Why Harrogate is synonymous with the ‘F’ Word (and it’s not what you might think)

Last month Acceleris opened its first office in London. Bright lights, big city. And with any luck we’ll soon be stepping out from our Regent Street office onto a pothole-free street paved with gold. It’s true, the Capital is currently experiencing a micro-climate of economic activity and opportunity beyond that happening in the regions – and we’ve already tapped into this with three new London client wins in
our first month alone. 

Louise Vaughan, Acceleris Head of PR

Louise Vaughan, Acceleris Director and Head of PR

But it would be commercially foolish to take our eye off some of the Fantastic, Fun and for F’s sake, Fabulous opportunities that are happening right here on our doorstep in Harrogate.

The first is the Tour de France – or to be more exact the Le Grand Depart. What’s billed as the world’s greatest cycle race is starting in the world’s greatest county on 5th and 6th July 2014 and will be the largest sporting event Yorkshire has ever held. It will have an entourage of 5,000 people even before any spectators are taken into account and is estimated to bring £100m+ in estimated economic benefits for the UK and over 3 million visitors to Yorkshire. For the people of Harrogate it’s doubly special as we get what’s arguably the highlight of the whole thing – the dramatic day 1 sprint finish along The Stray. And if the sun really is shining on ‘God’s Own County’ that day, it will be Mark Cavendish who dons the yellow jersey in the home town of his mum.

There’s been the usual media furore over transportation implications, internal politics and most recently budget shortfalls – but you can’t argue that it presents a fantastic opportunity to showcase Yorkshire, its people and its businesses on a world stage. Yet many businesses have still to capitalise on this.

You don’t need to be a big brand, big budget sponsor to benefit commercially from Le Tour. It’s right, you can’t claim to be an official partner or use official event branding without having VERY deep pockets. But you can create products and services ‘In celebration of Le Grand Depart coming to Yorkshire’, and with some clever branding (adapt yours), imagery (think bike) and colour use (think yellow), create something that immediately leverages on the excitement, interest and general buzz around the event.

Micro brewers across Yorkshire are really stealing the thunder here with recent beer launches including ‘Hello Velo’ from the Wold Top Brewery and Maillot Jaune from Great Newsome Brewery. Other examples include a bespoke bike having been created by Pennine Cycles and for a slightly more bizarre example, check out the ‘Bike crochet’ PR stunt from West Yorkshire Playhouse….

Which brings me on to my second F – Fudge (bear with me a minute on this one).

The Ultimate English Everyday Range

The Ultimate English Everyday Range

A few weeks ago we supported The Serious Sweet Company of the trade launch of its fantastic Ultimate English range, set to be supported by a major consumer campaign in early Spring. Harrogate-based, this confectioner has crafted sweets from Yorkshire since 1843 and, as part of the £30 million turnover Zubrance Group, has been responsible for supplying own-brand products and ingredients for major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Tesco and Asda. Last year alone the company sold over £2m of traditional English confectionery, up 17% on the previous year, and the new brand aims to bite a significant chunk out of the growing, £550m UK confectionery market.

One way we’re having some fun (supported by the Ultimate English ‘good taste team’) is launching our Grand Depart commemorative fudge – quintessentially English clotted cream fudge and Yorkshire rhubarb ice twinned with tarte citron glace and creme caramel fudge selections. This is a simple and fun idea that is enabling the brand to gain some real traction at both cycling and food events warming up to Le Tour.

As for the third of my F words – it’s Fish. The national body which represents the nation’s £770m fishing industry both in the UK and in the EU – The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations – is based right on our doorstep in York, supported by our Harrogate based team. Along with cod and haddock, over the last few years fishermen have taken a huge battering – in this case from the media. A range of celebrity chefs and NGOs have mounted incredibly well funded and often misguided campaigns directly attacking an industry that has implemented fantastic levels of change to ensure it delivers food to our plates that’s sustainable, traceable, tasty and healthy.

For the Acceleris team, dipping our toes into the watery world of fishing and tackling some of the misconceptions around it has been a challenge. But one that’s been hugely rewarding. Not least because the results we’ve delivered won us the ‘Issues and Reputation Management’ Award at the European Excellence Awards in Munich in December, against contenders from Germany, Belgium and Holland.

If you want to take a look at what ‘Team Fish’ has been up to more recently – have a look here. We’ve been liaising with everyone from celebrity seafood chefs to major retailers to engage and champion our fishermen and encourage more people to try sustainable fish. Our latest campaign – still in progress – secured a full page in The Times as well as 10 broadcast interviews and a host of print coverage and social engagement.

So on this basis, maybe my final Harrogate ‘F’ word, to be Frank, should be….


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