Tag Archives: design

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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Usher confesses his love for Cheerios in new campaign

13 Nov

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There’s no denying that breakfast is big business. We’ve just seen fashion designer Anya Hindmarch give Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger a grrreat makeover and Shoreditch is awaiting the launch of its first Cereal Killer CafΓ© next month.

So, it’s no surprise that celebrities are chewing their right arms off to be associated with the most important meal of the day – becoming part of everyone’s morning routine in the process. And, the king of R&B, Usher, is no exception.

He’s partnered with Cheerios and Walmart in the US to give away his latest track – Cluelesswith every box of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Just add milk
On the outside looking in, this brand partnership doesn’t seem to make any sense. 36-year old Usher, who has come a long way from his You Make Me Wanna days, doesn’t fit Cheerios’ target market – a cereal championed by a bee called Buzz.

But, once you’ve swallowed this fact and digested the promotional video that accompanies the PR and marketing stunt (don’t knock it before you’ve tried it – it’s already secured 820,000+ views), it becomes the entire reason why Usher has taken this on.

With super fans downloading One Direction and Justin Bieber tracks left, right and centre, how does an ‘experienced’ singer steal back sales and kudos? By ending up in the hands of millions of young digital eagles across the country, giving them a unique code to download a fresh track of course!

No added sugar
Essentially, it’s a win-win situation. Usher gets the downloads he needs ahead of an upcoming album launch and Cheerios gets to negotiate premium shelf space with Walmart, while producing some crunchy content for its communications channels.

But, how could this partnership develop in the long-term?

Free gift inside
Some ways that Cheerios could maximise its partnership with Usher include subtle branding in his next video; utilising his 9m+ followers by hosting a Twitter takeover and running a competition to meet the star himself; or creating a series of educational videos on the importance of breakfast with Usher’s children, linking in with Cheerios’ Family Breakfast Project.

So, it’s a good start, but there’s lots more Cheerios could be doing to transform this fleeting stunt into a considered campaign.

What do you think?

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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 Β£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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