Hawksmoor’s Winegate

PR Stunt or Genuine Cork-up?

In certain PR circles it has been suggested Hawksmoor’s media domination in the last 24 hours after two lucky customers were accidentally served a £4,500 bottle of red wine, was a full-bodied PR stunt. The mistake came to light in a tweet from the restaurant:

As an agency with several restaurant clients we decided to put the theory to the test.

In the red corner, the half-case for the prosecution:

  • Neither the member of staff nor the customer has been named. Admittedly the staff member would need a lot of bottle to come forward, but the same doesn’t apply to the diners. It conveniently makes it difficult to check the facts.
  • The £260 bottle ordered and the £4,500 bottle don’t look remotely similar, as Hawksmoor Founder Will Beckett said, the similarity doesn’t go beyond the fact that: “They’re both 2001 Bordeaux and there’s a “P” in there somewhere.” The member of staff has been described as manager level so it’s an unlikely mistake for an experienced employee.

The case for the defence:

  • The story was announced with one tweet at 1.15am. That’s hardly a carefully planned, multi-channel strategy calculated to deliver maximum impact.
  • There’s a definite authenticity to the tweet. Despite the forgiveness they say “One-off mistakes happen”. Why the implied warning not to do it again if it didn’t actually happen?

The view from Rule 5 is that it was a genuine cork-up, and someone correctly spotted that it might make an amusing piece of social content. When the tweet started to go viral the PR machine sprang into action to maximise the media opportunity.  There is one aspect of this story though, that we find hard to swallow – who orders wine priced at £4500?

2018 Predicted By Pinterest


Pinterest, the platform described by CEO Ben Silbermann as a “catalogue of ideas” that inspires users to “go out and do that thing” has evolved into a trend prediction platform.

Launched in the US in 2010 the social media site has, in comparison to platforms Facebook and Instagram, struggled to develop as a commercial retail platform, despite garnering over 175 million daily users.

Media outlets and retailers are, however, now fully realising the benefits of Pinterest as a customer insight tool and not just a sales one.  It’s a move that sees the power shift between consumers and retailers move increasingly in consumer favour, with users’ daily pins no longer just capturing trends but informing them.

Published every December Pinterest 100 captures the top 100 biggest trends based on the activity of its subscribers.   Style, beauty and home decor are just some of the categories covered, with analysts looking for topics that showed critical mass, grew at least 50% in 2017 and trended up towards the end of the year.  You can view 2018’s top trends to try here.

Such is the credibility of the predictions, leading influential media outlets are using the platform as a source for new season forecasting features, the very articles that influence our buying behaviour for the year.  Coveteur, WhoWhatWear, the Daily Mail. Metro and Instyle are just a handful of those that have run over recent weeks.

In a world where data is gold, it’s no surprise Pinterest plan to further build on the predictions.  This year the platform will launch Audience Insights, a subscriber based tool that will afford businesses the opportunity to take a deeper look at its audience and how it engages.  The tool will be available to US business accounts early in the year and is expected to roll out to follow.

With traffic to Pinterest having increased significantly over the last six months, the platform’s potential to inform new product development and business marketing strategies is only set to grow.

The use of the platform by media outlets as a source for seasonal trend features isn’t new but it is gathering momentum.  Where trends were once dictated by designers and magazine publishers, consumers are increasingly the ones to watch.

Half Way to a Billion


It feels like only yesterday when the Rule 5 team, British Cycling and riders from 42 nations congregated at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London for the 2016 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.

The biggest track cycling event of its kind in the modern era, over 52,000 spectators descended upon the capital for five days of action-packed racing to see Great Britain’s track stars, including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Jason Kenny, Owain Doull, Laura Trott and Becky James, compete against the world’s best for the coveted rainbow jerseys and the chance to gain crucial qualification points for Rio 2016.

A team of five worked shifts throughout the week to manage two full service press rooms and produce live social media content on Twitter and Facebook. The social media campaign incorporated engaging video content and photography with new technologies and platforms helping us reach an astonishing global audience approaching half a billion impressions on social channels.

Medal wins from Great Britain’s men’s and women’s team pursuit teams, plus Laura Trott in the omnium, Jon Dibben in the points race and Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in the Madison on the final day of racing provided electrifying content.

A single image of Sir Bradley Wiggins kissing the forehead of Mark Cavendish after their gold in the Madison event gained 8,887 likes on Instagram, was shared 147 times on Twitter and 233 times on Facebook.

Social coverage was monitored using Facebook Insights and Tweet Binder, which allowed the Twitter statistics to be tracked in real-time. Over 62,000 tweets used the hashtag #TWC2016, reaching 68.9 million people and generating 434,185,086 impacts.

Pre-event, live and post campaign conventional activity saw coverage in all of the UK’s national broadsheets in addition to widespread consumer, cycling and regional media totalling almost 300,000 impressions.

SXSW and the Video Myths


Mentioning that I go to SXSW usually generates one of two responses. The first is a desire to go and the second is “what for?”. On my first visit, five years ago, I thought I would discover the ‘next big thing’. Last year, for example, Meerkat launched. I imagined bringing the news to a wide-eyed audience back in Blighty, but given the nature of communications everyone was aware at the same time I was (who knew social media was instant and global?). Not only that, but the launch of Periscope shortly afterwards eclipsed Meerkat’s moment in  the Texas sun.

So why do I go? Well it’s fun, interesting and sunny in March. There’s free food and drink to be had and great live music. What’s not to like?

The real value though is in the depth of insight. You can go from panel session to keynote speech on to a meetup and learn little, but then a nugget will emerge from a session that you went to just to bridge a gap in the day. So what did I take away from SXSW 2016? The current gold rush in communications and technology this year is largely around video and like many hype cycles there is a lot of bluff and bluster. Here are a few myths that were busted for me in Austin.

#Myth 1 – It’s about the view count

OK, the view count matters but we need to be careful about what that means.  Views are not the same for different platforms. View counts on YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat are all calculated differently. No-one knows for sure, but YouTube counts a view after about video for 30 seconds. and Facebook after just three seconds. In three seconds you could see several videos on Snapchat. So when a major annual UK tennis event says it had more than 600 million video views on Snapchat that could equal to 55,000 views for a full three hour match on another platform.

#Myth 2 – It’s all about 360 VR 

With the consumer roll out of 360 VR headsets this year there’s a lot invested in telling us that it’s the next big thing. That might be right but for now there’s very little compelling content and a small amount of very boring content.  A far more immersive experience was available in an 8K 3D cinema with 22.2 surround sound from Japanese broadcaster NHK.  Not a headset in sight.

#Myth 3 – It’s all about Snapchat

The user stats are incredible, the video view are mind boggling (if you ignore Myth 1) and big media brands are piling in.  Snapchat is huge but it’s not the future for brands or broadcasters. People make their own content and then share it with their own audience. That’s the point. It’s also for a young demographic, people in the main grow out of wearing virtual bunny ears.

We all want to know what the next big thing is, but a step towards that goal is discovering what’s not.

Biz Stone Awarded CIPR President’s Medal

IMG_0323 crop

The agency’s Managing Partner and CIPR President 2016, Rob Brown, was delighted to present entrepreneur, Biz Stone, with the CIPR President’s Medal at the SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, this week.

The presentation was made on behalf of Stephen Waddington CIPR President 2014, who awarded the founder and CEO of Super.Me, co-founder of Twitter and contributor to Jelly, Medium, The Obvious Corporation, and Odeo the coveted title.

Biz received the CIPR’s most prestigious accolade for his leadership as an entrepreneur at the forefront of developing new forms of media, networks and applications, modernising the business of public relations by enabling genuine two-way engagement between organisations and their publics.

Commenting on receiving the award, Biz Stone said: “We built Twitter to be readable and writable on every mobile phone on the planet because SMS is ubiquitous. Our goal was to provide the infrastructure to support the creativity and engagement that emerged. That ambition has meant that it has become a platform for public engagement and is part of the changing nature of communication between individuals and organizations.”

Speaking at the festival, Rob said: “Biz Stone is a true innovator who has played a fundamental role in how communications has changed, something that in turn has altered the way we practise PR, he’s also a very down to earth guy.”

Snap snap. Snapchat gets newsy with Discover

Spook 1

Have you updated Snapchat? For the snap happy ones of us in the office that did, we were confronted with the most interesting feature yet – Discover.

For the uninitiated, Snapchat is an iOS and Android app that lets users take photos or record videos and add text and drawings, before sending them to a list of recipients. These Snaps can be viewed for between one and 10 seconds, then they’re hidden from the receiver’s device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

Developed by Stanford University’s Bobby Murphy, Reggie Brown and Evan Spiegel, Snapchat has come a very long way since its release in September 2011:

  • Snapchat is reportedly now worth $10 billion
  • 100 million people actively use the app each month
  • 400 million Snaps are sent every day
  • 1 billion Snapchat Stories are viewed every day
  • Snapchat is the third most popular social app among millennials
  • Facebook offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat in 2013. In cash

Not so bad for an app that was initially dismissed as a novelty act.

In Discover, media companies can publish content to the app for users to view. At launch, these included MTV, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo! News, National Geographic and The Daily Mail just to name a few.

According to Snapchat’s latest blog post, Discover is different because it’s been built for creatives, but keeps Stories – apologies if we don’t watch the entire narrative of your night out, we’ve got better things to do at 3am – at its core.

There’s a beginning, middle and end so editors can put everything in order and every edition is refreshed after 24 hours. Simply tap to open, swipe left to browse, or swipe up on a Snap for more.

With promises of fresh and unique content from each channel every day, Discover has certainly grabbed our attention.

Rule 5 Crafts Blu Tack Digital Comms


We’re delighted to have won a brief from Bostik, the leading global adhesive specialist, to develop a social media presence for the Blu Tack brand.

Work is already underway with a Facebook page focussing on arts and craft applications in development. Bostik Communications Manager, Matt Hicks, said: “Social is a great fit for the Blu Tack brand. Driving engagement through Facebook will help to increase awareness and advocacy for our products in the stationery and craft categories.

“Rule 5 has an excellent understanding of digital and how it relates to our target audience, so we’re delighted to have the team on board.”

With a wealth of experience in building and engaging online communities in this sector under our belt, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Bostik to launch this social media platform.  It’s a fun and highly engaging campaign and we’re looking forward to inspiring a new generation of families to get creative with Bostik stationery and craft products.

The Blu Tack Facebook page will provide a community focus for young parents and offer a wealth of hints, tips and ideas on how to keep children entertained whilst inspiring their creative development. Running alongside the Facebook activity is a blogger outreach programme, engaging over 20 of the UK’s top parenting bloggers.

The sweet ingredient to viral success…

Like dalmation

Viral content – the holy grail of web curios – is a digital communicator’s dream. So, you can imagine the resounding Rule 5 glee when a puppy cake picture we shared on our client’s Facebook page hit the sharing sweet-spot this week.

With a collective 48,525 shares and a staggering 147,194 likes (and counting) – this innocent sleeping Dalmatian pup added an overwhelming 3,000+ fans to the Renshaw Baking Facebook page over the course of the May bank holiday.

As a part of the wider communications strategy for the brand, one of the key objectives of R5’s social media programme is to encourage the Renshaw social community to share with us their cake decorating projects and photos.

As you’d expect, the user generated content we typically share generates higher levels of engagement than straight, brand-owned content – ‘Dimples’ the Dalmatian however, set a new record for what gets our fans talking.

A quick peep at the brand’s Facebook insights shows that sharing the picture made a significant impact on the page with the total reach rocketing up over 11,000% on the previous week’s communications. Added to that was an increase of almost 60,000% in the number of people talking about the page and a 50% rise in the number of friends of fans the page now has links to.

Timed well to hit the mood of the nation ready to pack their desks up for the long weekend, the domino effect of this shareable pup (lemon flavoured and covered with Renshaw Ready to Roll Icing) also inundated cake-decorator Trish Clarke with orders for bespoke doggie cakes.

Proof is in the pudding (sorry!) that when it comes to the internet – animals and food really are the key ingredients to viral success.

BBC Future Media Event Part 2: The first ‘safe’ social network?


The first installment of our two-part blog on last week’s BBC Future Media Event looked at the developing technology of Perceptive Media and what this might hold for the communications industry. In this second follow-up blog, we look at two key areas of interest arising from discussions with the CBBC and Digital Sport teams, starting with the launch of what the Beeb is calling the first ‘safe, real-world’ social network…

CBBC launches the first ‘safe’ social network for children

Children under the age of five have never known a world without the iPhone and so naturally demand that their technology is slick, quick and ahead of the times.  The CBBC website hosts around 1,700 games and is available on a host of different devices. In a move that breaks ground in the online social space, it is soon to launch what it is calling the first ‘real world’, safe social network for kids. Allowing children to connect with their friends online in a space named ‘Vs’, the new CBBC hosted network ensures that children trade user names in the playground rather than digitally, so it’s completely transparent as to whom they are connecting with. The development has not only benefited children and their parents; investing locally, the Beeb has awarded independent developer contracts for a number of its upcoming digital projects in pitch processes that include over 300 agencies. An example of which is Manchester-based Young , responsible for developing the new Cbeebies ‘Music Mash-Up’ game-app.

BBC Sport: Mobile browsers first

The success story of the night came from the digital sport team. Ten million people per day watched the 2012 Olympics on the BBC Sport website, which typically receives 6 million hits per day. Seven-hundred thousand people watched Bradley Wiggins race for gold on their mobile and athletes and journalists utilised the ground-breaking live stream technology to watch team mates compete while keeping abreast of all events.

Head of the sports team, Chris Condron, explained the importance of first optimising the site’s mobile browser, which receives more traffic than the Apple and Android sport apps combined. A device’s market share is the key factor in building the critical mass that warrants a bespoke app development, bringing to light the need for a fully optimised mobile browser on all devices. This is especially significant when you consider 2014’s packed sporting calendar, including World Cup, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

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Google Glass Rule 5

Google Recruits First Users for Project Glass

Google Glass image

Google has today announced that it is looking for ‘Explorers’ to test the first versions of the futuristic Glass product.  Founder Sergey Brin was spotted testing the product on a New York subway in January.

  “We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass.” They are inviting hopefuls to use Google+ or Twitter to say what they would do if they were given the chance to be one of the first users of Glass using the hashtag #ifihadglass.

 Applicants need to be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S.  The deadline for applications is February 27th and ‘Explorers’ will need to shell out $1500 plus tax for the ground-breaking eye-wear.

Along with the announcement Google has released a video that gives a good idea of the Glass experience and how integrated it will be with other Google products including search, Google Hangouts and no doubt Google+.    You will be able to call up flight information whilst at the airport take pictures and video of what you see just using voice commands and make video calls all from the headset.