The eski journey

Work placement Sarah Vause turned internal journalist as part of master’s degree work placement with us. She asked, “What is eskimosoup all about?”

eski isn’t your typical marketing company; they focus on achieving social good and saving lives, with clients such as the NHS, Movember, and local government. Even the businesses they work with have social goals, whether that be helping people into work or green energy, such as Siemens Gamesa.

As an outsider to the company I was keen to find out more about eski and its journey. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Managing Director, John Gilbert and some of his team.

I learned that 5 years ago eski restructured with John separating from his former business partners to focus on their work to create social good through creative marketing. Currently they are researching, developing and running campaigns on topics around healthy relationships, prevention of exploitation of young people and early detection of lung cancer. Soon the team will start a project around encouraging families to have their children become more active and another to help young people define success and positive role models, in order to raise career aspirations. With all these different projects and issues to tackle, John tells me that they are “meeting one challenge at a time, head on.”

Due to eski aiming to achieve social good they find themselves dealing with many topics that some might consider to be quite dark. eski aims to prevent these issues from happening or to show people experiencing challenges that there is a way out.

“Our tag line is social good: we are trying to do good things within the social environments that we operate.” John tells me. The company was one of the first to do social media campaigns around health. Utilising Facebook and YouTube they set out to change behaviours and attitudes around protecting young people against measles through the MMR vaccine, as during this time there were a lot of young people who had not received it.

John informs me that although social in the sense of social media is an important part of what they do, the word ‘social’ is much more than that: “Social good means a community of people coming together to solve a challenge. It’s about communication; about pulling together to achieve something good.” eski may be a small team but around them there are freelancers, partners and volunteers that share their values and have similar goals. “We work together as one big social network, each playing to our strengths.” John explains.

Overtime, eski has become more than just your typical design or marketing agency. In 2014 eski split away from the rest of the agency to focus on social and health campaigns. John believes that it was absolutely the right thing to do. “It’s meant that customers can understand what they can get from us and the team understands what they have signed up for. We’ve got something that we aren’t just good at; it’s a way of working that we can be great at. Then when you’re great at something you attract other opportunities.”

In the past the company were design and advertising focused, whereas now the work that they are doing is all about challenging attitudes and behaviours. As a result of this it is increasingly requiring them to take a ‘storytelling’ approach in order to do that. Many of eski’s recent work such as the short films they have produced, have been created in order to reach their marketing goals specifically through media creation.

Undoubtedly what is most striking about eski is the impact and results of their work. John retells a seminal moment in his career a few years ago when he received feedback from two different projects: one he made the client a lot of money – which he was pleased as it was proof of their hard work, and another was that the campaign they had developed had saved some lives. John explained that it was the latter that really made him believe that what they were doing was truly important.

“Working at eski has opened so many doors for me and has allowed me to really bring out my creative side. The opportunities I’ve been given have been endless, whether that be appearing on radio, or just helping out at local events. I love everything we stand for, and our social awareness campaigns are incredibly rewarding. Working with young people and understanding how their everyday lives work, what their issues are and what interests them is something I thoroughly enjoy and there’s no better feeling than being approached and knowing that you’ve made a difference no matter how little.” – Alice, Digital Marketing Apprentice.

“Working at eski means that I get to work on some very ‘real’ and important projects that aim to make the world just a little bit nicer. Seeing such projects through start to finish is really rewarding, especially when over time you notice the positive change happening.” – Megan, Projects Manager.

The company plan is to keep getting better at what they do. They’ve explored future ideas such as geographical expansion, but as John rightly points out there are no shortage of challenges in the north of England. Again, regarding the broad spectrum of social good, they have focused a lot around health as that is where they started and is still a core part of eski.

I asked John about the future for eski beyond focusing on getting better at what they do. “The plans for us going forward will be a more holistic social challenge. As we do more and more work with communities and young people in particular, it is becoming clear you don’t just deal with one issue at a time you need to have something that is going to lift someone’s aspirations, lift the whole community together. I think that a better understanding on how we fit into the big picture is the future for the work that we do.”

One of the proudest parts of the eski journey for John is the team he has built. Some business owners may find that not knowing about everything that is going on within the company to be uncomfortable. John sees this as a positive as it allows his team to be empowered to do things their way: solving problems, injecting energy into work and ideas into projects – because they want to, not because they are told to. From saving lives to their incredible work ethic, I am confident in saying that eski are not just a successful company but an inspirational one.

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