News

An exciting new owner, the same Smyle

We’re really excited to share that the Smyle Group of brands has been acquired by The Human Network, a new, international collective of specialist agencies, each skilled in connecting with different audiences through experiences and content.

The network includes our amazing new partners, Identity, and together, we are poised to create an unparalleled offering, combining our diverse expertise and reach. Our goal is to become the leading network in delivering exceptional experiences and outstanding content, globally. It’s going to be epic!

After respecting Identity for years for their incredible portfolio including UN COP28 UAE, The Coronation of King Charles and the London New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Drone Show, and in more recent years getting to know the team on a personal level, we’re so pleased to have this partnership formally signed and to be able to officially share the news with you all. 

For our team, it’s business as usual for us at Smyle, but for our clients, we now have the opportunity to tap into our unparalleled resources, creativity, expertise, and capabilities in event planning, production, and execution. This is truly something special. With a combined team of over 280 professionals, we now have a presence in eight countries across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East!

As we embark on our new journey as part of The Human Network, we remain focused on our mission to shift culture, behaviours and beliefs through innovative experiences and content. With our expanded footprint, combined resources and passion for human-centric solutions, we’re poised to revolutionise the industry.
Dominic Thomas-Smith, Managing Director of Smyle Group

We can’t wait to see the opportunities this new chapter, as part of The Human Network, will bring for our clients, our people and our agency.

Check out www.humannetworkgroup.com for more info.

News

Moving On Up With This Way Up

By Emma Gardner, Executive Design Director at Smyle

Almost every industry has a shortage of women in leadership roles. But what we don’t acknowledge is the impact this has on women leaders of the future. We have fewer voices to learn from that look and sound like us. And women’s leadership is different – we have different challenges, hurdles, and less of a roadmap.

This creates a domino effect where because a woman doesn’t have someone to look up to, they are less likely to apply, so in turn, the next generations don’t have leaders – and men stay in charge. But could we do something at Smyle to compensate for that and break the domino?

Smyle Strategist Sophie Hulf (pictured left at centre) used Springboard at Smyle, an initiative to encourage everyone in the agency to pitch their ideas during the weekly Director’s meeting. She put together a slide about her idea to start a leadership and mentorship programme at Smyle. For the presentation, I worked with Sophie and researched organisations that could support our needs.

After being voted through by the other directors, the hard work had only just begun.

What followed was nine months of weekly meetings, looking at over 20 partner organisations, budget sign-offs, application forms, and branding, bringing us to our first session today.

On International Women’s Day (8th March), we announced the name, ‘This Way Up’, and that we would be working with AllBright. We offered a Career Accelerator programme to 20 women and non-binary Smylers and the opportunity for those not in the cohort to use the AllBright digital membership with mentorships, events and other support.

Coming up with the application process was challenging as we wanted to open it up to everyone and ensure it was fully accessible. To tackle any bias, we worked with our internal Collective (inclusivity and equity) network, who also worked with us on the application questions. The whole process was anonymous to ensure it was as fair as possible.

Our CEO Keith O’Loughlin, People Experience Director Charlotte Key, Sophie and I judged all the applications. We were so blown away by every applicant that we found it difficult to compare and judge one better than the other. So Smyle agreed to extend the Career Accelerator programme from 20 places to accept all 29 women and non-binary Smylers who had applied!

When we read the applications, I saw myself reflected back in so many answers – they were all amazing and moving. Each was a wave of confirmation that we were doing the right thing.

Good luck to all the women starting the programme today. You’re the first of many more to come, paving the way for the many women who will follow. I can’t wait to see the ripple effect of This Way Up across the industry.

"AllBright is thrilled to welcome Smyle to Alliance. Seeing their commitment to empower, nurture, and elevate leadership skills among the incredible women at Smyle has been inspiring to see and I'm sure that together, we'll be paving the way towards a more equal and equitable future for all."
A comment from Ella Vize, Head of Academy and Learning Programmes and Co-founder of AllBright Alliance

News

Data Tales with Sophie

Data Tales explores the human story behind a number and ponders what this means for brands and culture with Smyle Strategist Sophie Hulf

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A recent survey suggests that 87% of job hunters under 28 have abandoned a new job on their first day, whilst 93% have stood-up interviewers entirely. Whether lazy or liberated, young adults are redefining their working relationships. What’s behind this change, and is it so bad, after all?

By 2030, 30 percent of the world’s workforce will be Gen Z – concerningly, a demographic which is the least engaged at work (at 54%) of any generation to date. From ‘bare minimum Mondays’ to ‘lazy girl jobs’, competitive, sacrificial dogmas of ‘the hustle’ are being left behind in favour of gentler career goals. However, unlike its predecessor ‘quiet quitting’, this new wave of work-life is rooted in protective self-care.

First seen as a trend amongst Chinese graduates in 2021, Tang ping, or “lying flat,” is an antidote to overworking. A rejection of society’s pressure to succeed, the ideology instead celebrates a relaxed way of life, and the act of doing nothing as a state of resistance.

Entering the workforce during a state of perpetual downturn, many young adults are acutely aware of the odds stacked against their financial favour. Traditional goals can feel unattainable (only 41% ever expect to own a home), leading to a sense of apathy – it’s so bleak, why bother at all? Increased awareness of burnout is also helping expose toxic working practices, for so long accepted, and even rewarded, as the ultimate sign of career commitment (I’m looking at you, Miranda Priestly).

Instead, people are increasingly opting for happiness, with 73% of under 28s prioritising quality of life over extra money in the bank. Women are also entering the workforce at historic levels (in part thanks to increased employment flexibility), and are significantly more likely than men to say personal wellbeing is very important when considering a new job – raising the collective bar for setting healthy boundaries. It seems ambition is not lost – just redirected, towards holistic personal fulfilment.

Younger employees have leverage in the way of cultural insight, the key to many marketeers’ dreams as brands aspire to meaningfully connect with younger audiences. Ultimately, businesses need GenZ more than they need out-of-touch employment. Appealing to (and keeping) a younger workforce is essential to brands’ understanding and delivering for a changing consumer climate.

In the eternal work-life tussle, it seems ‘life’ may finally be taking the lead. All ages could benefit from boundary setting, prioritising wellness and recalibrating what matters to them. In living by these refreshing values, and choosing to rise above the rat-race, employees are taking back control. To keep talent on their side, it’s employers that need to keep up.

AI Love

For many, Valentine’s Day means a card, flowers, and… software updates? Apparently, since searches for ‘AI Girlfriend’ soared this year by 2,400%. In fact, a recent survey suggests 31% of people would be open to relationships with AI. What does this new era of love say about consumer connections, and what’s shaping it?

50% of UK adults report using AI daily to some degree. With virtual and personal lives increasingly entwined, it’s hardly a surprise that people are now looking to fulfil core human needs with a little automated help.

Dating has been digitised since the 90s, and as someone newly engaged to a former right-swipe, I’m familiar with the romantic potential of technology – one in five relationships meet online. However, whilst apps shattered the stigma of online dating, they also made it a game.

Online courting creates a buffer between prospective partners – a sensitivity gap which can numb the perceived impact of actions, or make the recipient seem less real. Now, up to two-thirds of people who use Tinder are already in a relationship, and almost half aren’t actually interested in meeting. Instead, chasing ego and entertainment – virtually fishing, with little intention of making a catch.

The leap to AI doesn’t seem so great; a seemingly harmless (at least, human-less) flirtation with fantasy. Sophisticated chatbots have reached uncanny human likeness, able to act with reciprocating gestures of affection. Despite effectively an algorithm, 46% believe that a romantic relationship with an AI (if committed elsewhere) would constitute cheating, and a further 33% are just not sure.

But it’s not all bad; for many, AI-powered chat tools provide respite from loneliness and a welcome illusion of emotional intimacy. Sometimes, talking is more important than being listened to – and a virtual ear is just as effective.

Young people, in particular, living so much of their lives online, crave companionship and authentic connection – whether romantic or otherwise. For this same reason, dating app Hinge launched its Social Impact Fund, committing over a million dollars to tackle the loneliness epidemic plaguing its Gen Z users.

You can’t spoon AI, at least for now. Technology falls short of offering a long-term solution – glossing over (and even, maybe exacerbating) an intrinsic yearning for togetherness. Conventional relationship dynamics are being increasingly challenged as people recalibrate what love looks like and reject antiquated norms. Whether human, virtual, or a bit of both – people find their fix in a way that works for them.

As the digi-love-life overlap comes to an inflexion point, brand communication ought to offer empathetic and authentic value. Whilst people grapple with an evolving reality of modern dating, it’s important brands stay open-minded, embracing the messy fluidity of love and AI as it plays out in real lives and real-time.

Trend-mas

Buckle up; it’s the most magical time of a marketer’s year! Trend season is officially here. However, with 71% of TikTok users saying they saw the biggest trends there first, what impact do micro (and even nano) social trends have on life beyond the hashtag… and what’s driving them in the first place?

From a Tomato Girl Summer to Mermaidcore and Monk Mode – the TikTok trend machine has been working overtime to fill our feeds with the latest cult phase. Overnight, a niche style statement is transformed into a cultural hot commodity. Raising the question: trend… or just trendy?

Defined as “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving”, cultural trends are a long-standing governing force within the creative industries as brands vie for consumer relevance. Nowadays, the sphere of trend influence seems ever smaller, and the impact duration recedes from years and months to weeks and even days. 

Whilst beguiling for brands, for consumers, the obscurity of microtrends is a part of the draw. Often born out of online communities, adopting super-niche aesthetics can feel like an inside joke, an IYKYK nod that positions you as a cultural insider. 

From homeware to fashion, there is a performative element to self-expression and an ephemeral playfulness to regular reinvention. Unsurprisingly, teenagers and young adults are key, used to curating a stylised self-image and clashing together sources of inspiration for unlikely combos, such as CoastalCowgirl, which achieved over 220 million views on TikTok this year. 

However, microtrends are more than just a cyber bubble; they have a real-life impact on retail. A must-have style moment can vanish just as quickly as it rose to viral fame – leaving a trail of purchases in its wake. Social media exacerbate this cycle, shortening product lifespan to ‘one (on the grid) and done’ and contributing to wardrobes over twice as full as twenty years ago.

So, how do we recognise a trend from a fad – and when do brands know when to sit up and take notice? Driven by self-expression and social kudos, microtrends do make waves. But, perhaps the greater barometer of cultural relevance is seen from taking a step back and looking at the bigger ‘macro’ patterns that arise. In doing so, brands have an opportunity to predict shifts ahead of time and begin to shape culture rather than chase it.

Side Hustling

44% of UK adults have a side hustle – described as a small business or second job alongside their primary career – this leaps to 62% of Millennials and nearly three-quarters (76%) of Gen Z. From crafting to content creation, whilst ‘hustle culture’ is dying, side hustles are certainly not. What in the Bill Gates is going on?

The same shifting priorities that have prompted quiet quitting are a driving force for re-directed ambition. Younger people are disenfranchised by corporate 9 to 5 norms and are more demanding about what they want from work. As a result, they are reinterpreting the job market in a way that works for them.

For many, this manifests as an entrepreneurial spirit. Side hustles are the tiny acorns from which mighty oak trees can (and do) grow. And since 62% of Gen Z intend to start their own business, there is no time like the present – particularly if underwhelmed by the status quo.

Side hustles can be lucrative, pulling in over £200 per week on average, which is important because over half of those who start one do so (at least in part) for fiscal support. The harsh reality is that mainstream salaries aren’t keeping up with the rising cost of living, meaning additional revenues are often more a necessity than a nicety.

Side hustles have increased amongst all ages since the pandemic, as more job flexibility and less (if any) time spent commuting have unlocked productive hours. Diversifying income sources can also be a safer option in uncertain economic times. Meanwhile, accessible and intuitive technologies, and of course social media, have made business management and marketing less daunting, democratising access to those who dream.

Pre-existing passions are the perfect springboard, inspiring 73% of side hustlers with the added benefit of greater work fulfilment. Taking control of your career, particularly featuring a personal interest, can inject a new sense of purpose into daily life.

This movement isn’t without drawbacks; hobbies and leisure activities serve a valuable need to decompress and reboot, easily compromised if monetising free time. Toxic productivity and pressure to succeed can risk sanitising the pleasure of once-loved pastimes. Sometimes, we need to do something just because we enjoy it.

So, what can we learn? Both consumers and employees are demanding more from businesses; and what they don’t find, they’ll create elsewhere. To keep ahead, brands ought to embrace the side-hustle spirit of flexibility, ingenuity and grit. And with a little B2B in (almost) every C, it’s more important than ever to connect over passions, not products.

Rise of the Granfluencers

Despite being responsible for a quarter of all consumer spending, over 60s represent just 4% of people in adverts. Refusing to fade into insignificance, an upswing of older people are reclaiming their cultural identity with exuberant defiance. What impact are these mature mavericks having across intergenerational attitudes?

TikTok is now the fastest-growing social platform among Baby Boomers, but far from being passive observers, video uploads from this audience have seen a 30% increase in the past two years. By taking the camera into their own hands, audiences that are often overlooked or misinterpreted by brands have the opportunity to craft their own identity.

From all corners of society, web-savvy ‘Granfluencers’ are helping to redefine how we think of later life. There is liberation in defying stereotypes and reclaiming autonomy – to no longer be seen as an extra in the lives of others. There’s no expiration date on being fabulous; as Robert Reeves, 78, and one-quarter of the viral Instagram account Old Gays, put it, “We don’t just wither away and die. We’re full of life, vibrant and being active”.

The result has intergenerational appeal, with 60% of Gen Z and Millenials saying they love watching content from the over 60s. People of all ages crave authenticity and feel inspired by watching older people live out their dreams with unashamed defiance. Their content is often funny, candid and culturally astute – a reminder that age does not define us.

Particularly for younger viewers, the wisdom of older generations offers reassuring stability. Seeing older people living their lives to the fullest can also help to destigmatise ageing – a scary prospect within a society obsessed with youth. Now, growing older doesn’t look so bad after all.

Positive attitudes towards ageing have been making progress offline as well as on. Back in April, Martha Stewart graced the cover of infamously sexy Sports Illustrated at 81. Just this month Pamela Anderson attended Paris Fashion Week bare-faced, in what was praised as a courageous act of rebellion. Older women, finally emancipated from the exploitation of their youth, finally have a platform to reclaim their own narrative.

Whilst brands are preoccupied with obsessing over Gen Z, it’s worth remembering that the number of over-60s is growing. The silver economy, as it’s known, is perhaps the least represented by brands, despite holding huge potential – not just through buying power, but also the influence they have over younger generations. Brands are seriously missing out. However, to make meaningful connections requires radical inclusion of older people as diverse and nuanced individuals; rad in their own right. Perhaps the best way to show up convincingly is by passing the mic and letting older audiences speak for themselves; the benefits are intergenerational.

Selfless Sustainability

A new study has shown that people are half as likely to choose a meal if labelled vegan on the menu, despite being far more likely to choose the same option if unaware of its eco-credentials. It seems as if knowledge can do more harm than good.

At least where dinner is concerned, people frequently skew against what they know is likely the more sustainable and healthy option. By defying the status quo, we question whether it will taste as delicious or be as satisfying – a risk apparently not worth taking. What should be a win-win, inadvertently feels like a loss because we equate sustainability and veganism with compromise. And who wants compromise!?

Ultimately, perceived trade-offs don’t appeal to our personal needs and desires. This tiny act of self-indulgence is bolstered by internal rebellion. An urge to do something specifically because you ought not to. We like to feel as though we are making choices solely on our own terms.

This summer has exposed the dire reality of climate change, with the alarming impact of unstable weather felt worldwide. Despite a rising urgency to act, the number of people invested in helping the environment has fallen by 10% since 2020.

It’s not that people don’t care, but even the most climate-conscious can grow numb to the constant onslaught of bad news. Living in a perma-crisis is exhausting and can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless, without the emotional stamina to focus. What difference can one meal make anyway?

Lack of awareness also isn’t the problem. Research shows a 70% gap between what people know and what we actually do in regard to sustainable choices. Often, information doesn’t translate into action unless it also signifies personal gain – a perception shift which can be leveraged by brands. Tesla, for example, has overcome the stereotype of sacrifice by aligning green energy with luxury, so now you can be bougie and feel smug about it.

As progressive behaviours become normalised, outlier brands are more able to cross the chasm from early adopters to broad acceptance. People can be hesitant to try something new until a large enough wave of social momentum signifies safety in numbers.

So, what can we learn? To drive meaningful behaviour change, we need to appeal to selfish needs. Martyrdom doesn’t work, and nor does doom and gloom. Instead, brands need to counteract negative connotations of sustainability by celebrating personal gains alongside global ones. Next time faced with a menu, ask yourself, does the label have anything to do with your decision?

Superfans

61% of 11 to 26-year-olds consider themselves a superfan of something. If you like it, there’ll be people that LOVE it – but what does it mean to be a superfan, and what’s the draw?

Fandom grants instant access to a community. Whilst all ages find comfort in connecting over shared interests, something about our formative years makes the fan experience extra appealing. Fandom offers an orientation within culture, and a sense of self, which can help define a fledgling identity. During teen years of self-discovery, there is safety in numbers, and when finding your tribe, you find yourself.

For young people today, though, the online possibilities are endless. From Trekkies and Bronies to Beliebers and the BeyHive, superfans are drawn together from the most niche corners of culture. Today there is kudos associated with authenticity, no matter how eccentric – it’s cool to be loud, proud and yourself.

Sports fans are no different, with 37% saying their passion has grown over the past three years. The Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive has breathed new life into the dwindling Formula 1 fanbase, bouncing back from a 12-year low in 2016. Similarly, Ryan Reynolds’ investment in, and documentation of, Wrexham FC has turned a small-town team into a global underdog story. In both examples, the emotional human narrative (and pull of personality) resonates with younger audiences.

Bigger platforms also mean more influence and opportunity to advocate outside their field, appealing to socially conscious Gen Z. Think Marcus Rashford’s free school meal campaign, Stormzy’s Cambridge scholarship program, and Tom Daley’s… knitting. The impact is a multi-dimensional fan base; you don’t need to love tennis to rate Naomi Osaka speaking out about mental health.

In a world ruptured by division, super fandom connects people from all walks of life over the thing they love, recognising similarities over differences and delivering a sense of belonging that transcends other demographics. Social media allows 24/7 intimate access whilst giving fans a voice.

When communities pull together, they can become a body in themselves, like a trade union, with power to make opinions heard. Recall the backlash when the Game of Thrones finale didn’t live up to expectations? Brands have much to gain by genuinely listening to fans, mitigating push-back and staying accountable to core values. The result can be lifelong support, even once passion has waned to nostalgia.

So, what can we learn? There is no greater advocate than the superfan, and never a better time to form them than adolescence. Brands ought to draw on emotion, invite interaction, and embrace authenticity. More importantly, give power back to the people… often it’s superfans who know (and love) brands the most and are trustworthy guardians.

Feeling Pink? You're Not The Only One

Photos released from the set of the Barbie film prompted searches for all things pink to increase by over 400%. If a picture can tell a thousand words, a colour can tell, well, more. The Barbie marketing machine is casting ripples across retail, from fashion to motoring – with listings of pink convertibles up 93% on last year. What does this Barbie movement say about audience behaviour and beliefs?
 
The brand has dramatically diversified since record low sales in 2015, criticised for perpetuating gender stereotypes and unrealistic body ideals. Today, for me, Barbie represents a reclamation of femininity as a choice, rather than an expectation; you can reject old ideals without losing pretty things. ‘Bimbo’ status itself has been rebranded as an act of rebellion. If you’re familiar with Netflix hit Selling Sunset, you’ll recognise the theatre of Barbie-esque power-dressing; Elle Woods walked so that Chrishell Stause could run…
 
There is an indulgence to the Barbie trend that is evocative of cosplay; permission to be your own main-character and romanticise your life to a point of unashamed fantasy. Combined with appetite for nostalgia – of 90’s kitsch, butterfly clips and low-rise jeans; living-out childhood dreams of pink convertible cruising is equivalent to an aspirational Instagram post for the real-world.
 
At its core Barbie feels celebrative, joyous, and a bit silly. Given years of global turmoil, our longing for escapism is hardly surprising. What makes Barbie more resonant though is the foundation of undeniable smarts. Film marketing content has been witty in a way that feels like a wry joke amongst friends, the irreverent unspoken humour of shared experience – a tone struck only with the precision of a female director, Greta Gerwig. The result is a feeling of cross-generational sisterhood – this time, women are on the inside. 
 
This sense of togetherness has been encouraged by infectious memeability. The Barbie selfie generator was an instant social hit, whilst #Barbie is nearing 13 million uses at the time of writing. Snack-able video content, widely shared on Instagram and TikTok, has played into the media landscape of the moment.
 
The Barbie movement has illustrated the cultural impact of a brand experience intersecting with social appetite. The film hasn’t launched yet, but at this point, it barely matters. So, what can we learn? 
 
In the making since 2009, I can’t help but think that if released any earlier, the social impact would not have been as great. Timing is crucial, as escapism meets self-expression, and a Tiktok trend is fulfilled in cinematic technicolour. Now is the time for brands to embrace femininity, optimism, nostalgia and daftness. Oh, and girlhood. Listening to women’s experiences and speaking directly to us.

News

How Smyle Have Been Embracing Equity

International Women’s Day 2023

Every year International Women’s Day (“IWD”) gives us all a chance to see the progress made and highlight the challenges women worldwide face. This year’s theme is ‘Embrace Equity’, to embrace the difference between equality and equity – because equality isn’t enough anymore!

Learn about the changes Smyle has made to create a more equitable workplace and support the women in our agency since the last IWD.

Updated Benefits Package

Earlier this year, following a company-wide consultation, we introduced an improved benefits package for all our Smylers.

Improved maternity leave empowers our women to enjoy precious time out of work if they choose to start a family and not feel the pressure of returning earlier than they have to. Improved paternity leave also means that fathers can take on more responsibility, allowing families a more equal work-life balance. We also offer additional time off for those returning from family leave (including adoption leave) to support the transition back to work and offer flexible working so that families are set up for success long-term.

Menopause Policy

At Smyle, we are committed to supporting our people through life-changing situations and in 2022, we launched our Menopause Policy. 

The policy’s purpose is to create an open and supportive working environment where managers and employees can openly discuss, and without fear of judgement, any issues associated with the menopause. Also, to ensure the necessary support is known and offered whenever someone may require it. Finally, to educate and raise awareness and understanding of menopause amongst Smylers so that we can break down the stigma sometimes attached to menopause.

We also recognise that when people talk about menopause, it can be assumed that only cis women experience it. However, it’s important to highlight that members of the trans and non-binary community can experience menopause symptoms.

Women at Smyle

To support underrepresented groups at Smyle, we launched the Collective, a new internal community with the aim of offering support to colleagues as well as guidance and recommendations on all things DEI to the business. Within this new community sits Women of Smyle. Women of Smyle is a support group of female business leaders, managers, junior staff, and women just starting their careers. We offer advice to colleagues, create a safe space for women to express concerns and ensure they have a voice. Emma Gardner, Smyle’s Executive Design Director and one of the first women to become a director, leads the group.

Looking Ahead

We will continue to build on our successes and recognise our shortcomings since the last International Womens Day – but the good fight is far from over. There is still so much we can do as an organisation and that Smylers can do to challenge stigmas and embrace equity within Smyle and in broader society. 

One exciting new initiative we’re starting in 2023 is a Women’s Leadership Programme after one of our own took the initiative and pointed out the need for more female leaders in our agency, as well as wanting support to meet her own needs and ambitions. We can’t wait to share more about it in the coming months, so watch this space…

News

No More Diversity ‘Hushing’

No More Diversity 'Hushing'

“Why are organisations shy to share what they have been doing in the DE&I space?”

Our Marketing & Communications Manager, Laura Piper, joined a panel discussion hosted by Diversity Alliance for an open and honest conversation around the challenges of doing this work, as well as the benefits.

Coming clean about where your agency is failing to tackle DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) can feel like a bit of a backwards step and is also kinda terrifying. ‘Diversity hushing’ is just that, it’s keeping quiet about shortcomings, or successes, for fear of backlash. 

I’ve been in the events industry for over five years now and can see that we’re taking steps in the right direction, but it is still very much a white man’s club. So when Gabby invited me to join her panel at Confex on diversity hushing, I was looking forward to sharing how Diversity Alliance had helped us at Smyle and why it is so important to be open and honest about DEI in the events industry.

Talk to the people who know

You don’t know what you don’t know, so talk to those who do! At Smyle we partnered with Diversity Alliance to kick-start our journey to a more diverse and inclusive agency. We also worked with recruitment agencies that nurture talent from underrepresented backgrounds and held workshops with colleagues. These in-house listening sessions allowed us to find out where we could improve as well as what was working already.

The Snowball Effect

The thing about investing in DEI is that it can start small, and grow into your internal culture and then into your client work. As this snowball effect has taken off at Smyle we’ve been a lot better at celebrating different cultures and bringing in external speakers to recognise awareness days. Overall, we have been more open with each other and conscious that everyone has different needs to thrive. It’s really helped people feel they can be their true selves at work. Day to day you might not feel big changes happening, but if you reflect back on a year or more, there is lots to celebrate. 

Everyone benefits

We heard a question during the session about how we should inspire someone who isn’t really affected by better DEI. But the fact is that a more diverse workforce, more inclusive campaigns and more accessible experiences will benefit everyone. A more diverse workforce means you can reach more diverse clients and their audiences, and that’s just good business! Creativity is stronger and people can vibe off the authentic change that is happening around them.

Accountability

The part of diversity hushing is that organisations don’t want to share their DEI targets in case they miss them. But if you aren’t sharing your targets or where you want to be better, how will you keep yourself accountable? Accountability is so important when tackling something as powerful as DEI, we’re trying to change systems and biases that are ingrained in society!

 

Being open about DEI is scary, however, it’s not anywhere near as scary as it is for the people trapped by oppressive systems for many, many years. That said, it brings a bead of sweat to the foreheads of many a business leader. If you are lucky enough to have a position of privilege, I ask you to take that fear and tackle it head on, approach it with openness, and accept that it’s likely you aren’t doing enough. DEI is a journey, and like with any good journey you have to start somewhere. So start by being open and transparent about where you’re at, and where you want to be. I believe it’ll make it more rewarding for you and those around you.

 

Written by Laura Piper, Marketing & Communications Manager. 02/03/2023.

News

SAY HELLO TO DREAMLIKE STATE

SAY HELLO TO DREAMLIKE STATE

The Smyle Group acquires video production house IAMBOB and rebrands to create content studio Dreamlike State.

MANCHESTER. 5 October 2022: Smyle Group has acquired IAMBOB, the Manchester-based moving image production studio, for an undisclosed sum and has worked with the IAMBOB team to rebrand and create Dreamlike State – a creative content studio dedicated to creativity without limits.  

Dreamlike State specialises in on-screen content for major global brands and is committed to building deep brand and audience understanding to inform and inspire true originality – providing brands with fearless, innovative, high-impact on-screen content across all media.

As established producers of film, animation, motion graphic and visual effects for some of the world’s most significant brands, the Dreamlike State team offers expertise in content strategy, storytelling, and every aspect of creation, production, post-production and delivery.

Through a unique approach to measuring the impact of content against campaign goals and objectives, Dreamlike State provides brands with an invaluable tool in establishing and maintaining relationships with audiences.

“Smyle’s moving image department has rapidly expanded due to incredible client demand over the past two years. This exciting growth means we see this as the perfect time to establish a dedicated creative content studio specialising in moving image. IAMBOB has really been making waves in the world of commercials and, alongside the Smyle team, Dreamlike State is the coming together of some of the most exciting talent in the digital and branded content industries.”
Rick Stainton, Smyle Group Founder & Group Executive Director
“Creativity, imagination and storytelling are at the core of everything we do. We believe that creativity without boundaries combined with a deep understanding of brands and audiences is the best way to give freedom to original thinking and ideas. I’ve been told we’re absolutely lovely to work with, too, but I guess there’s only one way to find out!”
Rob Hardman, Creative Director of Dreamlike State

From its headquarters in the heart of Manchester’s thriving creative scene, and offices in London, Los Angeles and Amsterdam, Dreamlike State creates moving image content all over the world. 

 

CLICK TO VISIT WEBSITE

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hello@dreamlikestate.co.uk 

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My Summer with Smyle by Mabel Adomah

Hello, I’m Mabel

I’ve just finished a 4-month internship with Smyle! As my internship comes to an end, I wanted to wrap up my experience in a blog post and share some of the lessons I’ve learnt over the Summer that will carry me into my future career.

I landed my internship with Smyle via the 10,000 Black Interns programme. After looking at various agencies and doing some research on them and what they stood for, it was super clear to me that Smyle was the place I wanted to spend my time as it seemed we shared the same sentiment and values. 

After interviews with a few of the Smyle team, the deal was sealed, and I started as an intern with the Strategy & Marketing Team on 6th June. I was excited by the feeling of not having a clue what to expect!

Fast forward 4 months, I’ve learnt a lot about life working at an agency, what it would be like to work in both strategy & marketing, but even more so, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what I want out of my future career. Although feeling a little uncertain about what EXACTLY my future will look like, I’m excited because through this experience I’m now on a new path with a new bank of knowledge. 

Here are three of the main lessons I’ve learned and will stay with me.

One: I am not alone

A key takeaway of mine from this Internship was that my team are there to help me in any which way. I should not be afraid to feel like I don’t know something if I don’t, and that is okay. Coming from a retail background I initially found it quite hard to ask for help, I would set myself tasks and think I had to complete them alone, this was not the case and there were so many people around that could happily provide assistance if I was stuck.

Two: I am not Google

I used to feel quite a bit of guilt when I used Google to gather information. It feels quite a bit like I’m cheating on a test or I’m reading off the notes of the smartest student in the classroom. It was after speaking to my line manager that I came to understand that it’s something everyone does. It’s also what Google is there for, it’s number one for a reason!

Three: I don’t have to be something I’m not

For some strange reason, I kept forgetting that everyone knew my skill level. I had the expectation that my work should look like the work of everyone else on my team. I would beat myself up for a while and then be reminded that I had little to no experience in marketing or strategy and everyone was cool with that. After several conversations about the pressure I was putting on myself I came to understand that I was doing just fine.

All in all my experience with Smyle has been amazing and I wish the agency the best of luck in the future. The people working for Smyle are fantastic and I wish them the best in everything they do. Smyle is going to continue to do great things and be incredible, as am I.

News

Our employee perks package just got even perkier!

Our employee perks package just got even perkier!

Hello, I’m Natalie from our People Experience team here at Smyle and I’m really excited to share some of the enhanced benefits we’ve just launched with our team! Firstly, earlier this year we had a series of meetings with our Forum Team (employee reps from our internal teams) to see what priorities and ideas they had about benefits that would make an impact on our Smylers. I’m delighted to say that our new benefits have landed in a place that’s been extremely well received, here’s the low down…

‘When Life Happens Leave’ is at the heart of our exciting new benefits bundle – it’s additional support for those unforeseen challenges or life events that may occur, without the need for our team to use precious holiday time. We know that balancing an active professional life with personal stuff can be challenging at times, especially when life throws us a curveball. We’ve always been flexible around last-minute emergencies or personal challenges – and as we grow we’re simply putting it in writing with a structured policy to ensure consistency across the agency. This new wellbeing initiative ensures everyone can take up to five full days off for anything urgent or critical happening in their life, whether it’s an emergency trip to the vets or a particularly challenging mental health day.

‘When Life Happens Leave’ isn’t the only highlight of the new benefits package. It also includes improved maternity and paternity pay and additional time off for those returning from family leave to support the transition back to work.  

At Smyle, benefits aren’t an afterthought – we’ve fostered a culture centred around supporting employees to be their best selves at work. We already have access to an array of perks that safeguard our wellbeing, health and quality of life. But with the cost of living rising we want to go the extra mile to protect our people from some of life’s unpredictability. We’ve implemented life insurance for every single member of Smyle and we’ve also implemented a medical cash plan, where people can get up to £500 towards medical expenses – with up to four children also covered for no additional cost. Oh, and everyone got a pay rise too! 

And of course, we all get to make the most of all the benefits that we already have in place – the early finish on Fridays isn’t going anywhere – except possibly to the pub! But many of them are being upgraded, such as our charity day integrating more flexible community work, or doubling the monetary prizes at our Quarterly Awards!

These are just some of the many components that make up Smyle’s updated benefits package. We’re committed to providing wellbeing and health support to our lovely community, and cultivating a workplace culture where everyone feels valued, supported and listened to.

News

Smyle Group acquires The Sports Presentation Company

News just in!

We’re super excited to welcome our new sister agency, The Sports Presentation Company into the Smyle Group! Check out the ‘official’ press release below to find out why this is such an exciting moment for us.

Smyle Group has acquired UK-based sports production and fan engagement agency The Sports Presentation Company for an undisclosed sum. With fans looking for wider entertainment around their sporting passions as well as rights holders, brands and leagues looking to drive greater impact with their audiences, the acquisition will accelerate Smyle Group’s positioning in this sector.

The Sports Presentation Company, founded by Andy Friedlander in 2011, creates stadium/arena and fanzone experiences for UK and International properties including the English Football League, England Netball, Harlequins Rugby, UCI & British Cycling, FIFA Beach Soccer, FIBA Basketball and the Pan American Games at venues including Wembley, Twickenham, Tottenham Stadium, Manchester Arena, The O2 and velodromes, courts,  pools and arenas across the UK.

The acquisition will enable The Sports Presentation Company to realise ambitious domestic and international growth plans and access Smyle’s broad range of strategic, content, creative, production and measurement expertise.

Following the acquisition, The Sports Presentation Company will continue to operate from its base in West London.

Andy Friedlander has a passionate team and first-class portfolio of clients. The Sports Presentation Company and its fan experiences massively enhance the overall impact of sports events. The agency expands the fan experience specialism of the Smyle Group alongside gaming and esports experts NJ Live, who joined the Group in 2021.
Rick Stainton, Smyle Group Co-Founder
We have been at the vanguard of the fast-growing sports presentation sector as the expectations of stadium fans, TV viewers and rights holders has gradually increased. Joining the Smyle Group gives us the insight, scale and muscle to further raise our game.  Our team is fired up to do more of the work we love, while learning from people we respect who share our passion for creativity, operational excellence and ethical business.
Andy Friedlander, The Sports Presentation Company Founder

News

DEI AT SMYLE

Playing our part

At Smyle, we’re committed to making our company more diverse, equitable and inclusive. We aim to build a community at Smyle that reflects the world we live and operate in.

We’re committed to creating an agency where every voice, every perspective, every great idea can be heard. A place where our people feel like they can truly belong. We know that when we feel welcome, safe, supported, valued, and bring our authentic selves to work, we do our best work.

We believe a more diverse and inclusive agency creates richer experiences. It unlocks our ability to be more creative and innovative, and delivers better results for our clients. It brings different perspectives to creating ideas and solving problems, and ensures we find new ways to do what we do.

At Smyle, we are striving for fairness, celebrating differences and creating a sense of belonging – for everyone.

We are on a journey to create an agency that builds great careers for our people. An agency that does incredible work for our clients, work that is inspired by different perspectives and work that truly matters.
Dominic Thomas-Smith, Managing Director at Smyle

Guided by our clear and ambitious vision, we will deliver on the following pledges:

  • Achieve gender parity across Smyle
  • Increase underrepresented groups across Smyle
  • Increase youth representation at Smyle
  • Provide equal opportunities for talent at Smyle
  • Work with partners who share Smyle’s DEI values 
  • Use Smyle platforms, network and resources to support DEI effort
  • Make Smyle a safe and equitable workplace
  • Ensure Smyle is accountable

See also

Country House

The Lockhouse,
71 Mead Lane,
Hertford, SG13 7AX

Town House

Albert House,
256-260 Old St,
London, EC1V 9DD

Manchester

Studio 105, SeeSaw,
86 Princess Street,
Manchester, M1 6NG

Amsterdam

Suikersilo-Oost 22,
1165 MS Halfweg,
Netherlands