When BBH’s four farmyard rappers took to the nation’s TV screens during an episode of The X Factor, not only did they become viral superstars, helping Yeo Valley become the country’s fastest growing dairy brand, they’d unwittingly started a revolution in media buying.
Coming off the back of the brand’s hugely successful partnership with ITV, which saw it take over the first centre break of every live show during the autumn season of The X Factor, the men behind the pioneering partnership, Simon Orpin and Kevin Brown, realised that they could build a different media agency model.
Which is why, in 2014, they founded Electric Glue with the backing of former BBH global head of brand planning, Nick Kendall, and are rapidly changing the landscape of media partnerships…
In today’s screen based world, advertisers can benefit from business opportunities that go far beyond a traditional media buy. Recognising the fact that media owners can offer brands more than just exceptional media value, Simon 'Orps' Orpin and the Electric Glue team have created a pioneering approach to media that helps clients unlock opportunities that haven’t been accessed before.
“Given creativity is the most powerful driver of effectiveness, we believe that media should liberate the creative idea across the multitude of customer touchpoints that now exist in today’s screen based world,” explains Orps. “It’s always our aim to broker media partnerships between clients and key media owners who have complimentary commercial ecosystems. By approaching media partnerships this way, we’re delivering relevant and contextual messaging that creates compelling and effective advertising.” As a consequence, rather than being a media business, Electric Glue describes itself as being in the business of media.
Electric Glue - which boasts BBH alumni in the form of Brown and Kendall, is backed by the Chairman Sir John Hegarty, and includes specialist Tim Heden and Red Bull’s former Head of Digital Media Tom Greenlees - works with content originators to broker innovative partnerships with media owners. This unique approach is based on a central tenet of “you have to build a brand to build a business”, with the process anchored on five core beliefs:
Gluing clients and media owners together, Gluing ideas to audiences in a screen based world, Gluing creative agencies into the approach, Gluing the consumer journey from desire to action, and Gluing rewards to results. Fundamentally, Electric Glue believes that the outcome of all partnerships should be a "win, win, win" for all parties.
Fully aware that not every client will be the right fit for their disruptive model, Electric Glue offers brands broader opportunities through a policy of sacrifice and overcommit - investing in partnerships that are exclusive to single media owners by platform or medium.
With years of experience in both agencies and broadcasters, the founding partners are perfectly positioned to understand the needs of both client and media owners. It was The X Factor partnership for Yeo Valley’s BBH-devised campaign that paved the way towards this fresh take on media buying.
“We wanted to celebrate the creative and The X Factor was the perfect fit contextually. In a world of complexity, choosing the right media partner is critical and, for Yeo Valley, Saturday evenings on ITV was perfect. That was at the end of 2010 and it seeded an idea that there could be a different way to structure media deals; in the case of Yeo Valley, there was no media agency involved - it was just the client, the creative agency and the broadcaster. By taking a more direct approach to media owners on behalf of our current clients, we find that the rewards are broader and deeper than via conventional media buying tactics,” says Orps.
Yeo Valley's business objective was to popularise the organic dairy market and broaden appeal from a niche of 'hairy sandal wearers' to ordinary families wanting to 'live in harmony'.
With an idea rooted in music, the campaign aired exclusively on the most populist broadcaster, ITV, and only in the most populist programme, with two-minute spots during The X Factor and the rest, as they say, is history. It quickly went on to take the nation – and the internet – by storm, and the results of the campaign were astounding. The TV ad reached unprecedented awareness levels of 43% (a total of 66% of The X Factor viewers) and was voted by ITV viewers as one of the top 20 TV ads of the year. The use of The X Factor's ecosystem, both online and in the form of The X Factor show tickets as a sales promotion on four packs, triggered purchase.
Electric Glue began as a joint venture with Pete Robins, founder of digital media agency agenda21, before the business became independent in 2015. From the beginning the aim was to attract disruptive, emerging challenger brands and start-ups.
“We initially thought it would be challenger brands that would make up our client base because we do things so differently – creating business solutions as opposed to just media solutions. As we’re in the brand building business rather than simply driving short-term sales, we thought our approach would be for clients trying to do something more disruptive in their own market. However, we quickly realised there were more established brands who wanted to go beyond the traditional media to a smarter approach,” Orps explains.
Since forming Electric Glue, the team have gone on to work in close collaboration with a number of well-known brands. These include: Rightmove’s strategically brokered deal with Channel 4 which, with its abundance of property shows, was the perfect home for the UK’s number one property website; Virgin Media’s partnership, also with Channel 4, which saw their Pitch To Rich initiative drive a seventy-fold increase in web visits; Matalan’s creative collaboration with ITV which saw the retailer produce a successful online chat show hosted by Denise Van Outen, and promoted via an ‘always on’ TV media strategy that led to e-commerce revenues doubling in twelve months through to the more recently announced partnership between DW Fitness First and Sky.
The key to each campaign’s success is the relationship between the client and the key media partners, which is always facilitated by Electric Glue.
“We ensure the media owner and the client sit around the same table. It’s incredibly important that all parties talk, are open and are transparent. Clients want to know what they’re paying for and why they’re paying for it,” concludes Orps. “Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in a progressive conversation which has benefits for everyone?”
Want to know more? Get in touch and come have a chat: Electric Glue