When commissioning an animation or corporate film, it’s worth thinking about this quote from Wally Olins:

“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.”

It’s rare to find much advice or specific guidance (if any) on creating moving image in an organisation’s brand guidelines. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go completely off-piste. All too often corporate films contain none of the brand’s essence or visual identity at all.  (more…)

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Have you thought about how much data we’re exposed to every day? From social media, TV, advertising, work emails, the conversations we have, there is huge amount of information associated with every spect of our lives. One of the key challenges for brands therefore is to simplify the complex.

Animation can be an effective way of responding to these challenges. It can speak across cultural boundaries, simplify the complex and surprise and delight with its visuals.

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At a time when technology advances and the proliferation of channels have made it easier and quicker for brands to distribute and promote rich content, the use of animation has flourished – largely because it provides a remarkably effective way of distilling information into a pure, focused and compelling message. (more…)

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Workplace for a younger generation

Workplaces for a new generation

It’s always been a challenge for organisations to embed the shared values and behaviours that embody and define the brand, but a recent report by the Chief Marketing Officer Council has highlighted just how important this is for attracting and retaining younger employees.

The millennial generation (I hate that term), those born between 1990 and 2000 and now entering the job market will shape the world of work for years to come. For employers, attracting and retaining the best of these workers is crucial to the future of the organisation. After all, it’s their attitude to work, career aspiration and knowledge of emerging technology that will define the culture of the workplace in the 21st century. (more…)

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What can advertising learn from branding?

Traditionally it has been said that branding starts where the advertising finishes; that somehow branding and advertising are different things. Often, with this mindset, the nearest the ad agency would get to thinking about branding, is placing the client’s logo in the bottom right hand corner of the ad.

The thinking was that it was the product that was important and it was the ad agency’s job to work out what it was about the product that was better than the competitions product and find a memorable way to communicate USP. The branding was just there to make sure the product stood out on the shelf. This has been the way ad agencies have operated for pretty much as long as anyone can remember.

Of course brand agencies have always argued that this way of looking at things was back-to-front! (more…)

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The World of Charles and Ray Eames

A last minute visit to The World of Charles and Ray Eames exhibition at the Barbican was well worth the visit.

Everyone knows Charles and Ray Eames for their instantly recognisable plywood chairs and their “least money” approach to design, but this show highlights how multidisciplinary their appraoch was. For example it includes , a scale installation of Think – the multi-screen film presentation shown in the IBM Pavilion at New York’s 1964-65 World Fair and a set of Ray’s covers for Art and Architecture.

The show ends on Sunday, well worth a visit this weekend.



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Trends for 2016

1. It’s all about the experience

Yes, we’ve been talking about it for a while now, but 2016 is surely set to be the year that marketing departments start to move from silos of advertising, online comms, high street retail, towards joined up experiences that are part of the sales cycle and an extension of customer service. The term omnichannel may be a buzzword, but it marks a real shift: customers expect brands to provide an integrated experience, regardless of device or channel. Of course, brand identities that transition beautifully between the physical and digital worlds to achieve this are vital. (more…)

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Tour de Playgroup 2015

Tour de Playgroup 2015: London to Brighton

Now that Froomey has pedalled his way to another success on the Champs-Élysées it’s time to look forward to the other great cycling event of the year, The Tour de Playgroup 2015. On the 18th September a group of us will be dusting off our old pushbikes, struggling into lycra and heading off on the 70+ miles (not forgetting 1,391 vertical meters) between Playgroup Towers and Brighton Pier.

Inspired by Nairo Quintana’s staggering attack up the Alpe d’Huez on Saturday’s penultimate stage, we’ll be hauling our sore backsides up East Sussex’s notorious Ditchling Beacon, famously used as the hill climb on the UK stage of the 1994 Tour de France. Hopefully we won’t have to get off and push – in fact, we’re determined not to. (more…)

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Craft Beer

The real deal

It’s easy to see the recent growth of “authentic” brands as a reaction against globalisation. The idea that in Mexico, Tokyo and London people are all eating the same breakfast cereal, using the same deodorant and eating the same burgers seems somehow to be bland and uninteresting. It goes against our sense of individuality. (more…)

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Granary Square Kings Cross

Creating a sense of place

Great placemaking is about understanding and defining what makes a place unique, developing a promise and authentic vision, then applying that through the physical environment, the branding and the marketing. Curation is key to bringing the right mix of retailers, businesses, cultural events and public art into an area.

King’s Cross is a great example of what can be achieved in transforming and rejuvenating a neglected area. Once an important Victorian industrial heartland, it had, by the 1970’s, become a post-industrial wasteland with a notoriously poor reputation. Lack of investment in the infrastructure, in business, retail and residential properties had created the perfect breeding ground for antisocial behaviour. (more…)

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Bling watch

Have Apple reinvented luxury marketing?

The Apple Watch went on sale today and while many in the tech industry have been wondering if Apple have once again created a new tech market – doing for the smart watch what they did for digital music players in 2001 – from a marketing perspective it’s perhaps more interesting to consider what effect they will have on luxury marketing. (more…)

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Content is king

Content is king

People say Seth Godin is the Godfather of content marketing, but way back in 1996 Bill Gates wrote a now – mostly – forgotten blog post called “Content is King”.

It’s worth remembering that this was two years before the term blog was ever used, nine years before YouTube and eleven years before, Tumblr and WordPress. The Internet was a different place back then. Fast forward nineteen years: Blogs are ubiquitous, content is everywhere and everyone seems to have agreed with Seth Godin’s famous quote “Content Marketing is the only marketing left”. The thing is, too many of us seem to have forgotten what Gates had to say all those years ago. (more…)

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Trends for 2015

Trends for 2015

It’s that time of the year again. Time to look ahead and see what the immediate future looks like for the world’s top brands.


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Tour de Playgroup

So the Tour de France 2014 is over; from the grandest of Grand Départs in le Yorkshire, to the frankly bonkersness of the Hautacam climb, this year’s Tour has been compulsive viewing and has captured the British imagination like never before. Of course; after Wiggins didn’t start, Froome crashed out on stage five and Alberto Contador broke his leg on Col du Platzerwasel, Vincenzo Nibail’s dominance has been inspiring to watch, but if you can feel the withdrawal systems kicking in already, fear not, because the Tour de Playgroup is less than eight weeks away. (more…)

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Mobile App vs Mobile Website

Last week a mobile app made the news, when Dong Nguyen of .GEARS Studio in Vietnam removed his fiendishly difficult game Flappy Bird (with over 50 million downloads) from online stores due to it’s addictive nature. It’s not just independent developers like Nguyen that successfully publish apps, all kinds of different organisations do so, and for a multitude of different reasons. Perhaps as a PR tool, to reach a specialised market, or utility apps designed to increase brand engagement. Whatever their objective, organisations are increasingly looking at building their mobile presence and often a mobile app seems like the obvious choice.


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Happy birthday Mac – from Creatives everywhere

Last Friday was the 30th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh. Over the past 30 years the Mac has become an iconic and indispensable part of the creative tool box. If you’re a graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer or illustrator you almost certainly work on, or have worked on, a Mac, but how and why did the Mac become the designer’s computer of choice?


comparing prices online

It’s shopping Jim, but not as we knew it

This time next month we will all be awaiting the Christmas retail numbers. It’s probably the one time of year when retail news makes the headlines and as always there will be winners and there will be losers. One thing that is certain is that the winners will be those retailers that have understood just how quickly and drastically the retail landscape is changing. (more…)

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10 Marketing Trends for 2014

Ten Trends for 2014

How will brands embrace new platforms? Will 2014 see a resurgence in print? Is there a role for the corporate brand? Can a responsive website really boost visitor numbers? Discover ten trends that are likely to sweep the industry over the coming year.

1. Brand Utility

Brand Utility is about services, not messages, it’s a whole new model of branding that’s no longer about reach and frequency but instead seeks to embed brands in our everyday lives. Brands are increasingly recognising that in order to earn people’s time and attention they need to give something useful.


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Ben & Jerry Camper Van

The end of the road for the classic VW Camper Van

Earlier in the year we designed a Ben & Jerry’s branded Camper Van for Unilever, so it was a sad day yesterday when I heard that after 63 years of happy camping, this iconic vehicle has been read it’s last rites. Brazil is the last country to still make the VW Camper Van, but the introduction of new safety regulations means production will have to stop at the end of the year.

A design classic synonymous with the hippy culture of the 60’s and early 70’s it was cool enough to feature on the cover of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Owners would often repaint them in bright primary colours, others with psychedelic flower patterns.

Check out Camper Blog which has is a great collection of retro Camper Van ads over the past 60 years.

Coca-Cola Life

A green Christmas?

Christmas is in the news again (well the marketing news) with many of the big High Street retailers launching their holiday season campaigns this week – only 47 days to go! (more…)

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Aurora_Comms Forum2

24 hours and counting.

In just 24 hours I will be boarding the cruise ship Aurora. Destination…the Channel Islands. Yes, I’m attending the annual Communication Directors Forum and I have to say that I’m pretty excited. The last year has been a buoyant one for Playgroup – no life rafts needed here! The key has been collaboration. Collaboration with clients and a real emphasis on understanding their needs before we embark on a project. We hope to meet many more interesting people over the coming few days. If you’re attending do come over and say hello.

Hope to see you on board!


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Responsive web design

Web browsing is changing and changing fast. This year for the first time the number of people viewing websites in the UK on mobile devices will overtake the use of desktop PCs and in many developing economies mobile outstrips PC already. For example, in Africa only 4% of Google searches are from a PC, the rest all come from a tablet or a smartphone. (more…)

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5 things to consider before updating your intranet

Intranets have become ubiquitous in the corporate world. They are central to internal comms and employee engagement, but are often not given the resources they need and are sometimes seen as a poor relation to external websites. When done right, they help to unify an organisation, giving everyone access to the information and applications they need, but get it wrong and they become not much more than a very expensive internal telephone directory. (more…)

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A purpose beyond profit

With the horse meat scandal dominating the news at the moment and corporate tax taking centre stage last year, is it any surprise that more and more people are taking a closer look at the companies behind the brands? With corporate governance under increasing scrutiny it’s crucial that companies demonstrate that they share the same values as their customers. When a company’s values are out of step with those of their customers there is a real danger that they will be seen by many to be “part of the problem” – just another big business taking without giving anything back. (more…)


Employees make the best brand advocates

Marketing and communications are often focused on campaigns designed to differentiate their products from their competitors. Branding, PR, advertising, digital, social, are all crucial, but in order for them to be effective the product has to match the promise. (more…)

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