Sharing risks, sharing rewards: partnering with Vamoosh to deliver their vision

Propaganda’s consultative approach revolves around standing shoulder to shoulder with our clients. We don’t use that turn of phrase lightly; we position ourselves right there beside them, moving heaven and earth to support their business decisions, guided by our insight-led strategies. At times this involves having honest conversations with them in the boardroom, other times it means embedding ourselves in their day-to-day procedures. Perhaps most significantly, we are not averse to taking an entrepreneurial approach and establishing strategic partnerships when a client emerges with a proposition we believe in.

In the mid-2010s, we came across a start-up brand with a truly market-disrupting product: a laundry detergent that dissolved pet hair. It was an idea which spoke to a niche audience about a problem which was massive in their world: legions of pet owners who spent every day of the week purging their clothes of dog and cat hair. After some market-scoping, the name ‘Vamoosh’ was chosen.

Our belief in Vamoosh’s vision led us to become shareholders in the company, establishing a partnership through shared effort and, of course, shared risk. Using market insight, strategic positioning and punchy creative, we delivered the gravitas Vamoosh needed to disrupt the pet care sector, delivering on their excellent concept.

Since launch, Vamoosh has secured listings in Pets at Home, B&M, The Range, Lakeland and Dobbies Garden Centres, in addition to being available on Amazon. Additionally, it now looks set to break the £5m barrier at retail, a remarkable result considering the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last five years, the brand has continued its multi-channel ascension upwards, even receiving a notable mention from Mrs Hinch – one of the most popular social media influencers in the world. The product range now encompasses three products, including the most recently-launched Washing Machine Cleaner.

As a Brand Consultancy, we will continue to establish partnerships with people we trust and believe in, using strategy-led insight to drive commercial results. That was our approach when we started over twenty years ago, and that is our approach now. We are now reaping the benefits, with a portfolio of clients who are driven to take bold decisions that drive growth.

The difficult truth of iOS 14.5: pixels vanish, platforms fade, but brands endure

For the last 14 years, SMEs and corporates alike have enjoyed the profitable rewards of Facebook Advertising and the Facebook Pixel. Track your customers’ every move. Build an empire of lifetime value audiences. Press a few buttons, and you can even find new customers that are lookalikes of your existing customers. Scale, spend and saturate your market. Haunt your customers’ every waking moments chasing that purchase. Relish in success that is attributed over a monstrous window of 1-day view, or 28-days click.

This month, all is set to change with the global rollout of iOS 14.5 for iPhone users, which includes a mandate from Apple that all app developers must ask their users if they are comfortable with their behaviour being tracked for advertising purposes. Facebook have contested this, with full page ads, a noisy PR campaign and even the unceremonious removal of the Apple pages’ ‘blue tick’.

This outcry was ignored, and Apple have pressed ahead.

Some marketers estimate that around 70% of the UK Facebook population users, given the option, intend to opt out of Facebook’s pixel tracking. This means the empires of custom audiences built over years of eCRM data will crumble overnight as users choose to effectively muzzle Facebook’s proverbial sniffer dogs, removing themselves from audiences and data sets, and throwing Facebook off their scent from their platforms to external websites. Lookalike audiences will match less accurately. Reach will go down. Frequency may increase. Spend and efficiencies will ultimately suffer as targeting, Facebook’s long-standing USP, becomes less of a silver bullet and more of a machine gun.

What advertisers are left with is Aggregated Event Measurement, Facebook’s new tool to effectively guess at user behaviour, based on its own AI. It’s a poor substitute to the reams of data that the Facebook pixel would return, but it’s all we have left. Advertisers now have two choices: accept the status quo with a declining funnel of customer data, or change and fill the funnel yourself.

In this new world, the shift moves away from the bottom of the funnel, and targeting the same type of customer over and over. Instead, advertisers should look to new sources of audience, focussing further up the funnel, above the line, using organic social to fuel their ads. Custom data audiences may be out, but tactics that require engagement and conversation are still very much in.

For example, until now, the targeting of Facebook engagers or people who have saved an Instagram post may have been less favoured due to a preference for higher Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) from website behaviour retargeting. However, in this new playing field, they immediately become bigger opportunities. But, in order to benefit from these audiences, they must be populated, and that brings us to what so many brands struggle with – organic content that engages.

And strong engagement starts with a strong brand. Brand message, brand USP and brand tone. Writing a compelling story that will engage users, no matter the medium. In today’s world, much of this is about having a purpose and an emotional connection to your audience. The brands that do this well will last a lifetime. Those that don’t will slip into irrelevance. Platform changes and technology may come and go, but brand marketing will never go out of style.

So, what does engaging brand marketing look like for your business? That’s where our new service comes in, launching soon. To be the first to hear about it, drop us an email at

Propaganda’s white paper reveals secrets to surviving a recession

In light of the Covid-19 crisis, Propaganda has released its latest white paper, exploring what brands need to do to survive a recession.

As the UK enters its deepest recession since records began, the biggest risk for business is playing it safe.

Propaganda’s exclusive white paper looks at the essential tools and insights needed to ensure brands survive until the economy recovers, answering crucial questions, like:

How is Covid-19 accelerating existing retail trends?
What can businesses do to apply future-focussed thinking?
And what streamlined processes will help them adapt and respond?

To discover how your business can remain relevant and bounce back, download our latest white paper here: Recession 2020 White Paper.

Build your culture, grow your brand

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]We’re coming the end of the university exam period, a sigh of relief and a nervous wait for most. Yet with the ink barely dry we’re already seeing the annual ‘exams are getting easier’ headlines – this time though, with hard facts. When Tony Blair entered office in 1997 he did it with a pledge to see half of all school leavers go on to university.  Today 49% do. More interestingly though, between 1997 and 2009 the proportion of firsts awarded to university graduates almost doubled. Thinktank Reform now reports that since 2010 that number rose again by 26%. Three quarters of all students in the UK now go on to achieve one of the top two degree classifications. With global accountancy firm EY, one of the UK’s top graduate employers saying it will no longer consider degree results when assessing employees, there are widespread calls for change in how grades are awarded to protect the ‘value’ of a degree.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66640″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Adding weight to that argument is what The New York Academy of Sciences called the STEM Paradox – namely that there’s more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths than ever before, but a growing difficulty in filling available job openings. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) reports that 69% of British businesses are concerned about the availability of skilled staff, compared with 55% last year. This lack of available talent is also impacting business productivity, with output per hour worked in the UK 18% below the average for the G7 group of industrial nations, a big cost to businesses.

Looking to the future, this demand for talent will only increase as automation begins to have an impact on the need for lower skilled labour. In turn this will increase the need for higher skilled staff to manage new processes, some that potentially haven’t even been invented yet.

With the average UK graduate spending £27,000 on their degree (and that’s excluding maintenance costs) current students entering the system are demanding better value and closer business integration. The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) reports that 92% of students want to see work placements and internships as part of their university experience. Today, only 47% currently have access to them. Universities are acting. Here in Leeds, the new £38m Nexus enterprise centre funded by the University will be “a place where businesses looking to innovate, be more productive, and grow can access the University’s capabilities and talent”.

However, with businesses increasingly under pressure from investors to demonstrate how productive, efficient and futureproof they are, there’s a growing focus on cultivating an internal ‘culture’ that attracts and retains talent. Consequently, ‘Human Capital Reporting’ (the reporting of how a business develops the skills of its workforce and how this contributes to growth) has risen by 76% since 2013.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66641″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]To get ahead of the game, leading blue-chips like BAE Systems and Nestlé are setting up formal working partnerships with universities to enrich and prepare their graduate intake. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. In the drive for greater productivity, efficiency and future readiness, it’s now commercially imperative for businesses to engage their current workforces and the employees of tomorrow…and then tell the world about it. We predict we’ll be seeing a lot more businesses promoting their internal culture through their brand strategy in the coming months and years.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Propaganda goes digital

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We’ve recently expanded our offering through the creation of a new digital team, enabling us to provide more diverse and integrated support for our clients. The development of the team began at the end of 2017, when James Winfield joined us as Digital Director, having already worked closely with us in his role as Digital Director at Illamasqua.

In the past eight months, our digital team has grown considerably, including the appointment of Lucy Callaghan as Digital Marketing Manager. We’ve added new staff members and have begun projects for a number of our clients, including athleisure brand Gym King, leading make-up school GlamCandy, and property business, The Parklane Group. Projects undertaken to date have focussed on website development and support, email and social media campaigns, paid search and affiliate marketing. 

It’s an incredibly exciting time for Propaganda, and the introduction of our digital offering is helping us to bridge the gap between brand development, and the full digital marketing mix. The unique combination of hands-on experience and the branding expertise of our team is proving transformational for our clients – driving results and revenue growth for them, as well as Propaganda itself.


We have to talk about the High Street

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The high street is in distress. House of Fraser has announced the closure of 39 of its 50 shops, affecting 6,000 jobs. Carphone Warehouse plans to shut 92 stores, Mothercare is set to close 50, New Look has already closed 60, and Marks and Spencer plans to close 100 stores by 2022. This is all on the back of a drastic decline in footfall (down 8.6% in 2017/18) and high street spend (down 3.1%).

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Conversely, e-commerce retail sales are soaring – expected to grow globally from $2.84bn in 2018 to $4.87bn in 2021. 73% of consumers plan to spend more online in future and 23% identify as being digitally obsessed. The retail model is clearly undergoing seismic change. What’s driving this shift?

 Customers want to shop in a frictionless way. They demand retail experiences that are quick, simple, easy and efficient – in fact, 80 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. But bricks and mortar retailers have been slow on the uptake. A recent study found that 40% of UK retailers received complaints about items being unavailable, 37% about queue wait times, and 32% about store congestion. Amazon is setting the pace – having captured 33.5% of all UK sales. They’re “obsessive” about customer experience, and consumers now expect everyone to offer the ‘Amazon’ shopping experience.  

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But – the high street isn’t to be underestimated. It is still, by far, the dominant channel. 92% of purchases happen offline. Many pureplay brands are moving into physical retail, from Amazon (with its $13.7bn purchase of Whole Foods, its Amazon Go store and Amazon Books stores) to Missguided. And against the tide of CVA’s and bankruptcies, there are many high street success stories. Superdry has 500 stores and is planning to open a further 80 in 2019. With 174 stores and plans to open 10 new stores this year, Primark has grown its share of the UK clothing market to 16.5%. Lush’s philanthropy and personalised in-store experience has led to a 30% – 50% increase in store sales.

 In this new retail world, the brands that succeed will be those who identify the role for their bricks and mortar offer, and shape a unique, immersive physical experience.


From courage comes cut-through

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Remember the momentous day French Connection relaunched as fcuk? Or the iconic photograph of Richard Branson wearing a wedding dress to introduce Virgin’s new line of bridal wear?

Of course, you do. Because bold, ground-breaking campaigns and stunts stick – especially in an over-crowded market.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66551″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]But these days, risky or thought-provoking work is hard to find. And countless companies hide behind a wall of dull or easily dismissible communication, which hinders growth, opportunity and potential.

We immerse ourselves in our client’s worlds and apply knowledge before assumption, before starting any creative work. Our process helps us to give brands strategic difference and a unique space to grow. We provide insight and support, so our clients can make decisions with confidence. And drive customer engagement and business growth.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66552″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]And our track record speaks for us. We have transformed the future and reputation of many companies. Including The Car People, ReFood, FMG, Clipper Logistics, Ann Summers, Tangle Teezer and Neal & Wolf. We are the only brand consultancy to achieve MCA status. And, as evidenced by our prestigious awards, our work works.

Click here to watch our daring new film and meet five of our longest standing customers. Find out how we have given their company the courage to step up, go beyond the norm and transform their future forever.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Great design is strategic.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Dieter Rams was head of design at the German personal and household electronics firm Braun from 1961 to 1995 and oversaw the creation of hundreds of products, many which have genuinely changed the way we live. He said; “Indifference towards people, and the reality in which they live is the one and only cardinal sin in design.” This approach still stands up as a guiding principle for great design and brand creation.

Braun’s growth during those years was directly related to its reputation for products that just, well…worked. His approach, namely that design can only be deemed successful if considered to be useful and understandable directly inspired Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive at Apple. We might say that Apple’s products are ‘beautifully designed’, meaning aesthetically pleasing, but what we really mean is they’re clear, intuitive, and effective – beauty isn’t the design brief, it’s a consequence of usefulness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66547″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]In fact, the pursuit of beautiful design as a priority can derail success. When telephone communication revolutionised how business was done in the late 1930’s, the race was on to design the device that would sit on the desk of every employee in every company office in every industrialised country. Fuld&Co’s Frankfurt telephone got there first. Still considered a beautiful, modernist piece of art, it looked the part. But it was heavy and cumbersome to use and wasn’t universally adopted. Richard Dreyfuss’ Model 500 came next. It was less aesthetically pleasing and stumpy-looking by comparison, but it was infinitely more usable. Strategically designed by studying office worker’s actual needs in detail, it had a springy extendable wire, built-in carry handle at the back, and a flat-backed receiver. It made carrying the phone around the office easy and cradling it between the neck and shoulder natural. It sold 162 million units.

Strategic thinking creates the conditions for great design. Issues arise when the two operate exclusively. The brand agency model can often perpetuate this – namely the process of the ‘strategy team’ handing over the baton to the ‘creative team’. This siloed approach can lead to bad briefs on one side, or design for design’s sake on the other. Clear, effective design is by its very nature strategic. There’s no delineation. Only then do we get work that, well…works.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Bayswater brings the traditional into the modern day.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The bathroom brand Bayswater W2 is already on its way to becoming a phenomenon within the bathroom industry. In just 3 months, it’s taken the industry by storm, becoming one of the most successful brand launches within the bathroom industry in the past 20 years. Propaganda has worked closely with the company developing the brand, helping it to understand how to differentiate in a crowded market place and how to implement the best distribution strategy.

Bayswater W2 is a range of timeless bathroom pieces, carefully curated and beautifully designed. The Victorian and Edwardian collections include brassware, porcelain, furniture, fittings and radiators.

The company, founded by experts with over 50 years’ experience in bathroom design and manufacture approached Propaganda to help them identify how to take the product to market and how to position the brand in order to stand out in the current market place.

Propaganda believed that the brand should be built around the technical expertise and experience of the main directors, combined with an approach which would make it accessible and desired by consumers. Shunning the industry standard of focussing purely on the product, we gave depth to the brand by introducing stunning brand photography and placing the bathroom furniture in a more natural setting.

The brand narrative was created around the Great Exhibition of 1851. At the time, this was considered a triumph of Victorian ingenuity that served to showcase the amazing inventions of the time. From the Christmas card to the flushing toilet, the Victorians were the mothers of invention. Bayswater products are both aesthetically and technically inspired by this historical period of innovation and development.

We worked closely with the brand to find a route to market which would add value to and protect the brand, looking for a distribution partner who shared Bayswater’s core values and aspirations. Within 3 months of agreeing to work exclusively with the largest distributor in the UK, Ideal Bathrooms, we helped launch the brand at Woburn Abbey, oversaw the development of the website and produced a ‘specification catalogue’, a brochure resonating with the brand’s Victorian heritage.

Retailers are really taking to the brand’s aspiration and core values and Propaganda will continue to work closely with Bayswater W2 as it increases its presence in the UK market.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66534″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66535″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image media=”66536″ media_width_percent=”100″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Wiping out buyer’s remorse forever with The Car People

[vc_row row_height_percent=”0″ overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ shift_y=”0″ css=”.vc_custom_1477409608576{padding-left: 5% !important;}”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There’s no denying that 2017 was a huge year for The Car People – having celebrated its 17th birthday, opened a fourth showroom in Warrington and ended the year with an acquisition by Sytner, the UK’s largest franchise dealer.

Never one to rest on its laurels, February saw the launch of the brand’s 2018 campaign across broadcast, in-store and social platforms.

Focusing on their mission to wipe out buyer’s remorse forever, the campaign directly responds to the consumer insight that Propaganda’s planning team identified as part of a strategic Brand Health project. Namely that consumers are fearful of making the wrong choice when it comes to buying their next used car – making purchase regret a very real concern.

Buoyed by a Propaganda-commissioned survey of 1,000 adults which revealed that 1 in 3 Brits regret their used car purchase, our creative team developed the concept of ‘no more buyer’s remorse’ to cement The Car People’s difference as an expert, customer-orientated business.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image media=”66527″ media_width_percent=”100″ media_link=”|||”][vc_column_text]We’ve worked with some of the best creative and design talents to deliver the campaign – with Jon Riche directing, Familia producing and Flipbook on animation duty. The goal: ensuring The Car People continue to stay ahead of the competition when it comes to customer insight, messaging and production values.

The first ad, ‘Buyer’s Remorse Therapy’, explores the horrible feeling that often creeps in following the purchase of a used car. The anger, resentment and despair that ultimately makes you question whether you’ve made the right choice.

The second ad, ‘Buyer’s Remorse Lab’ highlights the stress of trying to find a used car online – where fragmented internet research leaves you paralysed by choice and exacerbates the fear of making the wrong choice.

Why not watch the ads for yourself to find out how The Car People are wiping out buyer’s remorse forever – ensuring that you drive away feeling confident about your car, and with a smile on your face![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]