The Hunting Dynasty is a behavioural insight and communications agency which has worked for clients as varied as British Gas, Against Malaria Foundation and the Coca Cola initiative Keep Britain Tidy. We talked to its founder Oliver Payne.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I guess I've had three careers.
I spent the early days in digital start-ups in Liverpool, New York, and London in the mid 90s, shaping digital interaction and inventing interactive TV elements.
Then I was a Creative Director from 1999–2009, first at Saatchi & Saatchi (for five years), and up to board level at Ogilvy (five years), in London on global advertising campaigns (BP, P&G, Cisco, IBM, Castrol, Avis, Toyota, and Visa, etc). I won many of the world’s top global advertising awards, and sat on global judging panels.
But I got bored, and a bit disillusioned with whether anything we did actually worked.
So I left in 2009, researched and wrote a book about behavioural psychology, environmental psychology, and how to change behaviour relating to sustainability published in 2012 ('Inspiring Sustainable Behaviour: 19 Ways To Ask For Change' - you can find it on Amazon here).
I set up a new type of comms agency to deliver behavioural insight and communication... One that actually worked!
I speak on behaviour, including NATO (Latvia), government departments (Whitehall), startups (Netherlands), Science Museum (London), and help media (Esquire, The Guardian, Telegraph). I am a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, and an Affiliate of the British Psychological Society.
Also I co-founded the four-year-old London Behavioural Economics Network.
Pitch your business in a sentence
We apply provable, testable psychology to communication in order to change behaviour permanently, whether it needs to be overt or covert communication, images, ads, web/app interface, or environment/architecture.
Give us a potted history of the Hunting Dynasty
In 2009 I set up a sustainability agency with my then co-director, but I was more interested in behavioural psychology, and she more in sustainability, and a few other life-things got in the way and we amicably parted. That was when I wrote my book and pivoted the agency I founded to focus on applied psychology.
In the years since, we've had a lot of success, including the only Gold awarded in 2015 for retail at the Nudge Awards (work which is used by the FCA as well as our insurance client), and tremendous reception for our work and ability to understand what drives behaviour (whether the customers or constituents know that we're doing it or not).
We work on:
- Digital interface (major online aggregate insurance site)
- Pharma (staff behaviour, and patient behaviour)
- Charity (direct mail increasing donations)
- Community (Keep Britain Tidy/Coke reducing littering)
- And we are Certified for Military Strategic Effects contract.
Have you ever sought outside funding?
Where do you see your business in a year's time? In three years’ time?
In one year:
- Winning another award or two.
- Doubling turnover, consolidating existing clients.
- Productising some of our tests and applying them successful and repeatedly.
- Still annoying Leon on a daily basis.
In three years
- Successfully delivering a value-based client where we share in the decreased costs/increased revenue of a client as a response to our provable, testable, permanent communication interventions (rather than project or retainer based clients).
- Having staff based full or part time on site with clients.
- Five to ten gold standard examples of interventions where we've changed behaviour – permanently.
- And Lina is back from her PhD and doing her usual platinum standard work.
What's your growth strategy?
It's a newish and growing sector, so double-prong of:
- Land-grab against other applied-psych comms agencies, and
- Building the business to look like a 'safe bet' to start eating the lunch of existing non-applied-psych comms agencies
We'll go for specialism and depth when the marketplace matures (or even split into divisions and service them as effective verticals).
What's your marketing strategy?
I'm an old ad man, and an applied psychologist so the only thing we/I *do* know is how to market products and services – however, applied psychology a relatively newly popular field with clients who need help and are actively seeking us out in an (for the moment) under-serviced sector, so the marketing strategy is simply putting a sign on an open door at the moment. It is refreshing – for now.
Who would you ask (dead or alive) to be a dream member on your board of directors?
Me, when I'm dead, brought back from the future to tell me all the mistakes I made so I can avoid them this time around – including who I should have on my board of directors now (natch :)).
What's the best thing about co-working?
Overhearing other people's business challenges and plans, and being reminded we're all either 'building the bridge as we go', or 'carving away bits of the rock that aren't sculpture'. It's a brain-ache, and it's fascinating.
For more from Oliver Payne, here's an article or you could listen to a podcast or two.