This week we have Ollie Ratcliffe, Head of Digital Comms at Taylors of Harrogate (best known for their crackin' Yorkshire Tea).
The brand team came to many people's attention, mine included, back in Feb when they found themselves dragged into a 'political mudfight'. Here's the story, here's the fall out and here's the highlight of the saga.
It proved to be a great demonstration of how brands can handle themselves in a storm (as well as, unfortuantely, how quickly some corners of the internet can become vitriolic cesspools with only the slightest encouragement).
Alas, guided by a clear passion for his craft, a level head and great instincts - Ollie helped the brand come out on top when it easily could have gone another way.
Strap yourselves in, let's find out more about the voice behind the tea bag.
What is the most undervalued skill in marketing?
Being Human. I think as marketeers we have a habit of focusing too much on the analytics, data, clicks and everything else we boggle our brains with. Some of the most successful brands, in my opinion, are the ones that come across as being human or bring to life their brand personality as an actual persona. It’s a strategy that we try to hold at the heart of everything we do, especially in our BAU and that in turn, allows us to remain agile but also transparent and honest in the eyes of our consumers.
What’s the king of biscuits? (to enjoy with a cup of tea)
This is actually something we take very seriously at Yorkshire Tea. No, honestly, we did a full video series about it on Youtube called ‘Does It Dunk?’. The HobNob cries out for a dunk in my opinion. Dip it in for a solid 3 – 5 seconds and you’ll get that perfect balance of texture and tea-ness. Choose a chocolate one for that extra level of security against the sogginess and save yourself from the disaster of brew-based splash back.
Worst marketing buzzword?
‘Viral’ – I mean for starters, it sounds like some kind of infection, but secondly, what does it even mean? How do you measure it? At what point is/should something be considered ‘viral’? – When we’ve got actual measurements which we can use to specifically measure a piece of contents effectiveness, can we please just use those?
Also, whilst we’re on the topic of things that can get in the bin. Can we all please stop using that dreadul marketing slide that shows all the different channels like SEO and PPC in bright white font as cogs, working together in garish, bright reds and greens?! Ahhh, it feels good to get that off my chest.
If you were guaranteed the correct answer to one question, what would you ask?
For once in my life, I’d probably keep my mouth shut. What I’ve really enjoyed about building my career and what I especially enjoy about marketing, is that there’s no step-by-step, exact guide to being a good marketeer. The only real way to truly grow and develop, in my eyes, is to be the one asking the questions and getting stuck in.
I’ve always loved to tinker with things and figure out how they work, from motorbikes to ad campaigns. I’m much more of the ‘give me a spanner and let me take it apart’ type than the ‘Hey Google, how do I do X?’ type so I’d much rather not know the answer, and figure it out myself than have the correct answer straight away.
That being said, knowing next weeks lottery numbers wouldn’t go a miss…
What one ‘none-business book’ would you’d recommend that everyone read?
I’ll be honest, most of the books I read are self-help or business-related so I don’t have loads to choose from. That aside, I love the books from The Do Lectures, there are quite a few which some might class as ‘businessey’ but they’re great for challenging your thinking or exploring new skills. My latest one I’m reading is ‘Do: Agile’ which is all about staying grounded and future proofing your mindset.
How do you unwind?
I’m a bit of a petrol head, so on days when I need to unwind, I usually take my trials bike out with my dad and go hopping around at some of the spots around Yorkshire. I also love going on long drives and find that just focusing on driving, whilst soaking in the scenery, can completely clear my head. We’re surrounded by some lovely roads in North Yorkshire, especially across the moors driving up to Whitby, so sometimes I head out up there and just enjoy the open road, stopping off for some fish and chips before returning back home.
Katy Leeson from Social Chain does an amazing podcast called “I shouldn’t say this, but…” – She talks really honestly about some pretty challenging topics which is something I really admire. She’s had a tonne of really interesting guest speakers on there too, who have some excellent stories to tell both professionally and personally.
What is something that I could learn right now, that will be useful for the rest of my life?
The ability to sell your skillset. A while ago, I found myself jobless following redundancy, with no immediate interviews in the pipeline and the stark realisation that there was potentially no money coming in. Being in that situation forced me to start emailing and calling local businesses to pitch myself in as a freelance social media professional. After 3 weeks, I landed my first client, beating a popular local agency and I continued to grow my portfolio after that.
Learning how to sell my skillset was probably one of the most valuable skills, I could ever learn and it really helped me come out of my situation a much stronger, confident person as a result.
What do you spend way too much money on?
I wish I had way too much money to spend, but that being said, I’m a sucker for a gadget or some fancy tech. One of my latest purchases is a side-table that’s got a built-in speaker and wireless charging which I actually use all the time. It’s really handy for sitting on the sofa with a note pad, putting on a playlist and scribbling down notes and creative ideas for campaigns.
There are 5 empty seats at your table, who are your dream dinner party guests - from any time or place?
Wow. What a question…
Chris Harris – I’d love to chat all things cars with him.
Gordon Murray – The designer of the Mclaren F1, because I’d love to pick his brains.
Frankie Knuckles – The Godfather of house music, I’d love to hear his stories of what the scene was like in those early years.
Louis Theroux – I find other cultures fascinating and he’s definitely seen his fair share. I could chat to him for hours about some of the different places and people he’s seen and their stories.
My Grandad - He passed away about 7 years ago now but I’d pay to see his reaction at our latest ‘Toast & Jam’ brew.
What is your most used, ‘couldn’t live without’ phone app?
I mean, a big part of my job involves social media, so I guess I need Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to ensure there’s food on the table. That being said, I could easily do without them. What I couldn’t live without though, is Spotify.
Music is a big part of me and always has been since a young age. It really helps me focus and concentrate, as well as relaxing and decompressing when needed. I actually have different playlists depending on what jobs I need to do, such as my ‘Office Slammers’ playlist featuring some heavy techno to blast through that big presentation and the ‘Chilled Selection’ for when I need a bit of thinking time or a creativity boost.
You’ve won a million quid – first purchase?
Soppy answer alert, I’d buy my mum an Aston Martin (Dad, you’d get something too if you’re reading this). As a kid who loved to challenge things constantly, they did a hell of a job putting up with me growing up and I’d love to repay them for it and I know that’s my mum’s dream car.
With the change, I’d treat myself to a Villa in Ibiza. I did a few years living out there when I first started in marketing in my early twenties and the island holds a really special place in my heart as a result.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Going out of the house and not having to turn back because I left my face mask on the kitchen table.
Jokes aside though, I’m really looking forward to going back to the office, or at least having the choice. Whilst working from home has had its perks, I have a brilliant team surrounding me and you just can’t quite replicate those chats you have across the desk with a brew, over zoom.
Tea of coffee? Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Early bird or night owl? Early bird (but only after my morning coffee)
Book or boxset? I’d love to say book, but it’s a boxset for me.
Call or text? Call, I love a natter.
Introvert or Extrovert? Extrovert
Netflix or YouTube? Netflix, although I think I’ve completed it now during COVID.
Library or museum? Museum
Classic or modern? Classic
Finally – who would you like to see answer these questions in the spotlight?
Loz Horner from Lucky Generals and for anyone who’s ever sat in a room or on a zoom call with Loz for 5 minutes will no why.
Talk us through your workspace.
What helps you get through the day and do what you need to do?
Where the magic happens… The Kitchen Table.
I picked this up in Berlin a while back, in itself it’s not that special, I just thought it was really cool. I’ve split it out into 3 sections, ‘Yorkshire Tea’, ‘Taylors’ and ‘Other’ and regular scribble creative and campaign ideas in here which I bank for rainy days.
Macbook Pro 18”
As part of my job, I wear a lot of different hats. There’s the day to day, but also the need for quite a few different design and technical functions and my trusty Macbook has all of that.
I usually have this tuned in to our Twitter notifications to be honest. Whilst I have fancy social listening tools that track our performance, nothing beats watching the conversation happening live to keep your finger on the pulse.
These LITERALLY come with me everywhere and are a god send. They’re so comfortable and the great quality sound helps me focus for when you just need to get stuff done.
Yorkshire Tea Mug & Brew
You might recognise this from the Yorkshire Tea gifs on Whatsapp! I know it’s cliché but I’m practically fuelled by tea – If we run out, we’re in trouble.
A lot of people don’t know, but we actually do a tonne of work across the globe, supporting social and environmental causes. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about how you can enact positive change in your business there’s loads of info on the work we’re doing here.