What do you get when you throw together three childhood friends and boundless ambition? A Recipe for the impossible.
From its humble beginnings in the bedroom of close friends, Jim Yorath, Dan Jacobs, and Edward Glover back in 2004, Recipe has grown to become one of the most exciting truly integrated creative agencies in London.
13 years on and Recipe is still fiercely independent and just as ambitious. Its smart creative strategies and commendable production experience have proved to be a winning formula.
Having doubled revenue in 2016/17 alone, Recipe has moved into its spacious new home in the BFI Building this year, which consolidates creative, strategic planning, production, social capabilities, media and new editing suites all under one roof.
The original Recipe founders - Jim, Dan, and Ed – have welcomed the agency’s growth into a strong team of 50. The introduction of a talented management team has pushed Recipe’s ambitions further. Matt Waller joined as creative director from BMB and Ali Morgan and Dom Roe were promoted to Managing Director and Planning Director respectively and Matt Loudon, as Managing Director of The Kitchen (their in-house production).
Sitting down with LBB in their new open-plan office, with stunning views of the London skyline, the Recipe team discuss their approach.
A World-Class Kitchen
New agency models are fast emerging - with more looking to bring production in-house to challenge the expensive traditional model.
But for Recipe, their story began in the production world before evolving into a full-blown integrated creative agency five years ago. With its reliable production muscle and experience built up over the years, Recipe combines a strategic and creative offering with a quality production heart. To Jim, Dan and Ed this wasn’t deliberate and dramatic ‘disruption’, but simply a way of working that made sense.
Founder, Jim Yorath comments: “The quality of our production from The Kitchen is top of the line. It’s always felt natural for us to approach everything we do with the same high level of craft we bring to our TV ads.”
An Impossible Combination
As Recipe grew, the trio took a natural step into planning and creative. Building on their production heritage in advertising, they had a unique perspective on the industry that saw them bring together a harmonious balance of quality, speed and value across their entire work process.
Jim says: “Our repertoire just grew organically out of what we were already offering. Clients would approach us for our production capabilities, and discover they love the way we work and how quickly we deliver. With that trust established, they’d give us another opportunity, and another. Clients started asking us for our creative and strategic input, and that’s how it all grew.”
“Recipe is a creative agency that’s built to do the impossible,” explains Founder, Dan Jacobs. “The ‘good-fast-cheap triangle’ is the first thing we ever learnt when we entered the ad industry in our early twenties. We were told that you can’t achieve all three. Well, we’ve smashed that so called elusive triangle so our clients don’t have to compromise. This is where our new triangular logo comes from.”
It’s clear from the calibre of work Recipe has been creating, that the agency isn’t just spouting big talk - it really delivers.
In 2015, Recipe catapulted SmartWater - then a challenger brand - into the limelight. This work helped Coca-Cola shift a whopping five million unit cases that year. The overall campaign beat its targets by 20% and it’s now the third largest water brand in the UK – within an incredibly competitive water market.
Another intriguing campaign saw the team reawaken the British public’s love for Birds Eye by breathing new life into an old favourite – the fish finger – launching The Fish Finger Sandwich Awards. The campaign was trending number two on Twitter (behind Trump!). With over 11 million people reached on social, and a total PR reach of 26 million, Fish Finger sales increased by 7.2%.
With quick response times, Recipe has been able to jump on pivotal opportunities that have revolutionised the brand’s perception.
When the Daily Mail slated blogging mothers as lazy and irresponsible for feeding their children fish fingers, Recipe whipped up the ingenious #Solidaritea campaign for Birds Eye. Working with prominent British blogging mothers, it empowered parents – encouraging them to engage with the campaign hashtag. The initiative achieved universally positive engagement with a new audience of mummy bloggers, was viewed over two million times on social, reaching over 3.7 million uniques. And, in the battle, Birds Eye found a true brand position for Birds Eye – as an ally to all hardworking and fun-loving parents. #Solidaritea won FMCG Best Social Media Campaign 2017 (Social Buzz Awards).
Jim comments: "We're proud of our roots, and production is still firmly at the heart of Recipe's philosophy and culture. We make approximately 400 ads a year and, by now, we've got this down to a T: we have an incredibly nimble and responsive team who combine our strategic thinking and creative ideas with award winning production all under one roof. We have the brains of a traditional agency with the brawn of a production company, led by agile processes.”
One example of what Recipe has achieved with this approach is in its work for the European brand re-launch of 888sport. Developing a new strategic platform and creative focus for the brand, the agency balances brand with direct response activity which means every month creating 15 press ads, 4 unique enhanced odds TV ads and 15 unique PreRoll updates. 888sport was awarded GIA Marketing Campaign of the Year. The 'Take 'Em On' campaign incited a 63% increase in revenue since launch. Initially entrusted with revitalising one of 888 Holding's brands, Recipe now works across the company's entire brand portfolio.
Think Honest (Not ‘Authentic’)
Behind Recipe’s constant need to improve there is a simple and honest origin.
None of its founders came from big agency backgrounds, allowing them to approach the industry with fresh eyes.
“We come from a very simple place, with zero preconceptions,” says Dan. We always felt like we had to work harder than everyone else to break into an incredibly competitive industry. We’ve retained that same attitude of being willing to get our hands dirty. We’re never satisfied.”
This common-sense approach still characterises Recipe’s relationship with clients and consumers today.
“We’re not trying to be ‘authentic’, explains Founder, Ed, “We always want to find something that resonates with our consumers without preaching or coming across as fake.”
With this golden strategy, AB Foods appointed Recipe as lead creative agency for the Blue Dragon Asian food brand and tasked the agency with re-positioning the brand as the authentic experts they are.
Recipe’s fresh approach has attracted brands that are equally hungry – and willing to try a new way of working to get the desired results. For Recipe it is all about the ‘do’. They started as a production company and that ‘makers spirit’ still runs through the agency today.
Jim: “We’re lucky to work with ambitious clients who have a certain freedom working with us: being able to offer ‘good, fast, cheap’ is an antidote to the compromise and frustration many of our clients have felt working with other more traditional process-led agencies. Transparency is something we feel very strongly about and we work with clients through every step of the process.”
Like its namesake, Recipe is constantly evolving and improving with time. Driven by the mantra, ‘never satisfied’, its ingredients are enriched and finessed year on year.
With countless exciting campaigns for clients already under its belt and many more cooking in The Kitchen, we can’t wait to see what Recipe serves up next.