Agency Agency Business

RHS appoints Essence as it hopes to grow lockdown audience of new gardeners


By Sam Bradley | Assistant Editor

December 3, 2021 | 6 min read

We consider this week’s account wins – starting with the RHS’s appointment of media agency Essence.

During Britain’s lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, millions of people looked to their gardens to cope. According to a survey by OnePoll published in May, seven in 10 green-thumbed Brits credited their garden with boosting their mental health during lockdown. BBC program Gardener’s World gained a new constituency of viewers and presenter Monty Don earned a glowing profile in The New York Times. Sales of gardening equipment at retailer B&Q have shot up.


The RHS is looking to capitalize on the lockdown boom in gardening

One organization well placed to benefit from these green shoots is the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), a charity that operates major public gardens and promotes horticulture across the country. As well as funding scientific research, it runs community and educational programs such as the Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. In lockdown, traffic to its website pages explaining composting rose 500% year-on-year and articles about perennial plants saw 500% more readers.

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To build on that interest, the RHS has appointed Essence as its media agency, with responsibility for media strategy, planning and buying.

Planting seeds

Martine Parnell, director of members, marketing and digital at the RHS, said: “The RHS continues to grow, bringing advice and inspiration to new and seasoned gardeners. Appointing Essence will give us the tools and expertise to attract gardeners of all ages, from all walks of life, and ensure that the positive impact of the RHS’s work can reach more people in the future.”

The agency has been briefed to increase awareness of the RHS’s sustainability work and gardening’s role in mitigating climate change, as well as promoting greater diversity within the sector so that it appeals more to young people.

Ian Thomson, head of media and insight at the RHS, said: “The RHS aims to enrich everyone’s life through plants and fire the imagination of an entire nation of gardeners. We feel confident that Essence is the right media agency partner to capitalize on an unparalleled level of gardening interest and help deliver our challenging growth targets.

“No other charity unites and invests in all aspects of gardening; from highlighting the latest in garden design, to researching the environmental science behind plants and gardens, to enabling children to plant their first seeds. We’ve tasked Essence to bring its strengths to our organization by looking at the science behind advertising to deliver compelling, relevant and data-driven campaigns that will inspire a nation of gardeners.”

Tim Irwin, Essence’s chief executive in EMEA, said the agency was in “a strong position to use our digital, data and infrastructure capabilities to deliver meaningful and engaging communications for the RHS.”

Moves you may have missed

  • Amazon’s literary audio streaming platform Audible has kicked off a media review, inviting every major media holding company to compete for its business. ID Comms is managing the review.

  • Taco Bell has appointed TheOr as its first UK creative agency. The pitch was managed by AAR and was between three agencies. The chain wants to expand its British presence, which totals 78 restaurants at the moment.

  • Comparethemarket has split its £75m media business between OMD UK and Croud, beating incumbents Wavemaker.

  • Eyewear retailer Specsavers has picked Brainlabs after a three-way pitch, to boost its UX and CRO efforts.

  • Indian second-hand car site CarBoli has selected Yellophant Digital as its digital agency, including media and social duties.

  • Branding and design agency BGN has won the business for bedding brand Slumberdown; it’s been briefed to deliver digital strategy, design, animation and WordPress development.

  • Athlete development company Rezzil has appointed B-Engaged as its creative and marketing agency.

  • NGN Lab, part of Engine, has won the business for US home fitness brand Bowflex. It’s the social media unit’s first client.

Want to tell us about your new agency appointment? Email Sam at

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