Tom Caulfield and James Whittle are the new poster boys for living the dream, although they’re still – technically – working as content marketers.
A desire to do something “badass” led them to a tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic, rowing 3,000 miles across 54 days in December 2015. But to get there, without a cheque from daddy to fund their mission, they turned to what they did best – speak to brands.
“We worked tirelessly for two years alongside our full-time jobs trying to raise £90k just to get the boat from the water,” explained Caulfield. “When we pushed off from the Canary Islands we had the likes of GoPro, Spotify, Dropbox, LifeProof, Jaybird and Deus [on the boat], these amazing brands that we had a huge amount of respect for. They had all come together in one place to support what we were doing.”
“All of the brands that we worked with all had a place on the boat and they all were relevant,” said Whittle. “For instance Dropbox was our communications platform to send photos and emails back to the other partners. Spotify we worked with to create an ultimate playlist for performance. Everything had a place, which meant we weren’t shoehorning in brands.”
It was when they were sheltering in the boat mid-hurricane that they realised this crazy existence could be turned into a full-time job; taking brands to all corners of the globe and in turn, providing them with raw, real and sometimes extreme video content.
“[The hurricane] gave us three days in this cabin together getting smashed around the place, with nothing really to do,” recalled Whittle. “It kind of gave us a bit of perspective. We thought it we could put ourselves in this position, having worked with these brands with no previous experience, why can’t we put all of our efforts into it and make something work full time?”
“It was the first business plan to be written in a hurricane I’m sure,” said Caulfied. “And it was a rubbish business plan.
“But that’s when we committed to each other. The row just gave us this massive amount of confidence about life in general, as in: if we could go and do this thing we were told was impossible, then we can pretty much do anything we want.”
After the boat trip, the pair quit their jobs at Wasserman and Vita Coco respectively to launch The Tempest Two. Since then they’ve travelled from London to the Sahara Desert on Triumph motorbikes and climbed Mont Blanc with outdoor retailer Surfdome.
There’s more brand-led projects on the cards. But with finite time and resource (the name The Tempest Two automatically limits the number of agency staff), how do Caulfield and Whittle see the set-up expanding beyond their earmarked four trips a year?
“With scale I think it’s not about more people coming with us [on trips], but rather us working with existing partners and new clients to continue that same way of shooting and storytelling but on a larger scale with a bigger team, with the same Tempest Two values running through [the content],” said Whittle.
Caulfield added: “We’ll probably do some collaborations with other athletes from our client list – we’re speaking to a few brands about that at the moment. We’ve got a five-year plan in our heads where we want The Tempest Two to be, and it’s very different to what it is now, but it’s the same principles based around adventure and content.
“We try and position ourselves somewhere between the athletes, influencers and content creators,” he continued. “We go and take on these adventures from the everyday guy’s point of view – people are waking up to the fact that that’s quite rich content to put out, and to put a brand’s name to.
“We’re not athletes, we’re not going to be breaking world records, we hate going for a run as much as the next guy. We’re just two ordinary blokes trying to give it a go.”