Today marks one year to the day since I started at Drunk Animal… and I can’t quite believe what we’ve been through in that time. To say it’s been eventful would be an understatement.
I can remember vividly sitting down with Calvin and Jess to talk about the role. I’d spent the last three months being funemployed after leaving a job that I hated and to be honest, my confidence was at an all-time low.
I’d met Cal in my previous role and we hit it off straight away; we’re very similar – headstrong, bold, somewhat disorganised, but we think big and aren’t afraid to try new things. To be honest, I think it was our first chat a few months earlier that secured me the job; I’d lost my way a bit in the months that had followed and you could tell. I owe a lot to Cal and Jess for taking a punt on me – they literally saved me.
I never thought I was someone that was defined by their career, but after having what seemed like ages off between jobs, I realised that my job is a huge part of who I am. Without it, the days seem long, endless and incredibly lonely.
Within the first week of starting here I knew I’d found my feet again. I was back up and my confidence was on the mend. By week two, we’d secured a six figure media buying brief. I really felt that I’d found somewhere where I could add value, help shape the direction of the business, and get back to basics and do the work that I truly loved.
And then my best friend took his own life – the only person (other than my partner) that kept my spirits up when I was at my lowest. It’s a strange feeling to lose someone from suicide; you can’t quite describe it… but for a long time I was angry at him. Angry that he didn’t lean on me like I’d leaned on him so many times before.
While all this was happening, the team couldn’t have been more supportive – it was then that I realised I’d found a group of mates in my work colleagues. Without sounding cliche, the Drunk Animal team is a family, and it’s exactly what I needed in a job. And when Coronavirus hit, that family came into its own.
On March 23rd, when the Government announced the coronavirus restrictions, the exciting plans Calvin and Jess had spoken about in my interview were thrown into disarray. Overnight, we lost nearly £500k of events work; and for a hot minute, I was concerned for my job.
But I needn’t be. Cal had employed me to support him in the growth of the agency so while the events work was a blow; it wasn’t the end. We set about refocusing our efforts on PR, content and media – the three things I was brought on to build. It was a blank canvas for me to design… and the only way we could go, was up.
Our first major PR client win came as part of a collaborative pitch with Larkin PR. For us to grow as an agency, we needed to beef up our media credentials beyond just me, and a partnership with them gave us a fighting chance. We were successful, beating some of London’s most established agencies to the post. The day we launched Cantina Goccia (an italian vineyard that happens to be one of our clients) in Frugal Bottle was the day I knew we’d set the PR bar; for ourselves and our competitors. To say the Cantina Goccia and Frugal Bottle brands went global was an understatement. Over 1,000 pieces of coverage, a global audience of 1.4billion and in excess of 700 genuine business leads from other organisations wanting to use and invest in Frugal Bottle showed the agency world that we knew what we were doing when it came to massive PR campaigns.
As a result, the business grew quicker than we anticipated and I’m incredibly proud to say that we’ve invested in the company and added five further full-time staff to the PR and Content team. In what has been a turbulent year for so many, we’re incredibly lucky to be expanding the team and offering roles to people that really need that chance.
PR wasn’t the only new territory we ventured into this year; we also expanded into media strategy and planning, building on some of the experiences I’ve had in my 15+ year career. With the support of media owners, trusting clients, and just a bit of bravado, we were able to establish a competitive media solution for our clients, helping to take them into new territories, using new platforms and dynamic channels.
For me, the year peaked when I finally saw our client, Peter Ward Homes, debut their fantastic, heartwarming TV advert after I dared to pitch the idea to them in my first week at the agency. It was an amazing experience and we got to work with some fantastic people to bring the idea to life. The end result is probably one of my proudest career moments to-date.
It’s only fitting that, while I have this soapbox, I thank some people; to Louise, Shannon and Peter, thank you for believing in us, providing the fantastic backdrop of the Old College and for letting us dream big, to Calvin for your creativity and inspiration, for Gus and Owen at Northern Visuals for your epic work on realising Cal’s lofty vision, and those that I roped in to help as actors, hairstylists and makeup artists; my friends and family. To the Brodies, Toni and Yasmine, you made my life a million times easier.
We’ve crammed a hell of a lot of more into the last 12 months, but it’s probably best that I end there. It’s not often I use those words to describe my older sister (see paragraph above 🙄).
This year has been a challenging year to say the least. I start my second year at Drunk Animal incredibly humble and grateful; for the challenges we’ve faced and survived as a team, for the faith that Cal and Jess put in me from day one, and for mates I’ve found in my fellow Drunk Animals. Thanks guys.
And finally, to Jess, my work-sister, who moves on to pastures new this week, you will be sorely missed. We are both better off for knowing one another. Thank you for everything.