Tag Archives: City

App brings new meaning to phrase ‘you snooze, you lose’

3 Nov

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If you didn’t already know, it’s November. Or, as most men will try and convince you, ‘Movember‘. But, either way, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s dark, cold and miserable – three factors that make me want to hug the pillow in the mornings. And I’m not the only one.

Chelsea Apps Factory has developed an app called iCuckoo, which gives people the chance to donate money to one of five charities every time they snooze the alarm.

That’s right. Ranging from 10p to a golden nugget, from now on an extra few minutes in bed could cost you (benefitting charities such as Parkinson’s UK, Prostate Cancer UK and Starlight in the process.) But don’t worry, donations are capped at £30 a month, so if you’re not a morning person you won’t have to remortgage.

I think it’s a really good idea – and it’s already got the PR coverage to prove with the Daily Star, Guardian and Charity Digital News under its belt – but not one that I’ll necessarily adopt.

If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll get the impression I’m not very forthcoming when it comes to giving, despite working for a charity. That’s not entirely true. I just believe that giving should be a conscious decision – evolving into a long-lasting relationship between an individual and a cause they feel connected with. And, if this practice needs to be ‘masked’ through an everyday activity, is it really a gift?

iCuckoo isn’t the only recent initiative to encourage people to give little, but often, without thinking. Penny for London, whereby commuters can ‘micro donate’ a penny through contactless payment methods when travelling, launched in a bid to support vulnerable young people in the city last week.

I agree that it in our increasingly busy lifestyles, efficient and effective activities that make things easy for us will stand the test of time. In fact, having time to do anything is a luxury these days (so the fact that you’ve read this far means a lot.) But, if a charity’s supporters aren’t engaged then they simply won’t understand it in order to:

1) Make a decision to donate larger sums or more regularly
2) Become brand ambassadors and share their support, either through word of mouth or social media
3) Share ideas to shape its future and make it stronger

I don’t know about you, but I believe all of the these principles are vital in order for organisations to stand out from the crowd.

Overall, it’s great that charities are waking up to new fundraising ideas. But, if they’re looking for a robust long-term strategy they need to sleep on it.

What do you think? Would you sleep in and give more?

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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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Macmillan strikes it lucky with tube tweet

30 Apr

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Relax. The tube strikes are over…for now. But, in the few days they caused chaos in the capital, they had a great publicist: front page of the Evening Standard, infographics and a hashtag! It’s a hat-trick that PRs like me can only dream of.

But, while you were complaining/celebrating/not caring (delete as appropriate) about how industrial action brought London to a standstill, some charities were planning a clever social media campaign.

Macmillan Cancer Support piggybacked off Twitter’s ‘tubestrikes’ hashtag to promote its services, accompanied with a simple graphic using the iconic London Underground key. Meanwhile, Save the Children put the disruptions into perspective by comparing the ‘madness’ in London to Syria.

Macmillan’s tweet may only have been retweeted 140 times, but it had wit, talkability and relevance on its side adding to its pulling power (despite it repeatedly tweeting the image to different media outlets in quick succession – a no no for me as mentioned in this blog.)

In the same fashion, Save the Children’s infographic scores highly on the shareability scale because it summarises an issue in an instant. So, it’s no surprise it’s caught the attention of BBC, The Independent and the Daily Mirror to name a few.

But, these tweets aren’t successful because they’ve been seen thousands of times in the last day. They’re successful because they’ve raised awareness of the charity at zero cost – a ‘quick win’ result that a PR, marketing or social media agency just can’t contend with.

With tube strikes set to land in London again next week, expect other organisations to jump on the bandwagon (remember all those #nomakeupselfie variations?) But one thing’s for sure – it won’t be as innovative the second time round.

What do you think of these mini campaigns?

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