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Running away to join the Circus | #CompanySpotlight

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“Immersion” is a very popular word right now. Immersive experiences are all the rage and brands are falling over themselves to talk about it. But one agency that’s been all about the immersion game for a while now, predating the bandwagon, is Circus.

Circus is an award-winning brand experience agency that uses the latest 360 photography, 360 video and VR techniques to build immersive virtual tours and virtual open days. They have created experiences for everyone from Virgin and Google to Dyson and the Royal Opera House and their ambitions as far as the Metaverse is concerned have already been made abundantly clear.

We reward their ambition with this week’s company spotlight and catch up with director Jay Scott-Nicholls to discuss the company’s history, where it’s going and why he believes the future is virtual.

How was your company born and where are you based?

We started out as a pool of photographers partnered with Google to roll out their StreetView Inside programme. We’ve always been based in London, but have grown with the rise of immersive technology and have recently stepped fully into the Metaverse by taking our whole office virtual. 

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

Educating the market as to the capabilities of this new and rapidly-evolving technology call ‘immersive media’. 

Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

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We won a project to shoot the Houses of Parliament. It was such a privilege to have out of hours access to the Palace of Westminster and to shoot some of the most beautiful and historic spaces in the world. And to use those images to allow others to step inside too. 

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

The Metaverse. We’re already working on two Metaverse projects and its announcement – along with the COVID-driven move towards virtual working - has reinvigorated the sector. 

Can you explain your team’s creative process? What makes it unique?

We have a process we call ‘Carousel’ which guides every project through from creative concept, to technical scoping to a custom build. In other words doing pre-production, production and post-production, but in a way that makes sense for our technology and our clients. 

How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

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Variety. For us there’s no such thing as a ‘product’. Every project is approached with a blank sheet of paper and built to-order. We also work across sectors and functions, as well as with both brands and agencies. So every day is different!

How has COVID-19 affected your company?

Positively. Which I’m very conscious is not the case for many businesses. For us, it’s forced businesses to think seriously about how they could (and should) do things virtually which they can no longer do in-person. Having realised how possible, effective and scalable it is, they’re not looking back. 

Which agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

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Too many to choose from. Ours is a fluid sector with lots of creatives coming in from different backgrounds – from gaming and web development to photography and video production. It’s really exciting to see all the experimentation going on and new use cases and applications emerging. 

What is one tip that you would give to other agencies looking to grow?

Be bold. Stand out. It’s a crowded sector and client loyalty is on the decline. You need to be memorable to get noticed and then be relentlessly delivering value to keep relationships fresh. 

How do you go about finding new clients/business? (Pitching, work with retainers, etc.)

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We’ve moved from a traditional sales approach – volume, prospecting, cold calling, to a marketing-led approach – thought leadership, networking, educating the market. No-one wants to be sold to, so we prefer to put out great content and let clients come to us. 

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

That virtual approaches become firmly bedded into business culture, co-existing with physical ones. That’s when they’ll move from luxury to business-critical status.

Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?

Smash The Funnel by Eric Keiles and Mike Lieberman changed the way we do sales and marketing. 

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