Big News

Here we’ll be keeping you up to date with all things Big Cat. Covering everything from new account wins to industry insight, make sure you check back regularly for the latest Big News.

 

After graduating in June of last year, I went through countless applications determined to get my foot in the door in the wondrous world of PR, and I seemed to have really hit the jackpot when in December I got an email back confirming an interview time and date with Big Cat’s PR team!

I joined the pride during their Christmas party, and it was a great welcome! I was made to feel a part of the team from the very beginning, I knew straight away the months to come were going to be filled with lots of fun and more importantly, a lot of learning!

When I joined I had some knowledge of PR but not enough to be certain that it was the career for me. Fast forward to February, and Big Cat has totally changed that! I’ve learnt how to use different research tools, write a press release and sell it in, use google analytics, and confidently use a coffee grinder (a skill I will carry with me for the rest of my life!). As I go out into the real world, I’ll be feeling more confident than I would have done before undertaking this internship.

I honestly could not have asked for a better place to start my journey into the world of work. I’ll most definitely miss working in such a fast paced, fun and hard working environment.

As I bow out of this incredible experience I’ve been asked to give some of my top tips for being a successful intern, so here goes!

  • Be inquisitive, the Big Cat Pride is filled with intelligent creatives that have a wealth of experience and knowledge, take in as much of it as you can!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the team have been great mentors to me and answered every question I have ever asked.
  • Above all, have fun! The team are witty, pun masters that really do know how to work and play hard!

The much-anticipated documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design” will be released on Netflix tomorrow, allowing us to delve into the minds of various innovative creatives to learn how design impacts every aspect of life. “Excited” doesn’t quite cover it at the Big Cat studio, especially after many successful Netflix originals (Stranger Things, anyone?), and so we are really looking forward to this new series.

This season – and we hope that there will be more to come –  will focus on the following artists: Bjarke Ingels (Architect), Christoph Niemann (Illustrator), Es Devlin (Stage Designer), Ilse Crawford (Interior Designer), Paula Scher (Graphic Designer), Platon (Photographer), Ralph Gilles (Automobile Designer) and Tinker Hatfield (Nike Shoe Designer – whom Marv, our Design Director, is particularly hyped for). Sharing such niche insights on a mainstream level gives everyday folk a greater understanding of our industry which can only be a good thing.

Big Cat can’t wait to see how this will all unfold, here’s hoping that today passes quickly!

2016 seems so long ago and boy it was a good year for Big Cat! We’ve recently taken on new clients such as MWW, Aspire and Nasen (just to name a few!) and simply can’t wait to show you the work we’ll be doing for them. In the meantime we’ve highlighted some of the work we’ve produced over the last year for you to get your teeth into…

Dived into the Aspire Channel Swim campaign

We worked with Aspire to promote the Aspire Channel Swim – the whole agency was involved in rebranding and marketing the charity challenge which resulted in the highest amount of fundraising the charity has ever received since the first challenge over 15 years ago! We’re looking forward to working with Aspire Channel Swim to achieve even better results for the 2017 challenge!

Celebrated Grand Central’s first birthday

September 2016 marked one year since the launch of Grand Central – Birmingham’s most talked about shopping centre. To celebrate the first birthday, we rolled out a weekly press office offering shoppers special discounts and giveaways driving them in store. We also inspired audiences through an influencer program enabling us to leverage blogger networks to engage with wider audiences.

Introduced the Alchemist to Birmingham

Big Cat were engaged by The Alchemist to launch the brand for the very first time into the Birmingham market, ensuring we cut through the clutter in an already crowded space. Prior to the launch we needed to create brand awareness, providing the public with a flavour of what was to come. We developed a stunt activation which saw mixologists whipping up cocktail concoctions in a pop up perspex box outside the Bullring Birmingham. With bunsen burners, dry ice, steam and smoke, passers-by were able to get glimpse of what was about to hit the city by storm.

 

Jazzed up Assay Studios’ interior design

The design team supported the renovation of the Assay Studios collaborative workspace (now known as one of the coolest offices in Birmingham) by producing internal/external vinyls, prints and frames plus a custom Matthew Boulton artwork. Photos of our work will be up in our case studies soon so keep your eyes peeled!

Launched three Umbrella campaigns

We have planned and executed three campaigns for Umbrella; one to promote Umbrella Pharmacies, one to raise awareness of sexual health during Fresher’s Weeks for Birmingham universities and the most recent one was a campaign to raise awareness of HIV testing during HIV awareness week. We’re looking forward to working on more Umbrella campaigns this year!

 

All in all, 2016 has been a very good year for us at Big Cat. We’ve gained a few new clients and have retained existing ones, and we can’t wait to see what work we’ll unfold this year. We hope you all have a fantastic start to 2017!

Fresh from her holiday where she spent her days basking in the sunshine with her nose in books, our very own Senior Marketing Account Executive, Keshia Chauhan thought it seemed like the perfect time to write a quick blog on her love of books for National Libraries Day!

National Libraries Day marks a celebration of institutions within towns and cities worldwide – libraries aren’t just about books – they’re about communities.  As much as I love Birmingham’s iconic new library, the old Central Library will forever have a special place in my heart.

For as long as I can remember, books have always been my thing. So much so that that I credit my terrible eye sight to the many evenings of my childhood that I spent reading my beloved DK encyclopaedia under my duvet with a torch when I was supposed to sleeping (wild, I know!)

There’s something about getting stuck into a good read that a Netflix series just can’t replace. One of my favourite smells is that of books. It evokes memories of spending hours in bookshops as a child with my late father, pouring over books before making my careful selections – books that I read over and over again until they became dog-eared and found themselves resigned to my overflowing bookshelf following the next trip to a bookstore.

Every Saturday morning I recall the mad rush to get to Birmingham’s Central Library in time for my IT Club group (yes, IT Club was my idea of fun as a child!) – after a 2 hour class, I escaped to the children’s fiction section with my classmates, excitedly selecting a few books to read throughout the week, handing over my prized library card and watching as the librarian stamped the book’s return date. For me the library was so much more than just a place to get books – it was where I learned. Where I made and met friends. Where I could explore stories and gather new information. Every Saturday morning, I was part of Central Library’s community and I continued to be until its closure 2013.

Whilst we’re fortunate enough here in Birmingham to have had our Central Library replaced, the news of complete closures of more and more libraries across the UK is saddening. Communities are being broken up, from the elderly whose only interaction is with the clerk at the desk, to the single mother whose only chance at being involved in a support group is the baby and rhyming session that takes place once a week.

So you see, libraries are more important than you think. In a world where we are leading ever-busying lifestyles, taking the time to sit in a quiet room with a cup of fresh coffee and a good book feels like the ultimate luxury – one I don’t think I’ll ever tire of and one that I hope to instil in many generations to come.

 

 

In homage to National Story-Telling Week, Big Cat’s Directors have pulled together their own series of short stories. Join Griff the lion on his jungle adventures throughout the week. Be sure to check back each day this week for an additional excerpt.

Part 1:

Deep amongst the grasslands in Sub-Saharan Africa, there lived an ambitious lion cub called Griff. Born into a pride of 29 other lions, Griff spent his days learning about the boundaries of his pride’s territory and how, once he was old enough, he would need to help protect them by doing the usual lion-y things. Whilst his fellow cubs seemed to excel as they learnt each day, Griff was always curious to know about what lay beyond the boundary. Surely there was more to life than roaring, weeing and chasing off intruders? So one day, at the end of his lesson, he decided to cross the territory – and venture into the unknown…

 

Part 2:

As he rambled through the depths of jungle, jumping over logs and splashing through streams, he met some unusual characters….ones that he had never before seen.  Swinging from the trees were five mischievous monkeys, teasing a crocodile by shouting ‘you can’t catch me!’ The cool and calm crocodile was patient as can be, waiting for his moment to snap, so he could have the monkeys for his tea! As Griff continued to explore the jungle, passing through caves he heard what seemed like a massive rumble. He rushed over to check it out and noticed a heard of elephants with the longest ever snouts.

They were marching ranks in single file, stomping and stamping over every jungle mile. Griff looked over at the elephants patrol with his big cheesy grin, he thought ‘surely these guys will let me join in?’ So Griff made his way over to see if he could give it a try, but before he had chance to ask them, something rather extraordinary caught his eye…..

 

Part 3:

There in a clearing was an incredible sight. A giant, a dragon, what could it be? Twenty feet tall and covered in spots, with a tongue so blue and horns like a bonsai tree. Shy at first but too curious to ignore Griff crept over to say ‘helloo’. He plucked up the courage and sucked in his chest, and bellowed with all his might. ‘Hi I’m Griff the lion. What on earth are you?’. ‘I’m a g g giraffe’ the thing managed to say. ‘You gave me such a fright. What are you doing out alone so close to night’?

‘I’m a brave adventurer on an important quest’ said Griff, ‘to find treasure, a princess and dragon to fight.’

You’re just in time’ the giraffe confided ‘it’s lucky you came when you did. I’m hot on the trail of a tribe of trolls that live in a magical tree somewhere nearby, come with me I bid….

Part 4:

Night time came in quickly and the sky grew cold and black,  Griff and his new friend John strode on not looking back.

“The trolls were h h heading this way” as John nodded straight ahead,

And sure enough behind the trees was a clearing bathed in red. For the trolls were dancing around a fire and chanting all as one,

“There must be a hundred at least, maybe more” whispered a frightful John.

Griff could see that not far away was the troll’s treasure that he craved, but how could he sneak past them? He needed to be brave…

Griff crept round the campfire whilst John made quite a scene, and the distraction proved just enough for Griff to go unseen.

He stashed the loot in his cub rucksack so he could show it off to his Big Cat Pride, and he tip-toed quietly back into the trees so that he could run and hide.

Part 5:

Not happy at their loss the trolls gave chase at once, chanting all as one again “come back you silly chumps!”

But Griff was small and nimble and John was far too quick, they ran to safety in no time it was such a handy trick.

On the way back home the two friends spoke of their a merry tale, would anyone believe what they had seen, surely they would fail?

As they parted ways Griff shouted “We must do this again!”

And John replied “Of course my friend, just tell me where and when!”

Each New Year brings new design trends. 2016 was full of wonderful surprises and us Big Cats can’t wait to see what the forth-coming year will bring. Our junior designer Lizzie investigates further and has put together some design predictions for 2017.

Transparency and authenticity

A continuous and growing trend, people are more interested than ever in knowing the origin of the products they buy. Big brands such as Aldi, Superdrug and Co-Op have conformed to either cruelty-free or organic, and with Veganism gaining traction it may only be a matter of time before more brands join this conscious uprising. This transparency goes hand-in-hand with authenticity as consumers want nothing more than honest communication with the brand, and to feel like they’re a part of their design thinking.

Bespoke photography and illustrations

Move over stock imagery – brands are focusing more on being original (tying in with the ‘authentic’ factor) and creating imagery that will immediately link in with their ethos.

Animated websites

Animation is improving in leaps and bounds, especially now that designers are able to create complex animations that every computer can process. Long are the days where it would take forever to load a simple animation! (Think of all that time saved!)

Video storytelling

This often seen as an expensive investment, however video content provides more cut through than any other form of media. As humans perceive and process visual elements 60 thousand times faster than reading words, (Pant, 2015) smaller companies are now getting in on the action more as the realisation that good video content does not always have to break the bank. Time lapse, flip books and slideshows are an increasingly creative solution to inexpensive footage.

Cinemagraphs and GIFs

Similar to how gifs reigned supreme in 2016, cinemagraphs will see a huge rise in popularity. The beauty in a moving still image will act as a simple but effective way for brands to stand out across social media platforms – being small on file size but huge on impact.

Minimalism – less is still more

Continuing on from 2016’s plethora of brand mark simplification, with the likes of eBay, PayPal, and Instagram brands will continue to minimise design ‘noise’. False clarity and simplicity (creating a somewhat soulless sea of similarity) will triumph in 2017, allowing large ‘boring’ corporations to ‘claim’ they are saying a lot by not saying much at all. In saying this, there has been some great brand refreshes this year e.g. Co-Op, Premier League and Channel 5.

Interesting typography

Although minimalism is stripping design back to basics, designers are being more experimental with typography and placement. Bold imagery and typography is key in getting noticed by the general public – especially as our attention span is steadily reducing (Watson, 2015).

Sounds exciting, right? Let’s see what 2017 has in store for us! ­­

Here at Big Cat we love getting into the festive spirit, and this year we have been fortunate to work alongside Grand Central to drive footfall during their busiest time of year – Christmas!

At the start of December, Grand Central partnered with professional gift-wrappers, BoxMart, to offer festive shoppers a gift boxing service to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust.  BoxMart and Grand Central’s efforts to give back proved to be a success as they raised a whopping £3310.00 for Stephen’s Story!

Furthermore, this Christmas saw Grand Central add a touch of Christmas magic to The Birmingham Children’s Hospital by donating their Christmas tree complete with the festive works. To profile the retail offering at Grand Central, we teamed up with retailers to make the perfect ‘Secret Santa’ wish list for festive shoppers. Knowing the perils of shopping for a colleague, we worked hard to come up with a list of the perfect presents that can be found in Grand Central for different personalities.

In addition, we created the Grand Central shopper challenge! While there are many shops filled with unique and wonderful gifts to buy this Christmas, we wanted to showcase how Grand Central has you covered with all the giftspiration under one roof! We identified two shoppers to take on the challenge giving them one hour to find presents from a pre-selected list including:

  • ‘Something for your loved one’
  • ‘Something to keep mum warm this winter’
  • ‘Something for the show off sibling’
  • ‘Something to stimulate the brain for your uncle’
  • ‘Something for the friend that has everything’

Lastly, we profiled the versatile gift range at Grand Central by delivering an influencer outreach program, leveraging blogger networks to drive more traffic to Grand Central and the website, further connecting with our target audience.

Big Cat sustained relationships with key media stakeholders by delivering the ongoing press office for Grand Central securing widespread coverage throughout December, keeping the shopping mall front of mind with consumers and creating excitement by inspiring potential customers with gift ideas.

Be sure to keep a look out in 2017 to see what other exciting projects will be happening at Grand Central.

 

A whopping 44 million UK adults are on social media now, of which 66% use it daily. While last year we saw social media being used to present a united front to those targeting democracy, this year it has been used not only for entertainment, but to encourage debate surrounding political campaigns and current affairs.

It’s been an exciting year in social media which has seen marketers evolving their strategies to keep up with the constantly evolving platforms. So Big Cat has weighed in on some of their favourite social media highlights from 2016.

Platform of the Year

While it was a difficult decision, Big Cat has awarded this to Snapchat! The newest feature entitled ‘Discover’ has enabled people across the world to view user generated content. This was recently used during the US Election showing the rawest footage of real time reactions as the results came in and Donald Trump was announced as the victor.

Emerging Trend of 2016

This year has seen a massive increase in the usage of gifs by social media users to express their feelings. With the most recent Apple update and apps such as ‘Giphy’, smart phone users now have complete access to a whole host of gifs that they are able to send to their contacts as a way of expressing emotion through typing.

This falls hand in hand with the new found love of short form video amongst millennials in 2016. Micro-video is no longer limited for use of entertainment purposes; micro-video has paved its way into being the favourite way amongst social media users to consume information and express emotions while on the go.

Emoji of the Year

Well, it would be rude of us not to include emoji’s into this blog – after all they have been classed as the fastest growing language. As the small yellow pictograms soared in popularity last year, we are now seeing the evolution of the emoji which are being used in new and entertaining ways. 2016 saw the launch of the aubergine!  Instagram tried to ban the infamous emoji from being used as a hashtag because of its somewhat outrageous connotations earlier this year, which led to the hashtag #freetheaubergine which pledged its allegiance to the #freethenipple campaign.

In March, a website with the domain name ‘eggplantmail.com’ was created. The site offered real personalised aubergines for £6.99. In a matter of days, the site was sold off due to the large amount of requests put in for personalised aubergines. The emoji has gone from being associated with suggestive messaging to the source of inspiration behind the choice of colour for  interior, fashion and beauty over the last year.

Social Media Fail of the Year

The social media fail of the year has to be the Click-bait articles that misinform readers or, have no purpose in their messaging, e.g. quizzes that suggest “We know when you’ll get married depending on which beer you drink”.

Click-bait articles or more recently referred to as ‘fake news’; have been unsurprisingly clamped down by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, with many even suggesting that Trumps win in the American Election was aided by the vast amount of click-bait articles misinforming his supporters.

The Power of Short Form Video

Short form video has become an increasingly popular way for consumers to take in the news.

This development has been adapted by news outlets such as The BBC and The Guardian who have dedicated webpages to reaching out to audiences through short form video. In the summer of 2016, short form video was used by the BBC’s Media Action to reach out to social media users and show them the plight of the refugee. A video was published by the BBC that simulated ‘takeover’ of a smart phone by a refugee travelling by boat to Europe. On Facebook alone the video received 913,000 views.

One to look out for in 2017

As the popularity of short form video content has spiked, this year also saw the demand for ‘live’ video streaming allowing consumers to feel more accessible to their favourite brands and influencers than ever before. Facebook saw a huge increase in the use of Facebook Live, while Instagram launched their ‘story’ feature allowing consumers and brands to take advantage of this tool, both creating feeds and viewing them.

Live video streaming has become a key marketing and communication tool which, for brands, comes with many benefits as it’s cheap, highly engaging and easy to pull off. For this reason we believe that live video streaming is only going to get bigger and better, with brands becoming more innovative and exploring new creative ways to film and capture audiences through this social tool.

Social Campaign of 2016

We could not possibly narrow this down to one winner, especially when the two finalists were the ‘Brexit’ and Trump campaigns.  Both of these campaigns, although filled with a continuous need to fact check, proved to be unexpectedly successful.

Oxford dictionary’s 2016 word of the year: ‘Post-Truth’ is fitting in both explaining the results of both the US Election and the EU Referendum. Objective truths and political correctness have taken a backseat in both of these elections and has allowed emotion and opinion to triumph.

So after an inspiring year in social, brands should be ready to move into 2017 by supercharging their social strategies ready to connect with consumers with far more scale and impact, to tell richer brand stories.

Here at Big Cat we’re passionate about producing work that works. At November’s Birmingham Digital Marketers Meetup our Marketing Director Hannah talked about the importance of knowing who you’re talking to, to ensure the success of any communications campaign…

It’s the strategy behind great ideas that gets me up in the morning. And I’m fortunate to do what I love every day heading up the marketing team here at Big Cat.

So what I wanted to take the Birmingham Digital Marketers through last month was a snippet of our strategic approach to creating effective digital campaigns.

Did you know that in 2005, the average adult in the UK spent 9 hours, 54 online per week? Fast forward to 2014 and this increased to 20 hours and 30 minutes online. Furthermore, it’s a little crazy that 53% of people check their phone within 5 minutes of waking up and 28% of people do so 5 minutes before bed.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, the type of information I could really do with being served up to my phone would perhaps be information on my instant needs – information on what would help me prepare my body for the day – something to satisfy my dehydration after a long night’s sleep perhaps? A balanced breakfast to set me up for day? Or how about information to help make my day easier – weather updates so I know how to dress appropriately, travel updates so I know to avoid driving and hop on the train if the M40 is shut…

But when I wake up, that’s not the information I get served. My notifications actually just show me all the things I’ve missed out on whilst asleep… “You have been tagged in Awkward Office Xmas Party Moments”. “42 people have reacted to a photo you’ve been tagged in”. “You have a message from Anthony Tattum”… You get my gist. And whilst this information is neither life enhancing nor business critical, you’ll bet that the first thing I do is check the Facebook album, and un-tag as soon as humanly possible!

The point I’m trying to make here, is that technology is trying to keep us busy because its primary metric is the time we spend with it.

So as consumers get more and more inundated with messages and content online, brands and companies will only achieve cut through by delivering something useful. And by useful I mean something that satisfies a genuine need – something meaningful. Because we all know decisions are easier when there’s less choice – so to help your customers choose you, you need to differentiate from your competition.

Businesses need to ask themselves how they become meaningful – with the answer starting with who you’re talking to. And to define that, there are 3 steps to take to generate truly meaningful digital communications based on real audience insight.

STEP 1 | Discover a genuine insight about your audience.

Now what I don’t mean by insight is your customer ‘demographic’ – because let’s be honest, that can get us into a fair bit of trouble. For example, taking one of our retail brands, their audience profile could be articulated like this:

All very well and good, but bear in mind, that this is an ABC1 female, 35, with high disposable income who enjoys buying shoes…

And this is also an ABC1 female, 46, with high disposable income who enjoys buying shoes…

Now this is just a guess, but I reckon there’s a good chance that Beyoncé would be looking for something quite different in a footwear brand to the Scottish First Minister.

So what we really need to get to the bottom of is:

  • How do our target audience think?
  • What’s important to them
  • What are their needs, wants and what is their general mind set?

Here at Big Cat we do this through research; at our desks, on the ground with vox pop style interviews, or via our research partner Research by Design who can facilitate a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Important to note though, is that conducting research is scalable dependent on the size of your business and what you offer as a brand. You don’t necessarily need to spend thousands of pounds. Accessing industry papers online and asking your family and friends who fit into your profile for their input can prove just as fruitful.

Just make sure you get the research done, because the detail gathered can then be distilled into a juicy profile like this:

Tells us a lot more right?

STEP 2 | Work out how something you offer answers this need/ want/ mind set

This involves taking your profile, and breaking down how the brand’s offering could answer each need highlighted. What you uncover as part of the profile can also inform how you communicate with your audience.

Insight Your response as a brand
Look good and feel comfortable Emphasise the form and function of the product
Money to spend, but not the time Communicate via channels that these women are already using at opportune moments, and make sure the website experience is slick. We want these women to get online, see what’s relevant quickly, make the purchase and enjoy the product to encourage a repeat purchase
Range of quality brands Emphasise the quality of the products in the messaging
Efficient, reliable buying experience Emphasise the great customer service on offer
I don’t buy cheap so I don’t want to be buying twice Communicate that the products on offer are durable, resilient, and of a high quality

 

So we now have a juicy consumer profile, and the product proof points to target them with, but what’s next?

STEP 3 | Design for time well spent

To create effective digital campaigns, brands needs to capitalise on what they offer that they know their consumer is looking for.

This is how we went about it for our retail client in question:

We emphasised quality, form and function through our brand proposition…

Notice that we didn’t say “Get your quality nice looking shoes here”. Because we needed to differentiate to get noticed, so we focused on creating an emotional connection through articulating how a high quality pair of shoes could make our customers feel.

We reached our females via

And we made sure the

Still with me? Here’s a recap:

Know your audience on an emotional level

  • Generate real insights based on emotion, outlook and behaviour

Match up your relevant offering

  • Tell them what matters to them

Design for time well spent

  • Create messages online that answer the insight generated
  • Promote on channels that your audience are actively engaged with
  • Design your user experience around your end user

And when you’ve done all this, do it again. Because society is ever evolving; needs change, habits change and communications channels change.

So to ensure long term cut through with your consumers, before you look to market, ask yourself:

  • How is my product or service relevant to my consumer?
  • How will what I offer help them as they go about their day to day lives?

And finally, how will I convince them, that time with my brand, is time smart?

It’s all been pretty hush hush but Big Cat can finally announce that we’re now working with fresh produce giant Minor Weir & Willis (MWW)! We’re big on being healthy, and MWW ticks all of our boxes. We’ve been scoping out some intel in the meantime and fell in love with “A Love Story”, a short animation that Chipotle produced back in July. Our Junior Designer Lizzie goes into why it’s pulling her heart strings…

 

“A Love Story” starts off with Ivan, a young boy running an orange juice stall, wanting to save up to go on a cinema date with Evie, who’s running a successful homemade lemonade stand across the street. He does this by putting up posters of his orange juice stall all over the neighbourhood which in turn steals all her traffic. This takes a competitive turn and both brands develop into increasingly impersonal fast food enterprises that dominate the world. Fortunately both Evie and Ivan slowly realise their old passion – to create fresh drinks from real ingredients, and together they set up a new brand “Evie and Ivan”, dismantling their older enterprises. The animation ends with the message “Cultivate a better world.”

 

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What’s most interesting is how illustrator Davide Saraceno develops the brands depicted in the story over time. Both mascots become more extravagant and industrialised as the brands abandon their integrity to win customers, and lose all trace of the human touch. They even have that “crazy eyes” going on in their last instalment (especially on the mascot for Mister Orange). Luckily the fictional characters ditch their crazy robots and settle for “Evie and Ivan”, a perfect combination of a genuine, sustainable business.

 

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At Big Cat, we support local industry with grassroots values and working with MWW helps us to reinforce this value. Here’s to paving the way for improved social responsibility across the creative industry…