While Joseph Barratt (pictured), CEO of Mutant Communications, might be a known name in the PR and independent agency circuit, what many might not know about is his passion when it comes to branding and brewing beers. This led him launch Trouble Brewing in 2017, propelling him into an industry that is vastly different from the agency life he is used to.
“[In an agency], if you’re short on something for a project, you just work late to make sure it happens. Now, if we run out of an ingredient, we’ve got to wait six weeks for it to arrive on ship,” Barratt said. This means it is crucial for him and the team at Trouble to plan ahead.
Other challenges Barratt faced include working with a different type of labour pool and sourcing for talent. Nonetheless, despite his initial lack of knowledge in manufacturing and logistics, Barratt remained undaunted and told Marketing that the beer brand project has helped him “reframe” the way he looks at Mutant Communications and its operations.
He said that for years, Mutant had been advising clients how to build their brand and craft their imagery and communications strategy. However, being involved in creating Trouble is “walking the talk”, Barratt said.
“It’s a cool platform to do stuff that we enjoy doing and one of those things being how we collaborate with local artists,” he said. These include Samantha Lo, Samantha Huey, Feedbeng and Tiffany Tan who is also known as Loveage. Besides being a symbol of his passion for beers, Trouble is also a stage for up and coming artists to share their work and celebrate with the community.
According to Barratt, there has been high demand for Trouble’s beer product since it launched, and has since built a new brewery in Tuas last year, providing it with the capability to produce approximately 1.5 million litres of beer a year. While his friends were not shocked at Barratt’s venture into the beer industry, his colleagues on the other hand, were surprised as Barratt already had many things on his plate. Barratt said that while time management has been slightly tough for him since the launch of Trouble, he was also focusing on building up a strong team at Mutant so they can handle things more efficiently.
“It takes a lot more time management and being able to prioritise and focus on the bigger strategic pieces of both businesses, rather than always insisting on being hands on and micromanaging, that has to go,” he said.
Barratt added that Mutant will continue to expand “at full speed” and its “clear focus” over the next three to five years is other Southeast Asia countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Additionally, Mutant will also be expanding and evolving its digital, content and PR offerings to meet market needs.
In addition to launching a beer brand, Barratt also entered the events space with his company Show Off Events, which focuses on creating and buying its own branded events and scaling them locally as well as to other markets.
“One thing I’ve noticed from events over the years is that some of them have quite poor marketing or they wouldn’t have budget for it, which is tough. We’re in a position where we’ve got the whole agency there, we know how things should go,” he said.
Barratt added that Show Off Events will integrate “quite nicely” with Mutant, functioning as an extension to the agency’s events offering. In the past, it has only been able to help out on the PR or marketing side of events, but with Show Off Events, Mutant is able to work on conceptualising and organising of events as well.
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