The winners of the 'Best New Agency 2019' at last year's Oystercatchers Awards, we caught up with The Unmistakables to hear how they're coping in light of Covid-19 and what advice they'd give to clients. We also learnt what makes them 'Unmistakable' - great to hear how each employee has a strong sense of social purpose and justice.
The Unmistakables is a consultancy that puts difference at its heart. The team works with global clients to create culturally nuanced programmes and campaigns that deliver both within and way beyond the mainstream.
What makes The Unmistakables unique?
The Unmistakables creates a world of opportunity from diversity. Our work is about making diversity everyone’s business and helping clients reach new audiences to deliver commercial returns.
The pace of change right now - amplified by Covid-19 - means there is little room for slow and siloed programmes and campaigns that fail to make an impact.
We consult with energy and instil trust in our clients. Being Oystercatchers’ Small Agency of the Year also means we remain agile to work closely on the twists and turns of business right now.
How do you go about learning an unfamiliar industry that a newly won client may sit in, so you can produce the best possible work?
Almost every industry needs help with diversity right now, so we’re used to doing this. Whether it’s banking, entertainment or sports, we take an approach that starts with society, and then looks at how the client is relevant in someone’s world.
For many more ‘diverse audiences’ (by that we mean those outside the traditional ABC1 targets listed in a brief), brands fail to resonate. This isn’t intentional, it’s either because brands haven’t realised the potential of other groups, or because they lack the expertise to be relevant.
As a consultancy we are made of minorities, which means we always offer insights into audiences that sit both inside and outside of the mainstream. We also bring others in from our Unmistakable Community to look at clients and their industries – from minority and mainstream mindsets – in order to unleash new commercial, conversational and cultural opportunities.
When’s your busiest time of year?
We started the business in summer 2018, so it’s hard to say. Since then we have never had a quiet patch, though. In that time, we’ve been driving a lot of progress and change for our clients. So much so, in fact, that our work has been gaining recognition, and we have been named Best New Agency of the Year, Best in Diversity & Inclusion and BAME Business of the Year by Oystercatchers, The Drum and the Great British Business Awards respectively.
Do The Unmistakables have a favourite time of year when it comes to campaigns?
We tend to challenge cultural conventions in our work. We recently ran a Christmas campaign that saw us working on Christmas Day and making an impact within the Muslim community.
The Museum of London came to use to ask how the museum could show that it is representative of all London during a season that millions don’t celebrate.
We partnered with Mohamed Mohamed, a British-Somali poet known for his Christmas Day photography of the silent streets of London, to create a beautiful short film showing the capital as few would have ever seen it before. Set to Mohamed Mohamed’s original poetry, the film was shot, edited and released on social media before the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special had even aired.
The film was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on Christmas Day, gained widespread media coverage, and won ‘Best Campaign in December 2019’ by PR Week, beating multi-million-pound campaigns by British Airways and Kylie Minogue.
Are there any areas across your client relationships that, upon improvement, would change the way you work for the better?
Our consultancy operates at the intersection of business strategy, diversity and inclusion, and marketing communications, so collaboration between the people in charge of these areas internally really makes what we do thrive. Generally, the clients that can drive the most positive change are those that sit in or alongside the C-suite and those that really want to move with society.
Do you have any funny stories you can share with us in the life of The Unmistakables?
It’s hard to answer a question about ‘work fun’ without sounding like you’re trying to sell some sort of internal banter that people on the outside won’t find that funny. We’re all very different to one another, though, and this means that each member of the team has their own unique sense of humour. We take the work that we do very seriously, but we make each other laugh all day long. We’re like a very diverse and unlikely family.
With the increase of in-house marketing, can you see agency models evolving?
The increase of in-housing means it’s more important than ever for clients to seek external and more objective insight and guidance from third parties (we all know how easy it is to sleepwalk into established ways of thinking and doing things). In order to evolve with this in-house evolution, agencies need to demonstrate real value by providing services that businesses can’t do alone. That’s why what we’re offering is really getting traction.
What ‘local’ can we expect to find staff from The Unmistakables in?
Normally we work from Somerset House and enjoy a 20 per cent discount at all the bars and restaurants on site, so when the world isn't on lockdown, you’re quite likely to find us there. We also operate our social and entertainment calendar around fringe events and venues outside of the mainstream, so it’s pretty unlikely we’ll be in the same local week-on-week.
If you could offer one piece of advice to new clients, what would it be?
Don’t stand still because society is moving fast. Work with us and we’ll help build new worlds of opportunity out of diversity.
What can you tell us about The Unmistakables’ company culture?
There’s one question that we ask everyone before they join: what makes you unmistakable? People who join us – whether to work full time or as part of the Unmistakable Community – all have a strong sense of social purpose and justice, which we bring to work every single day. We are not just people who work on campaigns, we are campaigners with both joint and individual missions. You can find out more by asking us for a game of The Unmistakables Top Trumps.
Check out The Unmistakables profile here on our platform.