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2021 SABRE Awards EMEA Winners

We are delighted to be named UK Consultancy of the Year at the 2021 SABRE EMEA Awards.

It was a great year for MHP Mischief at this year’s SABRE Awards. We took home two client wins for our work with E.ON and AstraZeneca, as well as winning UK Consultancy of the Year!

PRovoke News Associate Editor, and SABRE EMEA judge Maja Pawinska Sims shares her thoughts below on why we were awarded UK Consultancy of the year!

Backstory 

It was the first full year of corporate heavyweight MHP and creative consumer hotshop Mischief working together as one agency with two brands, after a period of upheaval and uncertainty across the Engine group as it restructured its operations. Despite some cynicism about whether blending two very different cultures – suits vs. sneakers – would work (and some shedding of talent in the process), MHP Mischief has become an intriguingly successful proposition with ambitions to become a top 10 UK agency. The leadership team, including CEO Alex Bigg, deputy CEO Nick Barron, head of brand and reputation Rachel Bower and Mischief MD Greg Jones, found their combined sweet spot for 2020 was a modern, creative approach to corporate communications, as businesses and brands needed to communicate with different audiences in new ways.

Performance

After a few sleepless nights last March, MHP Mischief grew its top-line by 5% in 2020 to £27.7 million. In 2020 the agency won more than 50 new clients, including Coinbase, Curve, IWG, MundiPharma, Samsung, and South Western Railway, who joined Asda, AstraZeneca, Atos, Coca Cola, E.ON, FreeNow, Huawei, JD Sports, Lego, Nationwide, RSPCA and Unilever on the roster. Areas of strength included consumer comms, corporate reputation, brand strategy, crisis and issues management, capital markets, public affairs, health and financial services.

People & Culture

Since the two agencies – with a total of 190 employees – had only just moved into shared offices when the UK went into lockdown, 2020 required real focus on building a joint team and culture while working virtually. There were no redundancies or furloughs, promotions and pay rises were honoured, and the agency continued to hire. Initiatives to support and inspire ranged from “beat burnout days” to Thirsty Thursday Zoom drinks. The leadership team stepped up their pastoral roles to check in on their people and make them feel valued, ensuring home set-ups were as good as possible, appointing mentors and “postcode champions” so colleagues who lived near each other could go for a walk, as well as being transparent about what was happening with the business. As a result, 95% of the team said they felt positive about how they had been supported. The agency benchmarked representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities for the first time and found it was 11%, with a target of 20% across the business. It now uses blind CVs and balanced shortlists, and works with the Taylor Bennett Foundation.

Thought Leadership & Work

The agency’s work is underpinned by a great deal of intellectual firepower and behavioural science, with new thinking captured in IP such as the new Networked Age Guide to Communicating in a Polarised World. The team is particularly proud of its work that was directly related to the pandemic, from helping Gilead tell the story around its Remdesivir antiviral treatment and tackling the impact of the pandemic on cancer diagnosis and care, to helping businesses keep the lights on and supporting the British Business Bank with distribution of government bailouts. The capital markets team handled communications around the biggest retail story of the year, the breakup of Arcadia. Consumer work included a SABRE nominated campaign for E.ON persuading national media outlets to change their weather forecasts to include air quality data and brokering a partnership between Lego and the National Trust to encourage outdoor play.

— Maja Pawinska Sims, this article was originally shared on PRovoke News.

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