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Specsavers' new deputy creative director outlines plans to weave creativity into heart of customer experience

Specsavers has set its sights on becoming a top UK creative shop as it looks to ensure creativity is threaded through its entire on and offline customer experience, not just its marketing, according to its newly appointed deputy creative director Stephen Reed.

Speaking to The Drum, Reed said the high-street brand has ambitions to be percieved as on a par with the top UK creative agencies.

“Specsavers Creative wants to be one of the UK’s best creative agencies, whether in-house or out of house, it doesn’t matter, we want to be on top,” he said.

Recruited from BMB, where he was digital creative director, Reed’s appointment signals fresh ambitions for the in-house creative agency, which is well-known for its press and TV advertising.

“Specsavers' proposition really lends itself to breaking out into new media and social. As I come from a digital background it’s an area I’m keen to grow for the brand and approach things a little bit more efficiently and effectively,” commented Reed.

Prior to BMB Reed spent time with AnalogFolk London and Tribal DDB as creative director and cited his belief in the "client relationship" as a driving force behind his decision to move from an agency to in-house.

“I’ve always thought the best way to work is to understand your client’s business. Traditionally creatives keep their distance and leave the relationship building to the suits, which can become a bit like Chinese whispers when the creative only gets wheeled out at presentations and that’s never a good way to work,” he explained.

“Being in-house means I get to be part of the business and hopefully that’ll mean better work as I can steer the creative through internally. Any bumps and hiccups along the way will be resolved quicker and easier because I’ll be able to do it face-to-face and I’ll know the people already and they’ll know me.”

Often praised for its ‘reactive’ campaigns Reed told The Drum he’s keen to continue that legacy and being in-house makes work of that ilk an “easier discussion to have”.

It’s “very rare” to find a client with enough “confidence” in its agency to see it through, he added.

“There’s a really good opportunity with social these days to test things out and there’s no right way of doing social because of the way it changes. People react in ways you’d never expect, but the great thing for us is we can use social to prototype ideas and if it’s not working, it’s gone.

“Of course, we’ll still be doing the high-production TV ads but we’ll be considering how to do a little bit extra with them like additional content or background stories.

“The stuff that even in today’s world is still often seen as a bit of an afterthought”.

Born from the “content is king” philosophy this new approach will eventually “loop back” to the retail experience according to Reed. “We know people love our ads but having a great in-store experience is sometimes when it breaks down,” he admitted.

In order to rectify this Reed said he will be “working closely” with other parts of Specsavers' business to see how the creative tone of voice could be woven in to customer experience and in-store initiatives, adding that digital will play a "huge part" in the process.

“As technology improves, we need to up our game and Specsavers Creative’s ambition reflects that of Specsavers as a whole.

“The business is diversifying into other areas - like hearing care - and how we tackle that creatively is exciting...there’s a lot of ambition here to not rest on our laurels and keep pushing forward,” he said.

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