A Brief History of Champions

Richard Padmore
Senior Copywriter
Champions (UK) Plc

Well, hello from all 90 of us – the whole Champions team!

We hope our website has given you a good idea of our capabilities. There are quite a few of them. No less than ten, in fact. An architecture we now refer to as The Perfect 10.

Creative I Digital I Marketing I PR I Media I Events I Publishing I Advertising I Celebrity I Web

That full spectrum knowhow allows us to provide our clients with a 360° service, attending to all their branding needs with the kind of joined-up thinking only we can deliver.

And, since Champions was first established all the way back in 2003, it’s always been that way. Because we were founded with two simple truths in mind.

The Perfect 10

People Power

First and foremost, people and relationships drive business. People buy your service or product. People form emotional bonds with your brand. People like you and me.

And people like John Hayes, our CEO, and his son, Matthew, our Managing Director, who set up Champions from their family home on the Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire border.

John and Matthew took, and still take, the view that we should treat our clients like our own, welcoming them into our family. The Champions Family.

The logic is simple. A long-term relationship built on trust between client and agency leads to long-term mutual benefits. Greater than the sum of their parts. Like a family.

So, we’ve kept our focus on people, on family values and on going that extra mile to deliver the results our clients want to see. Success on their terms.

A Break from the Norm

The second reality is an underlying flaw in the branding and marketing industry. Niches are the norm. Agencies tend to focus on a single specialism, each claiming theirs holds the key.

A common-or-garden, niche agency, the mainstay of the market, has a restricted view and a finite number of tools with which to help your brand meet your specific goals.

To an advertising agency, for example, advertising is the only possible solution. A PR firm will always recommend the remedy staring them in the face.

But we don’t reach for the same instrument time and again. Instead, we’ve equipped ourselves with a comprehensive set of tools and pick the right ones for the job. No sledgehammers for nuts.

Another manifestation of niche thinking sees agencies concentrate on singular sectors. Some limit themselves to automotive clients, while others stick solely to telecoms, say.

But Champions is different. We focus on attracting the end-users of a product or service, which brings us right back to people. The people who buy into your brand. People like you and me.

The full Toolkit

So, when we first set out, we focused on five specialist service areas – Creative, Marketing, PR, Events and Celebrity. That put us ahead of the game.

Rather than deal with several agencies, all competing for a bigger slice of the cake, clients had one point of contact, one margin and one unified interpretation of their brief.

We were able to offer clients strategic clarity and to execute our plans in a manner that communicated their brand messaging consistently.

We created one story, told clearly across multiple channels, meaning the people we targeted encountered the client’s brand message more frequently and in more places.

That’s more touchpoints and more opportunities for the right people to gain awareness and to gain trust in you and your brand, as they move efficiently along a journey that leads to a sale.

That consistency of message, that fleetness of foot, that agility, it served our clients well and we soon began to outgrow the Hayes family home. John and Matthew knew what they had to do.

Changing Times

Champions Awards

On 25th September 2009, The Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke QC MP opened our purpose-built offices in Costock. At the same time, though, the world was in the midst of financial meltdown.

But we stuck to the principles that had delivered over and again for our growing client base and, despite adverse economic weather, we flourished, growing 1174% between 2009 and 2015.

Straitened times meant increasing numbers of brands saw our logic. One client, one brand, one agency and one message, equalling coherence, impact and results. Simple really.

And, with client win after client win, the plaudits followed. Over the next five years, we were honoured to receive regional and nationwide praise and a cluster of industry awards.

• Leicestershire’s TOP 200 Companies

• RAR Recommended status

• Accelerate250

• Insider Growth 100 Table

• The Telegraph 1000 Britain’s Brightest Businesses

• The Sunday Times FastTrack100

• London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

• Santander Breakthrough50 Awards 2014

And the awards didn’t stop there. In 2014, Matthew was named haysmacintyre Top Gun at the Young Guns Awards, a celebration of the UK’s most impressive young entrepreneurs under 35.

New Infrastructure

Times change. And, in the first decade of Champions’ life, they did so immeasurably. First, with the spread of WiFi and then with the birth of social media, soon followed by the smartphone revolution.

Naturally, the end-users we target, the people, they changed too. They adapted their behaviours to new realities, most markedly in how they shop and in the ways in which they consume information.

But we’ve always had our ears to the ground, our fingers on the pulse, so we moved with the times. We’re nothing if not responsive.

We treated ourselves to a complete rebrand, creating Champions THE BRAND AGENCY to highlight the five key service pillars of our architecture, and we invested heavily in our digital capabilities.

Then we established an office in Mayfair to signal the fact that we were now big enough to go national but local enough to appreciate realities on the ground.

Rapid growth in turnover and in the size of our team continued, meaning again we needed more room to meet demand, so an extension to our HQ was built over the winter of 2014-15.

Six years to the day after he’d cut the ribbon on our original building, Ken Clarke was back. On Friday 25th September 2015, he did the honours once more, as we doubled our floor space to 13,000 sq. ft.

New Architecture

Despite all the flux, though, the same simple truths remained. Social media and web agencies had sprung up, it’s true, but the industry persisted in its niche thinking.

We did the exact opposite, venturing further into advertising, expanding our publishing function and getting into video. But, more than anything, we ploughed resources into web and digital services.

And soon the way we’d always talked about ourselves no longer quite covered it. It wasn’t enough to express our offering in terms of five pillars. Champions could do so much more than that.

So, we chose to redefine our offering, to adapt our own messaging and to shape new perceptions about Champions. And, in March 2018, we unveiled The Perfect 10.

Creative I Digital I Marketing I PR I Media I Events I Publishing I Advertising I Celebrity I Web

Harmonising the expertise of 10 specialist in-house departments, we’re more agile than ever, devising bespoke strategies that eliminate mixed messaging and deliver real world results.

New Opportunities

Champions New Extension

The broader our capabilities, the further we can take your brand. We maximise the touchpoints your audience experiences with your brand throughout their individual customer journeys.

We take them from being totally unaware of your brand to become active brand advocates. It’s a sustainable approach that builds efficiency into your business model.

And we should know. We’ve beta tested The Perfect 10 on ourselves already and we’re on course for a £35 million turnover this year and accelerating towards a team of 100 dedicated specialists.

So, whether you’re a well-established brand or an ambitious start-up, it’s time to unify your messaging and marketing efforts in 2018 and squeeze every drop of value from your spend.

Just like it’s a new chapter for us, as we break ground on yet another extension here in Costock – this time a state of the art digital media centre – it could mark the next chapter in your story.

So, get in touch and let’s find out together.

We could end up building something greater than the sum of our parts.

Welcome to the Champions Family!

Richard Padmore
Senior Copywriter