So here we are at the end of the year, already! Wow, it’s gone quick.

This is our last Deja Vu of the year. Phew!
We had a target this year of delivering one of these retrospective articles a month to highlight the types of clients we have worked with previously, how we have reacted to the challenges they have set us and illustrate the diverse solutions we have delivered.
There are many more…

I have purposely left this one until last, partly because we are ending another Olympic year (this example comes from 2012) and also due to the seductive, Christmas style imagery that the client was using at the time. This is the largest turnover client we have worked with to date, the one where we had the most adrenalin rush and the project that made us feel the most uncomfortable as we didn’t understand the outcome and where it would take both us and the client. It was also the one with the deepest sense of loss and let down in how it all ended. But ultimately it left the owners and backers of the business with millions of pounds in their pockets!

Back in April 2010 I sat down with Steve Richards, the then CEO of Novus Leisure and Tiger Tiger, to discuss his plans for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and how best he could utilise his properties in London in the run-up to, during and after the event.

When I talk about properties, I mean bars and nightclubs.
These are the types of mega experience venues where you can: start with breakfast, move on to a more sedate coffee at ‘elevenses’, a bar snack at lunchtime or a corporate meal with clients. The pace then quickens through the afternoon into private fine dining and raucous raving culminating in a crescendo of disco dancing and alcoholic enjoyment until 3am.
That’s if you can stand the pace…

So where did we fit in with all that?
Steve, formerly a director of Scottish & Newcastle, gained acclaim for growing Novus Leisure over an eight-year period into a 53 venue, multi-million-pound business. Much was through corporate acquisition of Lewis & Clark bars and the takeover of Balls Brothers, but their key to success was dominating the central London premium bar market. This was achieved through constant product innovation, building a market-leading digital platform in, and pioneering the pre-booked sales model which is the group’s USP (Unique Selling Point).

Clients who came into one of the Novus Leisure/Tiger Tiger properties were later contacted by telesales teams who cajoled them back in for a beer, lunch, client drinks, private fine dining, party celebrations etc. The list is endless. You name the occasion Novus would host it.

Here was the challenge…
To research and supply a database of the 26 sporting bodies, their sponsors, equipment and clothing suppliers for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Steve’s telesales team would then contact the relevant parties with a view to them hosting: ‘sponsor’, ‘supplier’ and/or ‘sporting’ nights and other corporate hospitality events at one of their venues. Novus Leisure would metamorphise ‘Babble’, off Green Park into the ‘House of Slazenger’ for a night or ‘The Wall’, in the City into the ‘Speedo House’ for the two month period.

We asked our own team to change tact slightly from their normal design and production related roles to, in effect mirror the Novus Leisure telesales team: make hundreds of calls to compile and devise a database of information illustrating who was who and how to get in touch with the sporting bodies represented at the XXX Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.
The document ran to 97 pages, was then designed and made available as both a hard spiral bound copy and soft copies on USB pens. Job done.
Well, almost…

On presenting the document to Steve Richards and Rupert Macfarlane his Sales Director, I had one question: “How are you going to convey the message to your defined audience that you are open for business? Entice and convince these blue chip brands of what you can offer in terms of ‘corporate hospitality and then walk them through the process.”

In essence what communication elements are your sales team going to use to help them secure their sales targets?

“Come up with some ideas for us to use then”, was the response.

We set about the exciting task of utilising their existing corporate look and massive stable of information and transpose that onto a myriad of different promotional products and forms of communication. This resulted in the visualisation of another document of work illustrating numerous ideas, including: logotypes, swatch books, pen notebooks, flash drive pens and wafer cards, mouse mats and a variety of fold out, concertina cards. Unconventional. Not your typical mailed out A4 corporate brochure.

The skills involved to pull these two presentational elements together were:

• Telesales and investigation techniques
• Artworking ability to type set copy, source and merge with relevant sporting images and supplier logos
• Electronically manipulate client supplied corporate photos and copy, then superimpose
onto product photos
• Photography of product mock ups
• Production of hard and soft presentation elements

We presented these ideas to the marketing management team, who subsequently informed us that the project had been shelved due to a cut in funding (due to the imminent sale of the whole business). We were understandably baffled by the lack of investment in our next proposed stage, but understandably elated to hear that in mid-2013 the London Games had netted the group £1.5m extra projected revenue. Better still that the business had been sold to LGV Capital and Hutton Collins for £100m.

Congratulations to Steve Richards who successfully steered the Novus Leisure and Tiger Tiger brands towards a profitable sale. He is now the CEO of the Casual Dining Group the UK’s leading independent restaurant group who operate these well-known brands in the eating-out market: Bella Italia, Café Rouge, La Tasca and Las Iguanas.

We learnt a massive lesson from this experience – that is to ask our clients many questions about their aspirations and whether we are the right people to engage with.

In our questioning strategy we now like to understand a little more about where you are right now as a business owner or managing director of a company and where it is that you would like to be in a particular moment in the future. Only with that information, an agreed budget and a ‘green light’ from all decision makers to move forward on a specified timeline, will enable us to move forward to create a solution for your challenge.

If it makes any sense to get in contact, please feel comfortable in filling in the form below and if there’s a fit between us and you – we’ll look to put some sparkle into your brand for twenty 17.