A Week in My Life: Rhona Templer, Managing Director of Lucre
Rhona Templer has been the Managing Director of The Lucre Group’s London operations for the past five years. Here, she shares a week in her life...
In March 2012, Rhona was touting a life-sized tank made from egg boxes around Clapham Common in the rain for an Eggs for Soldiers campaign, raising money for Help for Heroes. Seven years down the line and she's spending the week with 54 PizzaExpress expert pizza chefs launching dough in the air in Oxford Circus.
The week always starts with a planning session, which is particularly important today as we have a Herculean task ahead. We are responsible for launching PizzaExpress’ brand refresh, something that has been 18 months in the making and is manifesting itself through a complete refurbishment of the Langham Place, Oxford Circus pizzeria.
There is a lot of energy in the office as we have a number of credentials meetings and pitches this week too. Some of the team head off to manage a photo shoot at the PizzaExpress restaurant; the new direction means it’s essential to have people in the shots, which immediately adds a level of complexity.
I have a meeting with our incredibly effervescent Head of Property, Katy, to plot out the next few months for one of our biggest property clients, Berkeley.
After an intense few hours of campaign planning, I’m back into the land of pizza, checking that the last-minute preparations are in place for the following morning. The team end up being at the photo shoot all day, but the results are beautiful, so it’s a relief all round.
7.30am start at the Haymarket pizzeria to meet the 54 pizzaiolos who are going to take part in our stunt. Coffee and croissants provided for all, but they look uneasy as we register them. A few say that don’t want to be photographed (slight issue), but a reassuring word from the General Manager has them back on track.
I’ve brought in the wonderful Ministry of Fun to help organise this stunt and with their confidant, flamboyant characters and loud voices, they manage to organise the pizzaiolos into groups and they start to show us the flaring skills. Each is skilled, but they cannot flare in unison. We try counting – too fast – and chaos ensues. Then, we hit on the magic formula: ‘throw, one, two, three’. By the end of the two-hour rehearsal, we are motoring and everyone understands what this crazy idea is all about. There are smiles all round!
We then head up with our event organisers and client to recce Oxford Circus and double-check timings. We need to have fallback options in case we get moved on. Due to tight timings, we must do the stunt guerrilla-style.
I spend some time with our client going through final briefing documents and releases followed by a briefing with Zoe Bowley, the dynamic MD of PizzaExpress, in preparation for her interviews the following day. She’s the most down-to-earth and approachable women in such a powerful position that I’ve ever come across and she makes my life easy.
We film a piece to camera with Zoe and then we’re done for the day (apart from 250 emails which have crept into my inbox somehow). I get through them, spend some time with my 14-year-old daughter, and fall into bed around 11pm.
My alarm goes off at 3:15am to get ready for the big day and by 4am I arrive to meet our two brilliant photographers and video crew, my team and a few keen pizzaiolos before the restaurant opens at 5am. Everyone slowly files in and with meticulous counting, we are massively relieved to have 54 pizzaiolos arrive - 54 being the number that represents every year that PizzaExpress has been in the UK.
A quick practice outside the pizzeria and everyone is ready to go. We expect to get away with the stunt at Oxford Circus’ pedestrianised crossing once or twice before security or police move us on, but incredibly, we manage to stay for over an hour, with no interruption but plenty of smiles and photos from passers-by. We then return to the restaurant and the photos are ready for us to choose the top 10 within the hour. That sorted, we wait a further half hour for the film to be edited and approved before it’s sent to the news desks.
It is very strange to return to the office for a day’s work mid-morning having achieved such an incredible coup in the heart of the City! Now it’s a waiting game. We are keen to appear in the Evening Standard and have worked hard to ensure we hit their deadlines – but by lunchtime, there is no news.
I try to forget about this as I do two staff reviews. We check everyone’s progress twice-yearly to make sure they’re happy and on track with their objectives and I think it’s one of the reasons that we have so many long-standing staff. It’s not unusual to find someone having worked at Lucre for over seven years – something I’ve rarely come across in the industry.
Finally, mid-afternoon, we have some good news. The Mirror and Sun Online have run our story and it’s been warmly received elsewhere. Also, Theresa May is still in office, so we have a chance in tomorrow’s papers!
Despite two hours of sleep, I finish at the office and rush to Zumba. Ideally, I’d exercise daily and have to work hard at preventing client demands from interrupting, but if I don’t go for more than two days, I really feel like climbing the walls.
Somehow, I make it through to 11pm and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Feel much fresher today thankfully. My Park Plaza Hotel team jump into crisis mode with a sudden client issue and I’m told our DJ has cancelled for our evening’s launch event just as I’m walking into a Board meeting. Luckily the switched-on agent has provided four possible replacements and my team quickly pinpoint the best (Paul Weller’s daughter – she was incredible) and by the time I’m out of the meeting, it’s all sorted. I also then find out that we’ve made it as Evening Standard’s picture of the day, along with print coverage in the Telegraph – the client is delighted (as are we).
In the Board meeting, we cover off some current issues and discuss exciting future plans for the business, before the senior team join us to update on our people, RICH (our content and film division) and new business. Due to an event for one of my clients, we agree to move our annual Company Day – no mean feat as everyone’s diaries seem ridiculously busy this year. Unfortunately, I have to leave before we get to discuss new business, but we’ve had a brilliant flow of new leads since the new year, so we must be doing something right.
I rush off to oversee interviews with some national journalists for Zoe Bowley again. She does very well, and we end up squeezing into a freezing office at the back of the pizzeria for the final interview – the glamour never ends.
We fit in a photoshoot with her afterwards and before we know it, it’s time to put on my black trouser suit and make-up and get ready for the launch event. The restaurant looks beautiful and the guests start filtering in on time - then there is a surge where we’re about to run out of cloakroom space and the mixologists cannot keep up with demand. Senior staff jump in to lend a hand, and two of my team, Sophie and April, bravely man the check-in, devising a new system to keep things ticking along nicely.
We end up with 62 guests from over 40 publications, so that’s not bad going. Paul Weller makes an appearance for about two minutes – I think he was simply checking his daughter was okay as our DJ – and she is superb. He leaves a ripple of excitement in his wake.
Zoe’s speech goes down well, all the tech equipment works brilliantly, the new pizzas are guzzled, bar snacks enjoyed, cocktails shaken and the whole ambience is magical. We encourage a few guests to try out the GIFI machine which naturally appeals to the influencers we’ve invited. I can tell people don’t want to leave but it’s time to finish. We are still there two hours later, helping the client deal with an internal issue and despite my earlier intentions of joining my team for a drink, the adrenaline has stopped flowing and I leave them to it, grateful of a black cabbie parked nearby.
The day starts brilliantly with Metro running our flaring pizzaiolos in print and a full page in City AM for another one of our clients, Mira. I join the team for a brainstorm for BIC. We have a new range to promote which has a clear creative platform. We make some headway and agree to put lots of time aside next week to really crack it.
I then meet with the team to discuss PizzaExpress’ retail plans which we’re presenting next week. Despite everything we’ve had going on, good progress has been made and I then have a hand-over call with our Head of Property as she’s off on holiday next week.
One of our drinks clients postpones a call which gives me a precious hour back to catch up on some office admin, as we’re in the middle of renegotiating our lease for our current office, and then it’s a quick email to complete our ‘shout-outs’. Every week the team anonymously highlight funny, important, outstanding moments from the week and they are shared with the whole company. It’s a nice way for people to be able to say, ‘thank you’ or just ‘TFIF’!
I rush off early to take my daughter to the orthodontist for a check-up on her braces. She is told she needs to brush her teeth better (what have I been saying?) and then the orthodontist talks about a new beauty brand he’s bringing to market, and we exchange details. New business leads sometimes come from the most unexpected of places!
I make it to my Body Pump class and then finally home to put the washing on, and feet up in front of an episode of Narcos (currently our favourite Netflix fix). Celebrate with a glass or two of something sparkling and finally relax. We made it through the week and what’s more, we achieved great things. I’m very proud of my team and next week we get to do it all again with another launch...