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Cultural Insights from a Midnight Running Poet



We’re interested in how urban poetry and hip-hop culture can inspire better marketing.

The rapper Mos Def once said that “hip-hop is a beautiful culture. It’s inspirational, because it’s a culture of survivors. You can create beauty out of nothingness.”

We think that’s what great marketing is about; agitating culture, exposing ideas and expressing beautiful stories that punch people in the heart.

To understand this better, we recently spent time with Inua Ellams; jump! friend, poet, playwright, graphic artist, designer and founder of The Midnight Run, a series of Global events which bring strangers, artists and activists together to explore, play and create while the city sleeps.

We love the irreverence and intimacy of that. Let’s play while others sleep.

In the Southbank Centre, over a coffee with Inua, we talked about life, art and 100m sprint races down Oxford Street at 3am.


Here’s five take-outs for your brand.

one: ‘Identity’ is a melting pot of influences and ideas.

  • At a time when life is increasingly fluid and fragmented, there is an opportunity for brands to show their roots, no matter how deep, and to celebrate their unique identity.
  • Inua moved from Nigeria to Dublin, and then to London, before his 21st His poetry reflects a quest to belong to something or to some place. It’s a mash-up of urban living, relationships and a struggle for identity.“We all need somewhere we can call home”.


two: Fame and legacy are built one day at a time, through small, consistent actions.

  • For brands, there is an opportunity to shift strategy towards smaller, more regular, agile actions and interventions. Ask yourself: what did you do today to build your brand’s legacy?
  • Inua uses his work to make the world better today than it was yesterday. This means doing something small, everyday, that makes a positive impact.“We all need to think more like farmers; we are just borrowing the land from future generations; it’s our obligation to leave it in a better place that when we got it”.


three: Stories connect people, not technology.

  • The most powerful brands make people feel part of their story. There is an opportunity to let people into your storytelling approach and show them behind the scenes. This will help bring them on the journey with you.
  • Poetry is about painting pictures with words. Hip-hop is about giving a voice to the voiceless. Both art forms create stories to share with the world.“We all need to tell stories, because stories help us find meaning and truth”.


four: Breathe your city in, at your own pace.

  • City living can feel fast and frenzied and full-on. Brands, in different ways, can help create time and space for people to meander and switch off. It’s important to slow down and enjoy the important things.
  • The Midnight Run is an experience where you can look at the city in a new light.“We all need time and space to meander, without purpose, from one idea to the next; this helps your mind wander to interesting new places”.


five: There is fascination in the things we take for granted.

  • Look at your brand through the eyes of a child – what’s your point of fascination that you want to bring to the world?
  • The streets and the city landscape are more mysterious at night. For Inua and The Midnight Runners, the city becomes a maze when it gets dark. “The maze is open and ready for the child inside you to re-discover; it’s good to look at the world through the eyes of a child; things becomes very playful. It’s good for the soul”.


Inua can be reached at @InuaEllams or through inuaellams.com.

Check out The Midnight Run here – http://www.themnr.com/


If you want to talk poetry, hip-hop, innovation or insight, give us a shout.

The hopeless hip-hop romantics





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