A conscious decoupling: Paperhat Group CEO Tim Peppiatt talks CGI, direct mail and building wraps

Will Railton
Follow Will
Tim Peppiatt
They used to have to cut the roof off, but when you see a car seat in a sports car advert, it's likely to be CGI," says Paperhat Group chief executive and founder Tim Peppiatt. "They reproduce the same leather and stitching using the same wire frame used to build the vehicles in the factory. They would have to chop the roof off otherwise, so it's an effective solution."
Specialising in the supply and delivery side of marketing - "decoupled" from the creative side - Paperhat Group aims to turn the "big idea" into an actionable strategy at a competitive price. He tells City A.M. about turning the company from a marketing consultancy to a specialist in procurement across print, digital and other services, as well as offering creative services like design, retouching and CGI for the likes of Samsung, Virgin Media and Jaguar.

What is decoupling?

It is the separation of the creative and the production sides of marketing. It essentially allows clients more flexibility to shop around and get value for money. There is no doubt that brands are moved by the strength of their creative. Bartle Bogle Hegarty made KFC look desirable by marketing it as a soul food, but the execution of those campaigns is a different matter. It used to be the case that marketers were given a budget of £1m, and the costs involved in production weren't scrutinised. Today, marketers need their money to go further, and that's where we come in.
Paperhat started out as a consultancy and, as we looked for ways to optimise production, we realised the myriad elements involved, from translation to banners, TV to social media, and how agencies had been making ludicrous profits off their clients for years, without offering the same aggregation opportunities we could. So we leveraged the trust we had built as an adviser to move into other areas of the marketing delivery supply chain, going far beyond print management into creative services like CGI, design and social media consultancy.
A deal with a full service agency or a network isn't always efficient. You don't need WPP to do your internal communications, for example. In fact, one of our clients is a network agency which uses us for its production, and there's a branding agency which has divested its production from inhouse - its artwork, print, reproduction - so it is more free to be a brand consulting firm.

What is print's role today?

Print is growing, contrary to what you might believe, and the applications of print are evolving as well. At one time, we would do 10m direct mail doordrops, but the return on investment on a piece of direct mail is only 1 to 3 per cent. Building wraps are very popular now. You would probably prefer to look at an annual report as a PDF, but we produce catalogues for Christies which are hugely collectible because they are interesting objects.
Ultimately, the usefulness of any strand of marketing depends on the client's wants and needs, and anyone who gives you a definitive answer about what your marketing mix should look like is stretching the truth.

What are the most effective means of engaging consumers?

Whether it's through films or viral videos, it is no secret that content is a great way to increase consumer engagement. Video has changed our approach to a lot of things. If you want to know how to work an Olympus camera, you don't look in the manual, you go on YouTube, and it's the way my son learns Minecraft. What's interesting is that you have the £2m commercial, the corporate film at £80-100,000, all the way down to the guy on his laptop working on a student website. At the lower end of this scale, more and more content is being produced, which represents a huge opportunity.
Digital and data are obviously incredibly useful as well. If you download a white paper and forward it on, marketers can know you've done that. If you are sent something and send it to someone else, there is software which can tell which computer it has been opened on, and by whom. That is instantaneous return on investment. It is allowing marketing to become more tailored, to be about driving sales and not just cutting costs.
Ten or 15 years ago, we produced a film with Omnicom and OMD looking into consumers' attitudes to marketing. The overarching message was: "Stop trying to sell us stuff. Just tell us what your products are and how they can improve our lifestyle." That's still the case today, only we have better means of achieving it.