Saturday 30th May 2015

Thoughts and insights from the World of Initials

Is Meerkat the new Snapchat?

Posted on April 20, 2015 by


Since its release at the end of February, Meerkat, the new social media app, has taken the digital world by storm. Created by Israeli entrepreneur Ben Rubin, Meerkat has managed to drum up an impressive two hundred and seventy six thousand  followers in its first month, as users look to take advantage of Meerkat’s live video broadcast facility. It seems that everyone is talking about Meerkat, but is it really going to become the new Snapchat?

Meerkat allows its users to live-stream videos through Twitter, notifying your followers via a tweet, when you are broadcasting. Viewers are able to comment as they watch, although once the live-stream ends, you are unable to replay it, which places the new app somewhere in-between Snapchat and Twitter. In fact, the app appears to be very similar to Snapchat with this disappearing video element, but also in terms of look. The Meerkat, which is used as a logo, is placed on a yellow background, somewhat reminiscent of Snapchat’s white ghost and yellow background. Perhaps this was an intentional move by founder Rubin, as he believes his creation has what it takes to compete with the likes of Snapchat.

Meerkat’s live video facility is certainly catching public attention. Several celebrities, including the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk have all used the app in recent weeks. Pro-skater Tony Hawk, who has 3.87 million Twitter followers, live-streamed a video of himself skateboarding in Iceland.


Not only is the Twitter page gaining an increasing following, but more than one third of users are actually watching the content for two or more hours per day! This certainly illustrates the app is successfully engaging users, but is this high level of interest set to fade once Meerkat has ridden the ‘new social app’ hype?

In 2007 Twitter went viral, but in the past it has proved difficult for other innovative social platforms to emulate its continued success. In 2009 Foursquare, a search and discovery app that links you to places to visit based on your social activity, also went viral, although it has since failed to reach Twitter’s wide-scale level of popularity.

So how does Meerkat differ from its predecessors? Firstly, there is no sign-up process involved, as the livestreaming takes place through Twitter. The ease of using Meerkat is not only appealing to social media users, but also brands too, as they do not need to worry about creating and maintaining a whole new profile. Brands now have the ability to show off their products and services through live marketing stunts, which introduces a level of immediacy, honesty and transparency, which has never been seen before.


In contrast to Instagram’s staged and edited videos, brands are now unable to hide behind false pretences, which could have positive as well as negative implications. For example, the combination of transparency and vulnerability associated with live-streaming is very powerful and subsequently, the app could prove useful as a digital storytelling tool for brands. However, due to the ‘live’ nature of the broadcasts, it seems inevitable that customer rants would be caught on camera, which could be very damaging to the brand. However, this will certainly not hinder Meerkat usage and if anything, surely this ‘live’ element, with the potential for blunders, will draw people in!

Although the concept of live-streaming itself isn’t new, the development of social media sites means that they are now ready to take live video to the next level. In addition, people now feel more comfortable with the ‘live’ concept as it is gradually being introduced more often. Most recently, Snapchat announced that it was going to launch live sports broadcasts, starting with the NCAA Final Four, which takes place in April. However, the failure of live video on apps such as Google Hangouts and Kyte, illustrates the difficulties associated with live-streaming in the past, in terms of hitting the mainstream. Nevertheless, the difference between Meerkat and other similar apps is that Meerkat brings the live-stream to the audience, a new development that has the potential to make the app a success.

So is Meerkat going to be able to maintain its current popularity, to compete with the likes of Snapchat? This new app certainly has the capability to do so. Meerkat brings the live-stream facility to Twitter, a platform that is already well established, which is why it has so much more potential than any of its predecessors.


Natasha Son

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Initials tops the creativebrief poll

Posted on January 28, 2015 by

Leading agency broker creativebrief regularly compiles monthly league tables of the agencies which have been most viewed by their client and agency database. Tables are also compiled for agencies’ case histories and latest work uploaded on the creativebrief site.

The 2014 annual tables have just been published, and the Most Viewed Agency in 2014 was….Initials. We also featured prominently in the Case Studies league table for the year with seven of the top thirty viewed, indicating that clients are interested in the agency’s output of work across our client portfolio. We topped the Most Viewed poll with a staggering 37,836 views during the year, more than some of the most successful and high profile companies including BBH, AMV BBDO and iris.

In the competitive world of marketing communications agencies, it’s always gratifying to be recognised both by clients and agencies who regularly peruse the creativebrief website, helping to keep the Initials industry profile high. creativebrief’s database includes some 2,000 individual clients who keep their finger on the agencies’ pulse by regularly checking them out online.

Thank you to everyone who viewed the agency’s portfolio last year. If you haven’t yet come across us, why not pop in and find out why we were top of the 2014 creativebrief poll.

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Getting Back to Basics

Posted on January 16, 2015 by

INITIALS CEO Jamie Matthews has contributed a feature to The Guardian Marketing Issues Column on the agency selection progress and the need to get back to basics.inflatable tents

The article, which is sponsored by the MAA, can be read here.

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Initials appoints Dan Jerrard as new creative director

Posted on by

Initials (L-R, Nick Presley, Dan Jerrard)

Creative communications agency Initials is growing its creative department with four new hires, including ex-Haygarth associate creative director Dan Jerrard as its new creative director.

The appointments mark the launch of a company-wide development programme aimed at bringing Initials’ youngest talent and most experienced employees together. They will learn from each other and create the most informed solutions for clients.

Initials CEO Jamie Matthews comments: “20-year-olds can learn a lot from forty-somethings and vice versa. Both have a huge amount of creativity and great ideas to offer.”

Jerrard will play an important role in kick-starting the programme within the creative team, having helped to double the size of the creative department at Haygarth since he joined in 2011. Jerrard worked on some of Haygarth’s most high profile blue chip accounts, including Sony Mobile, Heineken and the Organic Trade Board. Before that he was group head at BD Network, having first launched his career at Dynamo.

At Initials, Jerrard will work on some of the agency’s largest accounts, including AkzoNobel, PepsiCo, Mondelez and J Sainsbury’s. Allan Guy, the current creative director at Initials, continues in the agency focusing on new ventures and working closely with Presley and Jerrard to ensure the quality of work in the agency remains at the highest levels.

Nick Presley, executive creative director, said: “We loved Dan’s passion and ability to work on multi-channel activity. He’s had a great grounding to his career in his previous agencies and he’ll significantly increase the firepower of our creative department. His appointment isn’t just responding to the increase in work from our current clients and recent wins, but will help us further develop our offering.”

Dan Jerrard commented: “I instantly recognised that Initials matched my ambitions to help build a creatively-led agency that was not constrained by channel. It’s a very exciting opportunity to work with Nick at the start of a new chapter in the World of Initials.”

Initials has also made three further creative  hires: Bethan Prestwich, a recent graduate from Reading University as designer, and junior creative team members Micaela Beni and Simona Zukauskaite, who join following a number of placements and internships over the last six months.

Presley added: “All three have demonstrated huge potential and a great willingness to learn. They will bring a new dimension of thinking and craft to our work.”

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The Ups and Downs of Retailing

Posted on December 25, 2014 by

On a lunchtime break down Oxford Street recently, the winners and losers in retailing were brought into sharp focus.

On one side of the street, the former HMV flagship store. I used to be a huge fan of the brand, having spent much time and money browsing the tantalising rows of CDs and videos combining the hottest artists on the planet with wonderfully obscure artistes from back when. If you were into music and film it really was the place to make impulse purchases, and over the years I gave my credit card regular workouts, adding to the audio and video collections that have given me endless pleasure for many years.

So how could such a dominant retailing icon have come to the brink of extinction? How could they have missed the online boat not just once, but twice? Even now, having been bought out of receivership, their website is not transactional, so I’m off to sites which stock a reasonable range and that deliver to my home a few days later. No surprise then, that the store closed and a pale imitation, with poor signage and lighting, and a fraction of the stock previously carried is just about hanging on near Bond Street.

The original site is now the flagship store of Sports Direct, one of the most successful money-making machines the high street (and the out of town locations) has ever seen. Interestingly, whilst the layout of the ground floor is a welcome departure from the cramped and crowded souk-style bazaar we’ve all learned to put up with, the other floors are sadly reminiscent of the standard Sports Direct décor. It’s as if the designers have been instructed to tart up the visibility at ground level purely on the basis that once inside, the poor old punter can put up with the usual shabitat style.

Something of a welcome relief, then, to cross the road to the Marks & Spencer where it’s much quieter, but there’s a disappointing familiarity about the merchandise. Despite all the protestations and the glossy advertising featuring people we can all apparently relate to, the goods don’t seem to change much any year. If results are the main criterion, Plan A doesn’t seem to be resonating much with today’s consumers. Whilst we can all attest to the need for sustainability, are we really engaged with it enough to buy the same sort of safe stuff every season?

So here’s my formula for success for each of these British behemoth brands. Sports Direct needs to attract a new, more up-market, affluent audience by adopting M&S attitudes, décor and service ethics. This way, they will increase their margins, and we might get a marginally more enjoyable shopping experience.

Conversely (and I’m not talking trainers here) M&S could do with a bit of Mike Ashley-style entrepreneurialism and a dash of Philip Green product range flare to drag the clothing into the twenty-first century.

And HMV? Despite all its woes, it’s still a great brand with the potential to become a major player in the wider field of audio and visual entertainment, but time is running out. By persisting with an offline-only retail sales strategy, they are condemning the business to an eventual grave. Let’s hope they can turn it around  before it’s too late.

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All in London


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