Charlotte Lurot & Anouschka Menzies, Co-Founders
Bacchus Agency co-founders Charlotte Lurot and Anouschka Menzies started their careers in very different industries, but fast forward 20-plus years and you’d never know it. The London-based agency — which just launched an NYC office — provides 360-degree creative and communications solutions for luxury lifestyle clients. We spoke with the co-founders to learn more about their approach to PR today, the Bacchus Studio, plus the inside scoop on new venues to know in London.
Tell us briefly about your career trajectory.
CL: Anouschka was a professional ballet dancer in London and Berlin, who successfully transitioned into acting in film, television and on stage. Having had two impressive careers, she was looking to shift gears and commit to building something long term. I think the most valuable thing she brings from that period is her unshakable discipline and work ethic. Neither of us had any experience running an agency before Bacchus. We just had good instincts, original ideas and real passion for what we do.
AM: Charlotte started her career at Condé Nast in London and then in-house at a number of fashion labels. One of her first employers took her aside and told her that she was ‘largely unemployable’ - too independent and too creative - and that she should really consider starting her own business (I’m so thankful he did!) At the time she was mortified... but it was frankly the best advice she has ever been given. How did you connect to become business partners?
CL: We met through mutual friends in our mid-20s. We’re both fiercely independent - neither of us was best suited to having a ‘boss’, and we immediately recognised that spirit in each other. The subsequent decision to build a business together came quickly and easily. I can’t imagine going on this journey with anyone else. Ours has never been simply a business partnership – but a genuine, deep-rooted friendship.
AM: Charlotte and I have worked together now for more than 20 years, a fact we’re both very proud of. We’ve grown up together, learned from each other and forged the culture and spirit of the agency together. Our CEO, Daize Washbourn, has been with us for nearly as long, and his guidance and support has been phenomenal. It’s a very aligned, very tight-knit leadership team. What’s been the key to your long-lasting business partnership?
AM: A shared vision, a serious work ethic, respect, compassion and always having eachother’s back.
CL: Everything Anouschka said... plus some highly amusing anecdotes that we’ve collected along the way, which still make us cry with laughter. Always a good pressure valve. What have been some of your career highlights to date?
CL: I would say that building this amazing collective of talent that is Bacchus has been my career highlight. Personally, I am incredibly proud of the reputation we have built for our strategic and creative prowess, as well as the depth and impact of our executions. Additionally, I would say working on a number of really significant projects in Africa has been immensely rewarding. And really shaking up the creative concept and production of London Fashion Week between 2009 and 2015.
AM: Architecting our reputation for excellence across multiple sectors – luxury brands, travel and wellness, hospitality, design, food and drink – is what I am most proud of. The fact that we decided to offer 360 creative and communication solutions over 5 years ago and got ahead of the curve is why clients globally wish to work with us. The variety of the work we do thrills me from social media campaigns to traditional media to campaign ideation, or negotiating a meaningful strategic partnership series. Every day brings something new. What was the impetus to recently launch a New York City office?
CL: Fundamentally it was in response to demand. American clients wanted the 360 approach.
How do you think the PR/communications industry differs in the UK compared with the US? AM: I wouldn’t make broad-sweeping qualitative comparisons between the two – there are superb PR practitioners in both countries. In New York, public relations remains quite a formalized discipline, especially within our sectors. This still forms a central role in our offering, but we create bespoke campaigns amplifying influencer activity or partnerships as required. CL: As an agency, our strategic purpose is a simple one – “We Build Brands”. What that has meant – over the years – is that we have not allowed ourselves to be defined exclusively as a PR agency. We have sought to acquire and nurture the skills we need, internally, to deliver on that purpose. This includes powerful strategic, creative, production, content, influencer and intelligence units within the agency, all driving towards that goal. What are some great new venues in London? AM: The Stratford Hotel is magnificent. Created by the founder of Chiltern Firehouse, known to pioneer new districts of London. We are also looking forward to launching Davies and Brook, Daniel Humm’s new restaurant at Claridges this Autumn. What is Bacchus Studio and how has it evolved? AM: Broadly speaking, Bacchus Studio is the creative team within the agency, headed up by Charlotte. They have a highly-respected live event and show production division that works globally on numerous significant projects in fashion, beauty, luxury brands and music. As with the rest of the agency, Studio has evolved to provide a broader offering including brand imaging, campaign ideation, global brand strategies and content production. CL: I like to think of Studio as a really vibrant creative think tank – supported by a super-capable production team who can deliver pretty much anything from live events, film and still content, written word, concepts, campaigns and creative roadmaps for the brands we work with. What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about? AM: We are delighted to be the PR for The Well, a pioneering new brand that is creating a complete ecosystem for wellness. We are also launching Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice - and Treehouse, an exciting new boutique brand from Barry Sternlich launching in London this November. CL: We are excited for a show we are working on for Chinese couturier Guo Pei at the Victoria and Albert museum in London later this year, as well as a number of big campaign shoots and shows in New York and London in the coming months. How do you plan to grow and develop your agency in the future? CL: Our approach to growth has always been very considered and measured. The growth-decisions we make are informed by listening to the market and forecasting shifts in practice. We expand into sectors and disciplines where our skills and approach are required. This requires us to be agile – but is also the reason, I believe, that we achieved the consistent success that we have. Our philosophy is never growth-for-growth’s-sake. AM: We are constantly investigating and exploring options in other territories and a number of conversations are in progress with a view to broaden our global footprint. More important than global expansion, however, is to continue to build our amazing client portfolio, to deliver consistently excellent results for them and to expand our skillsets to provide the most relevant and meaningful offering for our clients. What would be your advice to a young person starting their career in this business?
AM: Be confident enough in yourself and your ideas, to constantly question them. Keep yourself richly informed and inspired (ideas come from everywhere) – because passion is essential in this industry. And be ready to work very hard.
CL: Find a great mentor, ask lots of questions, be endlessly curious, cultivate critical thinking and stay humble. There is always someone smarter or more talented out there. What keeps you inspired and engaged in this line of work? CL: We love what we do. We work with amazing clients who inspire us – and we do work that we’re proud of.
AM: We’re building something we believe in. And we get to do that with people we love and respect.