Rouleur-Ready

December 2, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

Rouleur Classic is an annual event for both Spring and our client, Polartec, who design technical fabrics that offer a range of qualities from breathable waterproof protection to cooling capabilities, on-the-go warmth and everything in between.  They are perfect for British cyclists.

For those who don’t know, Rouleur Classic has quickly become the go-to exhibition and showcase attracting some of cycling’s biggest stars like Eddy Merckx, Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins and Greg LeMond among others.

Organiser, Nick Christian, wrote in their wrap-up blog that nowhere else do you get to see, “Two legends of cycling, a hero and his own hero – but more importantly two great friends – relate a career’s worth of memories and shared times. Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sean Yates were chatting in front of an audience of hundreds, yes, but with no-one else on stage to pierce the intimacy, it was as candid and intimate a session as we’ve ever had at the show.”

Its prestige reputation and ability to attract the greatest and the best from the world of cycling is why Polartec has chosen to exhibit these last four years. In 2019, Abbie and Naomi from Spring went along to run the Polartec booth. Here’s what they learnt:

CONFIDENCE

Go to the public, don’t wait for them to come to you. If you don’t have a tangible product on your stand which people can easily pick up and touch, then many of the attendees will simply throw you a smile and walk on. The key is to engage with people before they even get a chance to walk past.

“We were giving away Polartec NeoShell hats and we had a photobooth that printed off photo strips allowing us to introduce ourselves and the brand before getting them involved in our activations,” say Abbie and Naomi. “It was a great way to establish a relationship quickly. Nine times out of ten they’d then ask about Polartec.”

SLEEP EAT REPEAT

Make sure you’re well-rested and don’t underestimate the benefits of a break. When working events, you’re usually standing and talking to people for nine to 12 hours a day – which isn’t easy when you’re used to being in an office! This can have a knock-on effect on your feet and your voice. As tempting as it may be to go out in the town in the evening, make sure you’re having some quiet, wind-down time and enough sleep in between exhibition days.

The same goes for a break – utilise this time by going for a walk, listening to some upbeat music and having something to eat. You’ll feel so much better once you’re back and this will show.

FORGET FASHION

Comfort is key. Whilst it’s tempting to opt for your favourite gear at events, make sure it’s comfortable and practical. Platform heels are no use if you’re standing for 10 hours straight and a white jumper won’t work if you’re carrying dusty boxes.

KNOW YOUR STUFF

Make sure you feel confident with the product or brand you’re representing so you’re reiterating the right information to the public. You need to be able to answer questions, otherwise you will quickly lose the interest of the crowds around you. If you don’t know much about who or what you are representing then it’s very hard to become enthused about it and pass that enthusiasm onto other people – and that’s exactly what you need to be doing and why you’re there.

BE NEIGHBOURLY

Make friends with your neighbours – they might help you out if you need it later! Attending a show like Rouleur Classic (filled with men!) can be quite intimidating but put on a smile and introduce yourself to the people around you (Naomi and Abbie even shared chocolate biscuits) because they’re not as scary as you might think. “Naomi and I had to bring our suitcases to the show on the final day but had nowhere to put them until our friendly neighbours let us use some hidden space they had.” says Abbie. 

Let’s Collaborate!

October 28, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

This month, Spring has been working with Rab on an exciting filming and training collaboration with long-standing client, Polartec.

Rab is an excellent and well-respected provider of training materials, information and collateral for in-store retail staff across the industry. A few months ago, we approached the outdoor brand to investigate opportunities for promoting the values of Polartec within their training regimes. Together, we hit on the idea of producing joint videos for the training platform Myagi. These videos will be released next month, alongside an incentivisation competition for staff of Outdoor and Cycle Concepts who are big consumers of Myagi training content.

We’ve been working with Rab’s Training Manager, Gemma Dyer, and took the chance to interview her for Spring Times about her role: 

What excites you about the possibilities of training when it comes to the success of a brand?

“I get excited about being able to deliver product information in an easily digestible format that retail staff are able to utilise daily when speaking to consumers. Training is all about educating and extending or increasing knowledge – in retail staff this translates into confidence; confidence for them to sell our products and confidence in the brand.”

How do you believe training fits into the wider marketing role of a company?

“Training helps to create further brand awareness as well as helping to cut through the jargon aiding the consumer to make the right choice for them.”

How does Myagi fit into your wider training plan?

“Although we have dedicated trainers on the ground who play a vital role in building rapport and really getting into the detail with retail staff, Myagi is invaluable in being a hub for knowledge transfer. It allows staff members to learn at their own pace and when they can.”

What do you love about the Myagi platform?

“We really like how easy Myagi is to use – loading content, replying to feedback and using its analytics are great. Also, having the mobile app for retail staff to use makes learning at a time that suits them brilliant.”

How do you get the best out of it for Rab?

“For Rab we generally focus on technologies – this keeps the content current and will translate across different products that utilise that particular technology. We also work directly with retailers who engage with the platform to make sure the content is relevant and utilise opportunities to get involved in sponsored training periods.”

Why do you think it’s important for brands like Rab to work with ingredient brands like Polartec when it comes to training?

“Working with ingredient brands like Polartec helps us to keep technology messages consistent and provide that extra element of in-depth knowledge.”

What do you think we are going to achieve for Rab and Polartec by co-producing content for Myagi?

“Producing content together in this way helps us to showcase Polartec technologies, whilst also relating it to corresponding products. This will botheducate on the technology used but also increase sell through.”

What are your top five tips for producing effective Myagi content?

  • Keep videos short and concise – use multiple ones on a single topic if its complex
  • Script videos – this helps with getting a shot list together
  • Use visual demonstrations within your videos
  • Launch complimentary plans together
  • Recap questions should reiterate key points within your videos

We went to the “Get Ready for Brexit” OIA Forum

October 28, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

By Stephanie Briggs

Did I really want to go to this?  Not really, not to hear more about Brexit.  But on the upside, industry people were going to be there – I like them – and running a business that’s shipping things in and out of the EU means I probably should take a bit of an interest in the process.  Maybe, just maybe, the Forum will make me feel better about the whole thing.

Andrew Denton [Chairman of the OIA] and his reliable, hard-working team which included the good folks at MCS hosted this Government-funded Brexit Forum.  It was open to both members and non-members.

Held at the Royal Geographical Society building, close to London’s South Kensington, the team put together an all-encompassing roster of speakers to address what Denton referred to as “the most important thing to happen in this country economically since the second world war”.   

‘Brexit guru’ Mark Essex of KPMG was the first speaker;  I liked his easy, approachable manner.  It soon became clear that there’s no way to make it simple because there are so many variables, but he had drawn up an interesting, colour-coded matrix which helped track some ifs and their consequent outcomes.  Essex is renowned for pretty accurately predicting the Brexit vote [a vote to leave of between 51% and 53%].  I have to admit, his historic, wise prediction gave me hope that he could predict a bright and rosy future for us.  That, sadly, wasn’t the case. 

He, like many in the room it seemed, voted remain but as he said, “pretty quickly accepted losers’ consent.”  He identified himself as a member of one of four tribes, the Accepting Pragmatist.  In fact, it’s the existence of these tribes that’s making it so tricky to just get on with it.  Other tribes he outlined included:

  • Die-hard Brexiteers.
  • Cautious Optimists – those that voted out but perhaps think it’s not everything they thought it would be.
  • Accepting Pragmatists – those that voted remain but are trying to make the best of it.
  • Devastated Pessimists.

You end up with a situation where each tribe treats the other with trepidation and doesn’t trust it to pass legislation.  A kind of prisoner’s dilemma.  You probably have a majority in the House of Commons he said, but they aren’t voting that way for fear that their worst nightmare might come true. 

Essex couldn’t see EU leaders looking to promote difficulty regarding an extension, but his worry was non-state actors.  Disillusioned fishing fleets, people making mistakes and not understanding how things work, ports going through a state of disruption through the attitudes of people using them to demonstrate their feelings – rather than the politics itself. 

His talk triggered several questions including “What happens if the house doesn’t accept the timing plan and the EU won’t grant the extension and they physically run out of time?” to which he replied that this was quite unlikely.  Ralph at Rosker made me smile when he said getting through to the Civil Service on the topic was like trying to get Glastonbury tickets.  “Would the UK be a catalyst for the rest of Europe to exit?” asked Stephen Bailey of OutdoorGear to which Essex replied, “I think much of Europe, having seen the angst that we have gone through, might be put off for a while!” 

Arne Strate, General Secretary of the EOG reassured everyone that whilst we may be leaving the EU we’re not leaving Europe.  “We’ll continue to create meaningful programmes with you like the single-use plastics project” said Strate.  “The changes might be annoying, but there will still be trade and we will still need each other.  The outdoor sector has this ability to work together, stay agile and work around these issues.  I think the trade as a whole will pull through and I think we will still be able to prosper in the future” he said. Better news then.

Oscar White, founder of Beyonk, bounded on stage and enthusiastically invited everyone to get into teams to brainstorm the opportunities and threats associated with Brexit.  Whilst we all focused on doom and gloom.  The threat side of the flip chart was chokka but we eventually turned a corner and started seeing the light.  The opportunities started to sprout and hearteningly the opps column bulked-up a bit.  The main threats concerning the room were things like tariffs, currency fluctuations and labour issues.  Opportunities included direct budget savings, fiscal policy autonomy and the ability to become more efficient.

I don’t think there was a person in the room who didn’t take home Dan Peck of Efficio’s quote that “Brexit is a process not an event”.    He rightly pointed out that we have already seen change as a result of the Brexit process: Sterling has dropped since the referendum and is much more volatile than it has been in the past and migration to the UK has dropped considerably.

I was interested to learn from Kurt Janson of The Tourism Alliance that 38 m people visit the UK every year with 25 m coming from the EU.  This surprised me as did the amount they spend – £23 billion.  Did you know tourism in the UK is the second largest export earner in the service sector after finance?  Sadly, though we are making it really difficult for overseas visitors and already between 5-10% of French and Germans are scrapping the UK from their travel plans.

James Allen, founder at Counsel kicked off his talk by extolling the virtues of the UK outdoor industry.  The second largest outdoor economy in Europe.  As a sector we make a significant economic contribution in terms of retail and visitors.  But the larger contribution is the indirect difference we make to the well-being of the population which is enormous.  He pointed out that the outdoor sector is clearly neglected by policy makers whereas mainstream sport did very well.  In fact, he said the sports sector generally has failed the current generation.  We live in a wealthy society but 80% of children just aren’t active enough.  He raised an interesting point: why is it that there’s a bike-to-work subsidy but nothing for walking?  “Brexit” said Allen “can be a way of getting into conversation with the Government”.

So how did I feel after all that?  Well, there is still work to be done to get Spring PR Brexit ready but I do have an EORI number and we all have more than six months on our passports so we’ll be at ISPO.  It was great to be in a room with people that shared the same fears as me with experts that were unable to predict the future but who overall made us feel that everything’s going to be okay.  The problem it seems, is the limbo we are currently in, what lies ahead, on the other side, could really be quite positive but how can we know until we are actually there?  I for one am willing to give whatever outcome we end up with my full support.  I am, after all, an Accepting Pragmatist.

Mastering Boardmasters

September 30, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

This summer, just hours before the gates were due to open, the ever-popular Boardmasters Festival was cancelled due to severe weather warnings. It was a big blow (sorry for the pun!) to Spring and our client, Hydro Flask, who had exciting plans for the surfing and music event.

So how do you turn news like this into a positive result for your client? Our very own event-extraordinaire, Abbie, was on hand to make sure it was a success.

Why did you choose to attend the Boardmasters event on behalf of Spring?

“We attended Boardmasters because vacuum insulated drinking bottle brand, Hydro Flask, is becoming super popular with the surf market, no doubt thanks to the fact Hydro Flask sponsor the World Surf League in the USA. Attending Boardmasters, a festival which celebrates surf and music, was the perfect way to target those consumers.”

What were your plans for the event?

“Our biggest pull was the fact we were giving away a massive 400 bottles over the weekend through our ‘beer pong’ game. The queue to play the game was never-ending! On top of this, we were selling on the stand and we also offered MyHydro for the first time in Europe, which allows consumers to personalise their bottle with a different colour lid, strap and boot.”

How much time and effort had you put into your planning?

“Attending large events, especially for the first time, always takes a lot of planning. We started preparing for Boardmasters a year in advance (August 2018) and then preparation was continuous from then until the actual event in August 2019. Time spent planning increased in the final months prior.”

How did you find out about the cancellation news?

“We found out about the cancellation in the middle of the night after receiving an email from the Boardmasters team. Strangely though, we’d actually heard from a hotel concierge that they were going to cancel the day before it was announced due to the impending weather but brushed this off as a rumour. Little did we know…”

What was your first reaction…and then your second!?

“Sh*t! was my first. My second was a mash-up of thoughts about my next steps: phone the volunteer staff, let the UK sales agent, Matt, know, get in contact with our van driver to see if he can come early… It was definitely a moment of sheer panic! Thankfully, I’d just taken up yoga so took a deep breath, did a forward fold and let Leonie from Hydro Flask in Swizterland know (who had also come over to help) before making calls. Once we were up and dressed, we headed down to the festival site to find out what was going on.”

How did your prior planning help you to react positively?

“Everything was very organised, from saving phone numbers to having a Gantt chart with all the details of the festival on which it made it really easy to give people the heads up. I think it’s fine to have a moment of complete panic so long as you can pull yourself together and get on with it afterwards.”

How did your plans change?

“The music festival was cancelled completely but the Fistral Beach site, where Hydro Flask was positioned, was opened on the Wednesday and Thursday – then closed Friday until Sunday. We made the most of the two days at the Fistral Beach site and had what the organisers called ‘the busiest stand at the festival’.”What did you get out of the day in the end?

“We met with lots of really great consumers, saw some awesome surfers and also made connections with other brands who attended the event. We had huge queues of people lining up to play our beer pong game and we even got rid of 200 Hydro Flask bottles per day! It was a really successful event for the two days that we were there, and we loved every minute of it.  The sun shone for the first two days with the storm hitting at 5 pm on Thursday night – just as we were packing down.”

Would you go again? “One million per cent.”


Aquapac to the Max

September 30, 2019 / Abbie Baynes  / 

Aquapac, innovators of waterproof cases and bags has welcomed back Massimo (Max) Malavasi, one of the Company’s original founders.  His return as Co-CEO coincides with the re-appointment of Spring PR to handle the PR for the brand in the UK.  One of Spring’s tasks is to support Aquapac with the relaunch of the brand’s website and provide content for a new blog entitled The Expert Centre.

We wanted to find out what brought Max back and where he sees the future of waterproofing…

As one of the original founders of Aquapac, where did your inspiration come from to launch the Company?

“Two friends of mine had an idea to waterproof a Walkman (remember those?) when they first came out in 1982. We were in our early 20s, keen windsurfers and one of them asked me if I wanted to start up a company. Listening to music while you windsurf? ‘What an amazing idea!’, I thought. It was a lightbulb moment. 

“We took a very basic prototype made of wood and polythene and developed it. We sold it to Boots and Currys but they didn’t sell through as the design wasn’t good enough, even though it worked. 

“It did lead us to exhibiting at the London Boat Show in 1984. There, our first successful product emerged; a hand-held VHF radio which we still sell today in lots of different versions. When Sony launched the waterproof Walkman several years later we knew our idea was vindicated.”

What has brought you back to Aquapac?

“I left the Company in 1999 after running it for 16 years. I was tired and needed a change. I sold most of my shares (but kept 10%) to my successor in 2005. He decided to retire this year and I felt there was unfinished business. We bought him out and now wish to fulfil the potential of Aquapac.” 

How has the Company changed and developed in the time you were away?

“The team here at Aquapac have done a lot of good work, many of whom have been here for 20 years plus. The main changes are the width and scope of the 

product range. We have a wide range of waterproof cases and bags including duffles, rucksacks, daysacks and totes. I’m still getting my head around the whole range!

“Our core business is still 100% waterproof cases for phones, VHFs, tablets, cameras. We have also branched out more into specialised cases for the TV and film industry as well as some medical products. 

 “When we launched the Aquapac range in 1994, we were pioneers. There was really only one other company globally which we competed with and they were only focused on waterproofing cameras.  I have come back in 2019 and we have over 40 imitators and competitors. We have spawned a whole mini-industry.”

What are your hopes for the future of the Company and are these different from the original aspirations?

“We believe we have a great brand in Aquapac and it’s hard to think it’s been 36 years since launching. We are working on a number of new projects and 2020 will hopefully be an interesting year for the Company as we plan to launch about 20 new products.

“We want to make even better products which are both more practical and sustainable from design to materials to manufacture and for use by our customers. Bottom line is we want to satisfy our customers more and be more respectful of our planet. Our cases are designed to be used again and again.

“Next year will see also a whole new professional range of products. We have always been originators and pioneers and that’s what we intend to keep doing. Our mission is to find new solutions, make quality products and treat our customers well.”

What’s your favourite way to pass time on the water?

“I’m a bit older now but I like dinghy sailing and also sailing with some of my friends who own yachts. I whitewater-rafted again after a long time this summer which was a blast. I can see myself getting into kayaking and I’d like to explore some coastlines, especially around Cornwall and Scotland.”

What’s your favourite Aquapac product and why?

“Our VHF cases. Our first one was created back in 1984 and called the AQ2. It was our second-ever product and is now a family of products.

“In September 1982, I went windsurfing in Morocco with friends. I was swept out to sea when the wind changed 180 degrees and started to blow a gale. My friends swam out to help me, one successfully, but we couldn’t get back to shore due to the strong wind and current. We were at sea for 6 hours and blown about 7 miles out in a huge swell. We were terrified as there were no boats or anyone around so I began to despair. A ship carrying butane called the Butacuatro from Bilbao in Northern Spain, on its way to the Canary Islands, passed just 200 m away and stopped to save our lives.

“We were lucky, very lucky. It only twigged in late 1984 that what I needed was a hand-held VHF radio in an AQ2 to call for help that day. That’s why these cases have always been special to me. In 1988, a yacht owner came up to me at the London Boat Show and said our cases had saved his life when his boat capsized. I have heard that a number of times over the years.”

Have you ever dropped your phone down the toilet?!

“I dropped my phone down a toilet only two years ago. That was expensive! Otherwise, I am lucky enough to have a pretty good collection of Aquapacs, so this doesn’t happen very often. I’ve taken photos with Aquapacs on the Barrier Reef, in the Alps and lots of amazing places. Lots of great memories.”

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