Archive for December, 2023

A month of Mischief, December 2023

Posted on: December 20th, 2023 by Nick Barron

This month, we’ve got a bumper edition on the cards, as with 2024 almost in sight, it’s time to reflect on what’s been an incredibly busy yet rewarding year.

Here at Mischief, 2023 has seen…

A year of hard, unforgettable and fun work is coming to an end, but there has been no rest for the wicked at Mischief HQ as we carry on into December, launching some fantastic new campaigns and brilliant activations. So check out our usual spotlight on Mischief’s goings-on this month, as well as a round-up of this year’s highlights below.

This Month at Mischief

Three Get Poetic with Carol Ann Duffy

To launch Three’s ‘WeSeeYou’ network – a platform which celebrates women in sport, we commissioned poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy to pen an original poem as an ode to the women who are helping to level the playing field in sport.

Pitching the poem to media alongside hero visuals of Duffy at Stamford Bridge – the home of Chelsea FC where Three are the official mobile network partner – the moving ode to female footballing heroes was celebrated by the likes of The Guardian and BBC, including a front page print feature in the former.Read more here.

Nigella says ‘Ditch the Christmas Cake!’

With a fresh Ocado-exclusive recipe on the table for Christmas – a Winter Wonderland Cake – we worked alongside Nigella herself to craft the ultimate divisive festive narrative. With consumer research revealing the majority of us would much prefer to tuck into chocolate cake than Christmas cake this festive season, all it needed now was for Nigella to announce that Christmas cake’s time had come… and that she did.

We spread the word that Nigella was calling for us all to move on from festive traditions we didn’t enjoy, and following an exclusive interview in The Times, saw a flurry of wide-ranging coverage land across both national and consumer titles from The Guardian and Independent to Virgin Radio and Ladbible!

Read more here.

Slugging in a Winter Wonderland with OGX

It was all about winter hair care with OGX this month as we launched a social-first campaign to help their audience take their winter hair routine to the next level, with simple remedies such as masking, slugging and the all important ‘everything shower’. Alongside OGX brand ambassador and celebrity hair stylist Michael Douglas, we worked with Vogue Williams and Giovanna Fletcher to shine a light on the best ways to hydrate hair in winter using OGX products. We also engaged a handful of lifestyle influencers to produce original content encouraging their followers to try the full OGX experience.

With over 1 million views and 100,000 engagements, the content really resonated with OGX’s target audience – even leading to one of the hero products selling out in under two weeks.

Read more here.

A Year In Highlights

But it’s not only December that’s been full of exciting campaign launches at Mischief, so we’ve pulled together a round-up of our top five 2023 campaigns. In no particular order…

Avanti – Pulling in The Right Direction

Dominating in this year’s automotive and transport PR awards categories, our campaign with Avanti launched way back in January, as part of a recruitment drive to onboard more female train drivers.

We told the story of Karen Harrison, one of the UK’s first ever female train drivers, and created a giant mural in Euston station. Originally planned to be temporary, word of the campaign spread so far that it was decided the mural would remain a permanent fixture in Euston, and female applicants to the role increased fourfold.

Team GB – Mini Mascots

A fantastic new client for 2023, Team GB’s Mini Mascots campaign got everyone excited for Paris 2024. Our competition to become the next official young Team GB mascot was a huge success, with over 20,000 entrants thanks to nominations from encouraging adults, playing a vital role in building Team GB’s database. Watch this space to see the results announced next year, as Olympic fever gears up a notch.

Ocado X Beano Food Waste Cookbook

A standout success this year was the collaboration between Ocado and iconic children’s comic – Beano. We wanted to shine a light on how Ocado customers could make their food go further whilst tackling waste, and what better way than to join forces with the now-reformed founders of food fights. Our original cookbook featured five playful recipes for families to enjoy together, and led to huge success across both earned media and Ocado and Beano’s owned channels generating £££ in sales.

LEGO Play Unstoppable

There’s never a dull moment in the world of LEGO, and one of our favourite launches this year was that of ‘Unstoppable FC’. With a focus on inspiring young girls and helping them to develop their confidence, we worked with Women’s Super League football clubs and footballing icons to host ‘Unstoppable FC’ training sessions. With over 200 attendees and over 100 pieces of coverage, this is a campaign we’re proud to shout about.

Just Eat – The Queen’s Header

And LEGO wasn’t our only campaign this year that tapped into women’s football. Our final highlight couldn’t ignore that the Women’s World Cup was hot on the agenda this summer, but frustratingly, being hosted in Australia posed a big issue for Brits – during the morning games, pubs were closed!

To combat this, we opened ‘The Queen’s Header’ – an East London pub exclusively showing women’s football, and serving breakfast to the flurry of fans keen not to miss out on the electric World Cup atmosphere – even at 8am! Tickets to the breakfast viewings completely sold out and all proceeds from ticket sales, as well as a further £50,000 investment from Just Eat were donated to its Feed the Game fund, which aims to inspire women and girls to get into football.

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Whittling it down to just a handful of highlights has been a tough job after a fantastic year at Mischief, so we can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store.

All that’s left is to wish you a very happy Christmas and see you in the New Year!

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MHP Group appointed by Metrocentre

Posted on: December 19th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Metrocentre has appointed MHP Group for an integrated brief to support its corporate and financial communications programme.

Working with Metrocentre’s Chairman, Martin Healy, and senior leadership team, MHP will be providing counsel across all aspects of its strategic communications.

One of the most extensive multi-use destinations in Europe, Metrocentre welcomes 14.1 million visitors a year, drawn to its 270 retail brands; over 60 restaurants, cafes and bars; and array of leisure facilities.

Metrocentre has committed to a capital programme of £70 million, to be spent on the iconic centre by the end of 2025, including on an ambitious sustainable transformation plan.

The financial communications will be led by Managing Director Katie Hunt, with Senior Director, Hannah Walsh, leading the corporate reputation brief.

The win reflects the strong growth of MHP’s portfolio of strategic advisory work. The team has recently advised on high-profile work including Shaftesbury’s £5 billion merger with Capital and Counties, EMIS Group’s £1.2bn takeover by United Health, Young’s acquisition of The City Pub Group, and the launch of FTSE 100 energy business SSE’s £25bn renewable energy investment plan.

Martin Healy, Executive Chairman of Metrocentre, said: “Having seen the value of strategic communications through working with Katie and her team previously, I’m delighted to appoint MHP Group as we build awareness of the value Metrocentre brings to its community, stakeholders and the wider UK economy.”

Katie Hunt, Managing Director at MHP Group, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Metrocentre, one of the most extensive multi-use destinations in Europe, as investment in the centre builds on its recent momentum by driving increased footfall and strong lettings from an exciting range of retail, leisure and hospitality.”

COP28: A historic agreement struck, but will it be enough?

Posted on: December 14th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Yesterday, the UAE Consensus was adopted at COP28 in Dubai. Only hours earlier, many were questioning whether a deal could even be reached. Several nations were angered by an earlier draft agreement that failed to include strong wording on fossil fuels. However, the final ‘Global Stocktake’ text was published early Wednesday following a dramatically swift adoption process.

Running to more than 20 pages and nearly 200 clauses, the UAE Consensus “calls on parties to contribute” to take actions including “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.

In what is being described as a historic moment, this is the first time there has been an explicit mention of reducing the use of fossil fuels in a COP text.

However, developing nations and campaigners have not shied away from critiquing the agreement since the moment the gavel came down on the negotiations. They claim that the deal has a litany of loopholes, appears to placate fossil fuel interests and will ultimately hamper the world from cutting greenhouse gas emissions drastically enough to limit global heating to 1.5c above pre-industrial levels.

They also argue that, despite an agreement on a loss and damage fund, developing nations still require hundreds of billions more in finance to help them transition away from coal, oil and gas. During the summit, the US pledged just over $20m in new finance, while India announced it would double its coal production by the end of the decade.

Despite its imperfections, the deal represents perhaps the biggest step forward since the Paris Agreement of 2015. It signals the start of the end of the fossil fuel era and a global push towards renewable energy.

The hope is that the commitment to triple renewables and energy efficiency by 2030 will see wind and solar replace coal, oil and gas and the requirement for nations to submit stronger carbon-cutting plans by 2025 should, in theory, help to accelerate the transition.

As diplomats and officials leave Dubai, there will be a sense that there is still much more work to be done to achieve the goal of limiting climate change and its impacts. This year was the warmest year on record and 2024 is set to pass the 1.5c threshold, according to The Met Office, and the UN recently warned that global temperatures will rise by 3-5c by the end of the century.

Away from the politics, many will be wondering if the agreement struck today is radical enough to address the scale and pace required to avoid climate breakdown.

30 To Watch: Politics awards – Gold winners revealed

Posted on: December 7th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Last night, 30 of the UK’s leading young politicos came together at One Birdcage Walk in Westminster for the 2023 MHP Group 30 To Watch Politics Awards, celebrating with Members of Parliament, Political Advisors and leading editors of 2023.

Hosted by Head of Public Affairs, Tim Snowball, and with an address from Mark Wallace, Chief Executive of Total Politics, the awards brought together the rising stars of British politics.

Back for their second year, the MHP Group 30 to Watch: Politics Awards has become a major event in the industry’s calendar, judged by some of the biggest names in politics.

The 30 To Watch Gold Winners: 

Commentator – Eleni Courea, POLITICO
Diversity / Inclusivity Champion – Dr. Alex Bulat and & Lara Parizotto, Migrant Democracy Project
Health Champion – Dr Azmain Chowdhury, Doctor & Content Creator
Issue Campaigner  Hannah Swirsky, Samaritans
Local Champion – Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council
Parliamentarian Keir Mather, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty
Political Adviser – Muneera Lula, The Labour Party
Think Tanker  Jenevieve Treadwell, Onward 

Download the 2023 awards booklet


The full list of MHP Group 30 to Watch: Politics Award 2023 winners:

Commentator

Aletha Adu, The Guardian
Mhari Aurora, Sky News
Eleni Courea, POLITICO
Calum Macdonald, Times Radio 

Diversity/ Inclusivity Champion

Dr. Alex Bulat and & Lara Parizotto, Migrant Democracy Project
Haleemah Farooq, Office of Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner
Melanie Fernandes, WIPA & KPMG 

Health Champion 

Dr Azmain Chowdhury, Doctor & Content Creator
Charli Clement, Activist & Lived Experience Consultant
Lydia Paynter, Malaria No More UK 

Issue Campaigner

Sharon Gaffka, Freelancer and Activist
Imogen Payter, UK Friends of Ukraine
Afzal Pervez, Commonwealth Research Group
Madison Rogers, Cats Protection
Nathan Stilwell, Humanists UK
Hannah Swirsky, Samaritans 

Local Champion

Charlie Edwards, Lancashire County Council
Isaac Howarth, Sheffield Conservatives
Jordan Jacobs, Rayleigh Town Council 

Parliamentarian

Sara Britcliffe, Member of Parliament for Hyndburn
Keir Mather, Member of Parliament for Selby and Ainsty
Emma Roddick, Member of The Scottish Parliament 

Political Adviser 

Laura Dunn, Consultant
Alice Hopkin, UK Home Office
Jonty Leibowitz, The Labour Party  
Muneera Lula, The Labour Party
Henna Shah, The Labour Party 

Think Tanker  

Connor Escudero, Young Fabians
Maxwell Marlow, Adam Smith Institute
Jenevieve Treadwell, Onward 

A special thank you to our esteemed judging panel this year:

Nusrat Ghani MP, Business and Trade Minister
David Lammy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Skills
Tim Farron MP, Shadow Minister for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Baroness Arlene Foster, Former First Minister of Northern Ireland
Mark Wallace, Chief Executive, Total Politics
Dean Sabri, Head of UK Political Intelligence, Dods Political Intelligence
Rebecca Deegan, Founder & CEO, I have a voice
Rosa Prince, Editor, London Playbook, POLITICO
Lucy Aitkens, Group Director, External Affairs, Sky
Atul Hatwal, Editor, Labour Uncut
Claire Ellicott, Whitehall Editor, Daily Mail
Roger Perowne, CEO, Savanta

Media Network: Issue 8, 2023

Posted on: December 6th, 2023 by Morgan Arnold

Sky’s the limit for new podcast offer

By Keith Gladdis, former Daily Mail Executive News Editor 

We caught up with Priya Sahathevan and Liam Dolan from Sky News to discuss their new focus on podcasts and the opportunity for clients to engage with them.

Tell us about the podcast output from Sky News.

Priya: Sky News’ award-winning audio team delivers a broad podcast portfolio for audiences all year round, including the flagship Sky News Daily, Ian King Business and the ARIA-nominated ‘Open Secret’ and ‘Ukraine War Diaries’, as well as limited series such as ‘Queen Camilla: For the Love of Charles’ presented by Kay Burley ahead of the Coronation earlier this year.  

Our latest podcast launch, in partnership with POLITICO, is “Politics at Jack and Sam’s”.  Every Sunday, two of Britain’s best-connected political journalists – Sam Coates (Sky News’ Deputy Political Editor) and Jack Blanchard (POLITICO’s UK Editor), use their unique positions at the heart of Westminster to give listeners everything they need to know about the week ahead in British politics. 

Only a couple of months since launch, we have already heard that Cabinet Ministers are listening!  Going into an election year, we’re expecting audiences of news and politics podcasts to grow and because we’re impartial, those audiences will know they’ll get unbiased analysis from Sky News’ team of political experts.

How important are podcasts to Sky News

Liam: Podcasts are an important part of Sky News’ multi-platform news output, which is available free of charge to audiences and also includes our flagship TV channel, the Sky News app and website, as well as Sky News social channels. We’ve seen an explosion in audio consumption in the last four years – as of 2022 there were over 21 million podcast listeners in the UK, expected to grow by a further 7 million by 2026. We also know that the percentage of those intending to increase their podcast listens this year was ahead of linear media, such as listening to the radio or watching TV. We’ve seen that podcasts enable us to showcase our expert journalists and build a different kind of relationship with audiences. Podcast listeners tend to be more engaged and loyal than other forms of news media, and we regularly see consumption rates of 80%+ for our podcast episodes. 

In what capacity would Sky News podcasts feature businesses, such as MHP clients?

Priya: The Sky News Daily and Ian King Business podcasts regularly feature representatives from business, where relevant to the news agenda. Recent examples include Timothy Richards (Founder and CEO of VUE International) speaking on the future of cinema on the Sky News Daily and Nigel Newton (Chief Executive of Bloomsbury Publishing) featured on Ian King Business, regarding the boom of fantasy fiction. What we look for are people who can use their industry expertise to provide insight, analysis and context to the key news stories relevant to our audiences. 

What opportunities are there for clients to sponsor content?

Liam: Sponsors of Sky News podcasts have the opportunity to align their brand to Sky News’ premium editorial content, both within the audio portfolio and amplified across social channels via video and audio, for a highly receptive audience. Our data shows that 2.8m Sky News social users listen to podcasts and are 72% more likely than UK average to listen to more than one podcast per day. This places Sky in a distinctive position in the market being able to offer best-in-class editorial content to a large audience base, on a platform that suits them. Sky News social users are also 61% more likely than the UK average to agree with the statement that ‘ads in podcasts improve my perception of the brand’, and through host reads and sponsorships across audio, and branded content and video clip alignment on social, Sky can seamlessly integrate a brand’s message into the portfolio of shows, in a non-intrusive manner to the listener or viewer. 

Consumer health stories are the tonic for The Times as digital push continues

By James RollinsonJaber Mohamed, former reporter at The Mail on Sunday

Stories with a focus on everyday consumer health are proving popular with Times readers as we head into winter illness season, according to Health Correspondent Eleanor Hayward.

During a recent discussion with MHP, Eleanor made clear that stories which directly relate to consumer health habits and hacks are attracting good reader numbers. An example Eleanor gave was a recent piece she wrote about new research which showed that a daily glass of 100% fruit juice can help reduce blood pressure. And last weekend she wrote about the end of the boozy Christmas party as more people choose to drink less.

The success of these stories comes as The Times renews its push on digital. With readers increasingly complementing their paper readership with online subscriptions, Eleanor made clear that stories which show strong engagement through the app and website will always prove popular with editors.

Set piece features provide ample opportunities for leaders to have their voices heard

By Ellie McGarahan

Set piece business features are proving popular across national media titles, offering brands and their leaders an opportunity to share their views on a range of important topics.

Hannah Prevett, Deputy Editor of The Times Enterprise Network, is looking to interview founders of UK-based businesses for the paper’s “How I Made It Feature”. Candidates must have made sales of over £3m and have turned over a profit in the previous financial year in order to make the cut.

Jane Hamilton, The Times’ newly appointed Recruitment Editor (also Editor of The Sun’s long running ‘Sunemployment’ pages) is seeking pitches and commentary from “outspoken” CEOs for a new appointments column, running in print and online on Fridays.

With a raft of new hires, City A.M. has supercharged its content with lots of new, and some revived, feature opportunities. Chief City Reporter Charlie Conchie alongside newly appointed Business Reporter Jennifer Sieg, are on the lookout for pithy and punchy 100-word “snapshot” views on London and the Square Mile to feature on the publication’s new hub. As a daily feature, any commentary should provide a thought for the day, prediction, temperature check, data point or hot take.

The publication is also ramping up its YouTube channel content, putting out explainers, deep dives and video features on the issues currently dominating the City. Charlie and City A.M. News Editor Emmanuel Nwosu are welcoming pitches for suggested angles and interviewees.

Finally, Comment and Features Editor Sascha O’Sullivan and Feature Writer Lucy Kenningham have re-established “The Debate” – a weekly section which will cover one of the biggest questions of the day. Two people will go head-to-head putting their views forward, with the City A.M. comment desk deciding whose argument wins.

Daily Mail goes viral on TikTok

By Ian Kirby, Former Political Editor of The News of the World

The print edition of the Daily Mail, the newspaper of choice for Middle England, was always seen as the premier version of DMG’s news brands, but new data shows its TikTok channel has become the channel’s largest news publisher and a hit among under 25s.

Weekly TikTok videos by star columnist Boris Johnson, fast-paced news and showbiz coverage and extensive US and global content have attracted 7.2m followers, with a rise of 1500% in the last six months alone.

The success is a key part of the Mail’s strategy of owning the leading platform for every generation – print for older readers, MailOnline for online readers across the world and TikTok for younger viewers.

The shift to new social channels is becoming commercially imperative. Google updated its core algorithm earlier this year and half of Britain’s biggest news brands suffered falls in visibility, with Reach titles being among the biggest losers, including Leicestershire Live, the Daily Record and Lancashire Live. The sites which gained were GB News, HuffPo and The Spectator.

But the key challenge is how to make digital pay. Look out for a new form of subscription model being introduced to MailOnline in the new year.

Movers & Shakers

By Matthew Taylor

From North London to Washington DC

  • Sir William Lewis, chief executive of The News Movement, former editor at The Daily Telegraph and executive at News UK and Dow Jones, has been appointed chief executive and publisher of The Washington Post.

New joiners and promotions at City A.M.

  • Previously Deputy Digital Editor at MoneyWeek, Rupert Hargreaves has been appointed News Editor at the paper, alongside Emmanuel Nwosu, who joined earlier this month.
  • Maria Ward-Brennan was appointed Senior Reporter covering legal sector, she was formerly a Reporter at The Lawyer.
  • Rhodri Morgan, a former Policy Reporter at tes, has been appointed Energy & Commodities Reporter at City A.M. He replaces former Energy Editor, Nicholas Earl, who joined PoliticoEurope’s climate and energy team.

Money pages shake up

  • Gareth Corfield has changed beats at The Daily Telegraph, joining the money desk as a Money Writer. He was previously Senior Technology Reporter at the newspaper.
  • Long-term Editor at Shares Magazine, Daniel Coatsworth, has been appointed Editor-in-Chief at AJ Bell. He will continue to write ad-hoc for the publication and host the AJ Bell ‘Money & Markets’ podcast, while former Deputy Editor, Tom Sieber, has been promoted to Editor.

It’s all new in news

  • Katie Weston has been appointed Assistant Head of News at The Sun, joining from the Daily Mirror.
  • She replaces Alex Matthews, who has moved to become UK News Features Editor at the MailOnline.
  • Miriam Burrell is the new Assistant News Editor at The Evening Standard while Liam Coleman has taken on the same role at Metro, both having been promoted from previous reporting roles.