Tag Archives: awareness

Alternative advent calendars give consumers food for thought

1 Dec

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I’d like to introduce you to someone – December. That’s right, get the advent calendar out and enjoy your first square of fancy cheap chocolate.

This year, more brands are attempting to give consumers food for thought by not only engaging with them in a creative way on the 1st December, but also every day in the run up to Christmas. Genius.

Here are some of the best:

The Big Issue
Street magazine The Big Issue has launched an online advent calendar, whereby users can log onto the website to read an inspirational case study of a vendor each day. Not only does this help people to emotionally connect with the brand, but also the individuals behind The Big Issue – making this a powerful relationship-building exercise between new and existing customers.

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The Economist
To ensure you’re not winding down at work too soon, The Economist has collated a range of maps, charts and data from the site over the last year. To an outsider, this looks like a novel idea. To a digital marketer, it’s simply a quick win to boost web traffic before the end of the year.

But, don’t worry. Its designers have created a brand new interactive infographic for Christmas Day. It’ll be interesting to see how many tune in for that!

BBC Sport
In a similar fashion, the BBC is giving sports fans a 30-second video each day showcasing a ‘shot of the day‘. It kicks off with a Wimbledon recap of Australia’s Nick Kyrgios teaching Rafael Nadal a lesson in the fourth-round matchearlier this year.

A very nice way to leverage fun existing content, while giving people a reason to keep coming back.

Battersea Cats & Dogs Home
The famous animal rescue centre has partnered with The Metro this Christmas to help their pets find a new home. Revealing a ‘pet for life‘ behind every window, prospective owners can search to see if their future companion is waiting for them.

Time will tell how effective the PR and marketing stunt is. Gizmo, the six-year old Staffy, is still there and it’s almost 10.30pm! But, it’s a good way to raise awareness and personalise the process for people searching for a new pooch over the festive season.

What calendar stands out for you? Do contemporary case studies, charts, clips and cats rock your boat, or are you looking for something more traditional?

Brucie bonus: Masters of Malt
Not strictly on par with the other brands, but I cannot deny how much PR this drinks company has inadvertently enjoyed over the last week since TV legend Phillip Schofield expressed his Iove for the Drinks of the Dram whiskey advent calendar.

Schofe received a backlash from the Meaningful Chocolate Company, a Fairtrade company which has launched a calendar that sticks with the original Christmas story. It’s a good spot of PR for the business, but the share of voice in a Daily Mail mention for the brand at hand is through the roof.

That’s because criticism always leads to headlines, and that’s why I advise smart and subtle approaches to getting your brand’s message heard. Social media silence is best.

The real advent calendar

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Halloween 2014 is sponsored by…

21 Oct

20140430-231008.jpgIn a dark room in a chilling office, set among a black backdrop of skyscrapers gracing the city’s skyline, shone a single glimmer of light. John stayed silent as he moved the cursor around his overworked computer screen.

The window had been left open to curb the stench of late-night pizza. The draft surrounded John and he systematically shivered. Pressing print, he moved slowly to collect his paperwork – marking the end of a 12-hour working day. As John turned his chair a glass smashed on the floor.

‘That’s strange,’ thought John. ‘I’ve not used a glass today.’

A rush of adrenaline shot through his veins, followed by a sense of calm. He even had time to momentarily wonder if they were his last thoughts. It felt like a lifetime, but in reality the person, or thing, who’d smashed the glass had acted quickly. As he hit the thick wooden floors, he turned ever so slightly to see who had attacked him. But, the remained silent.

With no time to feel scared he didn’t even try. Instead he opted to give his body in to the pain and then… nothing.

Got your attention? Don’t worry, John’s Halloween pitch made it to the client. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many brands making the most of this American holiday as I have this this year. And poor PRs like John are risking their lives by working overtime to deliver standout campaigns.

Maybe it’s because it falls on a weekend, and entertainment and lifestyle companies want to use this as an opportunity to boost sales and strengthen its position for Christmas.

Whatever the reason, it’s working. I’ve seen some cracking campaigns and here’s my top five:

Waterstones’ blogger mystery
No, it’s not locking in more tourists and keeping them there overnight to turn them into social media sensations. Waterstones is launching an online murder mystery with five bloggers who will communicate clues for fans, via their blogs and Twitter (where was my invite guys?), to work out ‘whodunit’. Those who crack the case will find themselves £50 richer (vouchers, darling).

Nice use of social and great blogger engagement, coupled with subtle branding, means that Waterstones is getting down from the shelf and making itself the go-to destination for books. Tick!

Walking Dead staggers to PR success
To celebrate the launch of the fifth series of the Walking Dead, Now TV made former MIC star Millie Mackintosh into a zombie to support its online campaign. In addition to this, it created a buzz on social media by sending personalised popcorn holders with ‘bloodstained’ snacks inside which was sent to celebrities and journalists.

To give customers a chance to join in the fun, it’s also using Twitter to give wary special edition Walking Dead Now TV equipment, zombie makeup and the exclusive popcorn holder. The competition hashtag is hardly memorable – #TWDNOWTV – but in two days it’s generated over 150 re-tweets and is steadily seeing its follower count rise.

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Spooky Speaker app shouts out
To promote its Halloween costume range, superpower supermarket Sainsbury’s has launched a voice app to inspire children to ‘transform’ into their scary characters using its voice distortion functions. The voices – such as Frankenstein, Witches, Vampires and Skeletons – match the costume designs available in store and online.

It’s a good attempt, reminding parents and children that Sainsbury’s is their one-stop shop for Halloween goodies, but can the interactive app outdo Asda’s inflatable wings which are being supported with TV advertising? Time will tell.

Chupa Chups’ chomping campaign
It’s great that brands are starting to scratch beneath the surface to see the value of Instagram – and Chupa Chups is no exception. It’s using this social network to create an online game, encouraging users to free a trapped lolly before it gets a licking. Age is certainly no barrier here. With contemporary references to current culture, the youth brand has made this Halloween-themed relevant to all groups.

Do you dare trust the National Trust?
Not strictly Halloween themed, but the National Trust has extended its successful ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4‘ campaign by creating a direct mail around number 40: night walks. This glow in the dark pack targets existing members and encourages people to essentially see more than they bargain for by trudging down a natural trail at night.

This stunt might come with a parental advisory warning (i.e. kids – please don’t walk alone), but not only has the National Trust found a novel way to reach out to an engaged audience raising brand awareness, but it’s hit gold with timing this during half term. Expect to see families up and town the country on night walks next weekend.

With just over a week to go we’re bound to see more stunts slip out of the woodwork. But, whether they’re bold enough to make the top five is yet to be seen.

What do you think? Are brands going for ghoul this Halloween?

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The top five charity hashtag trends you love to hate

8 Oct

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I’m going to let you into a secret. I wasn’t brave enough to take part in #NoMakeUpSelfie, I was nominated for the #IceBucketChallenge twice and I didn’t dunk myself in cold water and although I’ve laughed at CLIC Sargent’s #JokeAppeal campaign, I’ve not donated.

So, there you have it. I’m a bad person.

But, while I’ve not successfully completed the call-to-actions, I do think their social media-driven campaigns are brilliant at raising awareness of very important causes. Transforming the way young people engage with the third sector, these hashtag trends are snowballing and I just can’t keep up.

As a result, I’ve become fed up of my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram timelines constantly getting clogged up with pictures and videos that I feel obliged to like. Because, let’s face it, once you’ve congratulated one person on throwing water on themselves, you really have to do it for everyone. So, people like me, who were once in awe of these great PR and marketing stunts, are now just ‘meh’.

But, if the BBC can be impartial then Prime Time can at least be kind enough to write about them. Which is why, after reading about new ways charities are piggybacking off hashtag explosions, I’m going to rank my top five social media charity phenomenons:

#WakeUpCall

Established by Unicef, in aid of its Syria Emergency Fund, the #WakeUpCall campaign involves celebrities posting photos of themselves… you guessed it… having just woken up.

Kick-started by the charity’s ambassador Jemima Khan, Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman and QI’s Stephen Fry have also got involved to encourage people to open their eyes to the unstable situation in the Middle East affecting young children. And, with more than 3,000 tweets containing the all-important hashtag in the last 12 hours, it’s likely that this initiative will raise a lot of money.

A gallery on the Telegraph online doesn’t hurt either.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell wakes up like this for Unicef#FaceUp

Developed by Plan UK, Face Up is an app that aims to raise awareness of female genital mutilation, sexual violence and child marriage. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your smart phone you can upload an image which will be imprinted with the words ‘I’m putting girl rights where they can’t be ignored’ and share it in the app’s photo album.

Compared to Unicef’s efforts, this isn’t creating as much of a buzz online yet; tweets are currently in the hundreds – rather than the thousands. But, with PR coverage on The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail online, thanks to support from Game of Thrones stars Natalie Dormer and Lena Headey, it may not be far behind.

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer promotes women's rights

#LastSelfie

WWF Denmark and Turkey embraced Snapchat earlier this year and made the most of its self-destruct feature to explain the rate that endangered animals are disappearing.

From tigers and gorillas to pandas and orangutans,  the charity used the hashtag #LastSelfie to encourage people to share the image in order to ‘save’ the species. Persuasive, clever and easy to do, this worked well because the aim was to raise awareness rather than source donations.

Once people had bought into to the severity of the situation, a new call-to-action followed. By focusing on one objective at the time, WWF created an incredibly strong campaign.WWF's #LastSelfie used Snapchat to raise awareness

#FirstWorldProblems

If you’ve never used this hashtag before then I’d love to live your life. #FirstWorldProblems is a generic hashtag used by people when venting online about insignificant annoyances.

For example, I recently almost slipped on a rogue squashed tomato in the supermarket and if I’d known the couscous was down a different aisle I could have avoided the whole hullabaloo.

So, when Water for Life borrowed the phrase – which was used over 106,000 times in the last month alone – and turned it on its head for its emotive campaign, it grabbed people’s attention.

The only issue is that when you Google search the term, the first mention of the charity is on the fourth page and it’s not its official website. This emphasises the importance of ensuring all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed when linking up your website to generate top SEO rankings.

Water for Life adopted the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag to make a point

#Batkid

I’m a little late to the party on this as it’s a couple of years old now. But, thanks to Miles Scott, a five-year old leukemia survivor, his Make a Wish Foundation dream to become a superhero for a day went viral.

The charity transformed part of San-Fran into Gotham to recreate Batman’s city and kept people up to date via its website and a behind the scenes video ,which was picked up by Twitter users across the world. The hashtags #Batkid and #SFBatkid were used in more than 110 countries reaching 777m people on a cold November day in 2012. Not even I can argue with these figures.

Make a Wish launched #BatKid

Reading through my top five, I can see that there was definitely something special about the slightly older social media stunts employed by charities.

Perhaps I believe they have more charm because I think the brands would’ve shocked themselves at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories. Either way, the hashtag trends have exploded so quickly that as long as people get behind them, they’ll continue taking over timelines and securing national headlines for the foreseeable future.

The charities were shocked at their own success, because they were taking a risk and exploring unknown online territories.

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media opens up the floor to make charity PR a level playing field, especially for rarer causes or organisations with tighter budgets. I just don’t believe that if a trend launches in one country for a specific cause, that a different charity across the pond can adopt it as its own. Surely, the cause and challenge should translate wherever it’s used across the world?

Hashtag highjacking, particularly by the big boys, is not big or clever, and it’s certainly a box you don’t want me to open. Utilising the #TubeStrikes is one thing; stealing an entire campaign is another. Know who I’m talking about yet?

What do you think? Did your favourite hashtag trend make the list?

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