LONDON — Phillip Bodenham is closing the London office of Spring, the brand development, public relations and communications agency he founded in 2009, against the backdrop of an evolving media climate, and brands’ changing strategies.
Spring London will close at the end of May, but Spring Los Angeles will remain open.
Bodenham said the past few years have been “tough for us all, and it was an achievement to get through Brexit and COVID-19.” He said projects that were set for the next few months have dried up, most likely due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and a slowdown in consumer spending from rising inflation.
Last week, the U.K. Office for National Statistics reported a 1.4 percent monthly decline in March retail sales as consumers lose their appetite for online shopping, post-pandemic, and pull back on spending due to spiking inflation.
Bodenham also said changes in the media landscape were another reason he decided to shut Spring London. Magazines and traditional news outlets are shrinking — or disappearing altogether — while brands are pivoting to direct-to-consumer sales and marketing and relying on influencers.
“Print just doesn’t do anything for clients anymore, it really doesn’t shift the needle. That is the feedback I am hearing from them. It’s become a sort of pointless part of PR. I think it’s time we got real and just admitted that, as an industry, we need a reset badly. Today, it’s about d-to-c, VIP, influencers, content — and then projects and events,” said Bodenham, adding that PR companies don’t even need to have showrooms anymore.
“It’s been a fun ride, but the media landscape has changed so much and a lot of what we did just doesn’t work” anymore, he said. Spring London’s clients include clothing brands Aje and Kalita; jeweler Hannah Martin, and ceramicist Florence St. George.
Spring London’s closure is part of a greater consolidation in the sector, with companies merging, changing management or shutting down.
In February, the London-based Purple became a shareholder in a newly formed collective of marketeers, creatives and strategists called Together Group, which focuses on the luxury and lifestyle sectors worldwide.
Together Group pitches itself as a full-service design, tech, marketing and communications provider for multinational, regional and local clients.
Bodenham said his focus will be on Spring’s Los Angeles office (he’s also moving to L.A.) and on his new clothing brand Finney, which will stage its first catwalk show there on June 2.
Finney offers men’s and women’s clothing in natural fibers, such as silk and cashmere. The collection is meant to work both on holiday and in everyday life. The first collection focuses on silk boxers, trousers and shirts.
Cashmere pieces will launch in September while silk dresses will debut in October. It is stocked at stores including Maxfield and A’maree’s.
The plan is to do a string of pop-ups for the brand this year in cities including London, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, with an eye to opening a physical store in West Hollywood in March 2023.