Rob Metcalfe, Author at Richmond & Towers
10th June | Rob Metcalfe back

Who Doesn’t Want To Be A Millionaire?

The screening of ITV’s highly entertaining Quiz a
couple of months ago brought memories of a pitching disaster flooding back
which I think I have suppressed for the last 22 years.

At the time I was MD of a once great agency that had rather
fallen on hard times when, thanks to the networking genius of our formidable CEO,
we were invited to pitch for a new TV gameshow, provisionally titled Cash
Mountain. Our proposal was, if I say so myself, brilliant.

It had news gen ideas galore, stunts, including the “theft”
of a million pounds on the way to the studio, and much much more. And the pitch
went remarkably well. This account was clearly going to be ours, make us famous
again and revive the fortunes of the agency.

Right up, that is, until the point where the man from
Celador mentioned that they were considering Chris Tarrant as host for the new
show. I don’t think I actually blurted out the words “What? That washed up
loser from Capital radio?”, but whatever I did say conveyed the same impression:
We (I) didn’t think it was a good idea. My colleagues rapidly backtracked and
tried to repair the damage, but our fate, not to be the PR agency representing
one of the biggest TV shows of all time, was cast.

Of course, they were right and I was wrong. Chris Tarrant
defied my character assassination and proved himself to be the consummate Who
Wants To Be A Millionaire? front man.

If there was a lesson to be learnt here about caution, I
didn’t learn it and have continued to say what I think at pitches ever since.
Sometimes it is well received, others not, but on balance probably more of the
former than the latter. Having an opinion, even if it turns out to be wrong, is
better than having no opinion at all. And if it turns out to be right, you’re
doing what a good consulting agency should be doing.

7th February | Olivia Scudder
R&T TRENDS & INSIGHTS: WHAT ARE THE SOCIAL…

As a PR and social media agency, we were living and breathing the innovations and shifts in the digital landscape in 2023. From Twitter’s bold rebrand to X, the use of CGI technology to create memorable campaigns, and the launch of Threads, numerous changes have made waves in the ever-evolving… Read more

19th January | Nikki Thomson
R&T PARTNERS WITH WORKING OPTIONS

I’m proud to announce our partnership with Working Options, the nationwide charity that aims to help young people transform their careers and life outcomes. We’re joining forces to support our shared goal of helping young people realise their potential. Making a conscious, positive impact has been part of our DNA since… Read more

3rd October | Anouska Leon
RICHMOND & TOWERS EXTENDS WHISKY REMIT WITH BRIEFS…

Richmond & Towers (R&T) has secured briefs from whisky makers based in Norfolk and the foothills of the Himalayas, both of which are looking to leverage the agency’s best in class drinks trade and whisky PR credentials. The 100% employee-owned PR and social agency will provide UK and global communications… Read more

Load more
19th March | Rob Metcalfe back

The Purpose Of Purpose

Much was made at last week’s Grocer Conference – How to have a purpose: The role of ethics for your business and your brands –  of the new dynamic in business: that making profits for shareholders is no longer sufficient as a corporate purpose and that there is a whole heap of societal benefits that companies should be striving to achieve too.  Of course, the room was full of believers, and out in the real world I am sure there are still many businesses that rarely look beyond the bottom line.

If that’s the case now, it is set to
change. Regardless of the impact of coronavirus, people are increasingly
looking to business to show social leadership, to contribute to the greater
good beyond the nuts and bolts of day-to-day commerce.

Some brands have lofty ambitions,
though none less worthy for that. We heard from Tony’s Chocalonely on its
remarkable mission to abolish slavery in chocolate production – that’s all
chocolate production, not just for its own brand. Others are more modest, but
all share the qualities of empowerment and enablement, using business success
to achieve a greater benefit for all.

I made a brief appearance onstage to
comment on good and bad purpose-led marketing (and was gratuitously rude about
one of the earlier speaker’s campaigns; apologies Pot Noodle) and the
difference between the two is usually pretty clear. Good purpose is embedded
throughout a company, and if it emerges as part of a marketing campaign, it’s
because it’s integral and not an add on. Ineffectual, or even damaging purpose
marketing usually comes when a current social theme is grafted on to a
marketing campaign without any apparent reason.

Over the next few weeks and months, purpose for some companies and brands will be tested as never before. When it’s a fight for survival in a chaotic market it must be easy for all those touchy-feely principles to seem like a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. My bet is that companies with genuine purpose will fare better than the profit-at-all-costs merchants. They will treat their employees with respect and dignity – even in the most difficult of circumstances – and as they emerge from the other side of this crisis, they will retain, and even build on, the loyalty of their customers and suppliers.

7th February | Olivia Scudder
R&T TRENDS & INSIGHTS: WHAT ARE THE SOCIAL…

As a PR and social media agency, we were living and breathing the innovations and shifts in the digital landscape in 2023. From Twitter’s bold rebrand to X, the use of CGI technology to create memorable campaigns, and the launch of Threads, numerous changes have made waves in the ever-evolving… Read more

19th January | Nikki Thomson
R&T PARTNERS WITH WORKING OPTIONS

I’m proud to announce our partnership with Working Options, the nationwide charity that aims to help young people transform their careers and life outcomes. We’re joining forces to support our shared goal of helping young people realise their potential. Making a conscious, positive impact has been part of our DNA since… Read more

3rd October | Anouska Leon
RICHMOND & TOWERS EXTENDS WHISKY REMIT WITH BRIEFS…

Richmond & Towers (R&T) has secured briefs from whisky makers based in Norfolk and the foothills of the Himalayas, both of which are looking to leverage the agency’s best in class drinks trade and whisky PR credentials. The 100% employee-owned PR and social agency will provide UK and global communications… Read more

Load more
22nd February | Rob Metcalfe back

Smug is not a good look for politicians

It ought to be a brilliant time to launch a new political
movement. Pretty much every commentator has spent the last two years
highlighting popular dissatisfaction with our politicians, our parties and the
system that sustains them. We are supposedly, as a nation, desperate for
leadership, for clarity, for politicians who believe in something, have a
vision, can articulate what it is and intend to deliver it. Neither Theresa May
nor Jeremy Corbyn ticks these boxes.

But in communications terms The Independent Group of 12 (at the time of writing) disaffected MPs who have left their parties, has got off to a disastrous start. The name is the first issue. As The Independent newspaper found when it tried to launch The Sunday Independent, there are already plenty of independents out there. Indeed, there were eight independent MPs sitting in the House of Commons before TIG was formed. So we have an Independent Group which doesn’t include all of the independents. This only highlights that if you are properly independent you surely can’t be part of a group anyway.

An oxymoronic name is compounded by a lack of policy. Being
united by what you don’t like is fine for a protest group, but pointless for a
political party. An effective launch would have presented some positive
(non-Brexit-related) ambitions. One or two would do, if only to provide a sense
of direction. At the moment, TIG looks likes a group of misfits (among their
former parties and each other) without a unifying idea in their collective
heads. Objecting to anti-Semitism (assuming that they all do) isn’t that idea. Everybody
should object to anti-Semitism.

But the worst communications sin of this group is its overbearing smugness. When we provide media training for senior spokespeople we usually want them to be confident, positive, forthright, even bold. It is presentational death to come across as pleased with yourself, superior, smug, self-centered. The public forgives much of its politicians (it has to), but I doubt that voters will treat the Soubry smirk as anything other than poison at the next election.

There is still plenty of room for a new political force at
the heart of British life. A NOTA (None Of The Above) party could present a
progressive, centrist raft of policies that would put the old guard of British
politics to shame. But unless The Independent Group gets its communications act
together very quickly indeed, it won’t be them.

7th February | Olivia Scudder
R&T TRENDS & INSIGHTS: WHAT ARE THE SOCIAL…

As a PR and social media agency, we were living and breathing the innovations and shifts in the digital landscape in 2023. From Twitter’s bold rebrand to X, the use of CGI technology to create memorable campaigns, and the launch of Threads, numerous changes have made waves in the ever-evolving… Read more

19th January | Nikki Thomson
R&T PARTNERS WITH WORKING OPTIONS

I’m proud to announce our partnership with Working Options, the nationwide charity that aims to help young people transform their careers and life outcomes. We’re joining forces to support our shared goal of helping young people realise their potential. Making a conscious, positive impact has been part of our DNA since… Read more

3rd October | Anouska Leon
RICHMOND & TOWERS EXTENDS WHISKY REMIT WITH BRIEFS…

Richmond & Towers (R&T) has secured briefs from whisky makers based in Norfolk and the foothills of the Himalayas, both of which are looking to leverage the agency’s best in class drinks trade and whisky PR credentials. The 100% employee-owned PR and social agency will provide UK and global communications… Read more

Load more