Dr. Martens Brighton launch party: a PR perspective

“Dream big.”

That was the advice offered by Fugu PR founder, Vicki Hughes, when planning the launch party for the new Brighton Dr. Martens store.

A creative carte blanche is a dizzying prospect for any PR project. There were of course key boxes to tick: commission an artist for an in-store installation, sign up local bands, book a venue and source a video crew to document the whole thing.

But these were just the bare bones of the project. Here’s a look at the layers of creative flesh, planning and PR brainstorming that helped to give birth to the beast that was Dr. Martens Brighton, 2013.


Guest list

The invite list was crucial for transforming a great party into a valuable PR exercise. The final RSVP list of ‘Brighton influencers’ featured the likes of local record labels (Melting Vinyl, Skint Records), regional and national fashion bloggers, venue owners (The Green Door Store) and local media (The Argus, Juice Radio).

Total attendees: 90 +

Juice Radio presenters Andrea Fox, Hanna Neter and Nats Spada




Key challenges

The DM store has capacity for 30 max. Not nearly enough space for the live bands, DJs, drinks sponsors and entertainment we had planned.

The solution

Host the event over 2 venues, whilst maintaining a fluid, natural flow to the evening.

How it worked

The night kicked off at 6pm in the new Dr. Martens store (15b Prince Albert Street). On arrival guests were handed a cocktail from drinks sponsor Tuaca and a raffle ticket (the winner received a pair of classic 1460 cherry reds).

In-store at 15b Prince Albert Street

In-store at 15b Prince Albert Street

Latest DM products were all available to guests at 50% off

Raffle prize winner Josh Boyd

Drinks sponsor Tuaca

In-store guests were treated to tunes from local DJ Eddie Goatman and a sample of the latest DM merchandising ranges. With a 50% discount, the night saw the highest launch night sales in the brand’s history.

Live in-store art took place in the form of boot calligraphy by local artist The Screen Prince. The finished pair now take pride of place on the store till, just a few metres in front of his specially commissioned in-store installation


Customised boots by The Screen Prince


In-store art by The Screen Prince

Check out this video by Brighton production team SeeThat about the making of the artwork

Following a quick stop at the DM Van and photo booth, guests then followed their feet up the road to venue no. 2: The Mesmerist. The upstairs space renowned for rockabilly, swing nights and live music provided the perfect mix of quirky entertainment and a bustling atmosphere.


Live Music

From its subcultural punk roots to their modern day festival presence, live music is at the heart of the Dr. Marten’s brand.

We were tasked with signing two up-and-coming local bands to perform on launch night. Our selections were:

Abi Wade

At 730pm songstress Abi Wade kicked things off with a 30 min set.

"But most of all it sounds like nothing we’ve heard before. And that’s why Abi Wade is so exciting. She’s really made that cello her own." - James Kendall, The Source

The Physics House Band

At 9pm experimental 3-piece outfit, The Physics House Band filled the second slot.

"It’s impossible to talk about The Physics House Band without commenting on just how talented all three members are… they’re one of the most exciting and interesting bands Brighton has to offer" – Spindle magazine.


Other entertainment

Attention to detail was key to providing a lineup of fresh and fun activities. Entertainment included:


Rockabilly haircuts from the Mesmerist in-house barber

DM ‘tattoos’ by artist Emma Hirst

Brighton seaside menu, including a Dr. Martens inspired gelato bar


The end result

While the proof is arguably in the coverage, here at Fugu we’re satisfied the night met and surpassed the high DM standards. Not only did we produce a hyper local, on-brand celebration of all things Brighton – at the end of the day we also pulled off one hell of a party.

Launch night coverage

The Argus 

Pretty Litter

Hooting Miss Owl

Sarah Loves

Brighton Style Memos

Vintage Brighton 

Vintage Vessel 

Brighton Fashion Week


The unusual things you do for PR

by Lalage Wordsworth

Early on in my time at Fugu, Vicki (aka Madame Fugu) told me: “In this job, we need to be chameleons – we have to flex and adapt to our environments at the drop of a hat.”

And so this weekend, the Fugu ladies, habitually glued to coffee mugs, phones and laptops, will bloom into Dr Martens boot artists at People’s Day.

Based at Jubilee Square on 15 June, we will be helping fans customise their shoes at the free DM Customisation Bar. Visitors can choose from laces, beads and all the trimmings to create a truly unique pair of shoes, just in time for festival season.

Just as exciting, if not more, is the chance to win £300 to spend on in-store booty (if you’ll excuse the pun). The cherry red DM sherpa van will be on site with its brand-new photo booth, the perfect chance to get your look papped and enter the Dr. Martens Brighton Style search. The competition is open to anyone  - all you need to do is submit a photo of your unique street style look (wearing your DMs of course). To enter just upload the photo to Twitter or Instagram using


With Brighton’s ever-cool and funky population, I think we can look forward to some super jazzy designs. I might even give mine some lizard tongues :)


Published on 14 June 2013

Fugu PR bringing Dr. Martens to Brighton

by Sarah Angell


The iconic shoe brand Dr. Martens is launching in Brighton, and guess who they chose to handle the event campaign?

Here at Fugu PR HQ, we’ve put our best foot forward during the past few weeks working with Dr. Martens. The team has been preparing everything from booking hot Brighton bands, dealing with a wealth of media intrigue and managing an enormous guest list with a life of its own!

The event is now imminent, the excitement is mounting and we’ve all been sitting in the office sporting our DMs. The guest list includes local and national journalists from the fashion, music and lifestyle sectors, as well as key members of the local community.

There’s also the Brighton Street Style competition, where anyone can get involved by submitting their photo on Instagram and Twitter – we’re looking for the Brighton’s ultimate street style icon – send in your pic using #drmartensstyle #DRMARTENSBRIGHTON.

The campaign also includes radio air time, a media campaign, news articles, magazine features and the Brighton bloggers are loving it!

First-class entertainment is booked in the form of Abi Wade and The Physics House Band, and the store has been completed by its crowning glory, a bespoke piece of artwork by The Screen Prince!

Check out the new store at 15B Prince Albert Street from June 12th, get involved and express your INDIVIDUAL STYLE, UNITED SPIRIT.

Published on 12 June 2013

“If we can be born, survive and thrive in that economic climate, then the future should get easier.”

These words were said by Fugu’s founder, Vicki, in a recent article in The Argus and it’s the subject of this blog.


Fugu PR has been given the chance to reflect on the business. With our article in The Argus, we have taken a look back over the past two years and seen how the PR industry and business in our home of Brighton has changed.


With a focus on digital PR, we have managed to survive the difficulties of the current economy. Brighton offers a huge amount of digital power, from hosting the Brighton Digital Festival, to being the home of brilliant digital agencies such as Pure360 and Crunch (also wonderful Fugu PR clients).


Our work ethic is to create a buzz with a straight-forward, personal approach. Today, money is limited and jobs are scarce. In order to maximise the potential of a PR campaign, you have to work to your advantages. Brighton thrives on community spirit, and this is where being based in Brighton benefits our company.


The location of our office, in central Brighton, means we can easily meet up with local clients, build a relationship with new clients and network with Brighton based companies. It’s also a short journey to our clients outside of this city, with our London clients less than an hour away by train.


We work closely with local publications, such as The Argus and other Brighton magazines, to ensure local companies are seen and local events are well supported.


Being based only an hour away from London means we have strong relationships with key social media, businesses and organisations in the capital.


If you read the article in The Argus, you will have learnt we started only two years ago – But in that time we have doubled our staff size, built up and secured strong clientele and are expanding rapidly (with three new clients signed up in the past month). We’ll be looking to recruit again soon!


We are revamping the website, working on new client campaigns and building our social media strategies to move with these challenging and changing times, taking it all in our stride and boosting the business as we go along.


So, although the news tells us of troubled times, there are some instances where a silver lining does exist. If you play to your advantages, you could strike gold (or silver, to match the pun).

National Freelancer Day, flexible working and a good cup of coffee

Here at Fugu, we recently celebrated National Freelancer Day on 23 November.

We’ve been working alongside the PCG and Freelance Adviser to deliver research on how freelancing has changed, how the self-employed feel about their work and what their advice would be for others taking the plunge.

Apart from stats revealing a 12% increase in UK freelancing (with a 25% rise amongst women) – surprisingly, coffee and Twitter are considered more important to freelancers than a smart phone! Local business networks with a support infrastructure also play a vital role, for men more so than women (see all our full, light hearted research here.)

Being Brighton-based, where freelancing is double the national average, we feel pretty privileged to be part of a community with a thriving local support network.

Brighton is a place of makers and do-ers. Collaborations are constant and ideas will always be heard. Organisations like Wired Sussex and Brighton Chambers of Commerce, as well as networking events like The Farm and Glug offer great opportunities to get to know fellow freelancers, creatives and business people. All in all, we like Brighton. A lot.

Away from our biased opinions, you can have a look for yourself how the evening panned out (with free tipple to boot), here.

If you were further afield, we hope you had a very merry National Freelancer Day, but if you’re still on the freelancing fence, have a gander at this from Creative Boom. Or this, from Freelance Adviser.

A Dystopian Future? Well not entirely

Somewhere back in the twentieth century, there was a rather pessimistic view of the future. It was a future in which mankind was suppressed and controlled. Controlled through big government and fear. Controlled through drugs and sedation. Or controlled through scary man eating plants. And whilst there is much to suggest that a number of these prophecies are coming to pass, one thing we do seem to be moving further away from is the control of data and ideas.

Thanks to the Open Data / Open Source movements, which are rapidly gathering pace worldwide, there is a vast well of useful information which is about to be dragged to the surface. This will leave us with buckets of really useful data. Data on public services, council data, crime data, healthcare data, school data, ordnance survey data. Buckets of data, swimming pools of data, lakes, seas. Help. I am drowning.

It’s another dystopian nightmare.

Only it isn’t, because there are people already helping to make this data accessible. There are people designing websites and apps. There are people meeting this week in Brighton to discuss how to use this data (http://www.meetup.com/Open-data-Brighton-and-Hove/). There are people announcing Britain’s first ever open data conference (http://opendatacities.wordpress.com/). And soon, when you want to find out about school catchment areas or local crime statistics it will all be there, just a mouse click away. So let’s turn on the data tap and go for a swim.

(……goodness it’s exhausting work laboring a metaphor. I’m off to find some sedatives and watch an episode of Big Brother.)

by the blowfish






Are we boutique?

Boutique n. a shop. esp. small one selling fashionable clothes and other items.

Well at least that’s what it says in our dusty old Collins Dictionary. But according to last week’s article in PR Week (senior agency bosses go it alone) it can now include any small PR agency (or hotel or niche manufacturing site – see Wikipedia). So I guess we are boutique after all.

But let’s check the key points from the article. We have ‘branched out on our own’. Tick. We are ‘small’. Tick.  We…… oh, actually that does really seem to be it. So we are definitely ’boutique’… yes, and we think we are ‘strategic’ and ‘targeted’ too. (And ‘evolving’ and ‘sustainable’ whilst we are at it.)

Seriously though, platitudes aside – there’s an inherent truth here. This is that the industry is changing. Large expensive agencies with huge overheads are selling reassurance and kudos, but little else. And with more clients having their own in-house teams with a core skill base, there is an increasing need for consultancy, mentoring and guidance. It might sound obvious, but client’s needs and circumstances can vary wildly, and tailoring each and every campaign is key.

And as for being ’boutique’, if we really are going to turn the communications industry on its head and change people’s perceptions of PR, then surely it’s phrases like this that we need to cut. Politicians make much of straight talking – everyone is now media savvy and tired of management speak. So let’s get to the point. We have branched out on our own. We think we do a good job. But in the end that is only for our customers to decide.

by the blowfish




Brighton Digital Festival

Cinema, art and improving reality

This summer has been a very exciting time at Fugu. We have been working as part of the Brighton Digital Festival team, celebrating digital culture with exhibitions, performances and conferences across the city.

A truly collaborative effort, it’s been fantastic to see the digital community come together in such a wide range of events and creating a buzz, which has been widely reported nationally.

A particular highlight for us was being invited to take part in Blast Theory’s locative cinema event, A Machine To See With. A combination of psychology and scripted narrative (in the form of a voice on the other end of our mobile phone) we found ourselves playing out the plot of a bank robbery on the streets of Brighton. Treating every passer by with increasing suspicion, locking ourselves into toilets and getting into mysterious cars – the game ultimately tapped into realising the decisions we would make in the face of high pressure moral dilemmas.

Blast Theory co-founder Matt Adams explained A Machine To See With in more detail at Improving Reality, a one-day conference organised by digital art agency, Lighthouse, by quoting author Chris Hedges. He says in The Empire of Illusion: “We try to see ourselves moving through our life as a camera would see us, mindful of how we hold ourselves, how we dress, what we say. We invent movies that play in our heads.”

The Beyond Cinema session which Matt presented, looked at how artists and film-makers are shifting our ideas about what cinema can be – not only how audiences are immersed into cinema, but the ways in which cinema can exit the screen and enter reality itself.

It really has been great to see so many fascinating and inspiring uses of technology in a cultural framework. Hats off to Lighthouse and all those involved, including the team at The Dome and Arts Council England. We can’t wait for next year.

by Penny

RESI 2011 conference welcomes speech from Eric Pickles MP

Fugu PR is enjoying the debate and press office action at the RESI conference  in Newport.

Housing and property leaders have gathered here today at the annual RESI conference, where Eric Pickles MP spoke this morning to the housebuilding and residential property community. Core to his keynote speech was the localism agenda and his support of sustainable development. The main message was, in his words: “We want Britain building again.”

When asked about the controversy surrounding the government’s proposals and the reaction from the media, he said: “Localism is here to stay.”

Key leaders in banking, investment and property, as well as those from local authorities, policy and development are attending the two-day conference in Newport, to discuss how the key issues facing the residential property sector.

Timing of the conference comes as house prices hit a two year low, according to the latest report from the Chartered Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Research from a recent RESI survey also suggests that an estimated 3 million people and a third of homeowners are delaying moving because of job instability and a lack of suitable homes.

Today’s presence of Eric Pickles at RESI has confirmed the government’s ongoing support of the localism agenda and that he wants to work “with the market; not against the market.”

With the full localism and green bills yet to be announced, only time will tell how this political storm will conclude.

by Penny

Day Four at The Gadget Show Live

Photo-call on press day at Gadget Show Live (www.gadgetshowlive.net)

It is Day Four of the Gadget Show Live. Our Press Office is in full swing. The exhibitors are excited. They come in and tell us they have to order new stock.

‘It’s like trading at Christmas,’ they say. ‘We are completely sold out.’

Other people are excited too. They come in and ask us for Super Theatre Tickets. They come in and ask us for interviews with the stars. They come in and talk to us and tell us things. Lots of people ask for water. Lots of people need a cup of tea.

Tomorrow there are 16 Daleks turning up. They send us lots of e-mails to check on things.

‘We need lots of water,’ they say. ‘We get terribly hot.’

We look around the press office. We have two empty bottles, one cup and access to a tap that no-one seems to trust.

We make a list of all the things we have been asked for. One of us drives out to find a supermarket and buys…..

Sixty bottles of water

Twelve cans of coke

Twelve cans of diet coke

Tea Bags


A Kettle

Two Mugs

Lots of fruit

A flower pot (because we couldn’t find a fruit bowl)

Lots of Nuts

A packet of oat cakes

Some Hummus and cheese

Some micro gauze tape

We then try and get these things back to the Press Office. We want to drive the car up as close as possible. We have a lot of water to carry. This involves lots of discussions with security. We produce lots of different passes.  There is a lot of head shaking. Traffic builds up behind us. We make some phone calls. We talk to lots of people. And finally, begrudgingly, they let us back in.


by Vicki


Dr. Martens Brighton launch party: a PR perspective

“Dream big.” That was the advice offered by Fugu PR [...]

The unusual things you do for PR

by Lalage Wordsworth Early on in my time at Fugu, [...]

Fugu PR bringing Dr. Martens to Brighton

by Sarah Angell   The iconic shoe brand Dr. Martens [...]

National Freelancer Day, flexible working and a good cup of coffee

Here at Fugu, we recently celebrated National Freelancer Day on [...]

A Dystopian Future? Well not entirely

Somewhere back in the twentieth century, there was a rather [...]

Are we boutique?

Boutique n. a shop. esp. small one selling fashionable clothes [...]

Brighton Digital Festival

Cinema, art and improving reality This summer has been a [...]

RESI 2011 conference welcomes speech from Eric Pickles MP

Fugu PR is enjoying the debate and press office action [...]

Day Four at The Gadget Show Live

It is Day Four of the Gadget Show Live. Our [...]