‘Sometimes juggle multiple responsibilities is not as easy as it looks.

Mental health; something that we all think about but hardly ever talk about. Being more aware of mental health, especially in the workplace, is something that we should all be bringing into our daily routines.

At Agent, we know that taking a break in our day is good for reducing stress and this is something we encourage, but with one in four people visiting their GP with stress related illness, what more can we do to facilitate well-being?

We were paid a visit from Kevin at Health@Work, who came into Agent HQ to provide mental health awareness training. This is what we learned:

  1. We don’t we talk about it

As far as British culture goes, we can’t talk to the person sitting next to us on the bus let alone talking about mental health. So how can we create a dialogue that encourages more understanding? There is no shame in struggling with mental health. It’s common to have a certain preconception about mental health, like any medical issue with the right support and understanding anything can be managed or overcome. You wouldn’t think of someone with a physical disability as being less capable as the next so why would think any different about someone struggling with mental health?

  1. Everyone deals with mental health

A lot of the stigma that surrounds mental health is the belief that mental health is the same as mental illness. Mental health is something that everyone deals with on a day to day basis and can vary depending on the situation. Kevin made us aware that mental illness is a product of poor mental health. If people were able to understand this, it may open them up to talking about the issue before it turns into a mental illness.

  1. We aren’t all the same

All personality types are different and react to pressure in different ways. Being more aware of the way your brain works helps you deal with pressure in the right way. The AB personality test revealed a more insightful look into how our brains work and what that means for our mental health. We discovered that people who identify with personality A are more susceptible to stress and people who identify with personality B are more relaxed and less prone to stress.

  1. How do you cope?

We all have our own ways of coping with our problems, most enjoy winding with a dink now and again, but is it the drinking we enjoy or the socialising? Kevin helped us recognise our coping mechanisms and evaluate their efficiency by weighing up enjoyment verses achievement. Activities like drinking with friends may be enjoyable at the time however, we definitely don’t feel a sense of achievement when we wake up the next day.

  1. Pressure isn’t stress

Throughout the training, we learned that pressure is something we can thrive under, and it can allow us to push ourselves to achieve our full potential. In order to perform our best, we need to be aware of when pressure becomes stress, which could be detrimental to our health. Being aware of your own limits and having effective coping strategies in place  is a huge step forward for a productive work environment and a healthier life style.

Tyred, the campaign calling on the government to ban the use of dangerously old tyres on passenger service vehicles, has been presented with a Northern Marketing Award for Best Not-For-Profit Campaign, by Prolific North.

The campaign was set up following a coach crash in 2012, which was transporting young people home from a music festival. The incident caused three people to tragically lose their lives, and many more to suffer life changing injuries. A later inquiry into the crash revealed that it was caused by a tyre that was 19.5 years old.

Currently, there is no law that prevents irresponsible operators from using dangerously old tyres, despite the fact that tyres are the single largest contributing factor when causalities arise from vehicle failings on UK roads.

Frances Molloy, who lost her son, Michael, in the crash at just 18 years of age – one year younger than the tyre that caused his death – has since campaigned tirelessly, with support from local MPs, to introduce a Bill into parliament that would prevent tyres older than 10 years from being used on buses and coaches in the UK.

LEGO_Kurtis_comparison

In 2017, we launched the campaign with Frances, to support her in her fight. Working on a pro-bono basis across our four departments: strategy, creative, digital and campaigns, we created a brand identity for the campaign, brand assets, online tools, explainer videos, out of home advertising imagery, print advertising spreads, social media accounts, press activity, events and more.

We have also worked to build relationships with key influencers and secure partnerships with bus operators, events and festivals, including Bestival, National Express, Big Green Coach Company, The Association of Independent Festivals and Unite the Union.

To date, the campaign has been featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC News, Channel 5 News, ITV News, The Victoria Derbyshire Show, The Daily Mirror and The Liverpool Echo as well as in major trade publications, to help raise awareness among key target audiences.

Throughout this activity, the campaign has been underpinned by simple yet effective strapline: #oldtyreskill.

The campaign has received an incredibly amount of support from influential individuals and groups, and accolades such as this one are testament to the power of Tyred, but we still have more to do.

The campaign will continue until we meet our objective, but with every tweet of support, news interview, petition signature and website click, we are one step closer to making sure that another person does not lose their life due to dangerously old tyres. Together, we will change the law.

To learn more about Tyred, visit: http://www.tyred.org.uk

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and Charity has paid a very special tribute to our digital consultant, Kurtis, for his incredibly hard work in creating the The Big LEGO Brick Hospital website.

Whilst the charity tirelessly works to reach its goal of raising £500,000 to build a brand-new hospital in Liverpool City Centre, the LEGO version of that hospital will have its very own Kurtis manning the server and squashing any bugs that may arise.

Yes, that’s right. The charity has very kindly created a LEGO version of Kurtis, which recognises his dedication to the project, as well as Agent’s commitment to creating this website for the charity, completely free of charge.

This is quite significant, as the charity can only place 200 LEGO characters in the entire hospital, which means Kurtis joins a very special group of people who have helped bring this fundraising drive to life.

The charity was taking part in a week-long campaign to recognise the amazing things that people have done to support the charity. Their first was, of course, our very own Kurtis.

In a social media post, the charity said:

“When the company first agreed to create a dedicated website, free of charge, we were over the moon. What we didn’t realise was why Kurtis is so passionate about Clatterbridge and the project, until we discovered he had a very special reason, having watched his little brother fight through cancer at the age of three.

“So to say thank you Kurtis and Agent…for a gift worth thousands to the charity, we’ve created a very special LEGO mini figure, so you’re a permanent part of The Big LEGO Brick Hospital.”

LEGO_Kurtis_comparison

Transforming Kurtis into a LEGO version of himself is easier said than done, and the charity got in touch with us prior to the announcement, asking us to help them select the right hair and outfit to create the perfect likeness.

LEGO_Kurtis_building_him

Once the shock had subsided, we sat down with Kurtis to hear his thoughts:

“I was blown away when I opened up Facebook and saw the LEGO version of myself looking back at me. This was such a lovely thing for the charity to do, as the team is incredibly busy, working hard to meet their goal of £500,000.

“It feels great to work somewhere that allows me give back to the community and do some good. I’m hoping that, with this website, I’ll be able to look at the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and proudly say that I had a part to play in bringing it to life.”

As the charity mentioned, this was a project that is very close to Kurtis’ heart. You can learn a little bit more about why Kurtis jumped at the chance to create this website, as well as his approach to the project, here: https://www.agentmarketing.co.uk/a-big-lego-brick-hospital.

The Big LEGO Brick Hospital is being built by Bright Bricks, the UK’s only LEGO-certified building company. For every £1 that is donated, another brick will be added to the hospital. Eventually, they will have an entire hospital made out of LEGO bricks, which means that work on the real hospital can begin. You can donate a brick for as little as £1, which we would encourage everyone to do, here: https://biglegobrickhospital.org.uk.

North West-based Agent Academy and The Extraordinary Club have been selected by Freeformers and Facebook to deliver certified digital skills training in the North West of England as part of the platform’s Community Boost programme, which aims to equip more people in Europe with the digital skills they need to compete in today’s workplace.

The training focuses on enabling people to develop confidence and skills for future employment in a digital economy – especially those found to be lacking in the current workforce – with students at The City of Liverpool College being the first cohort to take part.

As part of the programme, Facebook is partnering with Freeformers to offer training to 75,000 people across the EU in UK, France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain. All training will be individually tailored – from someone with strong digital skills learning about design-thinking to someone who wants to gain employment learning how to improve their online presence.

The programme is aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 30 who want to improve existing skills or learn new digital skills to help them succeed professionally, personally or both. Training will cover modules including innovation, prototyping, web presence and social marketing,

The partnership was announced at the Digital Summit in Liverpool today.

Agent Academy was launched in 2014 as a solution to the issues faced by young people who find themselves without the skills they need to start careers in the creative and digital industries. To date, 85 young people from across the North West have benefited from the 12-week programme, securing full-time industry jobs as a direct result, generating more than £2 million worth of salaries.

Zoe Wallace, director of Agent Academy, said:

“The world of work is changing rapidly, and it’s vital that young people are skilled and ready for the opportunities that await them. Many young people are leaving education without the skills to hit the ground running in the digital industry leaving them unemployed or working in low skilled, unsecure jobs.

“We look forward to working alongside Facebook, with our partners at The Extraordinary Club, to deliver this incredibly important training, enabling young people to contribute to society and plug the skills gap.”

The Extraordinary Club is a company committed to inspiring creative and digital leaders of the future through skills development, business support and growth consultancy. It works with some of the North West’s most cutting edge talent and pioneers from the worlds of film, TV, games and technology.

Dawn Paine, co-founder of The Extraordinary Club, said:

“We are delighted to be rolling out Facebook’s UK digital skills training programme in the North West and specifically in Liverpool, to create more of a level playing field for our region’s young people in the digital world.”

Agent Academy and The Extraordinary Club will be responsible for delivering training across the North West, with the programme then being rolled out throughout the country. They will be hosting workshops and festivals across the North West and are inviting individuals and businesses to get involved.

At Agent, we love nothing more than being presented with challenges that we can get our teeth stuck in to and that really allows us to showcase our abilities as an agency. So, when we were selected by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of GCHQ – to work with the team on the design and development of the 2018 Annual Review, we couldn’t have been more delighted.

The NCSC was set up to help protect the country’s critical services from cyber attacks, manage major incidents, and improve the underlying security of the UK Internet. Its vision is to help make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.

NCSC_One

Creatively, it was something that we wanted to get involved with, given the importance of the work that the NCSC does and the impact that it has on a wide array of audiences. Annual Reviews are always interesting pieces of work but this one in particular was a challenge that we were more than willing to take on – we felt that we could really bring something to it.

When it came to development of the initial concepts, we provided three options with very different trajectories. We felt that the report needed an overarching avatar to carry across some of the concepts, and to be used as a way of visually conveying the different chapter topics throughout.

Given the prominence and authority of the NCSC, we wanted to ensure that we struck the balance between a playful, relatable concept that was underpinned by great execution and quality finish to demonstrate the importance of the work. It was important that the visual did not come across as too gimmicky, while appealing to a broad audience.

NCSC_Two

Agent’s creative director, Ben Spencer, at the initial design stage

To achieve this, we used the idea of the bug – which is a well-recognised symbol for some of the problems we face – and linked it to the cyber world.

During the creation of the bug, we were conscious of referencing the insect without it being too similar to any real-life bug. We began by developing a 3D model of the chassis, the body and the wings. We found that the high gloss chrome worked well, along with adding more features to bring focus and beauty to the designs. To ensure a strong and clear link to cyber, we included elements such as a USB mouth and armour scored with circuitry. We also made the bug’s environment neutral in order for it to be used anywhere, without referencing a specific place.

NCSC_Three

We really enjoyed working with the NCSC team on this project. As always for us as an agency, it was an incredibly collaborative piece of work, exploring concepts together and getting insight into the team’s expertise. It is always fantastic to work with a client that trusts so strongly in the central idea and we’re excited to see where this visual could be taken in the future.

Creative for this project was led by Agent’s creative director Ben Spencer and supported by creative consultant Michael Cottage. The digital elements were led by digital director Rick Blundell, with support from digital consultant, Kurtis Boylan. Check out the final product, here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/annual-review-2018/

It’s a great feeling when you get to work on something that is for a great cause and that’s close to your heart. I felt honoured when I was asked to lead on producing a website for the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s new Lego Brick Hospital, the first ever to be made in the UK!

For those who don’t know, the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity is the only charity dedicated to patients and research at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. They are currently building a new hospital in Liverpool City Centre which is a massive deal for the city. The hospital will be dedicated to caring for patients and developing cancer research.

The charity’s aim is to raise £500,000 towards the new hospital which will be funded through The Lego Brick Hospital. The way it works is when you buy a brick for £1, £1 is raised towards the hospital. It will be the first Lego hospital ever made, in partnership with bright bricks which are the UK’s only Lego certified building company.

We were asked by Clatterbridge if we could do some work to create a website for them to help them sell these bricks. We wanted to make a website that didn’t look like a corporate NHS website, it needed to be as fun as Lego!

What we wanted to focus on was how we could quickly introduce the charity and all the amazing things they do and primarily show how important this Lego hospital is. We looked at what would get people excited contributing to the Lego hospital, the exciting thought that every brick you buy gets put into the hospital. We also included some other Lego items such as flowers, a bench, and a flower bed to make it even more engaging.

Lego MRI Machine

For me when I was asked to work on this project it was a straight yes as it’s something that’s close to my heart. My youngest brother fought through cancer when he was 3 years old, so to get this opportunity to be part of the fight for others battling cancer, it was a no brainer from me.

I’ve seen first-hand what people go through when they are fighting cancer. When you walk through the doors of a hospital you sometimes expect it to be quite sombre and depressing but at Clatterbridge this isn’t the case. In a hospital like Clatterbridge the team work so hard to ensure the atmosphere is top notch, when you walk in there are smiles on people’s faces, you can see people are making friends.

I really enjoyed being a part of this project as it was an absolute pleasure to support people who are doing such great things for people fighting cancer. I urge everybody to get involved and support Clatterbridge by buying a brick, your contribution will make a difference! Visit the website at https://biglegobrickhospital.org.uk

Agent Academy CIC, the social enterprise established to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in the digital revolution, has achieved a major milestone, generating more than £2 million worth of salaries in the North West, through its pioneering, industry-designed skills programme.

Agent Academy provides young people the opportunity to break into the creative tech sector. To date, 70 young people from across the North West have benefited, securing full-time industry jobs as a direct result.

The technology sector has changed drastically and continues to evolve, and traditional education can often struggle to keep up. Many young people are leaving education without the skills to hit the ground running in the digital industry leaving them unemployed or working in low skilled, unsecure jobs.

The 2018 Centre for Cities Cities Outlook Report, states that 3.6 million jobs are at risk of disappearing by 2030 and policymakers should prepare the workforce of the future, by giving younger generations entering the labour market the right set of skills and knowledge to succeed in the jobs of the future.

To address this issue, full-service marketing agency, Agent, launched Agent Academy as a solution to the issues faced by 18-25 year olds who find themselves, post-higher education, without the skills they need to start careers in the creative and digital industries. As a social enterprise, Agent Academy is focused on developing values-led, socially aware young leaders who will go on to make a positive impact in their places of work and in society.

Agent Academy participants have gone on to secure employment at leading businesses across the region including Delloitte, Capital FM, Shop Direct, Sony Music, Sky and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

Agent Academy

Zoe Wallace, director of Agent Academy, said:

“Agent Academy has stepped up to the talent challenge faced by the creative and digital industry by giving young people the opportunity to upskill and then kick-start their careers. The programme, which is free to young people, must remain dynamic and industry relevant and that’s why we have over 150 industry leaders co-creating the content and mentoring our students.

“Our students are finishing our programmes work-ready, fully versed in how the industry works and what is expected from them – as a result, the demand we have from regional employers is exceptional.

“Our Northern Powerhouse programme, working across Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Regions, promises to be our biggest programme yet.”

During the 12-week programme, students learn, and are inspired by industry leaders, coached by Academy staff, whilst working on a real-life brief set by a client. They leave Agent Academy equipped with the skills, knowledge, contacts and networks to secure jobs in the creative, digital and tech industries.

Zoe added:

“We have a lot to look forward to next year. Despite the skills challenges faced by our region’s employers we can see real potential to deliver value into the creative and digital economies across the North and bring even greater opportunities to the region’s young people. We hope to double the £2m worth of salaries created so far in the year to come – we have big ambitions for growth and an inherent belief in the young people we’re supporting”

Now in its 7th year, The Dragon Boat Race, organised by Liverpool Waters, brings together the city’s businesses to compete against each other at Princes Dock. Testing their strength, stamina, and most of all team work, all in the name of raising money for a brilliant local cause, Claire House Children’s Hospice. The charity helps seriously and terminally ill children live life to the full by creating wonderful experiences and bringing back a sense of normality to family life.

With over 25 businesses signed up, the competition was fierce and the Agents were not going to go down without a fight. Branded team t-shirts were ordered, a team captain was selected through a thorough and strategic voting process, and motivational speeches were made. Losing was not an option…

Dragon Boat Race

…However, as it turns out, no amount of enthusiasm can turn you into a professional rower. After three rounds, despite our best efforts and many team talks (with some showing their competitive streaks), we were pipped to the post.

We had a brilliant day bonding with our colleagues and getting to know people from across the city, all whilst learning a new sport! We’d thoroughly encourage our fellow businesses to get involved next year to put their teams to the test. We’re so proud to have been able to play a part in supporting such a fantastic and well-deserving organisation – it certainly makes the hard work and wet weather worth it.

We may not have won this year, but training starts now, and we’ll be back with a vengeance in 2019!

Being social is a huge part of everyone’s lives, some of us love a good chat over a coffee with friends, others love to sit on their laptops and chat with people online. Either way everyone just loves a good gab don’t they!? This was our focus for the engagement element of our latest Better By Bus campaign – Give Bus a Chance.

Over the past couple of months, the Better By Bus street team has been out and about across the Liverpool City Region talking to people about the Give Bus a Chance campaign, which is all about encouraging people to consider leaving the car at home and hopping on the bus instead. As well as this, the Better By Bus Club has been visiting primary schools across the region to deliver an engaging and interactive assembly for key stage one pupils, where students learned all about how fun it is to get the bus!

better by bus

We had two approaches to this campaign and the way we interact with people: face-to-face engagement and social media engagement.

As part of the face-to-face engagement, the Better By Bus street team visited, Liverpool, Southport, Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens with placards, balloons and megaphones, to hold a ‘mini-protest’ against costly car journeys and over-polluted air. Something we discovered straight away is that local people love having someone to talk to about what it’s like to get the bus in their area and what they like about our campaign. We decided to do this type of engagement as, according to Forbes, “street teams get the customer excited and interact on a personal level, this excitement and interaction leads to direct action.”

Face to face interaction means that we have the chance to talk to members of the public who don’t necessarily use or have access to social media. But for those who are active users on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we make sure to keep our followers updated with interesting content about the campaign and what the street team is up to.

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The Better By Bus assemblies have been a huge success, with thousands of kids learning about the benefits of getting the bus, as well as receiving super cool activity packs and doing bus conga’s all over the place! Armed with the ever trusty Better By Bus characters we, stopped off at over 40 primary schools across the Liverpool City Region to host assemblies with key stage one pupils.

We’ve received lots of great feedback including these lovely words from Holly Lucas, the assistant head teacher of LIPA primary school:

“the children thoroughly enjoyed the assembly and we loved how interactive it was. The children learnt all about the benefits of using the bus in an exciting way and the song was very fun.”

The social impact of this turned out to be a lot bigger than we ever thought. You hear the phrase, kids are like a sponge, and it’s true! You tell them why it’s good to get the bus, and after a quick 30-minute fun assembly they can tell you exactly what you said half an hour ago!

better by bus

So, what’s the point in doing face-to-face and social media engagement? Firstly, it helps your campaign massively because you are spreading awareness on multiple levels and to all different people. Secondly, it shows people that you really care about the work you are doing. Finally, there is nothing better than having a good chat with someone, in person or online, and seeing them get interested and excited about the Better By Bus campaign.

Agent, has been chosen to support Keep Britain Tidy, to create a digital-only out of home campaign, which is now being rolled out across the country.

The campaign has been developed to raise awareness of the prestigious Green Flag Award, the international quality standard for parks, which the charity manages on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

Parks presented with the Green Flag Award are safe, demonstrate care for the environment, encourage healthy lifestyles, have a good range of facilities and are well maintained and managed.

As part of the partnership Agent designed and created digital advertising, social media assets and web imagery for the Green Flag Award awareness campaign.

Green Flag

Paul Corcoran, managing director of Agent, said:

“As an agency, we are always looking for ways to work with brands that make a real difference in their communities and beyond, so we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Keep Britain Tidy on this awareness campaign.

“Through our visual concepts for the Green Flag Award, we wanted to communicate that winning parks are closer than people may think, and to encourage people to use them. The creative was developed in a literal sense, with dramatic imagery such as enlarged feet and hands to create visual impact. The whole process has been incredibly collaborative with the team at Keep Britain Tidy, and we are excited to see our ideas come to fruition.”

Helen Bingham, director of communications at Keep Britain Tidy, said:

“For us, the aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of the Green Flag Award. We know that often people will see the flags flying in their parks, but may not know what they mean. Winning a Green Flag Award brings a wealth of benefits for parks and green spaces, from the status of being affiliated with a prestigious awards programme, through to tangible benefits such as boosting tourism and opening up revenue opportunities.

“Through the Green Flag Award, we want to ensure that everybody has access to quality green spaces, irrespective of where they live. By working with Agent on this digital-only outdoor advertising campaign, we are able raise awareness of our award -winning spaces in the most visually impactful, yet environmentally friendly way possible.”