Liberty Mutual Surety is one of America’s most successful and iconic brands. Today – with offices and staff in more than 900 locations worldwide, the company has seen its ranking in the US Fortune 500 jump by 7 places.
Core to that success has been the on-going recognition by Liberty Mutual Surety in the importance of staff engagement and empowering its people with the knowledge, pride and belief that comes from being part of a brand that symbolises the American dream for millions of people and companies.
This collaboration and empowerment of staff has been a corner stone of the brand’s success for decades, but now we see the strategy being tipped by many in the wider business world and global branding industry as one of the top 10 trends to be aware of in 2017.
As always and one step ahead of emerging trends, we have been working in partnership with the Liberty Surety Marketing team in the United States for almost 2 years now to create and deliver the internal corporate culture that fosters this internal continuity.
Recognition of the success of Liberty’s work came in early December, when the director of Liberty Mutual Surety tasked us to create a retrospective of the year’s successes and key moments as a means of personally thanking everyone within the business for their contribution to the collective success of the company throughout North and South America.
Working once again in partnership with the Liberty Mutual Surety marketing team in the States, we created personalised video messages that combined live action footage and drone footage with staff originated shots from throughout 2016, that effectively let everyone see how their individual contribution fed into the wider success of the brand collective.
Not a bad way to finish up the year working with another global brand.
ABOUT: AS A MULTI-AWARD WINNING INTERNATIONAL ADVERTISING AND BRAND DESIGN CONSULTANCY, THE MISSION CONTROL COMMUNICATIONS AND DEDICATED SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE STUDIO, THE MISSION DISCOVERY, WORKS WITH CLIENTS AND THEIR IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAMS TO CREATE INTELLIGENT AND AGILE SOLUTIONS THAT EFFECTIVELY ENGAGE AUDIENCES IN TODAY’S DISRUPTIVE AND HIGHLY COMPETITIVE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE, ENABLING BRANDS TO THRIVE. WE WORK WITH BRANDS SPANNING SOME OF THE MOST TIGHTLY REGULATED SECTORS OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING IN THE WORLD, WITH FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES RANGING FROM – LIBERTY MUTUAL SURETY TO PHARMACEUTICAL, BIOTECH AND LIFE SCIENCE GIANTS. OUR WORK IS ROOTED IN SOUND INTELLIGENCE SUPPORTED BY A STRUCTURED SERVICES ARCHITECTURE THAT COMPLIMENTS CLIENT NEEDS ACROSS STRATEGY AND POSITIONING, ADVERTISING AND DESIGN, BRAND ORIGINATION AND EVOLUTION, PROJECT AND CAMPAIGN PLANNING, ENGAGEMENT AND ACTIVATION, AND INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL CULTURAL ALIGNMENT. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT THEMISSIONCONTROL.COM AND FOLLOW THE MISSION CONTROL ON LINKEDIN, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.
© THE MISSION CONTROL COMMUNICATIONS LTD., 2016.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) employs 890 staff and is by far, the largest EU body in Britain that will be forced to relocate following Brexit.
Whilst Britain still struggles to come to terms with what Brexit actually means, other states within the European Union have been much faster to adapt and the wheels are already in motion as countries line up to make the most of the opportunities post Brexit.
One of the biggest opportunities will be for the state chosen to be the new home for the European Medicines Agency. Currently located in Canary Wharf, London; the EMA works with individual regulatory authorities from all 31 current member states – servicing what is a multi-billion euro/pound industry.
Among those putting their hat into the ring for the EMA bid is Ireland. Other contenders include Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and Germany. However, Ireland actually has a pretty compelling case when you break it down.
Indeed, as Ireland’s Health Minister has already said, “Dublin offers significant advantages as a location, not least the advantage of the English language, a strong pharmaceutical and R&D sector presence.”
Ireland; with its favourable tax rate has already seen a number of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies opt to call it home.
In 2015, Pfzier completed a deal worth $160 billion that saw the US-based pharmaceutical behemoth move its executive offices to Ireland. Joining Pfzier in its relocation to Ireland, French pharmaceutical company, Flamel Technologies is also planning a new Dublin home. The new company is expected to go live in early January 2017, trading under the name of Adadel Pharmaceuticals plc.
With so many of the big names in the industry officially setting up home in Ireland, it would seem to make sense for the EMA to be at the heart of that collective.
Indeed, in an article that appeared in The Times last month, Simon Harris, the health minister, said that the departure of the EMA — which evaluates and monitors drugs in the EU — from London appeared to be inevitable. “Dublin would be a very suitable location and a move to the Irish capital would minimise the disruption to the business of the EMA, thus ensuring continued protection of EU citizens and providing reassurance to the industries which it regulates,” he said.
The Mission Control Communications and its sister studio, The Mission Discovery has been working with pharmaceutical and biotech companies across Europe, the United States and Asia for a number of years. “Our agency is built on the growth and success of brands in this sector,” says Patricia Killoran, Managing Director. “Locating the EMA in Ireland would be a logical decision that would benefit everyone.”
David Sable, Global CEO at Y&R and a noted Linked in influencer published an article back in September 2016 that pretty much encapsulated something that we’ve been talking to clients about for ages.
His post set out to question just how targeted those ‘targeted’ Facebook and Google ads really are.
At almost 44, I was fortunate enough to start in the advertising industry before the digital wave hit. That gave me the luxury of working at a time when we were encouraged to question everything and campaign strategies were in many respects, much more ‘human’.
Today, with brands pumping millions into social media every year, it’s crucial that marketing teams born into a digital generation interrogate the data coming from Facebook and Google as opposed to giving into blind faith. Remember, both of these companies make hundreds of millions every year from advertising, so their data is not neutral and whilst the conferences, workshops and courses are all fun, they are designed to encourage you to buy ads. We all have a worth to Facebook and Google.
So let’s start by taking a look at how Facebook profiles ‘you’.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/ads/preferences and check out the thinking. Facebook say:
“How we determine your ad preferences: We use information from a few different sources to figure out which ads might be relevant and useful to you. Things like your Facebook profile information, activity on Facebook and interactions with businesses can all influence the ads you see.”
Now, in the minds of many, Facebook and Google are infallible sources of pure data to be trusted with a fanatical belief. But the evidence would seem to suggest that in fact, their algorithms are fundamentally flawed and far from being in-depth, with the preference used to pigeonhole one’s points of interest often being tenuous to say the least.
Based on Facebook’s statement, the algorithms would seem to be pretty linear in their approach, failing to take into account human nature and that often, the online personas people project are very different to who they really are. We’ve all liked that page because we felt morally obliged to but never went back to it. We’ve all hit like on something just to keep a friend happy, but never bothered to actually read the article or watch the video. It’s just basic human nature rooted in the need for acceptance.
Like Mr., Sable, I think Google would struggle to know who I really am. For example, my search history covers topics related to work, which considering the scope of our client base, can be pretty diverse. Then there’s the fact that my granddaughter was addicted to Peppa Pig for three years and watched it every evening on my laptop before graduating onto a German speaking Gummy Bear song. So to say that Google or Facebook knows me well enough to target me, would be stretching a truth and a waste of your marketing budget.
I guess the moral of the exercise is that as a species and as consumers, we’re a lot more complicated and fickle than the algorithms would care to admit. Think on that the next time you’re putting all your eggs into a social media only basket.
Every so often we like to share a piece of work that we are particularly proud of. In this instance; that piece is a direct mail campaign created to plug directly into a fully integrated marketing strategy targeting doctors, surgeons and researchers working to understand, treat and cure degenerative neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The campaign was aimed to break through the clutter of press and digital banner ads that the audience is traditionally used to being bombarded with and for the most part, block out – especially since the rise in popularity of ad blockers.
The thinking was to create a talking point that would find a permanent place with in the recipient’s office and mind space – not just a temporary impression on their desktop before being deleted.
“We can’t ignore the impact of degenerative neurological conditions so let’s create a campaign that people can’t ignore.”
This tactile approach was created to make people stop and think. It was to promote a human engagement with the objective of solving a human problem that shatters tens-of-thousands of lives every year.
It is also an opportunity to get inside our heads and see how we approach some of the most complex and sensitive subject matters.
We’ll have more on this project and more on our new site – coming soon!
In our latest interview with Patricia Killoran from The Mission Control Communications, we hear her thoughts on a subject that is rarely out off the media at the moment – mergers and acquisitions.
“Regionally, we’re more used to associating news of mergers and acquisitions with job losses and the hyperbole of hysteria press and politicians subsequently generate around it.
However – step outside of Northern Ireland and there’s a different story to be had. Globally M&A’s are one of the most effective ways for businesses to grow. Overnight a company can find itself with an established foothold and heritage in an overseas market – something that otherwise can take years to achieve.
M&A’s are also a catalyst for innovation with R&D being shared between companies that may formally have been bitter rivals but whose collective knowledge and insights can and often does result in amazing breakthroughs and leaps of logic that are simply inspired.
The M&A culture is also a catalyst for many companies, especially those small companies specializing in a particular niche. Venture capitalists will often invest heavily in these businesses, as whilst they recognize that the product or service alone stands little chance of success, they are betting that another company will spot a use for it within their own model and therefore acquire it.
Understanding the mechanics of M&A’s has allowed us to earn a reputation within what is often called the billion dollar ideas club as a trusted and discreet partner capable of assisting companies navigate the communications, marketing and strategic considerations necessary during this volatile and sensitive process.
In the context of M&A’s, our role differs significantly to that of a typical rebrand project, which relies on building on the existing creditability and goodwill associated with the brand.
No two M&A projects are ever the same. But one of the most common mistakes made during the process is to overlook the importance of engaging the workforce. These people are essentially the backbone of the business that has been absorbed and as mentioned at the top of this article, they will normally default to a position of fear and uncertainty when an merger or acquisition is announced. Without proper engagement, you can quickly find that the intelligence and reputation you thought you were buying in the employees of the business is snapped up by a competitor who will play on the uncertainty they feel. So engage with employees early and put their minds at ease. Remember – whist for you this is just business, for employees it’s the difference between being able to pay their mortgage and not.
Another reason to engage with employees is actually rooted in our subconscious need to belong to something. Just as our ancestors banded together first in tribes and then as nations, the same is true with people and brands. So when you step into remove the brand and values that employees have belonged to for years, you need to be in a position to replace it with something better that they will be proud to be part of. Again – the key is early employee engagement and clear messaging that will galvanize people behind a common purpose.
Historically, brands have saw this as a secondary necessity after informing customers, but as experience has taught us, if your employees are not initiated into the new brand and its mission, vision and values, the experience customers have will not be consistent with the image you’re paying to create.
As mentioned, when you are creating a new brand, it has to offer employees something more than the brand you are telling them to leave behind. However – it’s also worth noting in the midst of a merger or acquisition, many companies lose sight of the importance of marketing, which is why it’s important to have a strategic partner in place that can support you during the process and cover the bases in the event that you get distracted with the wealth of other subjects that need dealt with.
You might wonder why I keep using the term strategic partner as opposed to ‘agency’. Simple. An agency infers something that is simply commissioned to do a defined job. However, positioning the agency as a partner in your mind leads to multiple benefits. Firstly, it leads to more open and honest discussions and will actually alleviate you from a lot of work.
As a strategic partner, it’s our responsibility to create a brand that is more than just a name and logo, but something that encapsulates where your company is going. This can and does lead to some very open and honest discussions, but there is no use in creating a brand that does not give you room to grow or, simply follows current trends. Do that and you end up with a brand that fits in somewhere between your competitors, whereas experience proves that the most successful brands are those that redefine a sector and leave competitors in the dust.
If you are comfortable with the new brand, the chances are it’s because it’s familiar and your brain is unconsciously associating it with existing brands. Therefore – you’ve failed to create your own identity. Our job is to create what can often make you feel initially uncomfortable, but time will validate its effectiveness.
It is also important during any merger or acquisition that your strategic partner works with you to realize an authentic brand story that effectively integrates the two or more company cultures. Remember – it’s not just a case of rehashing your old brand story. The purpose of a merger or acquisition is to make you better and by default your brand story needs to reflect that and unite everyone behind a common purpose.”
With 2016 shaping up to be a year in which we see unprecedented mergers and acquisition coming to the table and many established brands acting like venture capitalists, it’s going to be an interesting ride.
We love our old lab table. It’s become part of who we are and what we stand for since moving into our new office – one year ago today.
After rescuing it from the back of a warehouse, we’ve had politicians and company presidents, CEOs and managing directors, brand directors, marketing associates, friends and family, around it, on it and even under it.
At the table, we’re all equals. What’s said at the table stays at the table. It’s an open forum that invites debate and questions thinking. It’s been the Launchpad for global brands and international campaigns. We’ve laughed and cried around it. We’ve planned, created and celebrated around it. We’ve redefined markets and initiated global trends around it. We’ve bucked convention and set a path that many now follow. We’ve shaped government and bridged seemingly impossible challenges. Now however, it’s the centrepiece for a little self-indulgence and some fun.
Our aim is not to offend anyone with our nod to Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but instead translate one of the most significant and debated pieces of art into a reflection and interpretation of our own story – and have some fun in the process.
We often say that we don’t create pretty picture campaigns. Well – this is no exception. Each and every element within the shot is part of our own brand story and has a direct significance to the team and all those of our ilk!
- Skull – Our very own Yorick symbolises the power of the spoken word and also the relevance of our work for the betterment of human life. It also happens to be just one of the many skulls we have dotted about the office, a tribute perhaps to the fact that we’re frequently headhunted for our services by companies from all over the world.
- Globe – Well we do get about.
- Helmets – So much of the language used in our industry is drawn from the military lexicon, campaigns, strategizing, missions and freelancers. So we thought to show our own generals taking to the field to plan their next campaign. That and we have a massive collection of prop helmets that we’re not allowed to take home.
- Mac – The Holy Grail of tools for designers, but if you note, it rests on a book about strategy. You see, everything we do is rooted in strategy and without the strategic input of the human behind the screen – the Mac is nothing but a blunt tool.
- Awards – Proof that despite our quirky ways we consistently get results internationally for our clients. The awards are all for effectiveness – not just pretty pictures but they don’t dominate who we are and are just one of the many positive outcomes from creating effective work in partnership with motivated clients.
- BB8 – Star Wars is a topic that is often debated among the team and though we come from all walks of life, it shows how a great story can unite people and we believe in creating and telling great stories for our brand partners.
- Robby Robot – ‘Danger Will Robinson Danger.’ Working on the sort of projects that we do, we often get to see what was once considered science fiction become science fact.
- Phone & iPad – Working internationally, the phone is a vital tool within the office and for some of the team, a permanent fixture to their ear. We like to talk with people – not just email. Although face-to-face is even better.
- Cameras – Vintage tools of our trade, a reminder that whilst technology will continue to adapt and evolve, the skill needed to create a beautiful image resides in the experience and eye of the photographer.
- Empty Chair – The Judas chair. A poignant reminder that you should always be ready to walk away from the people and things that hold you back.
- Da Vinci’s Last Super – Or as we’re calling this shoot, The Last Cliché as the work we do in the real world can never be clichéd. Therefore we’re keeping this cliché where it belongs, as a bit of fun around the table in the studio that brings us all together and let’s some of the newer members of the team experiment with the many tools of our trade.
For those of you with a keen eye, you might spot a little character under the table busy with her very own creative endeavour. Well that’s our junior, junior creative – who frequently comes into the office to work, play and make snow and who constantly reminds us what a wonderful thing an imagination is.
Finally – a massive thank you to everyone that stepped up on the day and took part. Left to right: Adam, Zach with a ‘H’ and not a ‘K’, Trish, Laurence, me, Anthony, Matthew and Fehin. Oh and let’s not forget our other little helper under the table, LillyMay and Phil Smyth who was behind the scenes telling us all what to do and taking the shots.
Now let’s see what happens at the table in year two!
When we launched earlier this year, we wanted to prove to people that our quirky way of doing things actually gets results. We’re strategic in what we do, but in a down-to-earth way. We don’t aim to baffle people with buzzwords and technical jargon; we simply aim to help them create work that is strategically destined to succeed.
Well – in less than a year, the team has scooped 4 international effectiveness awards including 3 Generator Effectiveness Awards and 1 Davey Effectiveness Award – so we must be doing something right.
At this rate – we might need to get a shelf or something.
Earlier this year whilst on a shoot at Terry’s, we spotted this old science lab bench tucked away at the back of a warehouse. It had been salvaged from a local school where it had been used by thousands of students over the years to carry out all sorts of experiments and then pretty much forgotten about. Well – with our experience working with brands within the sciences and healthcare sectors, we decided to give it a new lease of life and take it home with us.
Since then we’ve had brand managers and healthcare professionals from all over the world join us around it, not to mention we planned the 2015 Conservative General Election campaign here with a few very well known faces.
We’ve also been very lucky in that we’ve attracted some very talented people to join us at the table to help deliver multiple award winning projects with our clients’ marketing teams. But we’ve always got room for more.
Now we’re planning on using it as the backdrop for work that will be featured on our new website – due to launch early in the New Year not to mention something epic pre Christmas.
Well that’s what the brief on the hats said and that’s what we did. A massive thank you to all of our U.S. buddies for the two massive boxes of Thanksgiving goodies that just arrived. You guys are total legends and we’re all now about 3 stone heavier.
There’s a saying that’s been doing the rounds for a while: ‘the best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google’. But that’s not necessarily true anymore.
SEO is one of those terms that everyone talks about in planning meetings as if it’s the holy grail of marketing. But as more and more people become digitally astute, the value of SEO is being diminished. You see; SEO was never a genuine measure of popularity, quality or effectiveness. It was just another means for the marketers to trick audiences and clients’ to a certain extent, into believing a brand was successful. Think of it like this, you can be on the front page of the London Times if you really want to be and are prepared to pay enough. It’s the same with Google’s front page.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but how many of us actually trust search engine results anymore? We all know that the brands at the top of the page are only there because they have paid to be. So what do we do – we ignore them. Outcome – brand advantage instantly lost.
So what can brands do to regain the advantage? Well the answer really isn’t all that difficult. All you need is a simple upgrade to your CEO (Customer Experience Optimisation). Treat your customers like real people and not just faceless analytics. Respect them and their opinions and ensure that all of your employees are equipped and motivated to be effective brand ambassadors.
It all sounds so obvious yet you’d be surprised how many brands overlook it. SEO is important – but it’s only one piece in a much bigger puzzle that is making brand teams all over the world re-examine their communications strategies.
In the past, some brands followed the philosophy: ‘Build it and they shall come.’ But that’s a route to failure. Brands need to think beyond Google and SEO and look to creating consistent customer touch-points across multiple channels. Think of it as laying the breadcrumbs that will guide visitors to your site with tasty content – you might even discover along the way that your brand doesn’t need a ‘website’.
‘Oh no he didn’t!’ Oh yes he did! Companies and brands can survive and succeed without a traditional website format. Now this is normally the point you’d expect me to start quoting some other brand that has trialled life without a site. Well I’m not. I’m going to quote our own experience. When we launched The Mission Control Communications earlier this year, we did it without a site.
Heresy I hear digital gurus cry. But guess what – it worked! I mean it really worked. Within a few months we’d picked up four international accounts without the help or need of a website.
How you might wonder? Well we did something pretty revolutionary. We reached out to people using things like good old fashioned, creative direct mail and we went to meet them in person. It turns out that people actually appreciate that sort of thing.
You see, when you get down to it, terms like B2B infer a very cold form of business relationship that is distant and impersonal – added to by the fact that companies and brands often have no idea of who they are actually working with other than some name on a suppliers list and the occasional email or phone call.
But when a company sees that you’re prepared to make the effort and in some instances, travel halfway round the world to meet with them and get to know them, that shows trust and commitment.
They see that you are just as committed to making their brand work as they are. You also get to know them as people. You break through that self-imposed barrier that keeps everyone at arms length and by default, that leads to a much more open and effective working relationship.
But back to my point – our experience proves that not every business model needs a website. In many respects and for all their protestations, website are going the way of the traditional corporate brochure. They are an indulgence in an age of increasingly short attention spans and increased distractions. In truth, as a brand, you’re lucky to get your audiences attention for more than a few seconds and you really need to work for even that.
Thinking digitally, look at the other platforms that are relevant to your audience and allow you to stay relevant. There’s no shortage of options from the usual suspects including Facebook, Linked in and Twitter, to Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.
So my advice is this, if your planning on hiding a body on Google, put it is in one of the sponsored Ads at the top of the page. When was the last time you looked there for anything?