Pharma: Innovation in Adversity

The race is on to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with countries around the world aggressively researching vaccine technologies that could help to halt the pandemic. Of the 148 candidate vaccines that researchers are currently developing, 17 are already in human clinical trials.

Truth be told, shortening the cycle from lab to high street has been on the industry’s agenda since long before COVID-19 turned our world upside down. We’ve had a front row seat here at The Croc– mapping out complex customer journeys on behalf of pharma clients trying to streamline the complexities between clinical and commercial journeys.

However, over the course of this year the industry has gone through a crash course in organisational change. The wealth of new data and insights created through intense development as well as public and political pressures will have fundamentally changed the landscape.

Most players have had to adopt to a new global reality through necessity, and post-pandemic, these organisations will emerge with a clearer picture of efficient and effective working practices, and emerging opportunities in a reshaped customer ecosystem.

As history shows us again and again, innovation flourishes in times of adversity. And the pandemic has reminded the world of pharma’s strengths—namely, its capacity to accelerate research, and develop and distribute drugs on a vast scale. Many of the big firms and scores of smaller companies are working on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

Even before the virus, the industry had begun to invest more heavily in R&D. In the most recent quarter America’s 30 biggest firms boosted investment by a median of 6% year on year.

Medical innovation is back in fashion. Here’s hoping it brings some much-needed relief to all of us soon.

Image credit: National Cancer Institute. Photographer: Daniel Sone

Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

Over the past month, there’s been a huge surge in demand for virtual events, but when it comes to designing them, not many can see beyond the conventions of the convention centre.

In 1985 a new start–up called W Industries was formed, and in 1990 ‘VIRTUALITY’ was launched. If you were around at the time, you’ll remember the big grey headsets appearing at video–game arcades throughout the world. It was meant to herald a new era in gaming but the technology underpinning it wasn’t powerful enough and despite the massive PR machine behind it, the experience was quite simply, a bit pants.

The world of Second Life

In 2003, Linden Labs launched Second Life, a new ‘virtual world’ in which, anyone could create an avatar, and then go about building their own alternate reality, along with interacting with many other online ‘residents’.

It was hailed as the next big thing, and brands flocked to it. In fact, it became so popular that in 2006, U2 even hosted a live concert on the platform.

But as fast as it grew, people lost interest. After all, who wants to play something that quite literally mirrors real life, but without all of the drama, nuance, serendipity, idiosyncrasy and fun that often frequents life in the physical world.

It seems anything that’s ‘virtual’ usually ends up being a less-good version of the real thing.

And so today, with the self-isolation and lockdown implemented as a result of Covid-19, we see events around the world either being postponed, cancelled, or transformed into ‘virtual’ versions of the physical thing.

Welcome to the virtual foyer

Unfortunately, many seem to interpret a virtual event as something that’s a direct translation of a physical one. The welcome foyer. The plenary. Exhibition booths. Conference rooms. Reception desk anyone? And what this approach typically results in, is a crap version of the real thing. Not only is it not as good, it also acts as a stark reminder that once you’ve stared at the virtual lobby, and watched all the talks, you sadly won’t be walking to a bar serving ice cold drinks, or the nice roof terrace to go and network in the evening sun.

Putting a physical event online should never be about trying to replicate the physical world, virtually. It’s a broken formula – proven time and time again, and, as Tom Hanks’ character in BIG famously said: “What’s fun about playing with a building? That’s not any fun.”

When digital offers almost infinite possibilities in terms of the experience you can create for people, it seems crazy that an event would try to imitate the physical world and all of the constraints that come with it.

Think about movies such as Ready Player One, Tron and Inception – immersive, fantasy worlds unconstrained by the physics or realities of the physical world. Think about how these movies play with our minds, stimulate our imagination and helping us to see things in a new light.

A digital blank canvas. Wow.

Now imagine, if you had a blank canvas for your next event, one that was free from the constraints of elements like the location, size and shape of the venue, the colour of the carpet and the paint on the walls, or the distance between the various rooms for the talks, what sort of experience would you want to create?

Digital presents a world of creative potential for events – the only limit is your imagination and ambition.

Podium designed events combine creativity, craft and the very best uses of technology platforms to create events with theatre, quality and excitement that provide attendees with a feel-good experience from beginning to end.

We call it Immersive Digital Event Design.

So when you’re thinking about your next event, ask yourself one question; what sort of experience you want your event to deliver. Then call us.

Oliver Budworth
Head of Strategy at The Crocodile

Industry leaders launch Virtual Event Initiative

London, UK – 8th Apr, 2020 – Today, The CrocodileOnalytica, and Turtl are announcing Podium a global Immersive Virtual Events initiative, in partnership with ON24, the leading technology company helping businesses transform their marketing and customer engagement through data-rich digital experiences.

With high demand for enterprise organisations to pivot from physical events to digital, this offering enables enterprises with a readily available digital event solution that quickly delivers the scale, theatre, richness and excitement of physical events, online.

In virtual boardrooms globally, the same question has been echoing across video calls – “We have to pull our physical events this year – what are we going to do instead?” Switching to online events is the answer but the shift to digital isn’t as straightforward or as easy as it might seem. Now, it’s mission critical for brands to elevate their webinar experiences to match the engagement and impact of traditional sales and marketing conferences.

The Podium initiative pulls together best-in-class online event design, influencer marketing and media rich interactive content formats to create an immersive online event experience powered by the ON24 Platform.

The Podium initiative has an ambitious set of principles and goals:

  • To create the next generation of immersive digital event experiences
  • To replicate the theatre and excitement of physical events
  • To design data driven digital experiences that feel more human
  • To scale the engagement of in-person events to a much wider audience

This initiative is consistent with a growing trend for complimentary providers to work together to create agile, best-in-class solutions that address the fast-changing and unprecedented needs of business.

Tessa Barron, ON24 VP of Marketing, commented: "Our mission at ON24 is to help businesses transform their marketing into an experience their audience demands. And, we know that realising that vision takes more than technology. Through innovative service offerings like Podium, we hope to help companies successfully bridge the physical-to-digital event divide, now and in the future."

The Crocodile’s Managing Director, Jason Talbot, adds: "In the blink of an eye the world changed. It’s forced many of us to confront digital experience gaps that exist across many organisations. By breaking down silos and collaborating we’ve created Podium – immersive event design with craft, theatre, connected data and digital scale as a viable alternative to physical events in 2020 and onwards."

Tim Williams, CEO Onalytica: "Physical events create spikes of social media engagement, but brands have historically struggled to build and sustain dialogue and engagement pre- and post-event. Integrating internal and external influencers in the promotion of events drives an 8-week audience engagement cycle, improves the quality of events and creates inspiring content assets that can be used in the sales cycle throughout the year."

Nick Mason, CEO Turtl: "I’m very excited for Turtl to be part of Podium. In the present climate, the ability to deliver amazing digital events is an absolute must and Podium will be leading the way with best-of-breed technologies for every step of the digital event experience."

Visit Podium website.

Croc bolsters strategic social capability with Rabin appointment

Meet Tom Rabin, the latest addition to our award-winning B2B social media team.

Tom joins from social media communications agency, 1000heads, where most recently he was working as an Account Director in their Sydney office, looking after accounts including Google, Intel, Samsung, and Microsoft.

At The Crocodile, Tom will be leading social strategy and campaigns for tier one accounts including London Stock Exchange Group, Videojet, and Verizon Media.

The Crocodile’s Account Directors are among the industry’s best, combining top-end skills across strategy, planning, client relationship management, and team leadership.

The Crocodile’s Head of Social Media, Robyn Pierce, says: “The demand for talent in B2B social is at an all-time high. We are delighted that Tom has chosen to join the team. As well as being a confident and accomplished Account Director, he is an exceptionally talented social media practitioner with a deep understanding of how social media fits within an integrated marketing environment.”

Peter Berg joins The Croc as Senior Copywriter

The Crocodile continues to attract the very best talent in the B2B market with the appointment of senior copywriter, Peter Berg.

He joins us having built a wealth of experience at the likes of Earnest and April Six working on accounts including Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft and O2 to name but a few. He hails from Minnesota, along with Prince, Bob Dylan and the Coen Bros, and (like those noir-loving brothers) has a passion for script writing (cop thrillers) as much as copywriting and creating big ideas.

Creative Director, Chris Tongeman says: “At The Croc we believe in the importance of data and technology in getting in front of more of the right people, however unlike many others we also believe in the importance of ideas, experience and creativity to convert those moments into meaningful engagement. This requires intelligence, critical thinking, customer empathy along with the bravery to make a creative leap beyond the obvious. It takes people like Peter and we’re delighted to have him on the team.”

Best Content and Best SME Campaign

Well – maybe not quite ‘best’ but almost…

We’re really proud to have taken silver at this year’s International B2B Awards in – dare we say it – two really high calibre categories: Best Content and Best SME.

The campaign for AIM was designed to further develop relationships with the SME market at scale, so being recognised in these categories – combined with the overall performance of the campaign – is a great achievement. Bringing data, technology and great creative execution to a global SME audience has been a huge team effort across a tremendously talented client and agency team.

For 3 years in a row now, we have been acknowledged for awards for our work with highly compliance-driven financial services clients. The thing they all have in common is an approach that addresses customer needs before product features. (Or perhaps we just keep getting lucky?)

Managing Director, Jason Talbot says:

“The AIM campaign is a great example of when client and agency teams really take the time upfront to get things right in terms of strategy, tech and execution. The result is a campaign with huge resonance in the market on a global level.”

5 nominations in The Drum Social Buzz Awards

We’re buzzing to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for five awards in this year’s The Drum Social Buzz Awards.

Social Buzz are the big guns of the social media awards circuit and there’s some fierce competition. But with nominations for our very own agency rising star Lotte Wilkinson, Social Media Agency/Team of the Year, and three nominations for our Linux Professional Institute (LPI) campaign, we’ve certainly got a fighting chance!


  • Social Media Agency/Team of the Year
  • Social Buzz Rising Star – Lotte Wilkinson
  • Best B2B Sector Social Media Strategy/Campaign
  • Best Professional Sector Social Media Strategy/Campaign
  • Best Charity/Not For Profit Social Media Strategy/Campaign

Chair of the judging panel and head of social media, news and content for Cancer Research UK, Cecilia Dominici said:

“The category that stood out for me was Best B2B Sector Social Media Strategy/Campaign. It was really interesting to see because it’s a difficult category towards creativity, which the entries really had to drive.”

And drive we certainly had, in droves, as we pushed the creative for this campaign full throttle to help LPI certified Open Source IT professionals to Stand Out in DevOps for LPI – with the global media campaign exceeding its conversion target by 400%.

Fantastic results for LPI, let’s hope it’s the same result for The Croc. We’ll find out at the awards ceremony on 28 November. Until then, here’s the list of nominations

Social awards nomination hat-trick!

We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in this year’s UK Social Media Communications Awards, in three noteworthy categories:

  • Best Strategic Use of Social Media for LPI
  • Best Charity/Not-for-Profit campaign for LPI
  • Best In-Agency Team

These awards recognise and reward individuals, companies and organisations that are using social media in fresh and innovative ways.

Over the last 12 months, The Crocodile’s social media team has gone from strength to strength, winning new business with market-leading brands including Renault Trucks, Google Campus London, Zipcar and the Financial Times.

We continue to deliver outstanding results against a range of briefs, from social transformation and training, to event activation, brand social, international strategy and paid.

Stand Out in DevOps for LPI (Linux Professional Institute), was a global media campaign created to support product development and then to launch a new certification. It exceeded its conversion target by 400%, thanks to a hyper-local targeting strategy, and a suite of creative content that resonated with Open Source IT professionals.

The Crocodile’s head of social media, Robyn Pierce says: “We’ve evolved into one of the best and most well-rounded social media offerings on the market. These nominations are a testament to the strength of the agency’s strategic thinking, and the talented individuals that make up our team.”

ON24 appoints The Croc for EMEA demand gen

Big news just in! The Crocodile has been appointed by ON24 to deliver demand generation programmes in EMEA.

ON24 is the leading webinar marketing platform helping over 2,000 organisations drive human engagement and deliver actionable data.

We’re already big fans of the ON24 platform, so this is a really exciting opportunity for The Croc to flex some conversational muscle with a tech leader and innovator.

The Crocodile’s managing director, Jason Talbot, says: “As anyone in the marketing industry will tell you, the ON24 webinar marketing platform is second-to-none. We are delighted to be part of a marketing team driving growth and market leadership across EMEA”.

Charity: Proud to support 21&Co

It’s 21st March – Happy World Down’s Syndrome Day! #WDSD18

Now, I’m guessing you may not fully understand what Down’s Syndrome is and isn’t, let alone know it was #WDSD18. It’s something that has been covered a lot in the press over the last few years with the focus being on pregnancy screening. Unfortunately, not much coverage has focused on raising awareness or educating people on what Down’s Syndrome is.

In my own family, when we were diagnosed during pregnancy, all we had to go on was this big devastating label that told us our child had no hope. This was then further compounded by the NHS attitude to the diagnosis – the implied ‘sentence’.

Like many parents, our first instinct was to protect our baby. We don’t want to hear the odds: if he has a chance, we’re fighting for him. We have never looked back.

Fortunately for us there was 21&Co with an exceptional team of volunteers lead by Tatty Bowman and Louise Beattie. This is an organisation of a few parents who have children and still find the time to run speech and language classes, offer council, advice and organise fun days. They do this every day, every week, all year for hundreds of parents and their kids when they have nowhere else to turn.

They help people find perspective and gain a degree of control with this vast spectrum that is Down’s Syndrome. They help people understand that it’s not a disease but the addition of an extra chromosome – number 21. And ultimately, they teach that Down’s Syndrome is different in every case: it’s as varied and different as any child is from another. And the lives that these kids lead are as individual as they are: some are at university, some setting up businesses and some with a wider range of things to contend with.

For my wife and I we have Jude, big brother to Caolán. In his 3’s he’s a little rascal; he’s mischievous and hugely curious. He loves nursery, his brother, dancing and is nuts about books. For us he’s simply a little boy, our Judalicious!

On World Down’s Syndrome day please challenge your assumptions and do your part to support diversity and inclusivity.

Better still why not spare £21 for 21&Co and make a donation to support their brilliant team? If you’re an organisation and can give more drop me a line

by Jason Talbot

Google brief sets hearts aflutter

Once in a while a pitch brief lands on agency desks that sets hearts aflutter. Enter Campus London, Google’s East London startup hub, with a fabulous brief for social strategy and content.

Following a highly competitive pitch process, The Crocodile has been appointed to help drive the growth of Campus London’s social media strategy, with a focus on increasing engagement around Google’s role in the UK startup ecosystem.

The Crocodile’s managing director, Jason Talbot, says: “Google’s commitment and enthusiasm for supporting startup businesses creates an infectious team environment that we are very excited to join. The brief required an agency that could demonstrate experience in talking B2C in a B2B environment, which aligns perfectly with our conversational marketing ethos.”

The agency’s head of social, Robyn Pierce, adds: “Genuine engagement on social media requires a true value exchange and a commitment to putting the needs of the audience ahead of the brand. We have been given a fantastic remit by Google and are looking forward to creating authentic, multi-platform stories that capture the spirit of entrepreneurship within Campus London.”

Watch this (Google) space…

More enterprise brands want the human touch

It’s no surprise to us that The Crocodile has broken into the top 10 of international B2B marcomms agencies. Over the last 12 months we have seen a huge increase in international brands seeking to convert the potential of their technologies, platforms and data into marketing programmes that deliver a more personal human touch.

We join a quality competitor agency field with the likes of Oliver, Gravity, April Six and Stein IAS. All very competent network agency machines, however The Crocodile is increasingly providing an alternative answer across integrated digital marketing campaigns, content programmes, social media strategies and paid digital media. All delivered with a healthy obsession for building relationships and influencing the market with better quality conversations.

Having co-founded the Affinita independent agency network in 2017 we have boosted our capacity to drive global, local conversations on behalf of our existing clients across regions such as Germany, France and the US.

2018 is the year of personalised enterprise marketing at scale – drop me a line if you’d like to learn more:

By Jason Talbot

Matt Garisch joins The Crocodile from B2B Marketing

Everyone in B2B knows Matt Garisch. Rather tall and only slightly South African, he’s been – for quite a few years – the senior commercial mover and shaker behind industry-leading training, events and insights gurus, B2B Marketing (of B2B Awards fame).

With years of experience and sales success on the publishing side of B2B, Matt has switched codes to join fast-growing London agency The Crocodile in the new post of Head of Customer Engagement.

The Crocodile’s plan is to place Matt at the centre of a strategic expansion plan, specifically asking him to focus the agency on practicing what it preaches: being customer centric and delivering better experiences for clients.

Says Matt: “At B2B Marketing I was part of a fantastic team focused on adding intrinsic value to the industry. I’m excited to bring this experience to an agency environment where the ambition, talent and client roster places The Crocodile with the very best in the market”.

Jason Talbot, Managing Director of The Crocodile adds “agencies tend to overlook the sales and marketing practice that they preach. We want to have better conversations with our clients and invest in building relationships. Matt brings a fresh and alternative perspective that challenges how we do things which is necessary to continue to improve and develop. We took a great deal of time in finding someone with Matt’s qualities and are delighted he is now part of the gang”.

No prizes for second place…

Turns out that’s not quite true. This year team Standard Life and The Crocodile scooped ‘Runner Up’ trophies for our ‘Step Ahead With Confidence’ SME workplace pensions campaign at both the B2B Marketing Awards and the Social Buzz Awards.

At the B2B Marketing Awards we won silver in the ‘Best B2B Lead Generation and Nurture’ category and at this year’s Social Buzz Awards, we were runners up in the ‘Best B2B Social Media Campaign’ category.

Truth is, we don’t rate coming second and as much as we like to see a new trophy in the boardroom, silver isn’t good enough. It is however industry recognition that collectively our thinking, craft and execution are up there with the very best in key categories.

You can expect us to find another gear in 2018 as we push for the top spot. Game on!

Jason Talbot
Managing Director