Award Winning Agencies: Cedar Communications
For Cedar Communications, one of the longest established content marketing companies in the UK, the CMA awards are a highlight of the year. They’re when time and money is invested to showcase the work of many different sectors of the company, and the company’s diligence is often rewarded with a string of awards.
In 2017 the person spearheading the awards campaign was Chris Rayment, the company’s Insight Director, and he freely admits it was a busy time for him as Cedar submitted 33 entries, of which 27 received nominations.
“It was a massive project,” says Chris. “I gained a reputation as the ‘Simon Cowell’ of Cedar award efforts. Initially, people would write awards, bring them to me, and I’d thoroughly red-pen them. I wasn’t very popular!”
Chris’ very clear view of what he wanted from those entries was a clear narrative blended with some potent stats to prove return-on-investment.
“You have to tell a story in the entry,” he explains. “You can’t just put down a load of stats and expect whoever it is to read those stats and go ‘wow this looks fantastic.’ Take inspiration from reality shows, build a story, highlight previous failings and weaknesses, then tell the judge what you changed or developed to overcome those things – how you solved a problem, using content”
“Once you have worked through the strategy you need to focus on the results. You have to ensure that your results aren’t just saying ‘this is how many likes, shares and comments this had.’ What impact did your content have on the bottom line?”
Cedar won several awards in 2017. The entry that Chris is most proud of won a bronze – Tesco’s Seasonal Planning entry in the best use of Data and Insight category.
“We picked up that a lot of agencies weren’t thinking outside of the ‘London bubble’. Brexit had just happened and there had been lots of other things occurring to suggest that audiences outside of London were in a different mindset from those in the capital. We wanted to get our editors closer to people in the rest of the country”
“So, we sent our editors and team members to meet real Tesco customers. And we used the insight we got from those sessions to inform the content we created.”
As Chris explains, the project went beyond just focus groups.
“We actually went around to customers’ houses and looked in the fridges and freezers. We interrogated customers about their cooking habits and then we went on a shopping trip with them.”
“Afterwards we were able to better say ‘this is how real Tesco shoppers cook and shop.’ And those insights were fed into a workshop which we presented back to the entire Cedar Tesco team. We wanted to illustrate how these people actually live. It’s not all about plant-based diets, it’s not all about food stalls in Hackney. Sometimes it’s about people asking, ‘what’s something fancy I can do with pasta?”
Over the years Cedar has won numerous CMA awards for its work with British Airways. 2017 was no exception – Cedar’s work for BA Pathfinder winning the much fought for Annual Content Strategy award. As part of the project, Cedar’s team developed a research and analytics-led strategy that influenced content creation across many different countries.
The award citation praised the use of audience insight, shoppable content and a smart editorial calendar. The judges were also impressed by a new ROI metric – return on inspiration. “This solution is innovative and cost-efficient, with a striking long-term strategy,” said the judges. “A stand-out entry.”
‘Chris believes that measurement undertaken contributed to the campaign winning the award’ “It is to your advantage if you do research which shows campaign effectiveness. With this campaign we were able to clearly demonstrate content success.”
Chris is very clear that the awards act as a catalyst for securing the company new opportunities. However, he thinks that the main benefit from winning an award is not necessarily something that most companies would think of straight away.
“We’ve seen people come to us as a result, and say ‘OK, we invite you to pitch as a result of what you’ve done.’ But I feel the biggest effect really is in recruitment. We have a good reputation and I think part of that is down to award wins which gave us even more credibility. Essentially, we’re able to attract better talent. We’re seeing editors come to us and say ‘look, I like you – I know your stuff because of this award win.”