Hillarys awards £18m media account to MediaCom – Is that why Hillarys are so expensive ?

By Maisie McCabecampaignlive.co.uk, Monday, 18 August 2014 12:14PM Be the first to comment

Hillarys, the blinds and shutter specialist, has awarded its £18 million media planning and buying account to MediaCom.

Hillarys: hires MediaCom for its media businessHillarys: hires MediaCom for its media business

MediaCom’s Manchester office is understood to have beat PHD North to pick up the business after a competitive pitch. The incumbent, Carat Manchester, resigned the business in April and was not involved.

The appointment marks a return to MediaCom for the Hillarys brand, as it worked with the WPP agency from 2006 before hiring Carat Manchester in 2011.

The business includes digital media including pay per click, search engine optimisation, affiliates and programmatic display as well as all offline planning and buying responsibilities.

Susan White, the head of online at Hillarys, said: “Throughout the pitch process, MediaCom was able to demonstrate an unparalleled understanding of the modern media landscape, combined with an ability to deliver true value and impact, all key requirements for our continuing growth ambitions.”

The account will be led by MediaCom UK’s recently expanded digital performance division i-Lab, which will handle the digital activity.

Paul Cooper, the joint managing director at MediaCom i-Lab UK, said: “This is a fantastic appointment for us to have secured here at MediaCom, giving us the opportunity to put into play the full power and potential of i-Lab’s ability to provide a digital specialist brand within the wrapper of connected comms planning.

“Hillarys is a true British manufacturing success story and we’re looking forward to working with them closely to spearhead the next period of growth for the business.”

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

Bloc Blinds custom designs make for good times

  By Scott Campbell  9:00PM BST 02 Aug 2014


While Bing Crosby may be dreaming of a white Christmas, Cormac Diamond’s list for Santa contains a somewhat different desire – to print mince pies on blinds.

“You never know what a customer might want,” he says, laughing. Despite having no background in the lucrative window industry, Diamond, 36, a former mechanical engineer, set up Bloc Blinds five years ago, and business appears to be booming.

After spotting a gap in the market during the credit crisis, he developed an interchangeable roller blind system – installable with just four screws – that lets customer easily change the fabric without having to remove the whole frame. It has proved so popular that when the Northern Irish company, based in Draperstown, County Londonderry, launched a Christmas-themed blind in December last year, customers were keen to buy.

“It gave us the courage to invest in a printing machine so we can really go to town with new designs this year,” says Diamond. The company, which has 42 employees, is now planning to launch a service that lets customers design their own fabric.

“If, for instance, you had green cushions, and wanted to match a blind to them, we can now easily replicate the exact colour rather than travelling the country to find a suitable fabric,” Diamond explains.

“It’s a quirky thing, but in the past people would have ruled it out as being complete nonsense, purely from the cost of the fixture.

“But now, with the advent of an interchangeable blind, you can cheaply print whatever you like, even ‘happy birthday’ blinds, and hang it up for a few hours then take it down again.”

After being spotted at a trade show in Germany four years ago, Bloc Blinds has been selected by John Lewis as a category brand, meaning it will have dedicated areas in stores.

But prospects have not always been so rosy. Bloc Blinds launched at the height of the credit crunch, when consumers were watching their spending. Amid the frequent redundancies of the financial crisis there was no shortage of workers available, but none of them had the right skills.

“One major challenge we had was finding staff – there were lots of workers, but none of them were blind makers,” says Diamond. “A lot of people thought I was mad for starting a business at that point.”

With training, the workers soon started production, but finding clients was an entirely different matter – Diamond hadn’t hired a sales team.

Despite his relatively limited business experience, he visited prospective buyers alone with a suitcase full of samples. He says he regularly used gut instinct to make business decisions, and it paid off; once retailers saw the product and its potential and its uniqueness, they started to buy into it. “It was a steep learning curve,” he admits.

Indeed, squeezed by the credit crunch, the company’s customers had been trying to improve their margins by buying cheaper products, but quickly realised that quality was more important to avoid complaints and returns.

Fortunately, Bloc Blinds wasn’t overly affected by the financial doom and gloom hurting many British industries. Rather than getting capital from banks, most of the company’s funding instead came from family members.

“It stood us in good stead. Every pound and every penny is still looked after,” explains Diamond. “When it’s from people you know and not a loan from a bank, you really have got a greater feel for the value of the money.”

The constraint on funding meant that the company’s expansion was cautious, and largely funded from profits, which is still the case.

“The ethos of the business is that it must be sustainable. We must take our growth seriously, and the expenditure involved in that must be well thought out,” he explains. “Those early years really taught us to know the value of money and investing our own money.”

Within a year, Bloc Blinds moved from producing five blinds per week to 100.

Now the company is planning to expand into the American market, where Diamond thinks that seasonal blinds – such as for Halloween, as well as Christmas – will be particularly popular.

“It’s going to fit their market well. Our ethos will chime with the Americans, as we have a strong success story behind our products,” he says.

Although the firm has meetings set up with two large US retailers, the stateside launch will primarily be on the internet so that it can target consumers directly – a strategy that is already working wonders in Europe.

“The medium of the internet is perfect for us to get the product out to new markets.”

In the UK, Bloc Blinds currently works with 500 independent retailers, a number that it plans to increase.

However, Diamond plans to expand the number of trade partners during the next year, so that Bloc Blinds becomes a household name “available in every town and city across the UK”.

He adds: “We would like to become the new Dyson.

“They’ve got something unique – people associate the bagless vacuum cleaner with Dyson and that is what we want to do with interchangeable blinds.”

Far from the days when finding skilled workers was the biggest challenge, now Diamond says that it’s managing the growth of the company.

Bloc Blinds is in the process of amalgamating multiple production facilities into a single site, which he hopes will further spur growth as it moves into new markets.

But Diamond has not lost touch with the company’s roots.

“If you start off with a hands-on approach, it’s very difficult to get away from it,” he explains.

Indeed, while the entrepreneur has had to reduce the time he spends on the factory – or house – floor, he says that sometimes “you just have to get your hands dirty”.

“There’s nothing like going out and fitting blinds yourself to get a true feeling of what customers think,” he concludes.



Duette window blinds brand launches new campaign

Duette TV Ad from The Market Creative on Vimeo.


Hunter Douglas’ Duette, the energy-saving window blinds brand, has launched a campaign to leverage its position as the inventor of honeycomb cell technology, which traps air inside the blinds to boost energy efficiency.

Fabienne Tyler, Business Development Manager at Hunter Douglas said: “We are looking to communicate our energy-saving proposition in conjunction with a stylish, quality product offering, as well as the fact that we’re the originators of honeycomb cell technology. The campaign directly addresses both of those ideas, in a way that we are sure will resonate with our audience.”

Devised by The Market Creative, a honeycomb shape runs throughout the brand campaign, while the text ‘The Original Energy Saving Blind’ is incorporated into the design along with a heritage stamp.

Account director, Caroline Finch-Denham, who led the project at The Market Creative, said: “Hunter Douglas is the patent-owner of the energy saving honeycomb cell structure. By leveraging this heritage we have created a point of difference in the market and the idea is brought to life through the honeycomb shape that works across all channels.”

The campaign will be trialled over the next three months with a 30-second TV advert, running nationally on satellite channels, and a consumer press campaign with ads across a range of home interest titles. The look and feel developed by The Market Creative also been applied to the brand websitewww.duette.co.uk