As animated TV series ‘Moominvalley’ comes to living rooms across the UK this Easter weekend, we share how we shaped and executed a B2B and consumer communications strategy for our client Gutsy Animations from concept to transmission…
We’d been working with Moomin Characters for about a year when Marika Makaroff, CEO of Gutsy Animations, got in touch in spring 2017 to ask for our support with a crowdfunding campaign for a new television adaptation of the Moomin stories.
We immediately fell in love with Marika’s vision for a new adaption that was totally loyal to the spirit and values of Tove Jansson’s creation and portrayed the full range of emotions – good and bad – explored within her Moomin stories. We worked with Gutsy and their crowdfunding consultant to secure widespread media coverage and mobilise the Moomin fanbase worldwide, resulting in the campaign securing 127% funding and reaching a total of US$253,230.
On the back of that success, we were thrilled to be appointed by Gutsy to handle consumer and B2B PR throughout the development and production process, helping to attract the attention and interest of buyers around the world.
Our remit included making all major announcements about the production, including our UK voice cast announcement which saw Moominvalley being discussed by presenters on the BBC Breakfast sofa and by Nick Grimshaw on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show as well as news stories on Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Stylist, NME and many more.
At MIPCOM 2017 we organised a beach party with Rosamund Pike, who voices Moominmamma, to guarantee that buyers would take time out of their hectic schedules to come to our event. We also took the opportunity to arrange a full-page interview with Rosamund for the MIPCOM Daily Paper, ensuring that Gutsy and Moominvalley had high visibility during the market.
(Sophia Jansson, creative director of Moomin Characters; Rosamund Pike who voices Moominmamma; Marika Makaroff, CEO of Gutsy Animations at MIPCOM 2017)
We announced various acquisitions, working with broadcast partners worldwide including Yle in Finland, Sky in the UK and NHK in Japan. Further collaborators came on board in the form of Columbia Records, part of Sony Music, who we announced would be partnering with Moominvalley on the soundtrack with Columbia artists including Tom Odell and First Aid Kit writing brand-new feature songs for each episode of the first series.
In the run-up to the animation airing, we identified what needed to be done to supplement the work of Sky’s consumer PR agency in the UK and placed a couple of major features looking at the new animation from a literary point of view. Tove’s original Moomin stories are at the heart of everything that the Moomin brand does so it was important to make sure they featured alongside interviews with the starry cast and team. We invited journalists out to the worldwide premiere in Helsinki, where they were able interview Tove’s niece Sophia plus Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, the lead writers on the series, for spreads on the source material in the Guardian and The i Paper. We also collaborated on some trade media opportunities, telling the story of the production from Gutsy’s perspective with written pieces from Marika and Academy Award-winning director Steve Box.
At the Helsinki premiere, we hosted four members of the UK cast: Rosamund Pike (Moominmamma), Taron Egerton (Moomintroll), Jennifer Saunders (Mymble) and Edvin Endre (Snufkin). Together with Gutsy and Sky’s team we organised an afternoon of international media interviews for the voice talent plus key members from the production team. Later that day we hosted the UK talent at the premiere itself, which included a red carpet moment with photo opps and further interviews, and were the first port of call for talent during their visit to Finland.
(UK voice cast at the Helsinki premiere, credit: Jussi Nahkuri and Ilmari Fabritius)
Seeing something turn from creative vision into reality is always a magical experience, but it’s even more wonderful when the timing is so right. The world needs the Moomins – and the lessons they can teach us about tolerance, respect and welcoming difference – more than ever right now. It’s been a joy to have played a role in this project right from the beginning. Marika, Steve and the incredibly talented team at Gutsy have done a wonderful job of honouring Tove’s work, presenting it for a contemporary audience in a fresh and cutting-edge way. We’re so excited for the rest of the world to see it.
Caitlin Allen, associate director
The 10-strong longlist for the 12th annual Desmond Elliott Prize, the “UK’s most prestigious award for debut novelists” (Daily Telegraph), has been revealed today (Tuesday 2nd April). The Prize, which is presented in the name of the late, acclaimed literary agent and publisher Desmond Elliott, has revealed a longlist that stretches from magical realism to rigorously researched historical novels and whose authors range from playwrights to political activists.
Several of the longlisted authors looked to their own family histories for inspiration. In A Perfect Explanation, Eleanor Anstruther tells the shocking story behind her aristocratic grandmother’s selling of her son (the author’s father) for £500, while Testament was inspired by Kim Sherwood’s grandmother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Anna Mackmin’s Devoured is influenced by the award-winning theatre director’s own childhood spent in a hippy commune in Norfolk. Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler, who co-created the GE2017 Tinder chat bot to campaign for Labour in the 2017 General Election, examines cultural duality as experienced by the author in her own Brazilian-English household.
Magical realism and the fantastical loom large this year, with The Chameleon by Samuel Fisher, Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson – the youngest ever Man Booker Prize shortlistee – all making the longlist. Elsewhere, Golden Child by Claire Adam, published in the US by Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP for Hogarth imprint, Hold by Michael Donkor and Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin explore the great themes of love, belief and abandonment within the frame of three uniquely troubled families.
Independent publisher Salt and HarperCollins imprint 4th Estate each have two titles on the list, which sees independents take on the big publishing houses. The longlisted authors include two Observer ‘new faces of fiction’: Michael Donkor and Yara Rodrigues Fowler, who were featured in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize longlist in full (alphabetically by author surname):
The Chairman of the Prize’s trustees, Dallas Manderson, said: “It is with great pride that we once again present a list that combines dazzling debuts which have already caught the attention of the literary world with a number of titles that have so far flown a little under the radar – undeservedly so. It is our hope that being longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize will help these promising authors receive greater recognition from the media, trade and book-buying public. Our 2018 winner, Preti Taneja, has already achieved wonderful things in the nine months since her win and we wish all the same success to this year’s hopefuls.”
This year’s chair of judges, Man Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst, said: “I’m really delighted to have been asked to chair the judging panel for the 2019 Desmond Elliott Prize. It’s a prize that rewards the courage as well as the skill of new writers — the ones who will go on to shape the reading landscape of the future.”
The Desmond Elliott Prize has a track record of spotting exceptionally talented novelists at the very beginning of their careers. Last year, the Prize was awarded to Preti Taneja for her debut novel, We That Are Young. Since winning the Desmond Elliott Prize, We That Are Young has been published in the US, Canada, India, Germany and France. Other past-winners include Francis Spufford, Claire Fuller and Eimear McBride.
Alan Hollinghurst is joined on the judging panel by the literary editor of The Times, Robbie Millen, and managing director of the Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls. A shortlist will be announced on 10th May and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 19th June, where they will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.
For further information please contact Caitlin Allen at Riot Communications on
020 3174 0118 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The London Review of Books – Europe’s leading magazine of culture and ideas – has hired specialist PR agency Riot Communications to help celebrate the LRB’s 40th anniversary this year.
Published twice monthly, the LRB attracts some of the best writers in the world, musing on a wide range of subjects, in longform, from politics and technology to art and poetry. With the highest circulation of any magazine of its kind in Europe, it is renowned as an exponent of the intellectual essay, admired globally for its fearlessness, its range and its elegance.
Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: ‘A reader once described the LRB as “the best thing about being a human” and I know exactly what they mean. The writers that the magazine attracts are outstanding, and whatever mood you are in, there is guaranteed to be something in each issue that resonates. The LRB helps me make sense of the world.
‘It’s also a perfect client for us, because it makes a positive impact in the world, which is one of our key agency values. Forty years is a major milestone, a testimony to the strength of the LRB’s brand. We can’t wait to help them mark this anniversary.’
Nicholas Spice, publisher of the LRB, said: ‘Riot Communications is the most exciting thing to happen to books PR for a long time, so it was only natural that we’d work with them on birthday celebrations that are as much about looking forward as they are about celebrating the past forty years.’
For more information please contact Caitlin Allen: email@example.com / 020 3174 0118
The much anticipated adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning young adult book series Noughts + Crosses has begun filming in South Africa for BBC One.
Mammoth Screen is producing this gripping story of first love in a dangerous, alternate world where racism divides society. The six-part series is written by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), Lydia Adetunji (Riviera), Nathaniel Price (Tin Star) and Rachel De-Lahay (Kiri).
Noughts + Crosses follows two young people Sephy and Callum, who are divided by their colour but united by love. Sephy is a ‘Cross’, a member of the black ruling class and daughter of a prominent politician. Callum is a ‘Nought’, a white member of the underclass. The two have been friends since early childhood but their relationship grows ever more complicated as they come of age. It’s the story of two families separated by power and prejudice but forever entwined by fate.
BAFTA winner Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill) will play Callum McGregor and newcomer Masali Baduza has been cast as Sephy Hadley.
Paterson Joseph (Timeless, Peep Show) plays Sephy’s father, the Home Secretary Kamal Hadley, Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) plays her mother Jasmine and her sister Minerva is played by Kike Brimah (Love Type D).
Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Cuckoo) and Ian Hart (The Last Kingdom, The Secret Agent) play Callum’s parents Meggie and Ryan and Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Little Stranger) will play his older brother Jude.
Shaun Dingwall (Goodbye Christopher Robin, The Long Firm) plays Liberation Militia leader Dorn. The cast also features Jonathan Ajayi and Rakie Ayola (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, No Offence).
Malorie Blackman, author of the Noughts & Crosses novels, says: “I’m thrilled that the TV dramatisation of Noughts & Crosses has such an amazing cast to bring the story to the screen. It will be so exciting to see how the writers and actors open up the world I created, adding new breadth and detail.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama said, “Noughts & Crosses is a novel that leaves an indelible impression on anyone who reads it. It’s fantastic that we have such an electric cast and crew bringing this powerful story to the screen for the first time on BBC One.”
Executive producer Preethi Mavahalli says: “It is an absolute honour to be adapting this treasured novel for television. We are delighted to have such a phenomenal cast bringing this iconic love story to the screen for both existing fans and a whole new audience.”
The adaptation is based on the first book in the Noughts & Crosses series for young adults, which has won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award among other accolades. The author, Malorie Blackman OBE, was the Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015.
Noughts + Crosses is directed by Julian Holmes (Daredevil, Iron Fist) and Koby Adom and produced by Johann Knobel (Shameless). Executive Producers are Toby Whithouse, Kibwe Tavares (Jonah), Patrick Reardon for Roc Nation; Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Miura Kite; Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen and Ben Irving for BBC One. It will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
Katy MacMillan-Scott – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Vanoli – 07899 060230, email@example.com
About Mammoth Screen
Mammoth Screen is one of the UK’s leading production companies. Current and forthcoming shows include POLDARK series 5, THE ABC MURDERS, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, WORLD ON FIRE and THE SERPENT for BBC1, Mammoth Screen is an ITV Studios Company.
About Malorie Blackman
Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults, including the Noughts & Crosses series, Thief and most recently her science fiction thriller Chasing the Stars. Her work has also been adapted for TV with the 6 part adaptation of Pig-Heart Boy winning a BAFTA. A stage adaptation of Noughts + Crosses was produced by the RSC, with a new production staged by Pilot Theatre running in 2019 under the direction of Sabrina Mahfouz. In 2005, Malorie was given the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books, in 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature and, between 2013 and 2015 she was the Children’s Laureate. Malorie wrote the acclaimed Rosa episode for the new Doctor Who series on BBC One and the fifth novel in her Noughts & Crosses sequence, Crossfire, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s in summer 2019.
Riot Communications has won a three-way pitch to promote the Royal Institution’s annual Christmas Lectures, the Ri’s biggest and most famous, demonstration-based science event for young people.
With the exception of a pause during WWII, the Christmas Lectures have run continuously since 1825 and featured many famous scientists including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan and Dame Nancy Rothwell. This year’s Lecturer will be Professor Alice Roberts, broadcaster and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. Professor Roberts will be exploring the topic of identity in a series of three lectures entitled “Who Am I?”
Robert Davies, Head of Marketing and Communications at the Royal Institution said: “The Christmas Lectures aren’t just about inspiring a love of science, but rather they’re about a critical examination of its place in our lives. In identity, we’ve chosen a topical subject that will resonate with everyone, and Alice will be asking some challenging questions about what identity means in today’s world and what genetic advances in particular might mean for our future. We were really impressed with the way Riot’s pitch went straight to the heart of what we want to achieve through the Christmas Lectures.”
Riot Communications MD Preena Gadher said: “As an agency driven by a desire to work with clients making a positive impact in the world, the Royal Institution is a perfect partner for us; it strives to inspire everyone to think about the role of science in their daily lives and the Christmas Lectures are a crucial platform for that. As the world’s oldest TV science series, the Lectures have become part of the festive tradition in households across the nation for generations. We can’t wait to help spread that magic to even more people.”
The Christmas Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four between Christmas and New Year.
For more information contact Emily Souders at Riot Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 3174 0118
About Riot Communications
Riot Communications is a PR agency specialising in culture and entertainment, because, like our clients, we want to make a positive impact in the world. We passionately believe that culture and entertainment help promote empathy, creativity, respect for others and joy which is why we love what we do.
About the Royal Institution
The Royal Institution’s (Ri) vision is for a world where everyone is inspired to think more deeply about science and its place in our lives. Home to eminent scientists such as Michael Faraday, Humphry Davy and Kathleen Lonsdale, its discoveries have helped to shape the modern world. Just as importantly these scientists recognised the importance of sharing their work with the wider public. Today it continues its mission to build on its heritage and create opportunities for everyone to discover, discuss and critically examine science and how it shapes the world around us. An independent registered charity, the Ri provides science education, public engagement, and heritage activities for people of all ages and backgrounds across the UK and around the world.