Goodstuff and Yorkshire Tea on taking risks, independent spirit and staying together for 10 years
Dom Dwight, the marketing director of Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, and Sam Drake, managing partner at Goodstuff, are next in our series on the power of enduring relationships
26 July 2022
It’s probably true (sadly) that not many marketers would have been brave enough to take the risk in hiring Goodstuff Communications back in 2012, just shortly after it had made the decision to reinvent itself as a full-service media independent rather than just a media planning specialist (an agency genre that burned very brightly but also very briefly).
But Dom Dwight, the marketing director of Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, the owner of Yorkshire Tea, probably isn’t your typical marketing director. And the proposition that Goodstuff was now presenting wasn’t just an agency borne of expediency, instead it was a commitment to “do” media differently. The agency was offering “media and some”.
Bettys & Taylors had previously split its media account between mainstream media networks – a safe, but at times frustrating, experience Dom says.
Goodstuff, which was set up as Virgin Media’s planning agency, had decided it needed to evolve. Serendipity struck when Bettys & Taylors’ then-ad agency BMB introduced its marketing team to the agency, of which Sam Drake was its first managing partner.
And when it was time to call a pitch, when Simon Eyles was still marketing director, Goodstuff was the wildcard on the list.
“There was definitely something about it felt like you guys [Goodstuff] are kind of being introduced from the sidelines as this interesting up-and-coming, slightly different-thinking entity,” explains Dom, who was working his way up Bettys & Taylors greasy pole.
“And then, not that I was on the same scale, but I think I felt like I was doing the same thing. I was kind of chipping away at the status quo and saying, I think we might need to do things differently. So by the time we got to pitch, I think there was already quite a lot of alignment in terms of you coming in as a potential new agency and me being a relatively new member of the team and the marketing team. Just sort of questioning whether there are different ways to do things.”
For Sam, who pitched alongside fellow Goodstuffers Andrew Stephens, Bobby Din and Simeon Adams (along with a giant teapot), the win was announced on Christmas Eve making the festive season even more joyful.
With Bettys & Taylors being an independently-owned business, the fit with the media independent seemed a culturally comfortable one and the relationship prospered. However, a potential change to the relationship came at the end of last year when the Goodstuff management sold the business to US-based Stagwell. The deal gives Goodstuff access to more data capabilities but, Sam says, the agency is determined to keep its spirit of independence – even if it now reports to a larger entity.
In that regard, it’s in a similar position to Bettys & Taylors creative agency, Lucky Generals, which is majority owned by Omnicom but continues to plough its own distinct furrow. Earlier this month, Bettys & Taylors unveiled the latest in its “Where everything’s done proper” campaign for Yorkshire Tea.
The spot, “Tina’s leaving do”, stars Yorkshireman Sir Patrick Stewart delivering the leaving speech and was shot in Harrogate – although not, like many previous commercials, within the company’s own offices. But it retains an honest quality, that fits the brand.
The campaigns and their marketing and media strategy have been a great success, propelling what was once a challenger brand to the top spot in the tea market with an annual value share of 31.1 per cent in 2020 – up from 28.8 per cent in 2019.
There’s more to Dom’s portfolio than Yorkshire Tea, of course, and the brand itself has extended itself into different variants including Yorkshire Gold, green teas and infusions.
Its Taylors coffee brand has also launched into the nascent coffee bags business and earlier this year, launched a new range of coffees that are designed to appeal to busy adults who want simple, decent coffee without the fuss and confusion. Again, the campaigns are through Goodstuff and Lucky Generals.
It’s testament to Goodstuff’s strategic planning and media buying nous, as well as a distinctive brand proposition created by Lucky Generals, that Yorkshire Tea has managed to seize the top spot in the tea market, despite not being the biggest spender in that category. Beyond the TV spots, the brand is involved in other initiatives including National Cricket Week (it was Official Brew of England Cricket for six years from 2013).
It is also active in social media – a platform where Dom made his name as an early adopter at the beginning of his career.
But it’s also a great example of a creative partnership built on trust, innovation, commitment and determination. The fact that Bettys & Taylors and Goodstuff, and Dom and Sam’s career, have grown together over the same period is more than just a happy coincidence – it's a result of a marriage of “doing things proper” and “media and some”.