Blog article

17th January 2019

When marketing meets sports science: Merchant & Project_R


You read a lot in the news these days about the effects of sedentary working, aka spending too much time simply sitting at a desk.

It's become a common theme throughout the UK, where it's estimated that 80% of UK workers are office based and spend between 4 to 9 hours a day at their desk; a total of 67 sedentary days on average each year.

That's 67 days out of 365 when as far as your body is concerned you're essentially doing nothing, and while that might sound like sweet bliss to some, the effects of this inactivity aren’t good for the body or, as it turns out, the mind. Particularly when you also factor in that most Brits are falling short of eating the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day – some members of team Merchant not excluded.

Project R gym before Merchant Marketing Agency team to arrive

Like most design and digital marketing agencies, at Merchant we're guilty of spending a lot of time in front of our screens. Well, when your job mainly involves around computer and web-based applications, it's pretty difficult to avoid hours in the company of your Apple Mac. Being based as we are by the Solent water in Southampton, we do occasionally get out of the office for a cheeky sail on our owner Paul's yacht. Yes, we have an office yacht (serious job perk). But, we've also recently discovered an altogether different way to get our heartbeats, and our backsides moving, and it goes by the name of Project_R.

Merchant Agency Team training location at Project R

Run by two professional fitness coaches, both of whom just happen to be named Rob (yes really), Project_R offers private personal training sessions, inspired by science.

So your average gym this most definitely is not. It first came to our attention through our owner and MD Paul, who's been training with the Robs in a one-to-one private coaching session twice a week. Before we knew it, the rest of team Merchant had been signed up for an hour's group training session, and from that first meeting, we've never looked back. Project_R is now a permanent fixture in our team's diary week on week, and we relish the hour we get to don our Lycra and take a break from our chairs.

Merchant Agency Team trainers at Project R

The whole ethos behind Project_R is the melding of muscular training and medical insight, and every exercise is guided under the expert eyes of the two Robs, both of whom hail from a professional fitness background. Rob Newman, who opened Project_R and originally devised the concept, holds a degree in Fitness and Personal Training, which allows him to work with clients who suffer chronic conditions or other afflictions which might hinder them from working out on their own in a gym. The second Rob, Rob Fedele, believes regular training is an intrinsic part of leading a happier and healthier lifestyle, something we can definitely second from our own experiences of training in the Project_R studio.

Even the most fitness averse among team Merchant have to concede defeat and admit how much they enjoy (and look forward to) the weekly timeslot we spend out of the office and in the company of Robs N and F at Project_R. Not only has the training made us even stronger as a team (trust us, once you've seen your work colleagues in spandex you achieve new heights of closeness), it also helps us refocus in the afternoons when we get back to our desks brimming with tons of creative ideas to put into action for our clients.

We've also managed to introduce the wonders of Project_R to one of our long-term clients Oil Spill Response Limited, who went along for their own team session.

A cooperative established by the world's most environmentally conscious oil and gas companies, we've worked with Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) for a number of years now, and the company represents just one of the oil and gas associations we work with in our capacity as digital transformation specialists.

One of the biggest projects we've undertaken for the group, is a complete consolidation of the company's network of microsites into one centralised new OSRL website. During which we were also tasked with creating an intuitive member training portal as a key deliverable of the brief. Our team built OSRL a new website, entirely from scratch, capable of consolidating all of the information contained across the company's separate microsites into one all-encompassing new home, with a fantastic UX, that helps users easily navigate the site and quickly locate the information they need.

New Oil Spill Response homepage shown on laptop screen Website Design by Merchant Digital Agency

As part of this transformation of Oil Spill's website, our development team also designed and developed the technology required to power the online training portal Oil Spill asked us for in order to advance their member training capabilities. This new MyOSRL portal is now an integral asset the company leverages to help train its members in oil spill prevention and response actions, a key part of its approach to tackling oil spills worldwide.

Another oil and gas company to have benefitted from our marketing, design and digital expertise over the years includes the BG Group, who famously sold to shell for $70 billion in 2015.

Prior to this acquisition we worked with BG Group on over 400 projects over a period of five years. But it was the year-long activity we undertook in the lead-up to its sell to Shell, that really proved instrumental in raising the company's equity at just the right time in its history.

BG Group Oil and Gas Print Pensions News examples

As well as oil and gas, our other areas of specialism at Merchant include construction, travel, healthcare, commodities and logistics, and you can find examples of the clients we work with in each of those respective areas on our case studies page.

So while we might be guilty of being physically sedentary, besides our Project_R visit each week, we're definitely not passive when it comes to the ways we add value for our clients.

Just this year alone we've transformed the online presence and entire suite of brand engagement tools for a leading groundworks supplier, and we've helped an $8 billion commodities market-leader completely realign its global communications. Even whilst managing to nip out of the office for an hour's exercise each week.

To find out more about the ways our digital marketing expertise can help your business grow its revenue, boost engagement and generate new leads, contact us on 02380 225 478.


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