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It seems very few like the new Gillette ‘Me Too’ ad. Those on the far right have blasted it for ‘emasculating men’ and accused it of propagating a fashionable misandry. On the left, others have washed their hands with it because it alienates the very people its supposedly trying to talk to.

I’m left wondering what the communications objective must have been. One can easily envisage the awful ‘make us famous’ style brief clients are so fond of dishing out. In that, they certainly succeeded. Twitter is abuzz and YouTube is ablaze. But hardly with words of praise, and I’m not one to believe that in ‘all PR is good PR’.

I’m so struck by this because, last year, Lynx did something very similar. Yet the internet loved it. And so did I.

Why? Subtlety.

For years, Lynx had been peddling sexist ads of women running after men because of the iconic ‘lynx effect’. Then, last year, almost out of nowhere, Lynx released ‘find your magic’. This shifted the product benefit from ‘will pull women’ to ‘will instil you with confidence’. And the men depicted in the ad weren’t your typical hetero-normative, alpha-male buffs, but an eclectic mix of men and a wonderful representation of masculinity today. Without having to lambast themselves, Lynx nodded to the previous notions of ‘toxic masculinity’ they’d sanctioned, encouraged even, and put all their energies into reversing it.

Where Gillette went wrong, in my opinion, is that they’ve taken themselves too seriously. They seem confident that sexist men everywhere, who might not have been swayed by what they’ve seen in the news, in popular TV shows, what they’ve heard from their friends, their girl-friends and sisters have said, will be persuaded to change by an advert for a razor. It’s ridiculous.

By all means Gillette, work towards improving gender relations; invest in consent workshops, in anger management centres, in diversifying the image of an ‘attractive man’. But please, don’t just create an advert you think you will be popular. Your endline says it all. On the best a man can be’ website, all I can see is shop products and shaving tips. Typical.

Summer Taylor is a strategist at independent creative agency, Atomic London.

A look at what really matter in Iceland/Greenpeace’s ‘Rang-Tan’

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This weekend something extraordinary happened.

My friends, who do not work in advertising, starting discussing advertising.

What prompted the furious pings of our WhatsApp group was, of course, Greenpeace & Iceland’s viral sensation: Rang-Tan.

We all agreed on two things. Firstly, it was absurd that this ad was banned, and secondly, that the advert was beautifully crafted.

Where we differed in opinion, was that they felt Iceland was getting ‘far too much credit’.

At work this morning, I encountered a not dissimilar vein of thought: ‘why couldn’t Iceland have just used their own creative? Why did they have to steal Greenpeace’s?’


Does this really matter?!

My friends’ argument was understandable. Ostensibly, a typical commercial machine had taken a hardworking but criminally underfunded charity’s film and used it as a way to sell their products. Nasty.

But I don’t have a problem with Iceland using this film to sell their products. And I don’t really mind that Greenpeace’s logo isn’t included either. This is not yet another embarrassing execution under misdirected brand purpose. This is something real.

Let’s remember that we are all living under capitalism.

At the end of the day, the people with power are the commercial machines. Why? Because the adage that ‘money talks’ is painfully true.

I don’t know why Greenpeace didn’t try to air their ad on TV. Presumably it’s because they don’t have money to spare. They’re too busy fighting the good fight on the ground.

Iceland, however do. Although Clearcast prevented a TV viewership, Iceland have still managed to get far more people talking about palm oil and Orang-utans than they were when only Greenpeace owned the creative.

We hope that some of this cultural chatter and ‘awareness’ will translate into action.

It’ll be a good thing if more people shop at Iceland this Christmas (and after). Then more people are shopping in a supermarket that has banned palm oil. And, let’s remember, has a five-year plan to eliminate plastic on all own-brand products too.

Hopefully, this will force other supermarkets to clean up their own act.

This is how causes work under capitalism: competitively.

When companies adopt causes, they do so because they believe it will help them sell products. This is why I think calling Iceland’s advert ‘brave’ is perhaps a little misguided.

If Iceland thought this ad would hamper their sales, would they run it?

Probably not.

Most likely, it’s this risk-aversion which contributed to their decision to remove the Greenpeace logo.

Cited in The Guardian, Iceland’s founder, Malcolm Walker, says: “This was a film that Greenpeace made with a voice over by Emma Thompson… we got permission to use it and take off the Greenpeace logo and use it as the Iceland Christmas ad. It would have blown the John Lewis ad out of the window. It was so emotional.”

Greenpeace are a divisive organisation. Particularly their blanket anti-DDT and anti-GM positioning. Respectively, this risked increasing malaria and denying millions nourishment.

Perhaps, if Iceland were really brave, they might have credited Greenpeace; signally their alignment with a controversial charity.

But they didn’t.

So let’s remember that when we guffaw at their courage.

From their founders’ words, it sounds as though their aim was to secure the most emotional Christmas TV ad of the year. I’m not sure how brave this is…

Fundamentally though, let’s also try and remember that in the grand scheme of rainforests, logos (and adverts) are less than an infinitesimal speck of insignificance.

Removing palm oil from your products however is not.

So for this Iceland, I applaud you.


Summer Taylor, Strategist at Atomic London


In Review: The Big Draw with Apple & RubyEtc

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Last night we went to a free creative event at Apple’s Regent Store with insta-famous and all-round genius cartoonist Ruby Etc. It was part of a series of events called The Big Draw which Apple is hosting this year in its stores across the globe.

The evening began with a short talk from Ruby. Normally, we only ever see snippets of her mind revealed in her cartoons, so it was wonderful to hear her talk at length about her practice.

Her advice to all creatives was to ‘never stop’. ‘Carry your sketchbook everywhere’, she said, ‘and use it.’ Ruby beautifully articulated the sketchbook as an ‘external hard-drive for your mind’, and she thought people should be ‘dumping’ stuff in there as often as they could. For her, one of the hardest things had been embracing the fact that, very rarely, does any sketch come out perfect first time. To help combat that, she decided to start sketching with pen immediately. ‘Using pencil encourages you rub it out… you lose the immediacy and for me that’s the best part.’ If something didn’t come out quite right, she’d simply do it again, until it did.

Following her talk, an Apple employer and Ruby demonstrated Apple’s new creative tool on iPads, and then got all members of the audience drawing their own cartoon on an iPad. Apple are clever. What a way to get people invested in not only an iPad, but its software too. The editing capabilities that we played with were generally great and intuitive, more so than Adobe and far more complex than traditional tablet editing services. Rather than being preached to by someone from Apple, we were being shown the functionalities and capabilities of a product from an artist. Now that is smart. Suddenly it didn’t feel like a glorified product demonstration, but a quirky creative evening.

Whilst everyone’s creations were being uploaded to the Cloud, we moved to the Q&A part of the evening. The most interesting question was around the responsibilities of social media influencers in the mental health space. A lot of Ruby’s cartoons deal with her depression and anxiety. Because of her incredibly relatable style, thousands found themselves reaching out to Ruby for advice. But Ruby is an artist, not a therapist, and she was clear on this point. ‘Obviously I want to reply to every single message sending my thoughts and wishing they were okay’, she says, ‘but you have to remember that you don’t owe anyone your experiences or advice regarding mental health’. In a world where it feels like being an ‘influencer’ is about exerting, exactly that – influence – this struck me as a particularly pertinent thing to say.

Ruby followed on by saying she found one of the most productive parts of her art was its ability to start conversations between others (rather than her having to be in them herself). Recently, for instance, she shared a cartoon about PMS (see right) and this got women globally sharing their stories and offering support to one another, on their own terms rather than it being required of them.

We finished the evening by going through all of the audience’s creations on a huge screen. Ruby gave individual feedback (always encouraging) to each hastily drawn doodle; always finding something nice to say. Everyone laughed together and felt a sense of pride when their creation landed on the big stage.

Overall, the evening was quite wonderful. Everyone fell in love with Ruby and, I suspect, felt pretty warmly towards Apple. They hadn’t hosted a pretentious evening where attendees felt like they had imposter-syndrome; they hosted something fun and genuinely creative. And showcased an excellent product in a way that didn’t make it feel like I was being sold to. At no point did anyone ask me if I wanted to buy an iPad or the software, and I think that’s key to their success. I actually came away debating whether I should perhaps scrap my plans to get a Kindle and consider an iPad instead…

Well done, Apple.



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Though ‘blockchain’, ‘bitcoin’, and ‘crypto-currencies’ are popping up daily in our newsfeeds, our industry’s grasp of the meanings behind the jargon is negligible. That’s why my team at Atomic briefed me to step outside our office and paint a picture of the future of finance. I decided I’d better speak to someone who knew their stuff. So that’s why I met up with Julian Sawyer, Chief Operating Officer of Starling Bank; a digital challenger frequently referred to as the ‘future of banking’. If anyone is qualified to have a point of view on the future of finance, it’s him. Speaking with him makes clear that there’s a myriad of myths hanging over the financial sector. One by one, Sawyer and I do some diligent myth-busting.


Myth No. 1: Fintechs aren’t banks

I’m quick to learn that the difference between established banks and digital challenger banks is overblown; ‘thinking in terms of fintechs versus banks is the wrong way of thinking’, Sawyer tells me. He goes onto say how Starling Bank made the calculated decision to call itself ‘Starling Bank’ as opposed to just ‘Starling’ when it received its banking licence. Sawyer believes that though people are happy to use financial services from fintechs, ‘the actual idea of banking (paying your salary in) with a fintech is not something most people are happy to do. People still want to bank with a bank.’ That’s why Starling Bank spent nearly two years ticking all the boxes to become a licensed bank. This accreditation was necessary to win customers’ trust.


Myth No. 2: Technology changes everything

Equally surprising is the revelation that people didn’t want banking to be ‘as easy as possible’. Initially, Starling Bank had used biometrics to open current accounts. Indeed, industry reports had forecast an acceptance of biometrics; PWC suggested biometric recognition would become a staple in bankingand Mintel attested that one third of people felt comfortable fingerprint scanning for payments. Starling Bank found that in practice, their customers were uncomfortable with the notion of banking just with biometrics, they re-introduced the humble password (and this still means that an account could be opened in less than 3 minutes); ‘people wanted an element an friction’. If digitally-native ‘early adopters’ felt ill at ease with biometrics, it’s unlikely the banking industry will hinge on this technology.


Myth No. 3: The banking revolution is led by the young

Speaking of ‘digitally-native’, Sawyer explains that the commonality amongst Starling Bank users is not their age or gender, but their mobile phone usage. So often the digital challenger brands are associated solely with millennials; a consumer group who have documented their entire lives with the help of smartphones. However, at Starling, they’ve found that their technology is not exclusively adopted by this younger audience. Instead, the app has been welcomed by a diverse network of people; anyone who lives their life on a smartphone.


Myth No. 4: Branches will cease to exist

Given this wide appeal, there’s speculation over the need to physically visit a bank in the future. Frequent reports cite bank branches closing at an alarming rate; in the past three years, nearly three thousand have closed. However, Sawyer doesn’t think branches will disappear completely, but agrees with a forecast from PWC; ‘branches will continue to exist, but not in their current form’. Sawyer believes that ‘there are some conversations which are better conducted as a two-way dialogue, like mortgages or pensions’. People might not pop into the branch to cash a cheque, make a payment or even open an account, but they will still find value in talking through ‘complex, involved decision making’.


Myth No. 5: Cash isn’t here to stay

‘The UK is still a long way from being a cashless society’. Apparently one quarter of people in 2017 used cash on a daily basis. Despite this, Sawyer believes cash will continue to diminish in importance until it is virtually obsolete. He sees a future whereby, instead of people getting cash out to pay their friends when splitting the bill for dinner, they’ll transfer money to each other in real- time. For those of us using digital banks, this is a habit we’ve already become accustomed to. He believes cash will linger in society because it will continue to pay casual or seasonal labourers. With automation however, this fragile labour-force (and its need for cash) will disappear. For cash to disappear more quickly, internal changes must also be made. The move in 2020 to end minimum card payments of £5 in local corner shops is a significant step in this direction.


Myth No. 6: Cards will remain unchanged

Though there are reams of articles debating the viability of a cashless society, only a few are broaching the subject of a cardless society. Sawyer, a voice of moderation in a sea of people evincing seismic change, insists that cards are likely to remain but will change in format; ‘Aside from ATM access, there is no real need for them to be the size that they are. All that is necessary is the chip and the antenna for contactless connectivity.’ He predicts a card similar to the Tesco Clubcard. Coin and card mechanisms would need to change but we know this can and will happen. Look at the tube. Gone are the days of buying a ticket (with cash) and forcing the flimsy papery thing through the machine.


Myth No. 7: All banking will be conducted on blockchain

On the subject of future technologies, we discuss blockchain and Bitcoin. My impression was that they were inherently good ‘things’ for the banking industry. So I was surprised when Sawyer said he exercised caution in this area; ‘there is a danger in Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies being used, look at the Silk Roads scandal and the ‘mining’ industry’. I’d thought blockchain and Bitcoin offered infallible security and absolute transparency. They don’t. The technology on which they are built on, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), does. This is why established banks have partnered with some DLT companies like Ripple, why Japan has its first crypto-currency; and why everyone, including Sawyer is excited about the possibility of working with DLT.


Myth No. 8: Loyalty is everything in the financial sector

The main advantage of DLT is its indisputably accurate transaction history. Those in the banking sector are hoping that it will be this failsafe account of the truth that will win back customers’ trust in the wake of the 2008 crash. Banks have routed their aspirations in the age-old marketing principle of loyalty. For them, loyalty is everything. Sawyer however believes that reliance on loyalty is out-dated because it rests on the assumption that loyal customers will choose to do everything with one provider. ‘The traditional banking model where a single provider is trusted to do everything has been busted,’ Sawyer says. Instead, he believes in the virtues of a competitive marketplace. Starling bank have chosen to build their marketplace in a hub-and-spoke model. Starling Bank is the hub, and all other companies they partner with, the spokes. They do one thing really well; current accounts. If you want to invest, you are handed over to a third party specialising in investments such as Wealthify or Moneybox. Sawyer recognises there ‘is no silver bullet’ solution enabling someone to entirely manage their finances with a sole provider. For this reason, he predicts that people will manage their finances with a range of financial providers.


Myth No. 9: The biggest internet companies will become banks

The revelation that I won’t be able to go to just one place to do everything startles me; I’d believed that Facebook and Google harboured ambitions to become banks. I venture my suspicions and Sawyer agrees with me. However, he does not think that consumers will trust the likes of Facebook (infamous for data breaches). Instead, Facebook and others will partner with digital banks that are already well established and leverage their own brand as a way to win trust from customers.


Myth No. 10: Established banks won’t disappear

The fact that Facebook or Google won’t be able to convince customers to bank with them directly because of their brand, re-affirms our first learning; that being a bank still matters. For this same reason Sawyer does not see the established banks disappearing anytime soon. ‘We are all slow to move away from existing providers’, he muses, and established banks will try their best to accommodate change. Sawyer believes established banks will continue to exist but be known for particular specialisms. The new norm will be for someone to have a current account with Starling Bank and a mortgage with Barclays.


What we’ve learned

Technology is clearly shaking up this category, perhaps more so than any other. Customers want to seamlessly transact in real-time but, fundamentally, they still want to bank with banks. People will need to know who they should go to for a current account, for a loan or for a mortgage. The role for comms then is to help customers differentiate in this saturated and complex landscape.

Was there just a lack of social strategy at JD Wetherspoons?

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JD Wetherspoon is closing down its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for all its 900 pubs and head office with immediate effect. Ironically announcing this news on social media… 

Is this a brand that has never seen what a good social strategy looks like, a really strange PR stunt or a brand that completely gets and understands its target demographic and the channels that they live in?

You have to admit, when a national brand with over £1.6 billion revenue in 2017 comes out and says that they don’t believe social media benefits their business, it is a little shocking, if not slightly unbelievable.

But you better believe it folks, JD Wetherspoon the pub and hotel chain with around 900 outlets across the UK is closing all of its social media activity, with founder Tim Martin branding them as a ‘waste of time’.

So, why has the national pub chain made the decision to get rid of these channels?


  1. A serious lack of social strategy and a lack of understanding about the role social media plays for their brand.

Clearly JD Wetherspoon doesn’t employ any social strategists, or if they do they should really consider some type of career change.

A five-minute scan across the pub chain’s social channels is enough to realise that there has been no attempt at any overarching strategy to turn the brand’s social media into something that could increase the brand’s awareness or loyalty from its customers.

The numbers are telling – the brand has 900 different Facebook accounts, one for each pub within its estate. That is 900 pub managers that could post whatever they like (if they could be bothered) under the JD Wetherspoon brand name. Doesn’t exactly scream manageable to me…

However, there are some positive numbers, or at least numbers that they could work with. Their main account on Twitter had 44,000 at the time of writing and their Facebook page was sitting around 100,000. Small numbers when you consider the size of JD Wetherspoon’s business and brand but a start at least.

It is evident that the pub chain had little respect for social media and the role that it played in it business strategy. Yet you can’t be think that had JD Wetherspoons invested in their social media and community management properly, it could bring huge benefits to their brand.

Look at Nandos for example, probably one of the best social media strategies to have been executed by a brand. Mixing creativity with social media they have used their ever-growing channels to build a huge online following and ultimately a huge affection for their brand.


  1. JD Wetherspoon understands their target market very well and appreciates the channels they need to utilise to get the best results for their brand.

Be honest with yourself for a second, have you ever gone on to your local Wetherspoon’s Twitter or Instagram page? Based on the fact their twitter following sits at an insignificant 44,000 followers, the answer for the majority of you reading this is probably no!

If you fancy a pint for £1.20 and a burger of questionable quality for under £10 you are going to Google (let’s hope they remain on this) your closest Wetherspoon. Would the fact that they don’t have a Twitter or Facebook page deter you from going? In fact, the only reason I would go on to ANY public establishments social page would be to see

A. What the food looks like

B. What is on the menu and

C. How the interior of the pub looks.

Given that JD Wetherspoon pubs are pretty much carbon copies of each other from food to décor, it could be argued that there isn’t really much reasoning to visit prior to going.

There is also a case to be made that during a customers visit, social media isn’t high up on the agenda for most. Based on the fact that the most common theme of social media users is to create a picture perfect life to their followers, the local JD Wetherspoon probably doesn’t quite cut it for most when showing off.

The point to make here is that JD Wetherspoon have a clear idea of where their target market seeks to find out about their brand and social media obviously isn’t that place. This won’t have been a decision that Tim Martin, Founder and Chairman of the brand, made over his cereals this morning.


  1. The growing resentment amongst people of the role that social media is playing in our lives.

There has been a lot of commentary recently on the long term effects of social media, we recently spoke about its evolution and our growing concerns on the role it was beginning to play in our lives.

It is clear from Tim Martin’s comments that Wetherspoon’s sit very much in this boat and they have decided to take a stand against it. It is true that the growing worry of the detrimental effects social media is having on our society can’t be ignored.

Martin was quoted as saying “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.”

Perhaps they see this as a strategic decision where they can look back as a brand and say ‘we were one of the first’. Who knows?



In truth, I firmly believe that it is a combination of all three. JD Wetherspoon’s social media channels were doing nothing for their brand, hence why Martin was quoted as saying “I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers”.

It can be argued that this is probably down to the poor way these channels have been managed. There is no doubt that a well thought through social strategy for the brand, implemented on the world’s biggest communication platforms could benefit their brand.

However, let’s face it, JD Wetherspoons haven’t exactly been active on their channels and based on the wisdom that poorly ran and in-active social channels can be actually more detrimental to your brand than no social at all, they have still managed to build a company that served up a 4% rise in like for like sales in 2017 and has its revenue currently sitting at £1.6 billion. Perhaps Tim Martin and JD Wetherspoons are fairly happy with those figures and in fact don’t need the hassle of social media and having to manage customer complaints in the public domain…

Losing their social channels isn’t going to affect JD Wetherspoons in the short term, people are still going to go for their cheap and cheerful experience but you can’t help but think they could be doing a lot more.

Is it time for brands to unfriend Facebook?

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Everything has a price. A once 10p Freddo is now lurking around the £50 price point. A pint of beer in central London requires a small payday loan. So, why did we expect Facebook to be any different? The news of a data breach should not really come as a shock.

Instead of asking for money, Facebook banks on sharing data. In order for us to stalk old school friends, post pictures of our pets and wish ex-colleagues a happy birthday – forget bitcoin – data is the new currency.

Facebook Login

Although we ‘opt-in’ to sharing certain details about ourselves (and some people have no problem airing all their personal details independently), the extent of information the social media giant has been harvesting has remained pretty much unknown.

Since The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica had used over 50 million Facebook profiles to build a system that could target political voters, we’ve discovered the depth of information they have retained is astonishingly creepy. This includes recording phone call details, collecting the metadata from text messages, and even prying into private emails. Sharing this information illegally with third-party apps, has also been reported.

Is it time for me to unfriend Facebook?

I still reach for my phone. I still find my thumb hovering over and opening the Facebook App to mindlessly scroll. I’m not thinking about the data Facebook are collecting from every ‘like’, link click and follow. (Or the information that is being mined from my phone contacts, emails and alike).

Has muscle memory made my unconscious brand loyalty so strong that I’m able to forgive Facebook and overlook this data breach? Has Facebook managed to ingrain itself so deeply into my daily life that I’m unable to disconnect?

When it comes to both its users and its brands – how far does Facebook have to push us before we finally #DeleteFacebook?

Is it time for you to unfriend Facebook?

It appears there are a few people more actively concerned about their digital privacy.

If you look at the Google Trends data for the term ‘Delete Facebook’, you will see that the queries have increased exponentially since the Facebook data breach was first reported.

Already the number of people searching for that term is trailing off, as the data breach hype slowly begins to die down. However, the damage is already done.

Marketing week reported that 7.66% of users have deleted their account. This may sound like a relatively small number, but once you scale it up to 2.9 million users of Facebook’s apparent 38 million users – that’s quite a significant movement.

A further 34% of users have updated their privacy settings, myself now included.

Should brands unfriend Facebook?

Brands are currently in limbo. If they choose to continue advertising on Facebook, are brands turning a blind eye to privacy corruption? Will it damage their brand reputation?

If brands react quickly, will it fit with their brand purpose? But, if they refuse to advertise on Facebook, will it come across as little more than a PR Stunt?

“There are PR benefits right now in announcing a boycott, but ultimately what will matter for most advertisers is return on media investment.”Matti Littunen, Enders Analysis

Mozilla became the first brand to announce their break from Facebook advertising – pressing pause on any affiliations with the brand.

In a blog post from their Chief Business and Legal Officer, Denelle Dixon the brand stated that they wouldn’t be returning to the platform until “Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings wfor third party apps.

Everyone’s favourite entrepreneur, Elon Musk, called for Tesla and SpaceX to be pulled from Facebook  on Friday (23rd March). This was followed by unlikely social warrior, Playboy, deleting their Facebook accounts on Tuesday (27th March).

In all instances the brands have remained active on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. If brands choose to overlook the data breach, their stance on #DeleteFacebook looks incredibly contrived. Making this moment part of your brand purpose could do more damage than good.

The Facebook Data breach – what happens now?

‘It would take a lot of brands pulling advertising to have a significant impact on Facebook’s business. eMarketer estimates its ad revenues will hit $48.9bn (£35.5bn) globally this year.’ – Marketing Week

There can’t be an impactful mass-advertising exodus until they fully understand the consumer opinion. If target audiences abandon the platform because of the data breach, it will give brands legitimacy to do the same. How many users does the platform need to lose before Facebook becomes unattractive to advertisers?

For now, brands find themselves in the tricky spot between a PR stunt and losing credibility with their customers. If they strike the balance right, they may earn themselves some respect.

As for me? I’m still scrolling, cautiously scrolling.




We need to take care of Mothercare

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It’s been 12 years since I spent my weekend walking up and down the aisles of Mothercare, with my arms full of baby gear. But having popped in to my local store in Romford to buy a present for a friend. I couldn’t quite believe how deserted it was. With the exception of a few people in the Costa Coffee café inside.

And it got me thinking why this brilliant bricks and mortar brand, created in 1961 was in trouble? Why my ‘go to place’ for baby supplies was in intensive care? Why millennial mums and dads were no longer spending their weekend walking up and down the aisles?

There are three big factors

1. Millennial mums are massively mobile

Unlike 12 years ago, when I would flip open my Nokia, to text home, to find out which size nappies we needed. The millennial mum has always been a digital native. In April 2014, Kantar Media reported that 49.9% of mothers with kids aged 0-5 used the internet with their mobile every day.

And research by the baby centre found that in a typical day, millennial internet mums spent over 3 hours with their smartphone and tablet devices. Shopping, keeping informed, working and staying connected to friends.

So for a brand like Mothercare this should be a walk in the park. Right? I mean we have a high interest category ‘babies’ And we have the means to talk about them. And this certainly seem to be the case on social media. The brand have a pretty engaged audience, with great content like their #2am Club which connects parents with each other at 2am.

So why is this not translating to online sales? Well for a start online deliveries can take between 2-4 days. And are only available Monday to Friday. If you can’t wait that long, you can pay £4.95 for next day delivery, but you have to place your order before 6pm. Which is probably when you have your hands full of nappies and baby formula.

For me the brand shouldn’t just blame their decline in sales on the fact that they didn’t discount before Christmas. Because even if they had, there would have still been easier ways for millennial parents to order the stuff they need and get it delivered the same day. So why bother going to Mothercare for it?

2. Millennial mums are redefining work

Secondly millennial mums have better things to do with their time these days, than physical shopping. Like running their own businesses. In the last 10 years we have seen a huge shift in the aspirations of the UK workforce and women with young children under 5 are at the forefront of it.

In a UK study by Nominet 8% of women with children under 4 had already set up their own businesses, instead of going back to work after maternity. And 10% said they were expecting to set up a business in the next 6 months.

This drive for flexibility is a key motivation of mums who want a work life balance. So it’s hardly surprising that they aren’t spending their time at Mothercare, when they have a home business to run between sleeps.

3. And then there is the Amazon effect?

Amazon has made no secret of its desire to move into clothes and food. According to the book The ‘Everything Store’, Jeff Bezos told Amazon employees back in 2007 that “in order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food”. 

That’s not good news for Mothercare. Unless they decide to follow Wholefoods, and sell the brand to Amazon. Which they may end up doing.

In the past year alone, Amazon have already rolled out their own clothing range, they have struck a partnership with Calvin Klein and even Nike are selling shoes on their site.

With such a large amount of money being spent on children up to the age of 5, it’s hardly surprising that Amazon have turned their attention to millennial parents. Last year they offered expectant parents a Free Baby Box worth £40 when they spent £20. Complete with Nemo.

This was a really smart play by Amazon, because not did expectant parents raise their hands, but it also means they now have the data to retarget them with relevant offers throughout the baby’s life.

What’s more if you are a Prime Customer you can also place an order for selected baby products with the Prime Now App and get it delivered within 2 hours.

Which is roughly the time it takes to pack the baby bag, get the little one ready and drive to Mothercare.

So what can Mothercare do to turn it around?

Stand for something.

Firstly this fantastic brand needs to stand for something again and create a role in peoples lives. It needs to put the ‘care’ back into Mothercare.

To do this, they need to become a brand that millennial parents are interested in again, by reinventing themselves and looking at every single thing they do, through the eyes of millennial parents. What do they really need and how can we help them.

The brand has a fantastic heritage and front of mind awareness, but unless they can create a distinctive purpose and build a stronger emotional connection they are going to leave the door wide open for Amazon.

This week Public Health England launched a new ‘breast feeding friend’ with Amazon, giving new mums support, day or night on Alexa.

Why can’t Mothercare show that they care, by playing this role for millennial mums?

The brand need to make the experience frictionless

Amazon’s huge success comes from putting the customer at the heart of everything they do, delivering stuff that people want, at a low price and with fast delivery. It’s frictionless.

Mothercare should take a leaf out of Amazons book and take a similar ‘frictionless approach’ to win over millennial parents.

They should think about all ways they can get their baby products into their hands quickly and easily. And create a better customer experience at every stage of the journey.

If it’s now possible to order something as simple as Pizza from Domino’s over Alexa, with an Emoji or via a fridge magnet, then why can’t Mothercare do the same with nappies or baby formula? Why can’t they have an emergency button, that automatically places an order when the nappies are getting low.

Or why can’t Mothercare create a new partnership with deliveroo to bring baby food too? I can see the logo now.

Mothercare need to create a platform for their product and service

Some of the most successful brands have built platforms that allow them to interact with their customers, interpret data and deliver even more of what a customer loves.

Take Netflix for example. They now know what people watch, when they watch it and can predict what people will like with incredible accuracy. So much so, they are commissioning more and more of their own original series.

Mothercare could do the same here and build real trust with parents, by delivering products and services unique to their needs. Helping them at every stage of a babies development. This is something that worked very well when I worked on the Global Pampers Brand.

In doing so the brand can really put their data to great use and properly connect it to their marketing plan, driving even more efficiency in their media selection. Which in turn will free up money to spend on richer more engaging experiences and content.

As a brand that cares, they can really own this space far more easily that Amazon.

So what would I do if you were Mothercare?

In a world of rapid technology driven change, Mothercare really only have two options if they want to survive.

They can either take on Amazon at their own game, by being totally customer centric. Making the customer experience frictionless. Building a direct relationship with millennial parents and investing in the brand at every touch point. From mobile, through to physical experiences.

Or, they could move their shop onto Amazon’s platform, let them become the interface with their customer. Give them their data. And cross their fingers that Amazon don’t decide to launch a product, just like theirs in the future.

For me I hope it is the former. I hope this fantastic brand with amazing brand equity, finds it’s purpose again and reinvents itself for tomorrows mums and dads. I would love to see them back on top and I’d love to help them do it.

Brands with a Conscience: Managing Brand Purpose

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It has been a tumultuous couple of years. Trump, Brexit, #MeToo, and similar movements have caused substantial political and social upheaval. This has forced conversations around diversity, equality and the environment. Brands are keen to get involved in the conversation too, using brand purpose to explore what matters to them. But talk is no longer enough.

Increasingly, consumers are turning to brands that demonstrate a brand purpose beyond profit. Brands that are using their position to push change are finding success over their competitors.

Brand purpose used correctly with collaboration

Authenticity is key to crafting an effective, socially conscious brand purpose. One example of executing an authentic brand purpose is to partner with a charity or campaign.

Lacoste have recently collaborated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to shine a light on endangered animals – swapping the crocodile for ten of the world’s most endangered species. The polo shirt launch is the start of a three year ‘Save the Species’ campaign.

As well as creating a range of polo shirts to highlight the specific endangered animals, Lacoste have produced the same amount of shirts to represent the number of animals that are left in existence. This includes a worryingly small amount of 30 shirts for the Vaquita Porpoises.

It’s a creative collaboration that has had a positive impact on their brand awareness and with 100% of the profits going towards animal conservation, it will genuinely make a difference.

Brand purpose used correctly with longevity

Smirnoff have been collaborating on a gender equality focused campaign for the last year, hoping to double the amount of female festival headliners by 2020.

Brand Purpose: Concert Image by Abigail Lynn

In partnership with THUMP and Broadly, the vodka brand has created the ‘Equalizing Music’ initiative. The long-running campaign will see a series of projects encouraging women in the music industry. Their most recent project is in collaboration with Spotify:

‘The Smirnoff Equalizer analyzes Spotify users’ listening habits to provide them with a percentage breakdown of the number of men versus women artists they have listened to in the previous six months before providing an equalized playlist tailored just for them, where artists of both genders are equally represented.’ – Diageo 

Rather than pushing a product, sponsoring a cause creates a bigger impact. It will come across as more authentic with audiences.

Brand purpose with an agenda

Authenticity is the core of brand purpose. As digital-native consumers are more aware of strategic marketing and agenda than ever before, misusing brand purpose to market yourself will cause a backlash.

Brand Purpose Agenda: Women's March by Giacomo Ferroni

International Women’s Day presented an opportunity for brands to get involved with gender politics. However, many found themselves criticized for using tone-deaf strategies to promote products, rather than support the issue.

Is the Jane Walker’ campaign really in support of progression, or is it an attempt to broaden Johnnie Walker’s Black Label consumer market?

Is BrewDog’s Pink IPA really a satirical swing at the gender pay gap, or is it leaning on the same gendered marketing tools that companies have been using for years to sell products to women? When the product promotion was met with criticism on twitter, Brewdog were able to use reactive marketing strategies to explain themselves and rectify their reputation.

Starbucks have touted that they’re making environmentally conscious decisions with their business. However, with constant press surrounding tax avoidance the message of ‘we’re promoting a responsible business falls flat.

Companies with a conscience are going to see success. Consumers and customers want authenticity. Now, more than ever before, brands will need to prove that they don’t merely support progress in culture, industry and society but actively enforce change too.


Red Stripe to the rescue! How reactive marketing can help make your brand difficult to forget.

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The underdogs of the Winter Olympics, the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team, have faced many challenges over the course of their competing years – famously documented in the 1993 Disney film, Cool Runnings. When the Jamaican Women’s team qualified to compete in this year’s Winter Olympics for the first time it appeared their luck had changed.

However, this week the team’s coach announced that she would be leaving the team, taking both the sponsorship deals and bobsled with her. With the ownership of the bobsled in dispute, the Jamaican Women’s Bobsleigh Team feared they could no longer compete because, let’s face it, it’s probably impossible to compete in a bobsledding competition, without a bobsleigh.

In stepped Red Stripe: ‘No Bobsled, no problem.’

A beer that is ‘brewed in Jamaica and shared with the world’, Red Stripe were happy to foot the bill for a new bobsled and support their home country in the Winter Olympics. But, it was more than just home-town pride that forced them to lend a hand in saving the day. It was reactive marketing; a brand spotting an opportunity to make a difference and build brand awareness in the process.

What is Reactive Marketing?

With the rise of social media, brands now have the ability to watch the conversation and join in at the touch of a button. Most brands are delivering some form of scheduled proactive social media campaign, but not all brands are inserting themselves into the moment, reacting to current topics and viral news.

Even when a brand’s attempt at reactive marketing does not quite land, one example being Papa John’s attempt to steal KFC customers in the midst of the current chicken crisis, we can still appreciate them for trying. With a finger on the pulse, a fast-thinking brand can build themselves into the narrative of the timeline rather than repeatedly post irrelevant content which fails to create an impression.

How Can Brands Execute Reactive Marketing?

To create a successful reactive marketing campaign, brands need to exercise attention and awareness. Due to the ever-changing nature of news and trends, reactive marketing has an increasingly small window of opportunity to get involved. The pressure to deliver content quickly and post in real-time can leave a brand open to making errors, missing the mark completely, or even showing up too late.

The reason Red Stripe have found success with their reactive marketing move is that they understand their brand voice. Rather than relentlessly pushing self-promotion in an obvious way, they have showed support for a cause that feels authentic and in-line with their brand values. And by doing so in a humorous way – put the bobsled on our tab – they will surely reap the benefits of brand loyalty and increased awareness.

It may not have had months of planning and execution but tweeting out that they’ll buy a $50,000 bobsled during the Winter Olympics may have earned Red Stripe a metaphorical gold medal with their digital audiences.

Is my creative agency working hard enough for my brand?

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“In simple terms, it is finding an agency that is less worried about ‘what we make’ but moreover ‘what we are helping to create’ from a brand and business perspective.”


As little as 10 years ago, finding your perfect creative agency partner meant finding a team of people culturally obsessed with making the best adverts possible with a show-reel of work that gave you the confidence they would make equally great adverts for you.

Fast-forward to 2018 and finding the right agency partner is still as important, but what you look for in that partner is COMPLETLEY different. Most clients are no longer looking for a creative partner that is just obsessed with making the best adverts. Your business has become too competitive, too multi-dimensional and fragmented and your consumers are now a very different kind of beast.

That’s why I believe the best agency and client relationships today are born out of a meeting of minds over what it takes to win in business and how creativity can help create that result. In simple terms it is finding an agency that is less worried about ‘what we make’ but moreover ‘what we are helping to create’ from a brand and business perspective.

With that in mind, here are 5 things that we would be asking to discover if you are in a forward facing, modern agency relationship OR you are in a dying relationship that is haunted by a show-reel of past advertising glories:


Do we REALLY speak the same language anymore?

So many agencies still talk about the ‘big idea’ in terms of a one-off executional advertising idea, when today, it’s more important to give brands an idea ‘platform’ that can work across ever channel and touch-point. The best platforms of course, still allow you to create individually brilliant executions when the time is right but most traditional creative agencies still obsess entirely over one-off channel execution.

Test whether you really speak the same language by asking your Creative Director what the best 3 ‘ideas’ are in the market at the moment and why? You may well discover that you’re wasting your time, money and patience talking at cross-purposes.


Are they really interested in my businesses success or are they pushing their own agenda?

Is your agency constantly looking for the best response to your brief regardless of the channel? Or are they constantly putting TV scripts in front of your nose in the hope that they might get something away? A lot of advertising agencies grew up on the 30 second TV script and to a lot of them, this is still what advertising is, anything else other than TV just simply isn’t the answer. Some agencies will put forward responses that have their own awards and accolades in mind as opposed to the correct motivation of solving your business challenge in the most effective way.

Analyse your agencies responses to your briefs. Is there an overwhelming amount of misfit responses to your challenge? Are they creating TV scripts in response to your social and content briefs? If so, it may be that the agency doesn’t have your best interests at heart.


Are the best conversations happening when you’re not making work?

Being a creative agency today is not just about serving up great work and sending the invoice while they sit back and let the sales flood in. Business is 24/7 and the best agencies now are creating ideas and productive conversations outside of the core briefs. To ‘bastardise’ a John Lennon lyric “Life happens when you’re busy making plans” the same is true in marketing. Real business growth and competitive advantage is developed when everyone else is concentrating on getting the campaigns out of the door.

The test of a good relationship is how good the conversations are between you and your agency when you’re not just making work. How many pro-active ideas has your agency brought to you in the last year that could further your business goal?


Does the relationship feel at its best when things are going wrong?

How do both parties react in the face of adversity? It’s true to say that any relationship fairs well when everything’s running smoothly. However, the best relationships are at their strongest when things go wrong or there is an issue that needs sorting. John Lewis has built an entire brand ethos on the back of this.

How has your agency acted when things haven’t necessarily gone to plan? If they are all over a fix then that’s the sign of a solid relationship. In contrast, if it always feels as though as the client, it’s your problem, you are probably hanging around with the wrong people.


Does my agency treat new business development growth like we treat business growth?

How does your agency look to grow their own business? Those agencies that are successful in generating new business have a constant proactive hustle mentality. The advertising agency landscape in general is a bit behind the curve when it comes to understanding how even the most traditional of brands have to proactively innovate now to grow market share. If your agency can’t tell you how they generate business proactively for themselves, they won’t be thinking about your business proactively either.

Find out if your agency treat business growth like an independent start-up or do they sit and wait for the business opportunities to come to them? If you need to hustle business growth as a brand then you need an agency that has to do the same.



Of course the above list is not an exhaustive list of what makes client and agency relationships great. Any good intermediary will help clients find very good agency partner options using a whole series of very sensible criteria. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of building a brilliant, close and successful relationship these questions are the ones we ask ourselves to make sure we see eye to eye with our clients.

Our Never Quiet philosophy is the filter we use to help us find the right clients for us and help define the right guiderails for our relationship. Of course it’s not right for everyone but that’s the whole point of laying out what cultural values you believe in right from the start. For some, our list will help you perhaps build a stronger and closer relationship with your agency. For others perhaps it’s the re-enforcement you need to get closure and start to look elsewhere.



About the author:

Formerly Chief Operating Officer of DDB, Havas and Tribal, he’s delivered award-winning campaigns for many clients, including Carling, Volkswagen, Virgin Media and Phillips. Jon is now CEO at independent creative agency, Atomic.

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