We’ve Been Busy. Real Busy.
A handful of ACM highlights from a huge few months
Is this premature? A little hasty? A bit… excitable? It is. Absolutely.
But we think that now, just one-third of the way through the year, is the absolute perfect time to launch a 2023 Best Of roundup. Oh, you can bet there’ll be another one in December. A huge list that’ll make all you other agencies peeking in on us dead jealous. But at the rate we’re moving, we could use a little break to stop, catch our breath, and look back at how far we’ve come, before powering through the next eight months and into a true end-of-year rundown with even more achievements on our backs.
Join us as we show off our Best Bits Of The First Bit Of 2023, and bring you right up to speed with ACM.
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RELEASING THREE HUGE ADIDAS CYCLING FILMS
As chosen by Stu Duggal, Junior Account Manager
Filmed in London, New York, and Dubai across just ten days, our multi-channel and cross-continental production work for adidas Cycling was absolutely worth the kip-at-your-desk jet lag that came home with us. Sure, it would have been easy to follow the rest of the industry and jet off to Club La Santa or the Côte d’Azur for a few days of blue-as-can-be water, spirulina smoothies, and professional athletes cycle-tanned to within inches of their lives. But that’s the antithesis of our storytelling. This work is about digging deeper and uncovering the local, relatable, and real cyclists that are using the bike as a vehicle for change in their communities, encouraging more people to embrace life on two wheels, and helping make the sport a safe space for everyone.
Best part of the process: The NYC edit has a special place in my heart - running around Brooklyn at 4am to scout for locations was brilliant.
Tiny detail you may have missed: A lot of our shoot locations are in areas near amazing local eateries - you gotta keep your hungry cyclists fuelled up and happy. Shout out Slutty Vegan Brooklyn.
One thing I learned: You thought Tom Pidcocks’ hair-raising full-pin descent on the outskirts of LA was wild? Try riding a rental bike through Brooklyn’s rush-hour traffic with a bag full of snacks and waivers.
REANIMATING ACM NEWSLETTERS
As chosen by Chris Sayer, Senior Copywriter
I joined ACM back in September 2022. Day one: rewrite the company’s entire tone of voice manual, as part of an enormous agency rebrand. Thank God for my decades of “is this really a real job?” experience at the UK’s biggest mainstream magazines, and social media past life with global action sports brands, which came in pretty handy when piecing together a Tolstoy-sized document that hoofs wafty marketing jargon off the ACM train, banishes smelly industry clichés, and encourages a bolder and more confident approach to the way ACM communicates. But because you’ve got a job/life and don’t have a spare three years to read my creative life’s work, I suggest you enjoy our new TOV in my revamped ACM newsletter approach. Hey, look, you’re even reading a part of it right now.
Since taking over, our Substack subscriber count has hit four figures, I’ve upped the frequency to weekly with a duo of rotating franchises, and we’ve earned some really lovely feedback from industry big dogs. Finding a way to make Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and Steven Seagal relevant to the huge work we’ve achieved in 2023 - without anyone asking me to maybe chill on the caffeine - has been a personal triumph, too.
Show me another agency that lets you go full editorial on their marketing and I’ll happily head back into my little writer box, but the freedom, confidence, and trust that ACM gives and has in me proves my leap from freelance back into full-time was the right move. Check out and subscribe to our newsletters here. They’re really great.
Best part of the process: Unblocking the stream of editorial skills I earned with FHM, ShortList, Mr Hyde, The Guardian, VICE, MPORA, Hypebeast, Whitelines, and more.
Tiny detail you may have missed: Exactly 95% of my newsletters contain a reference to making a brew.
One thing I learned: Telling LinkedIn that you think most agency marketing copy is shitty gets a hell of reaction from guilty copywriters.
WINNING BREAKING GB
As chosen by Matt Barr, Founder/Director
“Mainstream sports are about execution. Snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding are about progression. That’s the difference.”
This quote from Olympic gold-winning snowboarder Kelly Clark nicely sums up the Medals vs Culture dichotomy that skating, surfing, and snowboarding have to deal with now that they’re official Olympic sports.
It’s an observation that gets to the heart of a fundamental question that has been asked in her culture since snowboarding first stepped into the Five Ring arena back in 1998: is it possible to chase funding and medals while also safeguarding the grassroots culture that signifies a healthy scene and community?
Finding a satisfactory answer to this question was at the heart of the pioneering strategy, content, and communications campaign we ran for GB Snowsport in the lead-up to the 2018 Games. That campaign was so successful that Performance Director Lesley McKenna considered it an essential contributory factor in the medal successes of snowboarder Billy Morgan and skier Izzy Atkin.
Now, as break dancing prepares to take its first bow at the 2024 Games in Paris, we’ll be using our vast, unrivalled experience to help this new Olympic sport find its own answer to the question. We’re helping Breaking GB - the nonprofit organisation that supports homegrown breaking talent - devise the right strategy for success, drawing up a bespoke comms and content plan to take them to Paris, and using these foundations to help them secure extra funding.
The goal? To enable breaking’s proud culture to find success amid the noise of the Olympic circus - on their own terms, and in a way that safeguards one of the most nuanced cultures of all.
Best part of the process: The early days, when we collaborated with the breaking community to create the type of strategy that worked so well for GB Snowsport.
Tiny detail you may have missed: It is the law that any vaguely novel sport entering the Olympics will be subject to various cheesy ‘How to speak the lingo!’ guides across most mainstream media outlets in the weeks leading up to the Games.
One thing I learned: Breakers hate being called “athletes” as much as surfers, skaters, and snowboarders do.
THROWING THE BEST ACM EVENT EVER
As chosen by Lyndsay McLaren, Senior Account Director
Action Inspired was a showcase of ACM partner brands and clients that brought together 100+ media guests, photographers, athletes, and community members from the worlds of action sports, fashion, style, technology, travel, and more. Critics are calling it the best and busiest press day you’ve ever been to. I’m calling it my favourite moment of 2023. After years of attending, hosting, and speaking at outdoor and action sports events where all the faces looked the same, seeing a room full of multicultural humans from all walks of life made me feel like the industry changes we are pushing for are actually happening.
Best part of the process: Hosting our evening panel - a collaborative session focussed on community with change-makers from some of the biggest outdoor brands in the world.
Tiny detail you may have missed: The full and lengthy briefing and training our entire team received, so everyone felt fully equipped with the knowledge needed to talk through a wide range of products and brands with the best gear reviewers and editors. We managed all that while remaining human and not morphing into some kind of walking, talking Miss Piggy PR meme.
One thing I learned: Break the mould. Just because every other agency does something one way, it doesn't mean it’s the right way. From our nature reserve location to our Action Inspired evening panel, our event shook up the industry. It’s a nice reminder for us all to keep pushing boundaries.
TAKING YETI TO THE NEXT LEVEL
As chosen by Charlotte Taylorson-Smith-Pritchard, PR & Social Exec
I love working with YETI. I use their products when I’m climbing, I fully buy into their ethos, and the team is brilliant. So when we developed and expanded our brief with them - taking the roots of our UK media comms mandate and growing it to include community/influencer relationship management, events, paid media, and responsibilities across the DACH region - I was beyond happy. I would never have guessed that I would one day become an expert in European BBQing, but here I am, a fully fledged fan of the German backyard grilling media that all love the YETI brand. Ich bin der Grillmeister.
Best part of the process: Being able to work pan-European and decipher the popularities and influences of different continental markets.
Tiny detail you may have missed: My checking of product availability in each territory before hyping them to media - a small job that’s really important. The UK and German YETI pages are my most tapped bookmarks.
One thing I learned: An expanded brief means even better organisation. I’m not just talking to-do lists; I’m talking to-do lists filled with to-do lists.
SENDING JOURNALISTS TO THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
As chosen by Bella Charlton, PR Executive
Giving some of the UK’s best journalists advice on how to pee in polar conditions wasn’t in my job description when I joined ACM last year, but it was essential in briefing them for a Shackleton Challenge. Our luxury performance apparel client’s roster of bookable adventure experiences is epic to say the least, but earning it coverage in the best style, luxury, and travel titles would take a special set of writers. Luckily, I found them, and with only a little convincing sent them all off to Antarctica-like middle-of-nowhere Finse, Norway, for a ski touring expedition that one journalist called “nothing short of life-changing”.
Best part of the process: Living vicariously through the writers we sent out there. It’s been great to catch up with everyone and hear how they got on, but I’m excited to read more when the stories come out.
Tiny detail you may have missed: The barren frostscape of Finse was the training grounds of Amundsen, Shackleton, and Scott, no less.
One thing I learned: There are a lot of options when buying a she-wee.
LAUNCHING A BLOCKBUSTER HYPE REEL
As chosen by Mark Rosenberg, Head Of Strategy & Creative
The ACM hype reel has been a long time coming.
Over the years, we’ve built an ironclad reputation as an outdoor PR agency. Unsurprisingly, really, as our media comms work continues to be the best out there. But that isn’t the whole ACM story.
Our complete rebrand set out to tell the world who we are in 2023, what we do, and what we’re all about, and a shit-hot hype reel needed to be at the front of our charge to get it all out there. In less than 90 seconds, it had to show off our integrated creative services - full productions, events, digital and social, strategy - while cementing our USP, highlighting the outdoor expertise of our team, and amplifying the rebrand. It was a brief that kept a lot of us up at night - this was our big reveal party, and it needed to be perfect.
After a series of productive gale force five brainstorms that would make Michael Fish quiver in his slippers, team-wide rummages through old hard drives, and plenty of soundtrack sharing, we landed on an idea that no other brand could pull off. With the help of editor extraordinaire Simon Eustace, I couldn’t be happier with the end product, and what it says about us as an agency and a group of humans.
Best part of the process: Putting it live and seeing the positive comments roll in from existing and soon-to-be new clients.
Tiny detail you may have missed: The lyrics in the soundtrack are Portuguese, and Senior Creative, Daniele (who played a massive part in the job), lived in Brazil for ten years - a nice nod to our remote working culture.
One thing I learned: Don’t be scared of using UGC/team footage; just make sure you’ve got a cracking editor to piece it together.
GETTING GOING WITH GORE-TEX BRAND
As chosen by Charley Greening, Senior Account Director
GORE-TEX Brand - probably THE most widely recognised name in the outdoor industry - appointed ACM to take over its UK communications, and I’m pumped. It’s a dream client: the brand is a true pioneer, and with a roster of the world’s most impressive brand partners using the GORE-TEX membrane, the opportunities for storytelling are huge. We’ve thrown a few big ideas around already, none of which I’m going to tell you about here. But let’s just say, it’s gonna get wet out there.
Best part of the process: Unsurprisingly, I learned quite quickly that GORE-TEX Brand isn’t afraid of a daring idea. We’ve been able to let our creative minds run wild in thinking up bold and boundary-pushing storytelling activations. And I’m still not going to tell you about them here.
Tiny detail you may have missed: Our position at the intersection of lifestyle and outdoor culture, and depth of experience in crafting comms campaigns that appeal to both audiences while maintaining brand authenticity, is what brought GORE-TEX Brand to ACM. Me too, incidentally.
One thing I learned: GORE-TEX technology has been to space. The brand was established the same year as NASA, was on the Apollo 11 flight, and has since been a part of 100 launches.
COMPLETELY CHANGING ACM’S VISUAL IDENTITY
As chosen by Daniele Chiarantini, Senior Creative
I joined a totally different All Conditions Media to the one I’m working at now. It was an ACM with the edges of its visual identity dulled by years of trusty service. Changing every single element of our branding was going to be as monumental as it was essential.
Our ACM creative trio - Mark, Chris, and I - spent six months doing what we got into the industry for: getting chaotic with our ideas. We trawled through vintage outdoor brand catalogues (shout out to the Outdoor Recreation Archive for the endless scrolling); dug up 80s gig posters; pored over luxury style magazines; and snooped around other agency websites to see what they were doing right and really wrong. Eventually, half a year on from our first project meeting, we arrived at a design that gives a subtle nod to our years of leading the game, but throws us right into the future, too.
Best part of the process: The opportunity to experiment, ideate, embrace the madness, and crystallise our findings and creativity into values that we want to show off to the world.
Tiny detail you may have missed: The very subtle half-tone texture that pays homage to the history of ACM.
One thing I learned: You can’t always control your babies - a lot of people will use and interpret your design. The lesson I learned is to create space and leave guidelines for others to play inside them and improve the overall design.
HOSTING ANOTHER AMAZING ARC’TERYX FILM NIGHT
As chosen by Lucy Hewson, Senior Account Manager
The Arc’teryx Keep it Real & A Line Alone film night was, true to ACM form, more than just another film night. It was an art installation, photography exhibition, and celebration of climbing that just so happened to have a screening of two huge new climbing films. We curated the evening and managed a killer guest list of media and content creators. Our event build established the vibe, our DJs amplified the vibe, and our photographer captured the vibe perfectly.
Best part of the process: Ivan Le Pays’ film A Line Alone documents the relationship between art and climbing, and offers a new perspective on our relationship with the environment. I’ve recommended it to a lot of friends.
Tiny detail you may have missed: The comfiest benches in the business - thank you Helinox! Good seating is a massively overlooked event consideration, but we know how to look after bums at ACM.
One thing I learned: RIP dainty canapés and light bites - the iconic Brick Lane salt beef beigel is what guests really want to eat.