Luca Valpreda

Can sustainability be combined with creativity and consultancy? Yes it can, say Clarity and its specialist arm. But it’s not all plain sailing, as Leigh Tymms, head of the British agency’s sustainability team, tells us.


Tell us a bit about Clarity. How many people work in the agency? Did you position yourselves as sustainability specialists straightaway?
Clarity is a full-service agency, with 45 colleagues across the whole business, with all the functions you’d expect: digital, experiential, campaign… Clarity sustainability, as the name suggests specifically targets this particular issue and audience. But we’re doing it as part of a much wider mix, using our skills, what we know about segmentation, behaviours and messaging for example. We get involved in launching propositions, brand communications, driving engagement, behavioural change, reporting and sustainability programmes.

Are there some projects you’re particularly proud of that you can tell us a little bit about?
One client we really enjoy working for is one of the UK’s leading food distribution companies, where we are helping form an alliance across some major UK and global food players, all sharing their knowledge and insights to the benefit of the wider hospitality and the food industry. We’re creating a site that makes it really easy to access some of that insight and make it a really good experience. That’s just one of the many things we’ve delivered for them, particularly to help boost sustainability. We helped them with their internal behavioural change campaigns, we’ve completed their sustainability reporting for the past four years, delivering a really big step change and benefits. This takes reporting into more of a sales tool rather than just purely historical reporting. I think that relationship has been one of our biggest successes.
Other projects I and the team have really enjoyed over the last few years are the visitor centres we deliver, for example, attached to biomass power stations, teaching kids or councillors etc. what energy is and how it’s generated, the fuel mix, the benefits of renewables. And we’ve had some really good responses, these are the sort of things where you can see how you really change people’s behaviour, how they start to understand some of these things.

With the Interactive visitors centres, do you take care of the whole project or did you deal just with the communication for it?
The whole project, we did everything, from inheriting a blank building to conceiving the scheme, to designing, space planning, installing, testing it, communicating about it, and typically that’s the sort of thing we would do and that’s the benefit of the association with a full-service agency, so we can functionally deliver, and it’s the sort of thing the team enjoy working on as well.

How do you promote your agency? I see you organise webinars, that you have a newsletter…
Yes, they’ve all contributed to lead generation. The largest factor is who you know, it mostly comes down to relationships. We know a lot of people across the industry, however many of those relationships started, whether it was a webinar or partnership marketing or something we’ve published. That’s often where the majority of work comes from. We don’t solicit work particularly hard, because we’ve always got a fair bit going on and we are recommended a lot, which is good.

Do your clients really understand and reward your specialisation?
Many do but it’s tricky, I’ve spent an awful lot of time educating people around CSR subjects and how to get engagement by running internal campaigns, moving sustainability propositions forwards and all the rest of it. Quite often, people want to hear about the gold standard of doing things, but often budgets and timings do not allow for these in reality. Increasingly we learn how to focus our time on clients who take this most seriously and where the ‘fit’ is best as we grow and develop.