The “Empty Bowl” Campaign

The ‘Empty Bowl’ Campaign

Quaker Oats & Magic Breakfast

With 1 in 8 children at risk of hunger in the UK, food poverty is an ever increasing problem. The growing awareness and concern of the impact this has on children’s ability to focus and learn at school was the catalyst behind our new purposeful work with Quaker.

We created the ‘Empty Bowl’ campaign to highlight the issue of child hunger and bring to light their longstanding partnership with the charity Magic Breakfast. Since 2009 Quaker and Magic Breakfast have been ensuring kids get a nutritious breakfast before school, providing energy for concentration and giving kids the fuel they need to reach their full potential, but Quaker wanted to do more.

The campaign launched in October, which for the first time in Quaker’s history, saw the use of an empty porridge bowl on limited edition packs. Each pack sold donates one breakfast to hungry school kids through Magic Breakfast.

The ‘Empty Bowl’ starts here as the iconic visual representation of Quaker’s commitment to fighting child hunger in the UK and will be brought to life through in-store activations, PR, social and digital channels nationwide.

In this article:

Empty Bowl, Magic Breakfast, New Campaign, Packaging, Quaker Oats

One Month Mentors Pride 2021

One Month Mentors

The Champions of Pride

Young people need mentors, in fact we all do. Cultivating the right types of relationships and access to the right individuals can give you the confidence needed to succeed in your chosen field. However, a lot of the time, those from marginalised groups simply do not have such access. Where do they go? Where do they start? Or what do they even say? The Elephant Room is here to redress the imbalance. 

One Month Mentors was born with the sole purpose of connecting talented people with senior industry leaders. Our hope is that each participant will explore experiences through their differences and learn from each other, forming a bridge between established and new talent. By facilitating open conversation and starting a relationship we hope to create long term value for both parties.

Originally started in 2020 for Black History Month and then followed with International Women’s Day, One Month Mentors is our promise to always play a role in bettering the industry moving forward and making sure that our collaborators, clients, peers are on that same journey too. 

The Champions of Pride

Our 3rd cohort to celebrate Pride month is Champions of Pride. This is the first time we have a brand partner and collaboration with other organisations in Brand Advance and Chapter Z. We know we cannot orchestrate a mentoring programme like this alone without people who identify as LGBTQ+ themselves to provide counsel along the way.

Brand Advance is an integral partner for us, as a company founded by LGBTQ+ industry leader Christopher Kenna. Their platform, Chapter Z magazine will be leading on the shoot and production and championing each mentee as an individual. This is a start to show that there are brands taking a more and more active role in terms of their social responsibility and contribution back to under-represented communities.

What to expect from the programme

Clarks is the first Global brand to invest in our programme. Their Chief Marketing Officer, Tara McRae, is an ally and leader in the industry, who from her own lived experience has shared why this is an important programme to be a part of from a company perspective.

As one of the partners for the programme, Clarks will be giving the chosen mentees exclusive insight into how the company operates from its marketing and design process to branding and more. The commitment doesn’t stop there, Chief Marketing Officer Tara McRae will be a mentor too. As someone so experienced, her invaluable contribution is exactly what’s needed to help instill confidence in the future generation.

Our programme is bespoke to the theme and the cultural calendar. Speakers include Sharan Dhaliwal editor in chief of Burnt Roti Magazine and Tayo Ikumelo, DJ and Marketer. Sessions will cover confidence development and finding balance with your side hustle.

Inclusivity shouldn’t last one month, it shouldn’t last a year, it should be the norm. One Month Mentors is simply one piece of a much wider mission to change the creative industry.

There is a wealth of untapped talent out there, and programmes like One Month Mentors are important in helping raise visibility. This year it is about the Champions of Pride and we want you all to know we see you.

Key dates:
Applications deadline: Monday 28th June 2021
Programme duration: Monday 5th July – Friday 31st July

Mentors: 6 hours of your time over the course of 4 weeks
Mentees: An average of 3-4 hours a week alongside 1 shoot day in London (19/20th July 2021)

To apply as a mentor or mentee, please email

In this article:

Brand Advance, Clarks, Mentoring Programme, One Month Mentors, Pride2021

Norton Gaming

Product Launch

Work: Norton Gaming

PC Gamers are at serious risk of cyber threats, yet they actively reject anti-virus products. They don’t believe the companies making these products understand their needs and that anti-virus causes annoying interruptions to the gaming experience, breaking their flow.

Gamers see Norton as “corporate”; it isn’t associated with Gaming and didn’t have credibility in this space. Convincing this sceptical audience that Norton 360 for Gamers is for them required an entirely new conversation.

We included anti-virus rejecting gamers in our process from start to finish, working with them to develop a compelling proposition – “by gamers, for gamers” – which led us to a new look, language and area of focus for the product launch. Delivering our key message of “uninterrupted gameplay” to overcome the perceived barrier was paramount, as was delivering it in a way that showed our understanding of gamers and gaming culture.

We collaborated with Che Lingo, RPG gamer, lyricist and rapper, who penned a lightening fast rap about gaming prowess, delivered with uninterrupted style and flow.

The short video was targeted to PC gamers across Twitch, TikTok and Twitter.

In this article:

Anti Virus Products, Anti Virus Protection, Che Lingo, Norton Gaming

Oystercatchers Awards 2020: Winners Announced

Oystercatchers Awards 2020: Winners Announced

Industry resilience and innovation recognition

The Oystercatchers Awards, judged by a panel of senior marketing leadership, have been announced. Judged remotely for the first time, the awards are designed to recognise the innovation, inspiration, talent and sheer hard work invested by agencies and clients in their journey to effective creative work. The awards have been running since 2009.

Jude Bridge, Managing Partner, Oystercatchers said, “The challenges of Covid-19 have seen incredible resilience and innovation from both agencies and their clients. And whilst we all continue to face into the pandemic, we believe it’s more important than ever to celebrate and recognise the talent, tenacity, culture and creativity of our business.

She continued, “Pace and agility have been the watchwords of 2020 and the award submissions are testament to our industry’s ability to adapt and evolve as it continues to produce outstanding work in the toughest of circumstances. Congratulations to all our winners, and, everyone on our short-lists. We salute you all.” 

It’s more important than ever to celebrate and recognise the talent, tenacity, culture and creativity of our business.

The Results
Agency of the Year

Criteria: role model agency delivering great work, innovating, setting best culture and practice standards which we can learn from.

Winner: Uncommon Creative Studio

Shortlist: Brandfuel, St Luke’s London

Best New Agency:

Criteria: the one to watch.
Winner: The Elephant Room

Highly commended: The Wild

Shortlist: Neverland, The Park

Client/Agency Partnership of the Year:

Criteria: evidence of a step-change in ways of working leading to brilliant/transformative creativity. How has the mettle been tested and proven during the crisis?

Winner: nucleus/British Gas & Hive (Centrica)

Highly commended: Karmarama/ The British Army

Shortlist: AMV/BBO/ Essity; Isobar/Clarins

Best Agency Credentials *new for 2020:

Criteria: would I buy this agency?

Winner: Uncommon Creative Studio

Shortlist: St Luke’s London; Karmarama

Best Agency Innovation: 

Criteria: Pivot on an existing campaign, development of a new campaign, or, proactive tech solution taken to client by agency.

Winner: ENGINE, Jagermeister #SAVETHENIGHT

Highly commended: St Luke’s, Stay Home Now #SHN

Shortlist: Isobar, Covid Snapchat; Karmarama, The Summer that Can’t, Can; Team ITG, Dixon’s Carphone

Best Agency Culture: Independent :

Criteria: Great initiatives allowing people to bring their best to work with support to deliver great work.

Winner: Joint

Highly commended: The Gate

Shortlist: St Luke’s London; 383 Project

Best Agency Culture: Networked 

Winner: adam&eveDDB

Shortlist: Karmarama

Champion for Change/Industry Influencer 

Criteria: individual who has gone above and beyond to move the marketing industry forward.

Winner: Shannie Mears, Co-founder & Head of Talent, The Elephant Room

Shannie Mears Champion For Change

Shortlist: Ben Essen, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Iris; Julian Douglas, Vice Chairman, VCCP; Mihir Haria-Shah, Head of Broadcast, Total Media; Nicky Palamarczuk, Head of Social & Influence, VCCP

Spotlight Award 

Criteria: individual without whom the business would be a lesser place.

Winner: Katie Jackson, Managing Director, TBWA\London

Highly Commended: Luke Prebble, Head of Employee Experience, Karmarama

Shortlist: Adrienne Burns, Client Strategy Director, Summit Media; Kim Lawrie, Head of Creative Technology, ENGINE

Outstanding Contribution Award

Criteria: Individual who has taken us all with them and made marketing a better place for all of us.

Winner: Trevor Robinson OBE

In this challenging year we have seen some stunning examples of creativity and innovation. Both agencies and clients have really leaned in to support our awards, and, most importantly each other. Congratulations to all the winners.

Suki Thompson, Chair Oystercatchers,

Oystercatchers Awards Judging Panel

  • Lou Bennett, Marketing Director UK & Ireland, Benefit Cosmetics
  • Sarah Booth, Director of Brand & Marketing, OVO Energy
  • Arjoon Bose, Marketing Head-Culture & Brand Experience (Europe & Australasia), General Mills
  • Neil Caldicott, Director, Brand and Communications, Which?
  • Sophie Castell, Relationships Director, RNIB
  • Dominic Chambers, European Head of Marketing and Communications, Genesis Motor Europe GmbH
  • Abigail Comber, Chief Marketing Officer, Debenhams
  • Jack Fryer, Managing Director, The Square, Universal Music UK
  • Andrew Garrihy, Global Chief Brand Officer, Huawei Consumer Business Group
  • Russell James, Sales & Marketing Director at England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB)
  • Margaret Jobling, Chief Marketing Officer, NatWest Group
  • Catherine Kehoe, Chief Customer Officer, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer, TSB Bank [shortly to join Boots as CMO]
  • Ian McGregor, Chief Marketing Officer, Green Man Gaming
  • Tony Miller, Marketing Director, WW (formerly Weight Watchers)
  • Alex Naylor, Managing Director, Marketing Communications, Barclays UK
  • Keith Moor, Chief Marketing Officer, Camelot
  • Jayne O’Keeffe, Vice President European Marketing, Lyre’s Spirit Co
  • Ori Ben Shai, Vice President & Managing Director UK & Ireland, Kimberly-Clark
  • Kathryn Shiplee, Global Head of Brand and Advertising, AXA IM
  • Fiona Spooner, Global Marketing Director, B2C, The Financial Times
  • Claudia Struzzo, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Chi Evi-Parker, Marketing & E-Commerce Director, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
  • Toby Whitmoyer, Global Marketing Officer, Bacardi
  • Antonia Wade, Chief Marketing Officer, Capita

Originally published on Oystercatchers website on December 11, 2020.

In this article:

Best New Agency, Business News, Champion for Change/Industry Influencer, OysterCatchers 2020 Winners, The Elephant Room Award Wins


Visual Identity

Work: Greenpeace

Greenpeace’s Transform Transport campaign aims to shift the government’s focus from building new roads into spending on better cycling and walking infrastructure, an affordable public transport system and repairing the roads we already have.   

We worked with the Greenpeace team to develop a visual identity to support this campaign, to be used across all lobbying and consumer communications.

The identity uses a fresh, modern palette and graphic elements inspired by a mix of road, traffic and transport symbols. Graphic icons were created to represent transport modes, creating shortcuts for direct communications.

A modular approach was taken, so that structurally overlapping the various elements can create a limitless number of imaginative and playful compositions.

The campaign launched October 2020.

In this article:

Creative Design, Greenpeace, Transform Transport, Visual Identity

The Drum Agency Business Awards

The Drum Grand Prix Winner

Celebrating the very best run agencies

For an agency business to succeed, all departments must work well together. The Drum Agency Business Awards recognises the success of the whole agency, from strong leadership to the vital teams and functions often overlooked by other awards. These awards are for the agencies that excel through strong workplace culture, effective management, and excellent performance.

The results of The Drum Awards for Agency Business have been announced, with The Elephant Room and Hey Honey winning top accolades.

These awards seek to recognise agencies that excel through strong workplace culture and effective management to achieve outstanding results. This year’s panel included senior figures from an international array of agencies, such as Goodstuph, Ogilvy, The Unmistakables, MediaCom UK and BBDO Asia.

Originally published on The Drum website.

In this article:

Business News, The Drum Agency Business Awards 2020, The Drum GrandPrix Winner 2020, The Elephant Room Award Wins

Shannie talks Race to Suki at

Shannie talks Race to Suki at

Understand some of the challenges of race and discrimination in the marketing industry.

Shannie Mears and Suki Thompson talk honestly and directly about the difference between words and action, why this has become the moment for cultural change in our businesses, brands and agencies and how challenging it is to make something change, rather than just shout about it.

The full interview was featured on Let’s Reset. Watch the video here.

In this article:

The Story of Our Time

The Elephant Room and UAL’s Creative Shifts

Resources for students struggling during Lockdown

The Black Lives Matter 2020 movement inspired countless resource lists, aiming to guide individuals and companies in the creative industry to be more diverse and representative. Now follows the second, more legit wave of those lists – a flurry of recently launched Black-run agencies, networks and platforms, which have used the momentum of the movement and industry-wide demand to start up and hit the ground running.

To examine this series of events, we asked Shanice Mears, co-founder of creative agency The Elephant Room and creator of two of these new networks, to write about her experience, the wider context and what it means for the industry.

It’s the story of our time. Like the Drake album said: “If you’re reading this it’s too late”. For as long as I can remember being in the creative advertising industry there’s been talk about diversity and inclusion. Different reports about why we should have more diverse teams and different leaders in senior positions. Yet very little practicality to make that become a reality. In London there’s something I call ‘panel culture’ (obviously pre-Covid-19) where there’s always some form of Ted talk or line-up of people to discuss the state of the industry, yet they never really addressed in depth the reality as to why these discussions had to take place in the first place.

2020 has been a year of many things: unpredictable, testing, and in some ways more than others I’d say revolutionary. But to say the least being Black in 2020 has been a heavy carry of emotion. I always say that I speak from my own experience as a Black woman navigating the world and what it means to exist in spaces where you are not the majority. A feeling that you can never really shift or get rid of, but learn to comprehend and live with as you continue to make it a better place for everyone. For me it’s about starting small so you can then go on to bigger. Which is where I think I really fit in. As the head of talent and co-founder at The Elephant Room I feel an innate responsibility to constantly support those who wouldn’t otherwise have certain opportunities or access from the ground up.

When Covid-19 hit, it was a challenging time for a lot of people, especially students who had put a lot of their time and hope into their final major project, which by default could no longer happen and hindered their chances and opportunity to optimise their options after university. So, the University of the Arts London (UAL) creative shift team and The Elephant Room created The Story of Our Time, a resource pack celebrating the students from UAL and their stories during lockdown, and a directory of 90 different creatives who had signed up with a willingness to collaborate. (Read more about it on Lecture in Progress)

I’m passionate about Black talent, well I’m passionate about talent but just because of my own experiences with the barriers I know how important it is as a young Black person to have people rooting for you. It’s partly why I was inspired to create the Guestlist, an inclusively exclusive space for creators, where there’s a number one rule of no value no entry. A lot of young creatives are tired of being taken advantage of and a big part of the Guestlist is to feel involved and appreciated, with 1200 people and counting. When we did our collaboration with UAL x The Elephant Room, we knew it was necessary to create a resource list that represented the under-represented, something that also allowed students to feel like there was a place for them beyond what the current climate had them feeling. Also a special shout-out to Black owned businesses because for far too long, the inclusivity of platforms of talent has not been often known to the mainstream.

A resource pack celebrating the students from UAL and their stories during lockdown

UAL students express their uniquely life-defining experiences during lockdown 1.0

Giving young people a platform

There’s been a boom in new ways of discovering talent and platforms that are now represented like, Shop Black UK or The Black Book UK or places like Studio Pi that celebrate diversity in its purest of forms. With that being said I’d like to say a special mention to GUAP,, Run the Check, Nights Global, Gal-dem and so much more for the work that they continue to do, the inspiration and for the informative content that they push out amongst our culture.The influx of new companies and platforms designed for Black people is great but it is truly power that we need to see ourselves have and excel in. Things like No Signal, championing and reviving Black Radio; STILL.BLACK an initiative set up to re-sell designer wear and proceeds go to other positive black founded initiatives; and The Black Curriculum, championing and teaching black history in education. Also two of my faves: Exist Loudly, championing queer Black youth, and free Black Uni making education fun and liberating for Black individuals. I don’t want to see that these 100-year-old companies are now giving Black people credit, I want to see them paying them fairly, taking accountability for the systemic barriers that are in place and making room for them to collaborate as well as embracing them owning their own voices in their own spaces.

The industry still has a long way to go on making sure that the resources that are out there, continue to amplify young talent and it isn’t a short fix. I can’t predict whether anything is here to stay or not, but I do know that nobody is waiting for permission. Whilst I was at GUAP we became frustrated with the lack of representation across the board for young talent in industries. There’s many lists that champion young creatives but what about people in science or psychology? So we made our own list THE BLACKLIST which is on its way to becoming an honourable achievement within the Black community. My job at The Elephant Room and beyond is to make sure that talent is supported, that talent is valued and they feel empowered. So that’s what I’m here to do. I hope you all can do that too.

This article was originally featured on It’s Nice That. Read the original article here.

Download The Story of Our Time Here.

In this article:

CreativeShifts, Diversity, Education, Lockdown, News, Publications, Research, Student Resource, UAL

Mentoring young, black talent

Mentorning Young Black Talent

It’s about more than ‘see it, be it’ – A View From Shannie Mears

The co-founder of The Elephant Room explains the inspiration for a new mentoring initiative during Black History Month.

Growing up black was something I’ve only been able to truly reflect on now, as a more mature black woman. Before that, I was caught between people reminding me I was black and people telling me they don’t see colour – both of which I could never fully understand. But, over time, I have come to understand what being black has meant for me and my identity growing up. That is why Black History Month each October is one of my favourite times of the year. The significance for me personally grows each time it comes back around annually.

I can only speak from my own experience but being black and proud is truly a liberating thing when you remind yourself that you are, in fact, great. I think growing up a lot of us share similar experiences of being told to work twice as hard or to “tone it down” because we might not come across as appropriate (whatever that means) to the majority, especially in the workplace. But I think once you cast away that mentality, you start to really discover what your potential can be.

“I spent a lot of my time in search for someone who looked like me”

Discovering my mentor was not what I expected.

The black experience is not just one experience, and never forget that. I started my career in advertising at an agency called Iris Worldwide in 2016, after doing a traineeship at youth marketing agency Livity. It was at Iris that I met my mentor Dan Saxby, the former chief executive, who is, just to paint the picture, a middle-class, white male with 15-plus years’ experience and who was much more senior than Shanice Mears, a 21-year-old intern at the time. Which is why what I’m about to say is important: I spent a lot of my time in search for someone who looked like me, sounded like me and had the same, or at least similar, lived experiences as me in a senior position – someone in my industry. And I struggled, Dan himself helped me to look for someone who could have been that for me too – because the motto is: “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” But I can’t say I think that is entirely true.

As time passed, Dan and I built a rapport, which became a mentorship and reverse-mentoring on some occasions – made up of great conversation, awkward moments, unlearning, while opening up, and new discovery. The organic building of our mentorship allowed me to realise this is how we can change the game. More often than not, it’s easier to accept something as a fault than it is to accept it as a learning, and that’s what my initial thoughts were.

Is this real? Is there truly a mutual benefit? Can we help each other long term? And the answer turned out to be yes. I thought I needed someone like me to feel better about myself excelling in new spaces. But what I needed was someone who could empower me and care about who I was becoming – regardless of what I thought of myself. Young black people need to be empowered not only by their inner circle but also their senior employers, their colleagues and everyone else that they encounter during their professional and personal development.

From mentor and mentee to business partners

When Dan proposed we start our own company, The Elephant Room, it was (at first) challenging for me to look at this as a partnership, because I didn’t fully understand the value that I brought to the table. There are some days when I still feel like that – more than three years after we went into business together at the start of 2017. But the most important thing is that I trust our relationship.

Both of us want to contribute back to this industry and create long-term value. We know the value of mentorship because it is what led to the birth of The Elephant Room and we trust the process. This is why we decided to launch “One Month Mentors”, an initiative to match 10 mentors with 10 young, black creative mentees during Black History Month. I am so excited that we have identified a wide range of both mentors and mentees – from the agency world to music, from the West Midlands to London. 

“Both of us want to contribute back to this industry and create long-term value”

“It’s extremely important to have black people in roles where they can be an inspiration for young people”

Empowering young black talent

It is important for me as a young black woman to continue to work towards uplifting other young black people, particularly those navigating predominantly white spaces, but I know that growth can only happen when you are empowered to do so. I feel it’s valuable to share my experience. I also think it’s extremely important to have black people in roles where they can be an inspiration for young people who are looking up and able to say: “I can do that.” But if they are not there – and often they are not – we have to remember that we can still be whatever we want. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Which means to me that multiple people contribute to our learning, which leads to our growth and ultimately success.

Considering everything that black people have striven to do, it’s important to acknowledge there are also boundaries. It is OK to talk about emotional labour, the idea of white privilege and/or white saviour complex. To be frank, if you are a white person reading this and feel uncomfortable, you should also attempt to unpack that. The sooner we embrace our differences and the things that we don’t understand, which includes our history and present-day reality, we will be greater together.We say at The Elephant Room, “we’re not here to just do advertising, we are here to change it”, which is absolutely true. It starts by building unity between us as colleagues and as partners. This is not about “see it, be it”. This is about who will support you to become the best version of yourself and everyone else after that.

This article was originally featured on

See article here.

In this article:

Black History Month, Mentoring, Opinion

The Elephant Room Appoints Two Senior Leaders from Ogilvy and Adam & Eve DDB

The Elephant Room New Hires

Article taken from IBB online feature

Nina Taylor and Amelia Blashill join The Elephant Room leadership team under lockdown to help drive creativity and client growth for an agency that prides itself on being different. 

Nina Taylor takes on the role of executive creative director, joining from Ogilvy where she spent the past three years as creative director. Nina brings with her 20 years of experience working at agencies such as Iris and EuroRSCG. Katy Sumption who was creative director has moved to a freelancer role.  “Advertising has talked about embracing diversity and inclusion for far too long. Being part of an agency that doesn’t just pay lip service to that idea but is built on it at its very core is a truly exciting prospect that I wanted to be part of.” 

Amelia Blashill joins as client partner, leaving Agency of the Decade adam&eveDDB as business director, to head up The Elephant Room’s growing client roster including Converse, Prince’s Trust and Uber. This is a new appointment for The Elephant Room and the result of new client wins. “Being small and independent allows us to be nimble, responsive and actively build tailored solutions and teams around each and every client challenge. And with our unique approach and diverse pool of young talent, I’m excited about the work we’re going to create.”

Dan Saxby, founder and managing director says: “After building a successful new agency founded on an inclusive creative process, The Elephant Room is now ready to scale. Nina is world class – the best Creative talent I have ever worked with. She will bring exceptional creative leadership to the agency…Amelia has a wonderful consultative approach with senior clients and her experience across many sectors will be invaluable as we grow. The impact of her drive and ability has been immediate and I can’t wait to celebrate her achievements still to come.”

In this article:

Leadership Team, New Business, New Hires