Steely Fox is a brand communications agency with offices in Edinburgh and London using insight, creativity and innovation to deliver appropriate messaging to the right audiences. Steely Fox has particular expertise in the drinks industry, but we love to work with brands from all kinds of fields.
We like people and we get a kick from finding out what makes them tick.
With the ever-changing media landscape at their fingertips, today’s consumer is becoming more sceptical and more discerning in their brand choice.
We pride ourselves in developing highly creative campaigns for brands that engage, drive awareness and generate advocacy. By consistently delivering thoughtful brand experiences, our clients have reaped the rewards in terms of increased sales and consumer engagement.
That’s all the satisfaction we need to keep us happy.
Every client brief is different, so we take a methodical approach to tackling them. We believe due diligence is key to getting under the skin of brands and their owners’ businesses. It’s only by fully understanding where clients have come from and want to get to that the right mix of creative initiatives can be thought up, delivered and allowed to benefit the bottom line. We like to take a six-step process to our campaigns.
For us, there’s no such thing as too much information. From a client’s own data through to bespoke, qualitative media audits, information gathering is essential for all the challenges to be fully understood.
Identifying, discussing and prioritising the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will allow for a coherent strategy to be developed. This is a key step in client discussions as key routes evolve from this point. We aren’t afraid to challenge.
Deploying the right mix of marketing tools to reach core audiences is critical to a campaign’s success. An all-singing, all-dancing 360 operation may not be the right one and we’re not in the business of selling unnecessary ideas and wasting a client’s money.
This is the part we enjoy most. Generating highly imaginative and original campaign platforms and tactics has been the hallmark of our success. It’s making sure the ideas deliver brand messages in the right way that audiences absorb and react to which we have a particular skill for.
The fun part – whether it’s an immersive experience at a festival, an initiative to get a brand into carefully targeted media outlets, engaging key influencers to drive word of mouth in the right circles or making sure the MD’s Twitter feed is buzzing with noise around the brand, we’ve done it all, and plenty more.
The final piece of our jigsaw puzzle is hugely important – every campaign needs to be analysed to measure success against the objectives set at the outset and draw out key learnings.
Rory established his reputation for award-winning creativity while at a top London PR agency working on some of the world’s leading brands – Microsoft, McDonald’s, Nike to name a few. A move in-house to a premium drinks company allowed Rory to see the flipside close up and really appreciate the intricacies of that environment. (It also allowed him the opportunity to pursue his interest in drinks to a level verging on geeky.) Truly understanding the pressures of his clients’ positions has been invaluable since starting Steely Fox in 2008.
Jim hails from a journalism and publishing background, bringing a mix of writing, project management, brand communication and social media skills to the Steely Fox table. He fell under the whisky spell while working with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and enjoyed promoting the brand so much that he crossed over into the PR world in early 2012. Little-known fact: in a former life, Jim was a club DJ and was once flown out to New York to play at a party for Kate Moss.
Dorothy heads up the events team at Steely Fox and works across a number of accounts. Having carved a path in the music industry in New Zealand, she was welcomed to the Steely Fox fold in early 2011 and signed her contract in blood while quaffing down a cocktail. With a healthy knowledge of event organisation and a lust for all things liquid, her hobbies include lining her walls with pretty dead butterflies and hunting for wild mushrooms.
Minister Without Portfolio
Our Minister without Portfolio keeps the Steely Fox ship on course with her prodigious finance and event planning powers. With eight years of event management at KPMG under her belt and experience in scouring the globe for products on behalf of some of the UK’s biggest retailers, Barbie has come a long way from her Brownie Guide tea–making badge days.
Senior Account Executive
Kirsty joined the Steely Fox den in April 2013 having made the trip north to Edinburgh from London, where she worked at Quintessentially Communications, a sister company of the well-known concierge service. With a degree in International Relations and English Literature and family roots up in the whisky heartlands of Speyside, Kirsty is well equipped for life at Steely Fox.
Event Production Manager
Gareth joined the Steely Fox den in February 2013. After an overwhelming response to the advertised position on the events team, Gareth sealed his fate after letting it slip that he had Scottish blood running through his veins. A little-known fact is that this constitutes equal parts blood and alcohol, therefore proving himself the perfect candidate for Steely Fox and our array of drinks clients.
Senior Account Executive
Having graduated in graphic design, Peter joined the London den in 2013 after working in the design and production industries, for both national and international firms. He brings with him a keen eye for detail, an impressive love of fonts, rigorous organisational skills and an eclectic stream of music for his colleagues.
We like to work hand-in-hand with in-house teams. We believe that it’s only by burying our muzzle deep into a client’s business that we can share the same enthusiasm for their brands and develop the right communications strategy.
We believe the highest value consumer interaction by a brand is the one made directly and in person. Planning and executing exceptional experiential events gives us a real buzz and provides unbeatable consumer engagement.
Our founder spent the first 12 years of his career in agency and in-house PR roles before starting Steely Fox, so we have a sound understanding of the important role it plays. From creative news generation and press office management to influencer engagement and sponsorship exploitation, our team has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and some of the most vibrant communicators.
From small acorns great oaks grow. Similarly, a well planned and creative social media campaign that is seeded in the right way can grow into a phenomenon that captures national media attention. It takes specialist skills to make this happen, skills we have brought in and nurtured to deliver results.
Whether it’s analyst engagement, public affairs, B2B, trade press, internal communications, reputation management or other corporate communication functions critical to the success of your business, we are able to tailor messages and their delivery for maximum impact.
Working for both the global and UK brand teams, developing the strategy and creative for international and domestic roll-out since 2009, Steely Fox has been an integral part of the brand’s formidable success. From guerilla marketing campaigns through to gift pack creative, the attitude and appearance of Hendrick’s Gin through a multitude of channels has been carefully designed to keep this delightfully peculiar little brand at the forefront of the gin revolution.
The brief: Hendrick’s Gin aims to be loved by one in a thousand gin drinkers, rather than merely liked by many. Our mission was to reinforce it’s distinctiveness without diminishing its “unusualness”, achieving huge scale without behaving like a mass market brand.
The idea: We launched ‘Hendrick’s Carnival of Knowledge’, a fully-fledged festival of erudition and enlightenment that was comprised of 80 events staged in a Hendrick’s-themed immersive “world”. Breaking new ground by partnering with dozens of creative collaborators, we increased Hendrick’s audience exponentially – without sacrificing its credentials.
Results: The carnival helped deliver extraordinary 26% year-on-year growth in volume sales and reached more than 600m people. It drove trial with over 8,800 spirit drinkers and helped double the number of loyal Hendrick’s drinkers in the UK.
The brief: Raise awareness of Hendrick’s delightfully peculiar personality among consumers and media during the London Olympics
The idea: With a buzz around sport and fitness, we created a ‘Fit for tea’ Hendrick’s gift pack that revived the reputation of Dr Gustav Zander, who in the late 1800s invented 27 mechanical workout contraptions to combat the ills of a sedentary lifestyle. The pack included a bottle of Hendrick’s, an unusual teacup, a selection of cocktail suggestions and images of Zander’s designs.
Results: Consumers and media were immersed within the brand personality through the pack and a programme of events
The brief: Develop an awareness and trial-driving initiative that would captitalise on the key summer period, causing a stir in the way only Hendrick’s can
The idea: We created a brand new property, The Hendrick’s Horseless Carriage of Curiosities, to deliver a unique product sampling platform and culinary experience with gastronomic architects Bompas & Parr, to generate consumer awareness of the brand
Results: More than 70 pieces of media coverage, with a potential audience reach of 36 million. Over 20,000 consumers were sampled across regional deployments
The brief: Engage with consumers and key opinion formers in an unusual way to bring the Hendrick’s peculiar personality to life
The idea: We created the Hendrick’s Unusual Umbrella Emporium, a place especially designed to honour the once much-derided cocktail umbrella and give it back its rightful place amongst a good bartender’s accoutrements
Results: The events proved a fantastic opportunity to capture data as well as sample Hendrick’s Gin with a large number of people. On-brand press coverage was generated across a range of media titles.
The brief: Leverage the proximity of the Hendrick’s Gin Palace to The Open 2009 to drive awareness and trial
The idea: A three-pronged approach:
1. Trade partnerships – on & off, key customers.
2. Media engagement – distillery soiree with GWA.
3. Consumer visibility on and around course – ice-cream trike, butler service, Unusual Times golf special, viral film
Results: 18 new trade partners, media contacts fed diary stories, branded broadcast vox-pops and viral video created at Electric Brae.
Irish whiskey is one of the fastest-growing spirits in the world – and it is becomingly increasingly popular in the UK as whisky drinkers seek out new taste experiences. Steely Fox started working with Tullamore D.E.W., the second-largest Irish whiskey in the world, in early 2013 to raise awareness of the brand and its Irish True positioning in the UK. Key to our thinking was bringing this authentic Irish True personality to life through a compelling and premium campaign that set Tullamore D.E.W. apart from the rest of the market. Click on the project below to find out more.
Tullamore D.E.W. project
The brief: Drive awareness of Tullamore D.E.W. amongst UK media and target consumers, men in their late 20s and early 30s through sampling, engagement and understanding its Irish True personality.
The idea: With poetic rebellion at the heart of Tullamore D.E.W.’s Irish True spirit, we used the defiant wit and humour of banners at sporting events to create ‘The Art of Banner Banter, a touring photography exhibition and banner writing competition on Twitter. The exhibition was housed in a transformed bus, complete with a whiskey bar, that toured major UK cities to inspire a new wave of banners. A media partnership with Shortlist Magazine launched the campaign.
Results: The campaign continues and has gained extensive print, online and radio media coverage – while thousands of consumers have discovered Tullamore D.E.W. for the first time.
Tullamore D.E.W. project
With true craftsmanship flowing through the blood of the brand, The Balvenie is looking to expand its association with traditional, handcrafted skills beyond the world of whisky production and into new areas that will engage with the consumer. Steely Fox has been brought on board by the global brand team to develop tools for individual markets to deploy, with the aim of driving personality into, and deeper engagement with, the brand.
“With a shared ambition we enjoy a creative, exciting and dynamic working relationship with Steely Fox – they are a key component in our ongoing success.”
Matthew Hawes, Marketing Manager,
Unlike any other whisky club in the world, the SMWS has a formidable international membership and truly unique offering. Steely Fox has been appointed as the Society looks to its 30th anniversary year in 2013 and will execute a global PR campaign in key markets to raise awareness of this premium single cask, single malt whisky brand among new audiences. The Steely Fox office is a short stroll from the SMWS members’ rooms in Queen Street, Edinburgh – providing plenty of opportunities for all-important sampling missions!
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society projects
The brief: Create an event to raise awareness of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society among the media and target consumers; help reach potential new members, create a new experience for existing members and generate content for SMWS comms channels.
The idea: The Pearl Dram Whisky & Oyster Bar – a 4-day pop-up bar in Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London serving oysters and whisky to celebrate the start of oyster season; the pop-up included a media launch night, plus guest speakers each night. Supported by PR campaign, social media engagement and web page.
Results: 31 pieces of coverage – 111 million OTS, more than 500,000 reached via Twitter, more than 800 consumers sampled, new media and consumers reached; increased traffic to SMWS web pages.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society projects
The brief: Develop 2-month campaign running across multiple Scotch Malt Whisky Society touch points to raise brand awareness in media, target new consumers, drive membership & whisky sales.
The idea: Glorious 12 Whisky & Game season – seasonal food & drink campaign based around a 4-day ticketed pop-up, the Glorious 12 Whisky & Game Bar in Shoreditch, London, with the Glorious 12 theme running at SMWS venues and across all SMWS comms. Supported by PR campaign, social media engagement and web pages.
Results: Sold out 4 nights of pop-up; new media reached, increase in memberships sold, new consumer emails captured, increased visits to SMWS venues.Media coverage – 25 million OTS.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society projects
With strong growth potential in a crowded category, the Sailor Jerry global brand team called upon Steely Fox to develop initiatives that bring the lifestyle elements of this spiced rum brand to life. A number of experiential, on-trade engagement and media relations toolkits have been created and ultilised in both established and new markets.
Sailor Jerry projects
The brief: Use the birthday (January 13th) of Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins, the father of old school Americana tattoos, to drive bartender and consumer interaction during the traditionally quiet period of January
The idea: We created Challenge Jerry, a series of old school arm wrestling bouts taking place in the back of the world’s best dive bars, using a Sailor Jerry custom-branded arm wrestling table
Results: The events generated huge word of mouth and brought the no-BS spirit of Norman Collins to life
Sailor Jerry projects
The brief: Provide a platform for bartender and consumer engagement and showcase Sailor Jerry’s brand personality and liquid credentials
The idea: ‘Roll With The Punches’ – a cocktail competition for bartenders to show off their skills in making a kick-ass rum punch. The top-of-the-trade were challenged to showcase their drink and pick the music that goes best with their punch. The winning punch was selected by event attendees – first prize received a bespoke punch bowl.
Results: The events generated widespread social media mentions, excellent bartender engagement and post-event media coverage
Sailor Jerry projects
Following an important research trip to Poland to find out more about this bison grass-infused rye vodka, we teamed up with new distributor First Drinks to help them reposition Zubrowka in the UK. Our role focused specifically on building awareness of the brand through the launch of its new-look brand identity, created by illustrator Kristjana S Williams, and continued with a regular programme of PR outreach and social media engagement.
Steely Fox hooked up with irreverent Scotch whisky Monkey Shoulder in 2012 to provide support for a global PR drive to raise awareness of the brand as it is rolled out in new markets around the world. Key to this process has been helping the global Monkey Shoulder team develop the overall brand strategy and updating messaging, tools and activation plans which can be shared with its international teams.
When Steely Fox began running the corporate PR for Scotland’s leading independent specialty brewer Innis & Gunn its reputation soared. Appointed in 2009 to raise awareness of the company’s success story under the stewardship of owner Dougal Sharp, Innis & Gunn is now seen as a classic success story of British innovation succeeding in export markets by key influencers in business media.