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Celebrating innovation with Huckletree and Otherway - #BehindTheIdea

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It is universally acknowledged that creativity thrives in constraints. The past year has been a great measure for that, showing the best and most innovative business leaders shining in a fierce game of 'Adapt or Die.' To celebrate all these successes, Huckletree has partnered with Otherway to launch a new campaign and positioning, highlighting the milestones and innovations in 2020 in a modular storytelling format.

In only 8 weeks, Huckletree and Otherway were able to collect the best stories of innovation from last year by looking at the platform's members, then created a series of incredibly colourful taglines to act as a beacon of innovation.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea with Jemma Wong, Chief Marketing Officer at Huckletree, to learn more about this beautifully colourful campaign.

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What was the brief?

In short - The brief was to shine a light on the year that was within Huckletree - the innovation, the collective wins, the disappointments, the uncomfortable realities and the undercurrent of ‘will & optimism against the odds’ that we felt as a community. 

Against the COVID backdrop, our key objective was to inspire other companies, of any stage, to get back in the ring and keep doing what they do best. 

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

Our agency is Otherway, who we work very collaboratively with. We called the Managing Director, told them our ambition, and it organically turned into a brief, riffing off each other, and then we built it together. 

There was a real sense of scepticism about leadership when we were working on the brief, as well as a fairly oppressive mood in the property sector. There had been so much debate around the death of the office, and we really wanted to move the conversation towards the challengers exploring new frontiers - which is why Huckletree exists in the first place. The campaign isn’t about working remotely, it’s about how to get out of bed, reignite the fire and drive innovation when you’re backed into a corner or held down by constraints.

We didn’t want to push out a vanity campaign, beat our own drum or point to the obvious, we wanted to give people the stories they needed to hear right now and lift the innovation industry as a whole. 

Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

We got to the end of a challenging, high-pressure year  - and finally had the chance to take a breath. Amazingly, 2020 ended up being our most successful year outside of an expansion year with over 1000 new members joining Huckletree in between lockdowns, and over 450 introductions made between members and other brands, investors or ambassadors. This wasn’t just about celebrating a bunch of figures, but about acknowledging the collective will it took to keep pushing innovation uphill. 

There were dark moments that tested us, but over the last 12 months, we received so many WhatsApps, notes, and letters from our members on how they were staying the course, and how much our community meant, beyond the physical realm. Given our successful year, we decided that we wanted to pay it forward and celebrate the stories of our members, founders and ambassadors who made the year worth fighting for. From turning down investment and winning in 73 countries, to expanding tech that keeps women and minorities safe, to launching a sustainable running shoe for athletes - we’ve built a living library of brave innovations. We feel that anyone, anywhere can learn from our community and know what is possible, especially when faced with constraints.

We didn’t want to appear smug, apologetic, or too reflective. Instead, we wanted this to be celebratory, brave, and imaginative, moving the conversation from ‘what was’ to ‘what’s next’. We wanted to create a visible love letter to our members for sticking with us, whilst inspiring other businesses everywhere. This campaign struck the right chord, tone and balance.

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What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

The production process was simple, largely in part to our fantastic relationship with Otherway and the relationships we had built with our members. 

Once we had the storytelling framework and device nailed, it was easy to build. Everything centered around the stories and the provocative taglines, so the art was in the punchline. We spent time on copywriting, plus refining the visual palette which is a part of our existing Huckletree brand today. 

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

TFL rejected our ads...twice...because of our inappropriate headlines. 

‘Who needs a dragon’s den when you have a palace for your phallus’? was a tagline for JustWears, who design sustainable mens underwear - still my favourite story from the ensemble and worth the word count. 

Meanwhile, some copy for dairy brand The Collective UK was rejected, apparently, it wasn’t compliant with HSFF guidelines (the ones for food and drink ads).

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

We wanted to show that innovation is continual. There’s no brake pedal - it ebbs and flows, and the story of innovation continues. We hope that the market chaos and constraints of last year can be a springboard for unexpected, outlier thinking - rather than a stifling factor. 

We also wanted to show the power of collective resilience and celebration, because we believe in this concept so much - when you lift customers up, you lift your own brand and the whole category comes with you. 

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What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

The most refreshing part of the campaign is that we’re a workspace accelerator not talking about workspaces... and not showing a single workspace image in one of our biggest ever campaigns. 

The founders who feature in the campaign will also become mentors for new companies and members that join Huckletree in 2021 – which is a way to pass on the learnings and the good karma of the year. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

It only took 8 weeks in total including story building and microsite delivery - a fast game’s a good game! Again, we can thank our great working relationship with Otherway for this. 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

This is not a silver bullet, but this campaign is part one of a year long brand project that positions us as the home of brave innovation for the most exciting community of companies, ideas and entrepreneurs leading in their industry. 

We’re a challenger in the space with big aspirations. As the world reopens and people think about offices, building culture and changing courses, we hope brands think about the value that a physical or virtual community brings and the role an ecosystem like ours can play (made up of investors, talent, ambassadors, serial entrepreneurs and brands) to help you dream of what comes next. 

Credit list for the campaign?

Client: Huckletree
Director of Marketing and Sales: Jemma Wong

Creative agency: Otherway

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