With it being Scottish Careers Week, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight the launch of our new butchery recruitment campaign for Quality Meat Scotland and Skills Development Scotland. We faced an interesting challenge with this brief; despite an increase of young people taking up apprenticeships, and a resurgence in popularity of the high street butcher shop, the number of young people taking up butcher apprenticeships just isn’t high enough to build a new generation of butchers that’ll sustain the industry well into the future.

It’s been a long time since anyone at Guy & Co made the big career decision in their final years of school, so we chatted to some 17-18 year olds about their aspirations and the important aspects of their future occupation, as well as whether they’d ever considered butchery as a career. Some key challenges became apparent; a lack of awareness around entry into and progression within the industry, as well as the general perception of butcher as ‘an old person’s job’. Indeed, after some digging we found that the average age of a butcher in the UK is around 56. Whilst not old per se, it’s old enough to make 17-18 year olds feel that butchery is not a career for them, especially when it’s in competition with other trades like plumbing where the average age is down in the 40s, or barbering which has seen a huge intake over the past ten years due to the trendy, cultural resurgence of men’s grooming and the rise of the hipster beard. Like these trades, we really needed to reposition butchery from a job of the past to a job for the future. 

This change can’t be forced and it isn’t likely to come from the top down; we needed to be relatable, for young people to learn about butchery from their peers, to see it for themselves and feel that maybe butchery could in fact be a career for them. The young butchers we talked to oozed passion for the job and lifestyle, were having the time of their lives and were hugely successful with some moving swiftly from apprentice to business owner. They emphasised the unique set of skills butchery gives you, the joy of learning on the job, the creativity it allows and the sociable nature of the work amongst other things. Our new campaign – ‘take a real look at butchery’ – heroes these young butchers and lets their infectious energy and passion shine through in a series of social films that presents butchery as a diverse and dynamic job that offers huge future potential, whilst also being a whole lot of fun. It’s unlikely that butchery has ever been seen as fun, but in a changing job market an interesting and fun job is now more of a draw to a young person than money. We needed butchery to feel fun.  

It’s been one of our most interesting challenges yet, and one that to be brave hasn’t meant lavish marketing ideas or defaulting to puns – it’s just meant being real. We can’t wait to see this out in the world, and really hope it can help shift the dial for the butchery industry.

As marketers it’s our job to identify and capitalise on opportunities. But when your remit is to promote the red meat industry, the booming ‘Flexitarian’ movement and buzz each year around ‘Veganuary’ are, understandably, seen as more threat than opportunity. In fact, these words send fear right across our industry, from livestock farmers to processors to retailers.

30% of Brits eat less meat than they did five years ago and 14% identify as ‘Flexitarian’ – those following a predominantly plant-based diet and actively reducing their meat consumption. This is forecast to rise to almost half of the UK population by 2025, driven especially by 18-39 year-olds; a younger consumer segment who question their food choices more than ever.

But what people say and what they actually do, as we know, can be very different. In 2021 only 1% of the UK population signed up to the Veganuary challenge, and only 18% of them went on to complete it. Lockdown helped to put meat back onto the table for a lot of households, as they sought comfort and tradition, and we saw total meat sales actually increase by 29% YOY in January 2021.*

But beyond the potentially short-term dynamics at play, our killer insight has been the longer-term opportunity to align with these new lifestyles through our defendable brand positioning: ‘meat with integrity’. With flexitarians being driven by ethical and environmental reassurance, the quality assurances of our Scotch labels are well placed to give them that – motivating consumers to trade up to better quality, locally reared meat. Guy & Co’s latest research backs it up: 93% of shoppers agree that our labels mean support towards local farmers; 92% that the meat is produced to higher animal welfare standards, and 59% that it is more environmentally friendly.**

So we’re not shying away from the flexitarian challenge, we’re flipping it into an opportunity. And this will be the single-minded, millennial-minded focus of our new consumer campaign with Guy & Co, launching in June.

We’re in a fortunate position at Quality Meat Scotland, but for me it’s about having honest, positive conversations about your brand – regardless of the challenge you face.

*Source: Kantar Worldpanel data, Unprocessed Red Meat, to w/e 24th January 2021

**Guy & Co usage & attitudes survey, 100 Scottish respondents, February 2021

It’s now been 3 months since I joined Guy & Co as Planning Director (if you’re reading this it hopefully means that I passed my probation!).

Working remotely means that I’m still to see any of my new colleagues or clients in 3D which is more than a little weird. I have no idea how tall anyone is…

However, there is one big bonus – everyone you meet has their name written under their face so it’s impossible to have those awkward name forgetting moments.

When the world starts turning again, joining Guy & Co means that I can make the move back to my hometown of Edinburgh after a bit over 11 years in London (That’s long ago enough that the first campaign I worked on involved a fax machine).

I’d always kept an eye on the Scottish marketing ‘scene’ but with 2 young children a new puppy, it needed something really special to inspire the ‘big move’ back up the road. And I think I’ve found it.

I’d been more than a little intrigued I started noticing a new name emerging, one that was clearly doing some smart work and picking up a good few awards too; Guy & Co.

Combining Research and Creative is basically the holy grail of Planning so I jumped at the chance to join the team.

I’m a big fan of smaller independent agencies as the ability to really affect change and make a difference is so much bigger.

When your only tool is a hammer, every problem can start to look like a nail, and when your focus is advertising, its hard to get passed the TVC. But the Guy & Co toolbox genuinely spans the full marketing mix and couldn’t be more diverse.

Many of our solutions are a long way from advertising as we helping our clients with challenges ranging from business purpose to new product development, from content to co-creation and everything in between.

But what I’m most excited about is Innovation.

When I was 5 I wanted to be an inventor. I loved making new things. Creating different ways of doing things. Coming up with new solutions.

Now I’ve joined Guy & Co I feel like I’m living up to 5-year-old me’s ambitions.

We’re currently working on 2 big innovation projects which takes me back to the heart of proper marketing, and the original ‘P’ of the mix – Product.

This, combined with our future success measurement methodology (an innovation in its own right) are some of the most inspiring pieces of agency work I have ever been involved with.

With big ambitions and a growing team, I can’t wait to see where we take go next.

And whilst Covid has meant I couldn’t recreate the classic Tennents ad where the London Yuppy flings his suitcase into a passing rubbish lorry, jumps on the first train to Waverley and heads straight to Café Royal for a cold T, I’ll hopefully be up the road soon and discover the fabled Guy & Co bar for myself.

1. Create a routine and routinely create

We all know having a routine is a great way to keep motivated when there’s disruption in the world at large. And a great part of that routine is to challenge yourself to create every day. No matter how small or ‘creative’ it feels, forcing yourself to produce something is greatly rewarding and you may surprise yourself with the output.

I recently took part in the global ‘36 days of type’ challenge which encourages you to create a letter or number each day in any way you want (photography, craft, drawing, animation). For me it was a great opportunity to work on typography, and I challenged myself to bring a different personality and graphic treatment to each one. Challenges like this are especially great in our current remote world, as you feel part of a big community and the accountability of posting to your social channels each day encourages you to keep going.

A great lesson I’ve learned from this is to not fear mistakes. As Salavador Dali said: “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” The pressure of pushing out something original and creative every day (on top of the day job) encourages you to abandon perfection and create just for the joy of it. Embracing those mistakes could always lead to something greater! But when you hit a wall, sometimes it’s a good idea to just stop. Take a break, allow your mind to reset and come back afresh.

Creative challenges can be great for learning a new skill or experimenting with techniques and styles. And there are plenty of them out there. Adobe has its own daily challenge using Photoshop, and in October, thousands of creatives take part in ‘Inktober’ to practice hand-drawn illustration.

36 days of type

2. Share, share, share. (And don’t forget to look back)

It’s so easy to get caught up and lost in the now. But have you ever taken the moment to just pause and reflect on past work? Taking the time to remind yourself of past successes is hugely motivational – who doesn’t want to recreate (and improve upon) those successes?

And don’t forget to share your work too. At Guy & Co we share one great piece of work from the previous week at our Monday morning huddle. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to see what’s happening in the teams, and to share inspiration and learnings.

But don’t forget to look at what others are doing. Bursting out of our bubble and exploring what’s happening in the creative industry and wider culture (especially in response to coronavirus) is a great way to stay motivated. Seeing great work inspires us to create great work. So asking questions such as: ‘What if we did…’ or ‘Why can’t we…’ can be a great jumping-off point for a creative push. (Just be sure not to copy!). What’s more, it’s human nature to focus on the things we admire or like, but by shifting our focus to creative work that performs poorly or gets a negative response, we can ask ourselves: “How can we do better?”.

Critique by creating

3. Spread the creativity

There’s nothing more motivating than working together, and now more than ever it’s so important to stay in touch and creatively collaborate. We’ve been running virtual workshop sessions and found these to be super productive, keeping our team’s spirits high and creative outputs optimised.

With many experiencing quieter workloads and more time at their disposal, it’s the perfect opportunity to give back – so why not volunteer your creative skills? Our team have reached out to charities to do pro-bono design and digital work, while others are using their skills to spread all-important public health messages. It’s a great way to keep working together, the creative juices flowing and feel good about it too!

A great piece of advice I was given was to ‘stay curious’. And I think this has become even more relevant now. Stay in touch, ask questions, explore, experiment. Delve beneath the surface and discover things you never knew. Find that something that makes you want to keep creating. For me it’s trying new things – I love to learn!

Virtual workshop

Above all I’d say keep pushing yourself (something built into our DNA at Guy & Co). Remember it’s good to feel uncomfortable – this only means your skills are growing.

I think it’s an understatement to say that the thought of the country, and world, closing down for an unknown amount of time was worrying, unnerving and overall terrifying back in March.  There was a lot of talk about industries slowing down, projects and plans going on hold and that left the majority of us with a sinking feeling of uncertainty.

What is going to happen to the industry?

Are our clients going to cope?

However, I don’t think many people anticipated the complete dependency that we would develop for the digital-sphere. From Zoom to Microsoft Teams, digital software and platforms allowed businesses, organisations and whole industries to form a new way of working and enable them to stay afloat during these choppy waters.

Not only that but digital content boomed, creating an even more saturated environment than before. Government updates about coronavirus fought with media hype and fakenews; tips about how to make the best banana bread or how to TikTok bombarded our social feeds. So how do you get clients’ content out there and recognised within this new digital landscape and heightened noise?

If lockdown gave me time to do anything, it was to take a step back and really hone in on how to navigate digital platforms for our clients. And more so, it gave us time as an agency to do more internal learning and skill sharing. We took our internal training series, Lunch & Learns, virtual and focused them on hot digital topics: what makes engaging content? How have e-commerce habits changed and how can they be exploited?

Some of our top tips discussed during these sessions were:

  1. Using your own data for learnings is essential
  2. Videos are still number 1 for engagement
  3. Boosted posts are the norm and without them you’ll be left behind
  4. Brand honesty is the best policy
  5. The fewer clicks you have, the easier the sell will be

It also allowed us time to give back and work with some charities, who, with cuts to their fundraising income and internal resource, needed help more than ever. One very worthy charity we helped was Families First, who work with young people in need of additional support. They wanted a brand and digital overhaul to help signal a confident new chapter and arm them to support families remotely. We developed an upbeat and ownable new brand identity and built a website that would help users better navigate their services and access useful resources online. But for me it was important we didn’t just build it for them; I helped train their team on WordPress so they could come out the other end upskilled and able to take on updates themselves afterwards. The old ‘give a man a fish…’ analogy came to mind, and it was a really rewarding experience, allowing this charity to advance leaps and bounds during a time when they most needed it.

We also recognised the importance of retaining our culture remotely, and weekly catch-ups in the bar seamlessly moved to virtual drinks over Zoom. However, after getting accustomed to the routine of working from home, how do we keep ourselves motivated and engaged, and most importantly how do we keep the same buzz we would have in the office from our homes? It’s very easy to roll out of bed, sit at the dining room table all day and then move your body to the sofa. It’s almost too easy, in fact.

We flipped the weekly fitness challenges from our insurance provider, Vitality, into weekly creative challenges called Guytality. We were challenged on everything from lockdown cocktail creations to poetry to wacky hairstyles, and each week all entries were drawn for someone to win £50 for themselves and £50 for a nominated charity. Not only did these help us to stay creative but it meant at the end of the week we knew we’d all be coming together again to catch up, show off our wonderful creations…maybe even embarrass ourselves.

It’s been a rocky time to say the least but the one thing that everyone has in common is the need for digital and that won’t be going away. Living and working digitally is the new norm so it’s important to be on board.

In the world of NPD, one piece of the jigsaw can often be the most difficult – and arguably just as important as perfecting your product: naming. Names imbue your product with meaning and recognition, but amongst category clutter can be tricky business. So when you’re setting out to be the next Sellotape or Kleenex, here’s some tips we’ve honed from our own experience of naming everything from spirits to soaps.

  1. Start a story

Thinking about branding as storytelling is no new news, but it’s important to think about the name as the catalyst to that great story, piquing interest to hear it be told. Great names capture the imagination and draw you in. Take Monkey Shoulder – now the best-selling Scotch among the world’s top bars. There’s an immediate tension and intrigue that makes you want to know what it’s all about – in fact, a nickname for a condition amongst whisky workers, when the tireless turning of barley by hand caused their arm to hang down like a monkey’s. An authentic story, a great brand hook, brilliantly complemented by the brass monkeys on the shoulder of the bottle that compel you to pick it up.

Monkey Shoulder
  1. Write a long list, then make it longer

If you’re right at the starting blocks on the naming process, mind-mapping is a great way to help you go broad and get all the project team on board. What territories can you branch out into? Consumer needs? Product features? Brand attributes? Are there analogies you can draw or stories you can spring into? Surround yourself with stimulus – online and offline. Web searches, lifestyle magazines, other products popular with your target consumer…

Once you’re into an interesting territory or two, create a long list. Write down every derivative and keep branching into new ideas. Pick up the pace. Think about different ways of re-expressing the idea. If the product was a person who would it be? How would your target consumer talk about the product? (We love a workshop at Guy & Co…)

We recently faced the clutter of the beauty world whilst developing a new natural beauty brand. But, by hunting out and sandwiching together words associated with the product ingredients and consumer benefit, we were able to create something compelling.

Introducing Naked Leaf – Naked as Nature Intended.

Naked Leaf
  1. Disfluency – Diswhatty?

Cognitive fluency – the way our brains process information and the way it makes us feel when we do. It’s a big one for naming, and there’s a lot of evidence that disfluency – creating disruptive pathways through use of unusual language and fonts – has its advantages in branding. When something looks unfamiliar it prompts our brain to slow down and process what we’re reading, so it can be a trick for creating memorable names.

Developing the brand and packaging for the UK’s first alkaline water brand, ActiPH, our consumer research established a physically active target consumer. But with the benefits of alkalinity (hydration and balance) being so poorly understood, and the product’s high PH of 9.0 being the USP amongst other functional drinks, it was crucial to highlight. So we developed a long list of names, built out the shortlist into loose lock-ups and tested with consumers. ActiPH emerged as the winner – with the twist of PH creating tension within an otherwise descriptive (and taken) name, providing standout on shelf and making people want to read it, say it and try it.

Actiph Water
  1. Check IP early

There’s no bigger blow for a project team than getting behind a name just to realise it’s already been snapped up. It can make you feel like it’s back to the drawing board on branding, when you probably have all the thinking in place to get to something even better. If there’s a working name for your product make sure you do a trademark check early on, across target markets and product classifications. In the UK this takes a matter of minutes on the Intellectual Property Office website at https://www.gov.uk/search-for-trademark.

Don’t be disheartened if it’s already registered. You’ll probably find that with the first few searches you do, and they’re probably the same ones your competitors considered. Are there derivative words that spark new ideas? Or more interesting hybrid names you can create?

It’s a problem the likes of Kleenex or Sellotape probably never had when they were developed, and for all the right reasons.

  1. Loud & proud

As important as how a name looks when it’s designed as a shiny brand logo is how it sounds. And in the drinks world it’s all about ‘bar call.’ Something that’s easy and aspirational to say and easy for the bartender to understand. “I’ll have an X and Coke.”

Last year we launched the boldest spiced rum in the world for Berry Bros. & Rudd, Spice Hunter. With an exceptional liquid hailing from Mauritius (and more spices than any other rum on the market), we were able to develop a brand story around a maverick 18th-century botanist called Pierre Poivre, who illegally brought spices back to his garden on Mauritius (and had his arm blown off by a grenade in the process). A bold name and story – and one that sounds great for our adventure-thirsty millennial drinker to ask for at the bar.

Spice Hunter

So if you’re at the starting blocks on NPD, remember our name…

Packaging has to work harder than ever to deliver brand impact, because consumer behaviour is changing faster than ever, and retail/ hospitality restrictions are curtailing the amount of promotion we normally have in our arsenal. For a short while (we hope), the ultra-competitive back bar environment is being swapped for the ultra-competitive off-trade shelf or e-commerce shop. Kick-ass packs and attractive flavour propositions are essential as consumers look to experiment and try new things at home to break the monotony and replace the lack of stimulus from not going out.

This is backed by great thinkers. Seth Godin said that ‘Being safe is risky’ in his book Purple Cow back in 2003. This is a great theory, but the acid test I believe in any core pack update, new product development or range extension is: Will a significant % of the target audience want to buy it? Consumer validation is something we pride ourselves on at Guy & Co. We fuse a creative agency with a research agency approach to plan, create, test and reiterate propositions and pack concepts that positively trigger purchase intent and interest among target consumers. Early in a project we challenge our creatives to approach briefs from a safe-ish, pushing it, to out-there brave creative aesthetic. Being safe is not a space we tend to find works for consumer interest metrics. Particularly with our one of our favourite client brands, Smokehead whisky: ‘The wild one of Islay Single Malt Whisky’.

Following a repack across the original Smokehead and Cask Strength expressions (High Voltage), we developed confident and disruptive brand assets: bold typography, an iconic skull and textured backgrounds. But we needed to push where the brand could take new flavour propositions to extend the range and bring in new drinkers.

Our first discovery was experimenting with a rich Sherry finish, and ‘Sherry Bomb’ erupted – a Smokehead that had been boldly blasted by Oloroso Sherry casks. A brave concept in the Single Malt category, perhaps not in flavour expression but in name and attitude. ‘Sherry Bomb’ caused quite a stir and although validated by fanatic target UK and US drinkers, we iron-cast our proof of global appeal before any bottles were filled.

“As the name suggests, the bottle is the embodiment of the name Smokehead. It sounds explosive and full of flavour.”

Guy & Research, panel of 200 US consumers.

And it blew up in exactly the way consumer research said it would. Sherry Bomb sold double its allocation across UK, US and German key markets in 2018. We’d set a high benchmark for new expressions, we had vindication of being brave, and Smokeheads told us they wanted more…

So, amid the 2019 ‘rum-volution’, a rum cask finish was next in line – a collision of Smokehead’s award-winning whisky and Caribbean rum casks. This riot of flavour, a simple yet disruptive analogy, became the backdrop for Smokehead Rum Riot; a riot of colours and patterns, reflecting the clashing of two heavyweights of the spirits world. The distinctive pack and launch activation caused a riot in Cannes where it won ‘Best drinks launch’ at the Cannes Travel Retail awards.

Based on these insights, there are more exciting and disruptive expressions launching in 2020/ 21. Being brave includes category hopping flavour expressions we may experiment in. But we will never be blindly led by a brave idea; our creative bravery only works when tested.