Shine Communications
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Shine Communications

The biggest key to the firm’s success is its culture, which from the start has included an emphasis on key values—fun, focused creativity, strategic thinking, and people empowerment—as well as a focus on training.

Holmes Report

Creative consumer boutique

In the U.K. market, where hot new creative boutiques seem to burn brightly but often fade just as quickly as they burst on the scene, Shine is different: a firm that was named Best New Consultancy by PR Week in its second year of operation, and continues to pick up awards today, being named Marketing magazine’s PR Agency of the Year award for 2003 and adding a SABRE Award last year, for its work on behalf of Travelodge.

The biggest key to the firm’s success is its culture, which from the start has included an emphasis on key values—fun, focused creativity, strategic thinking, and people empowerment—as well as a focus on training. The firm offers an Amazing Managers course for senior account executives and account managers, and a Shine Business School programme for senior account managers and above, as well as its coaching programme, which allows junior people to select a mentor with high levels of expertise in skills they wish to develop. The firm puts 25 percent of shared profits toward a range of bonuses, and even offers sabbaticals after three years—highly unusual for a smaller consultancy. The payoff is impressive: Shine was named among the top 10 marketing employers in 2004, and staff retention is an impressive 81 percent, which naturally leads to even more impressive client retention (89 percent).

Another secret of Shine’s is that while many hot creative shops seem to be flying by the seat of its pants, Shine is managed with a discipline that would be impressive in a larger, corporate consultancy. The firm has six business goals: two related to people (“hire the best to be the best” and “let people Shine”); two related to clients (“have an enviable client list” and “exceed client expectations”) and two related to financial performance (“manage our growth” and “be financially successful”). And it has processes in place to support each of those goals, including ERIC (Evaluating Results in Integrated Campaigns), a new approach that allows clients to choose from a selection of evaluation tools to assess media results against specific audiences and target messages.

But part of the secret is plain old-fashioned creativity. The firm has a creative team responsible for investigating new ways to reach consumers and monitoring trends in media coverage that clients might capitalize on, but at Shine creativity is everyone’s job, and it’s reflected in the award-winning work: the Joseph & Mary campaign for Travelodge (couples named Joseph and Mary stayed free over the Christmas holidays); music festival promotion for Coca-Cola and Budweiser; the placement of a giant screen in Regent’s Park during the recent Ashes Test at Lord’s on behalf of the English Cricket Board.

“Shine has demonstrated the ability to consider the key strategic issues of brand positioning… while still being prepared to role up its sleeves and handle day-to-day executional details,” says Kevin Thompson, managing director at Timberland. The firm “is considered an integral part of Dunlop-Slazenger Group’s overall marketing team” says Philip Parnell, Dunlop Slazenger group chief executive. And Wall’s Ice Cream marketing director Simon Stevens raves that the firm “completely changed Bird Eye Wall’s corporate view of PR.”

Founders Rachel Bell and Jules Nelson worked together at Fleishman-Hillard, where Bell rose from secretary to account director in five years and Nelson specialized in sports marketing. They have added three people to the Shine board since the firm was launched: deputy managing director Erika Hendrick, who focuses on travel and FMCG accounts; Greg Jones, a youth marketing expert who also handles new business development; and Mitchell Kaye, who joined the firm less than a year ago and is spearheading a push to pick up public sector marketing work.

Shine has 42 people and fee income of around £2.7 million, making it a top 10 consumer shop in the U.K. market. Business was up by about 60 percent last year, and is on track for another increase in 2005. The firm is best known for its work in seven categories: youth marketing (where clients include EA Games, Puma, and Samsung); entertainment (Channel 4, Paramount); fashion (Quicksilver, Rockport); sports and sponsorship (Dunlop-Slazenger was the firm’s first—and first award-winning—client); travel (Qantas, Travelocity); FMCG and retail (Birds Eye Walls, Heinz); and lifestyle (Royal Mail, Travelodge, Samsung). And it added a new guerrilla marketing capability last year. New business in the past 12 months came from Electronic Arts (30 game launches last year), Paramount (82 DVD releases), Heinz (which consolidated 23 brands with Shine after successful project work), Martell, and Krispy Kreme.

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