital

Smiley’s People

Published November, 2015

As consumers in the digital age, we’re increasingly demanding for instant gratification online and ruthlessly unaccepting of brands that don’t provide it. Services that are convenient, uncomplicated and imaginative (and tailored to the user’s platform of choice) are essential to keeping your users happy. One way that brands are interpreting this need is by tapping into the flourishing popularity of the emoji.

The classic yellow Smiley was designed in 1963 by American commercial artist Harvey Ball for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company in Massachusetts. It took him 10 minutes and he was paid $45. By the 1970s it had passed into common use around the world and would go onto become synonymous with acid house and Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen. In France, it was used to denote good news in newspaper France Soir. The invention of emoji in its digital form is credited to Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita in the late 1990s.

Since then, emoji has grown into the fastest growing language in the UK, according to a study by Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University. Unicode 8.0 now incorporates 1,281 characters. Why? Because it allows users to convey feelings in a way that’s generally perceived to be easier than text. For brands, this already-established form of real-time communication offers an ideal opportunity to engage creatively with users in a way that’s visual and highly convenient.

In recent months, various brands have been experimenting with using emoji to aid actual transactions. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched its #EndangeredEmoji campaign—a creative, easy-to-use and affordable way for people to donate money. To sign up, users simply had to Retweet WWF’s campaign Tweet and, from then on, each time they used one of 17 animal emojis (each represented an endangered species), a small amount of money would be billed to their account.

In the US, Domino’s introduced a similar initiative, where hungry Twitter users could Tweet the pizza emoji or use the hashtag #EasyOrder to order a pizza to their location. And start-up emoji-based food delivery service Fooji have created an entire business around responding to people’s food cravings on Twitter. After creating an account, users Tweet the food emoji they fancy and Fooji selects a restaurant and foodstuff to match.

“It’s the epitome of convenience,” says Chief Executive of Domino’s Patrick Doyle. “We’ve got this down to a five-second exchange.”

Essentially, users are able to get what they want with very little effort, and will value the brands that make this possible.

Girl Powered

Published November, 2015

There are currently two million more men than women in England who play sport. This sustained gender gap persists despite the fact that 75 per cent of women say they want to do more exercise, according to Sport England.

To reach these women, the organisation knew it had to address the anxieties and pressures associated with playing sports and use the insight to create a positive campaign that would engage, rather than exclude, women who feel restricted when it comes to sport. The resulting campaign, This Girl Can, used video and social media to inspire women of all shapes, sizes and abilities to dismiss their inhibitions and give sport a try. It focused on fun, friendship and fitness—not appearance.

To avoid being misconstrued as a government health campaign, explains Kate Dale, Head of Brand and Digital Strategy, Sport England talked to women about what might stop them exercising, and put that insight at the heart of the campaign.

“There were so many different reasons, but what it came down to was a fear of judgement,” she told delegates at the Figaro Digital Video Marketing Seminar earlier this year. “This could be judgement from others or, perhaps most cripplingly, judgement from ourselves.”

Sport England’s research brought three main issues to light.

“First, appearance. Worrying about looking red-faced, sweaty or silly can hold women and girls back from exercising. The fact that sport marketing is often completely unrealistic only amplifies the problem. Images are often airbrushed or just beyond the realms of most of us, which can be alienating rather than encouraging. Next, ability. Women might feel they’re not good enough to take part in sport, either because they don’t know the rules or they think they’re too unfit. Girls who are good at sport, on the other hand, may be put off due to the stereotype of being ‘butch’. Finally, priorities. Women might have conflicting pressures such as work, childcare or studies, and perhaps feel they’d be judged if they were to take time out for sport.”

Sport England tackled each of these barriers individually, creating content which took women’s negative anxiety and used it to build a positive attitude. They created short film clips telling the stories of real women who were enjoying sport regardless of busy lifestyles, gender stereotypes, appearance or ability. They all carry feisty slogans like ‘Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox’ or ‘Hot and not bothered,’ and feature women who were street-casted to convey the campaign’s values.

“We spoke to anyone who was exhibiting an ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude,” says Dale. “None of them have been airbrushed or Photoshopped. We didn’t put people into unusual positions. They’re doing the sports they’d usually be doing, in the clothes they’d normally be wearing. It’s all very authentic and real, which is a crucial part of This Girl Can.”

All of these individual stories were brought together for a full-length TV ad, which first aired in January 2015. But it was the activity that Sport England engaged in prior to the launch that ensured there was a ready and waiting audience for the film once it went live: an audience that had already invested in the objective and tone of the campaign. By the time the TV ad hit, This Girl Can’s video content had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

This was largely due to key media partnerships that Sport England had set up with The Telegraph, Grazia and Stylist. Ahead of launch, each publisher was given an exclusive piece of content to release in an editorial, which meant they could generate conversation and interest around it. Interviews were set up with journalists from Sky Sports and the Daily Mail, and vlogging activity was arranged with SprinkleofGlitter to reach a younger audience. In addition influencers such as Clare Balding and TV presenter Helen Skelton were briefed, encouraging them to get behind the campaign. 

While video was at the heart of This Girl Can, social media was its driving force. “When the ad went out for the first time on TV, we also released it on YouTube. We had all the influencers, newspapers and media we’d been priming for three months ready to Tweet. That evening, our Twitter traffic took off.” But Sport England didn’t just want people to see the campaign, they wanted them to talk about it. And they themselves wanted to talk to the women who were engaging.

“We needed to create conversations that charm, not criticise. You want to be that person at a party that everyone gravitates towards because they ask questions and they’re interested in what people have to say. Our social media had to do the same. There was a real danger that our campaign could be seen as just another government campaign telling you you’re doing something wrong.

“We used social analytics software to join the conversations women were having about their exercise routines, even if they were talking about having gone for a coffee instead. We didn’t mention anything to do with This Girl Can. We let conversation build up organically. We wanted to sound like a supportive friend, not somebody wagging a finger. We used the hashtag #ThisGirlCan rather than the URL, which allowed our partner organisations to link themselves to the campaign and join in too.”

After the campaign launched, Sport England made sure they remained loyal to their supporters. For women that had invested time in uploading content and Tweeting with the hashtag, being rewarded with a retweet or a comment added credibility and authenticity to the campaign. Picking up on the fact that people were already sharing their homemade This Girl Can videos, they also launched These Girls Can—a web app where women can make personalised versions of the campaign posters and share them on social media.

“This may not be something you’d expect an organisation like Sport England to be doing,” says Dale. “We certainly don’t normally appear in Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. But we knew we needed to reach the women and girls that don’t normally do sport, and we had to be disruptive if we were going to cut through everything else out there. Be brave on social, even if that means changing the way you think about things.”

Investing in digital

Published November, 2016

Lisa Wood is CMO at Atom Bank, the world’s first digital-only bank. Before that she was Head of Marketing at first direct. She talks to Figaro Digital about the challenges of operating entirely from an app and the company’s ambition to bring trust, innovation and a human touch to the banking industry

Atom Bank has yet to launch but is well on its way to becoming the first digital-only bank. What’s it like being CMO at the company?

Dramatically different from my previous roles in large companies. As CMO I’m building the Atom brand and our products from the ground up. There are no pre-existing constraints. It’s immensely freeing! But we have nothing, so putting in place the whole infrastructure we need as a bank and a brand is a big task. There’s certainly never a dull moment and not a day goes by when I’m not learning something new.

In your career so far you’ve held leading positions at Midland Bank, HSBC and first direct. What have been your stand-out moments?

There have been a couple of pieces of work at first direct that I think were turning points for the brand. The ‘Live’ campaign we did back in 2009, where we livestreamed social sentiment into digital ad formats, was really the start of embedding social as a key channel for the brand. Also, re-positioning first direct as ‘the unexpected bank’ along with the ‘Platypus’ campaign of 2013 was great fun. It refreshed the brand and started to get it talked about again.

How did the idea for Atom Bank come about? What was the thinking behind operating entirely from an app?

Atom was founded by Anthony Thomson, former Chairman at Metro Bank. Post the launch of Metro he’d been keeping a close eye on consumer behaviour and saw the dramatic shifts taking place towards digital. He talked through his thinking with Mark Mullen, the then-CEO of first direct and, as they delved into the data, it became increasingly clear that if you were building a bank fit for the future, mobile was the way to go. There’s so many stats around that support this thinking. We know an app-only bank isn’t for everyone, but we certainly believe from the data we’re seeing that there’s a significant number of people who would be happy to try a different kind of bank, particularly if they’re offering a superior banking experience.

What are some of the challenges that come with existing 100 per cent online?

Trying to fit everything you want to do with your bank into a mobile experience is pretty challenging and has certainly given our UX guys a conundrum to solve! As we launch there’ll be other challenges too as a bank with no high street or physical presence. Getting our brand known will need a huge amount of creativity, but there are many hugely successful digital-only brands out there, so it’s not a challenge we won’t overcome.

One of the most significant challenges any new bank has, 100 per cent digital or not, is overcoming the inertia UK consumers have to switching banks. Banking is a low interest category and getting customers engaged with it is a big job. There’s very little out there at the moment that offers something truly different from a customer perspective, and here at Atom we’re looking to change that.

Is it fair to say that there’s still a degree of consumer anxiety around mobile banking/payments and if so how are you addressing those concerns?

We’re not a proposition for everyone and we’re fine with that. The anxiety we’re seeing is around giving customers confidence that using mobile for banking/payments doesn’t compromise their security, and understanding what the ‘back-up plan’ is if things go wrong. We’re ensuring our security and service propositions are top-notch, with a 24/7 service team on hand to help support customers.

Atom Bank has a distinctively different tone of voice to most banks—much less formal and more human. Do you think it’s harder for purely digital brands to build trust and rapport with consumers, and what’s your strategy for overcoming this?

Customers don’t want to buy from impersonal brands – we’re human beings and want to be able to connect emotionally. Customers will be more loyal and willing to have a deeper relationship with you if they share similar values and connect with your brand. Our tone of voice has been developed specifically with this belief in mind. We may be a digital brand, but we have a real opportunity to show the human side of our brand. You’ll get a real sense of this from our website. Equally technology, and specifically working in the digital space, allows you to personalise what you do for your customers.

CEO Mark Mullen has deemed the banking industry ‘worse than opaque’. Do you agree, and how is Atom Bank challenging this perception?

The banking industry has lacked transparency and there are plenty of examples of customers not fully understanding what it is they’ve bought from their bank, or how banks operate. We want to ensure Atom doesn’t follow the same path. We’ve set ourselves a number of design standards: benchmarks that we want to hold ourselves up to. One of these is transparency – we want to keep things simple, be open and ensure everything is easily explained to customers. We understand customers want to know they’re getting a fair deal and we won’t be hiding anything in our small print. We’ll put customers in the driving seat and give them the tools to make the right decisions when it comes to their money.

How do you perceive the future of banking? Will high street banks still have a place in years to come?

It will take some time to change the shape of banking in the UK and the high street banks will continue to have a strong foothold for some time yet. Banks like us will start to change the landscape and other new banks coming along, like Mondo and Starling, can only help accelerate change. The high street banks need to change, but it’s more difficult when you’re changing legacy systems etc. In years to come I think you’ll see a more fragmented financial services market, with customers using a range of services from a number of different banks and financial services providers. The dominance of the high street banks will decline, but only if consumers choose to take action!

Can you offer a few words of wisdom to other marketers in the digital space?

Don’t get overly ‘techie’ with your customers. Tech is a great enabler, but it’s only allowing you to do something useful for a customer – they don’t really care about the tech! Focus on what the customer benefit is, what actually makes a difference to them. Never forget to make a human connection with your customers – don’t just communicate, engage!

Social by nature

Published November, 2015

Alice More O’Ferrall is Social Media Manager at the World Wildlife Fund UK (WWF-UK), the UK branch of the global organisation for wildlife conservation and endangered species. She talks to Figaro Digital about the brand’s recent campaigns on social media, and the challenges of finding innovative ways to inspire action from the digital generation

What does an average day look like as Social Media Manager at WWF-UK?

An average day? I’m sure most social media professionals will agree there’s no such thing! With trends constantly changing, new platforms regularly created and additional features frequently introduced, it’s a varied and exciting role.

My days generally consist of a mixture of research, strategy development, scheduling and most of all inspiring action. I begin by scanning the media for stories that will resonate with our supporters to inform, engage and, hopefully, entertain on the subjects we’re passionate about—climate change, wildlife, rivers, forests, oceans and sustainable living. I’ll then review the content for the day across all our channels and catch up with colleagues from our media, online and supporter care teams to ensure we are aware of any key issues arising that day. The rest of the day is often spent on forward planning, monitoring trends, analysing results and testing content. It’s usually very busy and very rewarding.

If you could sum up WWF-UK’s social media objective in one sentence, what would it be?

To inspire and activate a mass of people to take action for our planet.

WWF-UK promotes content across multiple social platforms. Which ones work best for you and why?

Like most organisations, there’s not one social platform that meets all of our needs. We find that Facebook converts really well for people taking action by donating, signing a petition, taking on a Team Panda endurance challenge and engaging with our content. Twitter is all about connecting with the real world—influencing and reaching out to people to raise awareness of the work we do. We’re just starting out on Instagram and aspire to be like NatGeo or Jamie Oliver, who we really admire on this channel. Our Pinterest account followers are a fabulous community and we are working on plans to improve our two-way conversations.

Can you tell us a little bit about the recent #EndangeredEmoji Twitter campaign? How did the idea come about and what impact did you see?

We’re always searching for new and exciting ways to engage with people so we’re really proud of #EndangeredEmoji. People often ask how they can make a difference in their everyday life so we wanted to tap into something people already do. Emoji are becoming more popular every day since they were integrated into Twitter in April 2014, and have been used over 202 million times on the social platform.

Seventeen characters in the emoji alphabet represent endangered species, so seeking to translate the popularity of these characters into vital funds seemed like a great idea and so far we’re really pleased with the reaction.

#EndangeredEmoji is what we call a network wide campaign, so our colleagues around the world are sharing the campaign with their followers on Twitter, helping to inspire thousands of people to get involved. Personally I love the joy it seems to bring to people by making it so simple to make a difference.

A lot of content on WWF-UK’s social accounts comes from users posting photos as they take part in campaigns or fundraisers (such as the recent Wear it Wild day). How does user-generated content fit into your overall marketing mix?

One of my favourite things about social media is how easy it is to interact with our supporters and see how they interpret our campaigns. At WWF-UK user-generated activity is usually campaign specific and peaks during events like Wear it Wild or Earth Hour. Generally, the majority of our content comes from our network offices out in the field and the vast knowledge and experience of our WWF experts.

Having said that, user-generated content was crucial for Wear it Wild. Our supporters were so enthusiastic about showing their wild side to help protect precious species that our streams were filled with their animal print creations. The campaign worked because it was irresistibly shareable. We saw people connecting with Wear it Wild both on and offline, and so many people initiated sharing their own content—it wasn’t all about us pushing out our message. Our supporters helped #WearItWild reach over 80 million timelines and this amplification took the campaign to the next level by inspiring people outside of the UK to take part in the event. I can’t wait to do it again next June.

If you had to pick one, what’s been your best social media campaign for WWF-UK?

Our campaign to #SaveForests is my current favourite. The campaign aims to galvanise support online to influence decision makers to close loopholes in the law that allow illegally and unsustainably sourced wood to enter the UK. Using a really strong social strategy in conjunction with other digital marketing tools, we’ve had the biggest ever response to a petition in the history of WWF-UK!

We found that sharing shocking statistics worked really well—for example, one of our most successful posts highlighted that there’s only 70 Amur leopards left in the wild, which showed the urgent need to #SaveForests to protect their habitat. The campaign also utilised photo content to convey a powerful visual message, which helped develop a strong brand identity.

Occurrences like the recent #PlasticBagChallenge present an unexpected challenge on social media by trying to undermine the work of the organisation. How do you deal with instances like this?

At WWF-UK, we’re really proud of how quickly and responsibly we act on issues. As a scientific organisation we need to ensure that everything we share is factually accurate, credible and reflects our brand. Therefore, we plan our content wisely, hold regular internal briefings to flag any contentious issues and prepare Q&As on all areas of our work—as well as operating out of hours social cover. However, it’s impossible to be prepared for everything and sometimes unexpected issues can arise.

The #PlasticBagChallenge was brought to our attention very speedily and we moved quickly to distance ourselves from it. [Anonymous users on 4chan posed as WWF and challenged followers to hold a plastic bag over their head and breathe for five minutes to raise awareness of the environmental dangers of plastic bags.] We drafted a reactive statement which we shared with our network offices, the media and across our social networks. Whenever we experience one of these challenges, our loyal supporters will regularly act on our behalf to protect the organisation and stop rumours spreading, and this reminds me of the amazing community we’ve got.

What are some of the other challenges for you and WWF-UK across social media?

We’ve seen fantastic growth across our social media channels—over 500 per cent in two years, which equates to over a million followers. The challenge now is ensuring we’re really connecting with our audience, listening to their needs and influencing decisions and actions at the right level so people feel they are making a difference. It’s too easy to get shut off from the real world when you’re active in the digital world. We play out our lives through our digital connections, so being real and sociable is central to all we do. This does take time, however we feel it’s worth the investment.

Where do you find inspiration in the field of digital marketing/media? Are there any writers/thinkers/speakers that you particularly favour?

Working in social media, I find constant inspiration from all sorts of places. One recently launched website,, really speaks to my demographic. The creators, Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne, package the content into time-sized chunks so you can choose how much time you have to spend on an article. The recent Social Media World Forum this June in London saw a wide range of quality speakers. In particular I was impressed by Will McInnes from Brandwatch, who spoke about social data and how important social listening is in order to engage with your audience.

Which other brands do you admire for their marketing strategies and why?

I loved the recent campaign by WaterAid called ‘If men had periods’. They created three short films, which were very clever and managed to balance a light and humorous touch whilst still communicating the serious message behind the campaign. If you haven’t experienced Honda’s ‘The Other Side’, which was built in YouTube, it’s a must see. This short film shows how brands can cut through the noise using the power of digital. Watch and hit the ‘R’ key.

I also found the exchange between Gregg’s and Google interesting to watch. When the Gregg’s logo was digitally tampered with and displayed in the search, they contacted Google on Twitter with amusing results. It’s so hard to get these things right when the world is watching, and this played out really well.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about WWF-UK’s digital marketing strategy?

We love the new auto play video feature in Facebook and have seen huge engagement from our audience when posting camera trap footage of leopards and tigers in their natural habitat. We were also very excited to be the first charity to use Periscope! It was the perfect way to share the energy and excitement of the Brighton marathon with our followers who couldn’t join us on the day. We’re proud of our growth to date and will remain agile and connected as the world of social media and digital marketing continues to develop and change.

The thing I always tell my colleagues here is that social media is a new(ish) way to do an old thing: communicate. That’s what we love doing and will continue to do with our social and digital strategy at WWF-UK.

Taste and learn

Published November, 2015

Katie Eckford is Senior Brand Manager at Fairtrade chocolate brand Green & Black’s Organic. Figaro Digital caught up with Katie to hear about some of the brand’s recent campaigns and the importance of marketing that is quirky, imaginative and full of flavour

Can you give us a little taste of what it’s like to work at Green & Black’s Organic? What does an average day look like as Senior Brand Manager?

Working in a marketing role at Green & Black’s means having a nuanced understanding of all aspects of the business, not just the creative side. I work across consumer insights, customer planning, sales and finance.

The first thing I’ll do on an average day is go through our daily sales to monitor performance against target. I’m working on planning at the moment and am particularly focused on budgeting, as well as developing customer strategy for next year. We’re also looking at the new product development funnel for the year and working very closely with all our agencies on campaigns such as the Taste & Colour van.

I manage a team of four: an assistant brand manager; a brand manager; a social media manager and a taste specialist. I’m also very close to Craig Sams, our founder, who regularly keeps in touch. Our team are all quite foodie and very much enjoy trying out new flavours. We have cooking competitions every couple of months to sample each other’s creations. Having a taste specialist also means that we get to do lots of varied chocolate tastings. We also have an ice cream business—we’ve just launched Mint Chocolate and Butterscotch is coming up next so there will be even more opportunities to test our palates.

Green & Black’s is a lovely team to work on, and it really helps that it’s a great product. Everyone who works on the brand is incredibly passionate about it, and I think that really sets us apart from others.

What would you say has been your stand-out moment (so far) at Green & Black’s Organic?

We launched a range of Thin bars this February: the Dark 70%; the Milk 37%; the Mint Crisp; and the Salted Caramel Thin. I think the stand-out moment was when the production samples came through of the Salted Caramel Thin.

It was a fantastic moment because the idea for the project was born a few years ago, and I am so proud and pleased that I was able to see it to fruition and launch it to market. Opening the packet, unwrapping the cardboard and the foil, and then breaking a piece of chocolate for the first time was a great feeling.

From an edible ice cream sculpture in Covent Garden to the UK chocolate tour, Green & Black’s Organic have made some brilliant edible brand experiences. Why is this playful experiential marketing so essential (and effective) for the brand?

I think Green & Black’s has always been a little bit quirky. We started off as a brand 24 years ago with Maya Gold—the first Fairtrade product in the world. We were organic, and that was a completely new concept. Everything we did had a touch of amusement about it, and that’s something we try to continue today.

As we don’t have the budget to do a big TV campaign, it’s really important for us to create brand appeal. Consumers expect something a little bit different from Green & Black’s and, importantly, they expect it to be all about taste.

When we launched the Taste & Colour tour in Portobello market, we had a beautiful cocoa tree made entirely from cake and chocolate, created by Miss Cakehead. At each stop on the tour, we’re linking with a well-known foodie, chef or café in the local area and creating a bespoke recipe for that town, using Green & Black’s chocolate. The most recent stop was Brighton Pier, where we created a Sussex Pond Pudding. The next stop will be Bath this month.

It’s these injections of personality that help keep the brand so exciting and different. Events like these give people the opportunity to really engage with Green & Black’s. They enjoy themselves and then take photos to share on social media.

Can you tell us a bit about the recent Taste & Colour campaign and how it came about?

We always talk about taste. Twice a year, I stand up in front of 400 sales people and talk about taste, taste, taste. And if you look at the whole Green & Black’s range, you’ll see that it’s bright and colourful too. We know that people buy items and enjoy things according to colour. It increases appetite appeal.

Colour is a part of food that Green & Black’s can really own—it’s not something that Divine, Cadbury’s or Lindt have. And that’s because we care about our foodie credentials in a way that no other chocolate brand does.

So this is definitely a theme which I think is memorable, and which works on all levels. The Taste & Colour van is visually very bright and colourful, and we have taken this into our press campaign strapline: ‘If you like reds and blues [wines and cheeses], then you’ll like Green & Black’s’.

In all its 24 years, Green & Black’s Organic has never ventured into TV before. Can you tell us a little bit about the project?

Working in partnership with Channel 4 meant that we could get talent we never could have afforded alone. We created a series of videos using people like Emilia Fox and talented Michelin-starred chefs. It worked really well for us. Interestingly, while we were all really excited to be on TV, I think we actually got the best results from social media and video seeding. The 30-second clips we were showing really surpassed our expectations in terms of shares, views and interactions.

A downside of digital is that it doesn’t allow consumers to taste or smell the chocolate. How important does this make visual/video content in bringing the products to life?

Hugely. Our social manager is a talented photographer, so he’s able to create bright and colourful images of the chocolate, which resonate really well on social media. Although you can’t see the chocolate flowing, a beautiful picture of chocolate is always going to make you salivate.

Last year we produced several short videos of our taste specialist creating recipes. We did it to a tight budget: just our cameraman and a kitchen we’d hired. The most effective scenes are those where he’s pouring or stirring the chocolate. We’ve got a lovely brownie recipe with raspberries and white chocolate, and when he’s pouring the mixture into the brownie pan and squishing the raspberries in, it just looks incredible. So yes, visual like that is wonderful. It can really get people’s appetites going.

How important is the concept of emotion to the brand’s marketing?

Emotion is absolutely essential if you want to be memorable. Say someone tries some of the pudding from the Taste & Colour van at Brighton Pier and enjoys it, that’s an emotion. Or if they learn something new about the chocolate from the sampling team—that can spark powerful emotions too. We don’t like giving out samples without talking to someone, creating a reference point, and that’s why it’s important for us to go to events and do face-to-face tastings.

Everything is about creating an emotion around the product, be that nostalgia, understanding or simply happiness.

As represented by the brand name, Green & Black’s Organic is all about its ethics. How does digital help you amplify this brand image?

While we know there are core people that buy Green & Black’s because it’s organic and Fairtrade, the most important thing is still taste. So when we put out paid posts, we’re better off using a chocolate cake every time.

Saying that, we have some wonderful stories to tell as a result of our work with Fairtrade. We source our beans in the Dominican Republic, and we’ve got biographies of men and women who have educated their children and brought in basics like running water because of the Fairtrade premiums that go to the area. This is something that, as a team, we’re incredibly passionate about and we’d like to get it right as there are other brands that are doing it really well.

Which other brands’ marketing do you find inspiration in and why?

There was some amazing content that came out of Cannes this year. I was particularly moved by a campaign by Always, which involved the brand linking with women in Mexico to develop words for the female anatomy which, in the traditional language, don’t exist because it’s a taboo subject. Cervical cancer is a big problem among these women, and now they are empowered to describe the issues they’re having. The work was really moving and so original. Kenco have also done a fantastic campaign called Coffee vs Gangs, helping men in South America find work.

If you could create one flavour of Green & Black’s Organic chocolate bar, what would it be?

This is the hardest question! My favourite at the moment is the new Salted Caramel Thin. If I was going to have anything, I’d love to have a filled bar with a smooth salted caramel inside. But, sadly, we have production limitations.