A child Picasso gives Waitrose a helping hand

26 Aug

20140430-231008.jpgThey say the ‘kids are all right’. But, the phrase should be the kids are always right. Earlier this year a little girl wrote a letter to Lego complaining that boys had all the fun because they got the chance to play the hero, whereas female figures had limited prospects sunbathing on the beach or relaxing at the beauty parlour. Lego listened and promptly launched a limited edition set of inspirational female scientists that have sold out in stores in the US.

Now, seven-year old Harry Deverill, from Dorset, has taken it upon himself to redesign Waitrose’s bottle of brown sauce. He couldn’t work out what the current picture was meant to be, so supplied the supermarket chain with three alternatives. And, as a result, it’s replaced its essential range’s brown sauce label with one of his images.

It was always going to be a success.

Up-market supermarket Waitrose, which previously slid to PR success, has not only shown that it listens to its customers’ suggestions (note suggestion, not complaint), but that it’s also open to change. And, in doing so, has proved that it understands good PR.

I’m sorry Harry but, in the foodservice industry, updating packaging that has existed from the beginning of time is not high on its list of priorities. After all, it’s got shelf space, profit margins and new products – such as Curiosity Cola, Birds Eye Mas#Tags and Warburtons – to contend with. But, in spite of all this, it knows that putting a call into its printing factory is worth generating content for its own publications (Waitrose Kitchen and Waitrose Weekend) and national consumer titles such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Metro.

Although, this wouldn’t be Prime Time if I couldn’t find a way to critique the perfect PR stunt.

Taking a proper look at the previous label’s artwork I can conclude that it’s bad – really bad. Why Waitrose has been precious about it for so long is beyond me. So, why not extend the opportunity and launch a competition for other children to submit their designs for its essentials range? I appreciate that redesigning the entire collection might be a bit much, but it could start with the condiments and table sauces and work it’s way through the shop slowly.

This will generate even more content for the brand to roll out across its:

a) Social media channels
Competition entry galleries where fans are encouraged to vote for their favourite image.

b) Marketing magazines
Features on the children behind the winning designs.

c) TV shows
PR through cookery demonstration discussions.

A competition would also lend itself to a local PR campaign in hotspot areas, with the results transitioning into advertising slogans.

It’s come this farand I salute Waitrose for its willing gesture. But, it doesn’t have to be a one-hit wonder. Keep the momentum going by involving more customers and sit back and enjoy the results.

What do you think?

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Why are London’s Talking Statues staying quiet online?

12 Aug

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I’ve met a few celebrities in my time, and therefore had the obligatory ‘be cool’ moment before quickly losing it. (Meeting Labrinth on stage at Proud Camden springs to mind, with my cousins having no choice but to make the universal sign for ‘crazy’ behind my back to make amends.) But, I’ve never had the pleasure of Sir Patrick Stewart, Hugh Bonneville or Prunella Scales giving me a call on the old dog and bone for a catch up.

You neither? Well, that’s going to change.

The Evening Standard has revealed that statues across London are going to be brought to life with voice recordings, as part of a year-long art project called: Talking Statues Speak Their Minds. From 19th August, people will have the chance to use their smartphones to unlock statues’ exclusive content before receiving a call from a well-known name who’ll share information about the figure’s life history.

It’s a great way to add yet another dimension to the city, giving Londoners an opportunity to explore old sights for the first time. And, the story has generated a commendable amount of PR thanks to Riot Communications.

But, with the launch just around the corner, its efforts will be wasted if it doesn’t bring its digital marketing up to scratch.

Here’s some lessons the Talking Statues might want to learn:

Woeful websites miss opportunities
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that websites are the first port of call for more information, but the Talking Statues aren’t capitalising on incoming traffic. Google the initiative and there’s simply holding pages providing a home for a press release.

I’m not asking for downloadable resources for people to map out their routes pre-launch (necessarily), but the least Talking Statues can do is put themselves in the shoes of their audience and think about what they’d want to see: articles, interviews and images.

Unsociable social media doesn’t win friends
On Twitter, Talking Statues boasts just 158 followers and on Facebook just a pitiful 72. Hardly a significant platform to shout about an innovative campaign this Tuesday. Followers and fans aside, updates are few and far between and the content is dull.

There’s a big opportunity here to tease content by taking pictures of stars in the studio doing voice overs; challenging fans to guess which statues are being improved; and even launching a competition giving someone the chance to voice their favourite London artefact.

But hey, if I can just think of these things off the top of my head I shouldn’t expect an agency to, should I?

Phone a friend
The campaign’s content is triggered by people swiping their smartphones across the statues, so it would’ve made sense to work with a supplier that can make this even easier. Whether that’s The Cloud, offering free WiFi for app downloads on the spot; network providers using advertising pop-ups to market their services; or phone companies showing off the latest gadgets, having the backing from one of the big boys could’ve potentially freed up Talking Statues to focus more on the marketing.

Of course, I could be jumping the gun and this will all fall into place on Tuesday. But, if it doesn’t, I’ll know who to call.

What do you think of the campaign?

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The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

12 Aug The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

When I woke up this morning I had a #WhileYouWereSleeping hashtag moment after reading that Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63.

As the world’s media look for people who ‘knew him well’ for sofa interviews, finalise their obituaries and monitor celebrity tributes, there’s just one thing I’m interested in today: The Academy.

Eight hours ago it tweeted the words ‘Genie, you’re free‘ to 768,000 followers (and counting), in reference to Williams’ role as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin - and it’s already been re-tweeted more than 196,000 times and favourited by over 130,000.

Throughout Williams’ 35-year career, he was nominated for four Oscars but was always the bridesmaid and never the bride until he teamed up with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting in 1997 – five years after Aladdin. So, why did it tweet the Genie?

Jumanji, Patch Adams and Hook aside, this was Williams’ iconic role, albeit animated, because he didn’t even have to act. The Genie is Williams – the role was designed for him, not the other way around. And the fact that the film sold well over 25m copies worldwide upon its release is testament to this.

So, now that’s settled, why else was the tweet so successful (apart from being picked up by online superpower Buzzfeed)?

1) Thought leadership

The Oscars are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the movies. The honours are respected, so if The Academy is tweeting to a large audience, everyone takes notice.

2) A picture says a lot of words

The Academy used a striking and emotive image of the Genie with Aladdin. It didn’t feel the need to crop, zoom in or filter. It opted for simplicity and it’s paid off.

3) Straight to the point The simplicity of the image was also reflected in the wording, which captured the essence of Williams without the need for hashtags, weblinks or self-promotion – maintaining The Academy’s classy reputation. So, not only is this the perfect tribute, but also the perfect PR balance.

What do you think of the tribute tweet?

The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

The Academy tweets the perfect tribute to Robin Williams

You’re going to need a bigger budget! Tara’s tacky PR stunt

4 Aug

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Not all PR stunts are equal.

A recent PR stunt to rave about is the 888,000 ceramic poppies that have been ‘planted’ at the iconic Tower of London to commemorate the servicemen and women who died during the First World War. As part of a stunning art installation called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, by Paul Cummins, it’s succeeding in its mission to echo the importance of the 100th anniversary of the war.

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On the flip side, an example of bad PR is US actress Tara Reid launching her own perfume, The Shark, to celebrate the release of Sharknado 2 (Yes, we’re biting on sequel territory here).

This innovation, which comes from the woman who thought her career was going to be over when she started filming the first movie, actually makes me feel seasick.

According to Tara’s website, Shark’s sensual ‘light and refreshing’ scent is ‘perfect for day-to-day wear’ and ‘incorporates a plethora of lavender coloured flowers’ – which means this overpriced idea (almost $25 a bottle) blurs the line between tacky and tragic.

However, if I was getting paid to market this monstrosity I’d do more than bounce off the fact that the latest Syfy film has attracted 183% higher ratings than the first. I’d get creative:

Secure a predator partnership
I’d put a spin onto the perfume and market it as a scent that attracts sharks. By organising a photo-call at a leading aquarium, and asking a shark trainer to spray the fragrance on them before heading into the tank for feeding time, I’d generate some striking imagery to sell-into the media – National Geographic style.

Secret scent
Alternatively, I’d strip the perfume bottle of any labels and send it to a selection of high-end beauty writers to review – with a note including a web address. Journalists would then be encouraged to log onto the website and share their feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly. All the positive ones could then be leveraged across the film’s marketing materials (using the star rating often found on movie posters) to promote it further.

Failing that, I’d just ask Tara to jump into a shark tank, kiss a great white or dress up as a shark because, let’s face it, she’ll do anything.

What do you think – can any ‘fin’ make this stunt better?

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Women use Twitter to laugh off the Turkish Government’s comments

31 Jul

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The Turkish Government sparked a social media trend this week when the deputy Prime Minister, Bülent Arinç, claimed that women should be seen and not heard (laughing).

Speaking of the country’s social decline, Arinç said:

“A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent. She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times”.

In rebellion of this outrageous remark, Turkish women took to Twitter to take lol selfies (Prime Time is dubbing them ‘laughies’) to take a stand – and I salute them.

In the past I’ve blogged about the need for social media silence, when it comes to brands trying to manipulate sensitive social issues for commercial gain. (American Apparel and Blackberry – I’m looking at you. Just click on the links to see why.) But, when it comes to gender inequality we need to shout, as loud as we can.

Women are accompanying their ‘laughies’ with the hashtag #direnkahkaha, which means resist laughter, highlighting the absurdity of the personal claims. And it’s already peaked at an estimated 3,000 tweets an hour in the last day, proving that we do have a voice.

But, unfortunately the issue isn’t contained just in Turkey. A new Change.org petition in the UK is calling for old NHS and Home Office posters to be scrapped from waiting rooms across the country. Why? Because it says this:

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This naive attitude is up there with ‘women put themselves at risk when they dress in a certain way, leading men on’. It’s not right.

Both of these incidents are offensive, judgemental and make women feel worthless. The only difference is that the UK took this feedback on board and dropped the marketing materials in 2007. The worrying thing about Turkey is that these comments are current – proving how little they value the women in their society and everything they can offer their communities.

To Arinç I say: click here. This campaign is for you.

To Turkish women I say: keep tweeting.

To the rest of the world I say: keep watching. Women should be seen, heard and spoken to with respect – always.

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Secret Cinema drove at 88mph… and stalled

24 Jul

Thousands of angry Back to the Future fans took to social media to express their frustration at the late cancellation of Secret Cinema‘s launch event this evening – and who can blame them?

It’s a serious PR fail which was always going to end badly. Yes, the organisers have said sorry and used social media to disseminate the message to attendees quickly. But, unlike Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola and Costco (brands which made epic mistakes but used social media to their advantage to make amends), Secret Cinema just let the cat drop out of the bag.

Here’s how:

What’s your problem?
Secret Cinema apologised, but I think it should’ve given a little more information away as to why so many people’s nights were ruined.

*Technical difficulties?
*Health and safety issues?
*Missing DeLorean?

My point is if you’re not transparent about why you’re making these decisions, then people will just start speculating. And that speculation will be plastered across Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and in this case, the national news.

There’s no nice way to say this, but…
Secret Cinema’s news broke on social media and, after just a few moments, went viral. Although, I’m still questioning why 26 people opted to ‘like’ the Facebook post.

What I also don’t understand is why the organisers ran the risk of involving its 201,000 fans in an issue that only affected a small percentage?

Ok, I may be contradicting my point about transparency. But, in the first instance, if it affected me (and they’ve got a week to sort themselves out before I get down there) I would’ve appreciated a personalised e-newsletter or text message breaking the news, rather than running the risk of finding out through my friends.

Ok, if negative press is going to get out, a brand can do little to stop it. But, this could’ve ring-fenced the problem for a short while – if Secret Cinema had the resources to pop down contact details encouraging people to call them with questions (rather than posting on social media.)

Actions speak louder than words
One thing’s for sure, Secret Cinema cannot afford for this problem to continue looming this time tomorrow. With a second round of ticket holders already panicking that they might not even make it to Hill Valley, my recommendation would be for organisers to shift from apologies to olive branches and start making amends sooner rather than later.

I was always expecting big things, but I’m expecting professionalism from Secret Cinema more than ever now.

Watch this space.

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CLIC Sargent’s fundraising campaign is a joke

21 Jul

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I’ll keep my intro short and sweet. Non-profit PR is a lot like this summer – hot.

From Macmillan’s social media quick-win to Grassroots’ #StayAlive app, charities are proving that there’s lots of opportunities to raise awareness.

But, when I first read about CLIC Sargent’s campaign, I thought it was having a laugh… and I was right.

Let me explain:

Working with Havas, (a highly-creative media agency which turns brainstorm ideas into a brand reality. I did some work with them for my old client Unilever Food Solutions) CLIC has created a Joke Appeal micro-site encouraging people to submit their best jokes.

Here comes the science:

People then look around the site, find their favourite gag and ‘buy it’ – donating to the cancer charity.

It’s a ‘novel’ concept, not only because it means that everyone can contribute to the charity – financially or not – but it instantly gives CLIC the opportunity to not take itself too seriously. Using well-known comedians to get the ball rolling, the Joke Appeal can literally laugh in the face of cancer – different to Cancer Research‘s ‘aggressive’ approach.

It’s early days for the campaign, but it’s already generated over 240 jokes (Note that the charity is promoting how many jokes it’s received, not money – so it’s not necessarily measuring success against fundraising targets). What’s more, CLIC’s made the most of its existing social media channels to make some noise.

So, as funny as this appeal may seem, this campaign is very serious about engaging the public online.

Instagram won’t be the same again after reading this blog

13 Jul

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Then, what’s the value of an Instagram? I guess it depends on what filter you choose.

One thing’s for sure – brands are boosting their presence on the photo-sharing site and I don’t just mean using hashtags. Clever companies are now using it to build entire campaigns.

Ikea
To launch its new PS 2014 collection, Ikea used Instagram to create a mini website by creating a profile for each piece of furniture in the range, and linking them together using the tagging functions.

This allowed users to scroll through the different items on the site, just like flicking through a catalogue, because every page was linked. It also encouraged people to add to the website by snapping their own pieces and tagging them – to show they were associated with the brand.

Sky Rainforest Rescue
A partnership between Sky and the World Wildlife Fund, the charity has launched an Instagram account and uploaded a blend of 60 images and videos – each tile representing part of a design created by an artist – giving users a unique interactive tour of the Amazon.

From unique illustrations to exclusive blogger content, every time a user follows the account and clicks on one of the tiles, they’re automatically entered into a competition to win a pair of sustainable VEJA trainers, designed by ‘eco-warrior’ model Lily Cole.

It’s pretty obvious that these innovative campaigns are changing the way we use social media. So, what can we do to give our own profiles a makeover?

1) What’s your strategy?
I don’t mean to offend anyone with my patronising nugget of advice, but if you don’t know what you want to gain from Instagram, you won’t achieve anything.

- Want more followers?
– Want to network?
– Want user-generated content?

Create a tick list and prioritise in terms of importance. Then, look at what content you have and create a plan to either drip feed it over the coming weeks, building momentum, or sync it onto the page in full as part of a bigger campaign.

Right, lecture over. Back to the quick wins.

2) Chill out
Don’t go for the tough sell. Instagram is the perfect platform for brands to show off their talent and personalities.

If you wouldn’t read your own updates, chances are no one else will.

Worried that no one will really ‘get’ what you do? Then stream Instagram on your website. Problem solved.

3) Press record
In reference to my opening line, surely videos are worth a million words.

Quality is important, but don’t make a meal out of creating a video. As long as the content is clear and engaging, with a relevant call-to-action, it’ll work.

Then PR your post by shouting about it on your other social media channels.

Not enough? If you’re a bit more creative, you could always explore capitalising on the filter craze by creating your own branded option and pitching it into Instagram. That should get you noticed pretty quickly.

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What’s love got to do with it? Match.com partners with Mensa

30 Jun

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There comes a time when you have to admit that your blog life is better, and far more interesting, than your love life.

On Prime Time we’ve had a range of heart-shaped posts in the past. From wanting to break up with clients and top Valentine’s Day campaigns to Christian dating advertising slogans and kinky classifieds, there’s been lots to say and sadly it’s not got me anywhere.

But, now that Match.com has partnered with Mensa to connect geniuses (never underestimate yourself), perhaps my time has come.

Profile users can now add a Mensa badge to their profile to let prospective partners know that they’re looking for someone smart.

It’s a simple idea but it works – adding a fresh talking point to both brands’ bows, particularly Match.com.

I imagine that the dating service’s press releases and case studies are normally filed in journalists’ features folders, only allowed out for air in mid February when the media force feeds us with love stories.

But, this partnership provides the dating service and high-IQ society with an interesting news angle. It also complements our society’s increasing need to ‘pick and mix’ the type of people we want to get to know. Sticking a Mensa badge on your profile is as much a blockade as it is an invitation.

To add value to the partnership, Match.com is also offering users the chance to take a Mensa test for $1. Bargain.

So, while singletons are rushing to find out how smart they really are, I’d argue that Match.com actually has the highest IQ.

For a brand that’s synonymous with online dating (I dare you to ask the people around you what dating websites come into their head and I bet Match.com is first every time. If it isn’t, it’s because it didn’t work for them), its challenge is to continue pushing traditional marketing to one side and prioritising innovation.

Has this PR partnership got you head over heels?

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