Winner: 44 Communications
Entry Title: The Globe, December 2015, Philip McHugh Portrait
Barclaycard is a global brand, one of the world’s largest international payments businesses with more than 21 million customers around the world and operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Its cards can be used to pay at more than 27 million outlets and withdraw cash from one million ATMs, while more than 85,000 merchants use Barclaycard as a trusted financial partner.
Operating within the tightly regulated financial services sector, it nevertheless has a history of innovation: it was the first UK company to launch a credit card in 1966, the first UK credit card company to go online in 1995 and the first to introduce a contactless payment card in 2007. Barclaycard has a worldwide employee base of more than 11,000 people, 6,000 of whom are based in the UK.
Goals and planning
Barclaycard has an international structure – and an employee demographic to match – with offices and teams as widely separated as Hamburg, Manila, Delaware and Noida in India. It employs mainly nationals of the countries where it operates and manages this multinational workforce from its global headquarters in Northampton. An important part of this effort is engaging employees across cultures and maintaining alignment with corporate strategy through its internal communications channels.
The Globe has been one of the company’s main internal communication channels for some time. Its main objectives are to:
- represent the modern, global, technologically-advanced character of Barclaycard
- demonstrate the focus on people, which was seen as both a business imperative and a critical factor in engaging the workforce
- have the class and gravitas required for one of the world’s premier financial services businesses.
In the summer of 2014, Barclaycard challenged Write the Talk and 44 Communications to revitalise the look and feel of The Globe so it would feel more edgy, contemporary and in tune with the company’s external above-the-line TV advertising and communications.
In 2014 alone, Barclaycard sponsored the Mercury Prize, distributed contactless pay bands at 2014 Pride in London and organised a major rock festival in Hyde Park. So it was decided that the magazine needed to be, for want of a better phrase, ‘much cooler’ and more in keeping with a new brand vision that’s all about being forward-looking, dynamic and innovative.
The cover image of the new-look Globe was always going to be crucial to its impact and success. It would need to set the tone for the new style, encapsulate what the magazine and brand were all about, and convey the sense of fun and ambition at the heart of both.
The chosen cover story was an interview with Philip McHugh, CEO of Barclaycard Business Solutions (BBS). The angle of the piece was both a retrospective (Philip had just celebrated one year as CEO) and a future vision (setting out his goals and ambitions for BBS).
Achieving a striking image to fit this brief was not without its challenges. The Barclaycard senior leadership team’s diaries are always very hard to access, and in the case of Philip McHugh, the Barclaycard creative team only had 30 minutes with him to get the killer shot.
Equally difficult was the location – Barclaycard’s offices in Canary Wharf. Located on Level 13 of One Churchill Place, Barclays’ global headquarters, space is very much at a premium and most of the best existing locations had already been used in previous photoshoots for The Globe.
In an inspired move, photographer Debra Hurford-Brown and Barclaycard creative manager Jonny Mulholland decided to stage the shoot on the roof of One Churchill Place, which at 156 metres high is one of the tallest buildings in Canary Wharf. Not only would this provide a visually stunning backdrop (complete with the Millennium Dome at a diminutive scale), it also perfectly suited the story and wider remit of the magazine.
The specific shot that was chosen features Philip in a seated pose, hands clasped and leaning forward on a lime green chair in stark contrast to the muted colour palette of a London rooftop. This photograph perfectly captured Philip’s personality as a humble yet confident leader, as well as the story of his business as a flash of forward-thinking in a traditionally conservative industry.
BBS is a business unit with lofty ambitions, led by an inspiring CEO, and the new-look version of The Globe itself was designed to set new standards for employee communications within the business. All of that was wonderfully captured in an employee portrait of the very highest quality.
In March 2015, a listening group was conducted with a cross-section of readers from UK, US and Indian Barclaycard offices. Here are some of their comments:
- “My favourite thing about the new design is the photography. It looks good and feels good.”
- “I absolutely noticed the new design! It has a very professional look and feel, and the photography is high quality and very good.”
- “I love the photography. It has been very inspirational when it comes to drafting communications within our team.”
- “I like the photography and the way the text is broken up. It makes it all very easy to read.”
- The Globe, December 2014 edition