Step into my office: TVC on storytelling and emotional connections

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'Step Into My Office', a new series of interviews powered by The Future Factory and The Drum Network, focuses on the challenges and the opportunities facing agencies this year. We will be taking a sneak peek into the lives of agencies, how they work, what their motivations are and what their thoughts are on the current state of the industry. James Myers, the managing director of TVC, talks to us about storytelling and emotional connections in the ever-changing digital world.

James Myers, TVC

What does TVC do?

In a nutshell, we help brands tell their stories through all means of content, whether words or images, we build their reputation through emotional connections and solve their communications problems. And we do it all over the world.

How long have you been around?

TVC started in June, 1998, so 18 years.

What makes you different from your peers?

One word – content. Everyone is talking about it but we have been storytelling for our clients for 18 years. We have our own in-house producers and editors working alongside our creative and media relations teams to deliver compelling content-driven campaigns. We’ve spent the last year making emotional connections by telling brand stories through content for some of the biggest brands around, including Jaguar Land Rover, EasyJet, Coca-Cola, O2, Royal Caribbean, Eurostar, Red Bull and LVMH.

What have been the biggest challenges over the last year?

The collision of owned earned and paid comms meaning clients’ budgets have to be split in more ways and they are unclear about how to divide their budgets and what agencies to use for what bit of the marketing mix.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities over the next year?

The days of the ad agencies reigning supreme are diminishing. With the evolution of new techniques like AR and VR there’s lots of new opportunities but there is also the challenge of keeping at the cutting edge of the latest developments. We plan to invest heavily in our moving image capabilities over the next year because that’s what our clients want.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing PR and brand communications over the next few years?

The challenge, but also the opportunity, is keeping up with the ever-changing landscape. Technology is evolving so rapidly and we see consumers as media themselves and the challenge for the industry is working with clients to ensure they are speaking the right language to connect with their audiences across all channels.

Interpreting insight and data so it can inform brand PR and comms is an ongoing challenge and requires work across the whole industry. From a talent acquisition and retention perspective, how does the PR industry move quickly enough to keep our millennials engaged?

Where are you based and why this location?

We’re based in Camden - it’s accessible and cosmopolitan and we think it best reflects our values as an agency: curious, smart, vibrant, ambitious and collaborative.

How important is location for you?

Having a base that reflects our values is important to us but as so much of our work happens around the world location really is of secondary importance. The office is rarely full as people are flying all over the globe working on projects. In the last year our production team has worked on 250+ shoots across 15 countries spanning four continents.

Do you feel the office needs to be quirky and irreverent or simply functional?

An office needs to reflect the personality of the business. We’re part way through a revamp at the moment. We’ve refurbed and renamed our meeting rooms in line with our values and our kitchen has been given a makeover – it’s an important hub where we gather to celebrate birthdays, promotions and the like.

Current clients?

We’re very proud of our client list which spans travel and luxury, automotive, entertainment and food and drink sectors. Key clients include Jaguar Land Rover; Peninsula Hotels; easyJet; Eurostar; King.com; Bacardi Group; Red Bull; Royal Voluntary Service; LVMH; Whole Earth Foods; Royal Caribbean and Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

Three projects you were proud of in the past year?

GrandFest

When older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service asked us to come up with a campaign that would turn outdated notions of older people on their head and connect the older generation and the digital generation, we launched GrandFest, a one-day festival with a difference. Tapping into insight about the rise in arts and crafts hobbies, fuelled by shows like The Great British Bake Off and The Great British Sewing Bee, GrandFest was designed to showcase the craft skills of talented older people by using older volunteers, all aged 70+, dubbed ‘GrandMakers’ to host masterclasses. We built the online hub for bookings and all masterclasses were sold out well ahead of GrandFest. We generated a whopping 220 pieces of coverage for the event, getting the charity noticed and helping change perceptions about the older generation. Because of the success of the national event RVS rolled out regional versions of GrandFest across the UK.

Costa Book Awards

We’ve worked on the prestigious Costa Book Awards for 11 years running and as anyone who works on an annual event knows there is always a challenge sustaining media momentum. Our strategy of developing storytelling angles on the shortlisted authors, the books’ subject matter and the judging panel saw us eclipse coverage hauls from previous years. We secured more than 390 pieces of coverage digitally and online, with pieces appearing on nearly all national TV channels and key online sites. BBC News Channel also filmed live from the awards event.

Ralph Lauren and The Royal Marsden

As one of Ralph Lauren’s trusted content partners we’ve worked with the brand for six years. Two years ago we were brought onboard to spearhead the announcement of a partnership between The Royal Marsden, the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, and the Ralph Lauren Corporation to fund a state-of-the-art breast cancer research facility. The story over the two years was told through content created by TVC and we worked hard to make sure it wasn’t just a badging exercise.

As the Ralph Lauren figurehead, the man himself rarely gives interviews, but because of the relationship built up with TVC, he entrusted us to tell his story on film in the right way, without being seen to exploit his experience, the charity or the disease. The insightful interview showcased Mr Lauren’s drive and compassion, as well as showing his vulnerability.

When the centre opened this May, it was easy to complete the story by focusing on the ground-breaking work which is already underway and the lives that could be saved. In a week with many royal stories and the risk of HRH, The Duke of Cambridge eclipsing the story, providing context and putting the spotlight on the impact already being made by the pioneering work at the new centre got cut-through across all channels

Any recent wins you can tell us about?

It has been an incredibly busy year so far with lots of new business wins, as well as defining our values and rolling out a whole range of staff initiatives. Clients who have come on board recently include IWC, Conrad, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, Heathrow Express and Now:Pensions. We’re excited to be working with Now:Pensions on their first advertising campaign.

We launched the next generation of the Digital News Agency, TVC’s own award-winning content hosting platform and media centre. More than 36,000 broadcasters, journalists, web editors, and bloggers around the world are registered on DNA accessing multi-media content around brand-led stories and campaigns.

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