Startle | ...Gasp!


Full Marketing Strategy


The Brief

We’ve worked closely in partnership with the lovely bunch at Startle as their retained agency for several years, highlighted by helping them achieve financial growth in 2020 by growing their EBITDA by an impressive 44%. At first, we were tasked with elevating this exciting start-up brand to rub shoulders alongside more established players in a saturated market. Since then, we’ve continued to support them in all manner of ways, executing fun, exciting and distinct tactics and activations.

Startle is a talented tech company that provides background music and engaging in-store tech solutions built on behavioural science to retail and hospitality businesses globally.

The Response

It all started with some extensive research including YouGov profiling to understand attitudes and behaviours within our core target segments, and proper diagnosis and resulted in an identity and tone of voice that really set them apart, allowing them to claim their own distinct position in the market based on a balance between being lovers of music and experts on tech, infused with a fun, approachable and energetic personality.

Extensive communication guidelines take this fresh face to market and uncover new opportunities with total clarity and confidence. Playful references to song lyrics give us a suite of key messages promoting the USPs of Startle. Positioning statements (what Startle is positioned for, but also crucially what it is positioned against as we seek to steal market share) and a defined tool of brand codes enables Startle to respond to marketing and PR requirements with real stand out content.

The retargeting display ads were particularly successful. It is an ad form perceived (quite rightly) as largely intrusive and misused, so our answer to the brief of ‘what does a Startle retargeted banner ad look like?’ resulted in a bold, witty and smart creative that raised smiles rather frowns when seen. If you’re going to follow people online, make them smile at the very least.

In early 2020 when the pandemic struck, it impacted the vast majority of Startle’s customer base and market and was a time when doors were closed, but we found a way to open them via finding a new angle based on behavioural research. It gave Startle a new avenue of fresh content and perspective to support the retail and hospitality industries, culminating in a hugely successful webinar with great speakers who included the behavioural scientist and best-selling author Richard Shotton. You can read in more detail about this research project here.

We support Startle on the execution of all their promotional campaigns, such as their Rock and Roll Bingo promotion that helps support pubs re-open with a bang, post lockdown. But there’s still so much more to come: a highly-targeted, personalised direct mail campaign centred on the MTG research, a hardware packaging re-design sprinkled with memorable micro-copy, not to mention (fingers-crossed) supporting Startle on the return of key physical events.

The Results

The bottom line, all the more staggering given the events and challenges of recent times, was that Startle achieved financial growth in 2020, growing their EBITDA by an impressive 44%.

Startle also get regular and hugely positive feedback from pitches as to the quality of the materials and distinct branding, giving assurances to any future client that enters into business with them.

We are building on the early successes of 2021 and working with Startle to continually push the boundaries and expectations of their market.

Adam Castleton, CEO, Startle

“We came to Gasp with the task of giving our brand positioning and marketing strategy an overhaul - and bringing our team, customers and investors with it. We haven't been disappointed, we succeeded, and we're so excited to roll out the results. Gasp, thanks for being such a positive influence on what is such an important step-change for Startle”

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