Tag Archives: lifestyle

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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#StayAlive: life-saving technology

24 Jun

When it comes to PR, charities are pushing themselves harder than ever to get noticed – and it’s paying off.

From WaterAid’s social media waterfall to Macmillan’s tube strike tweet, charities aren’t just sticking to their marketing strategy, they’re also going after ‘quick wins’, which is putting pressure on press teams to generate more column inches.

Having said this, I was surprised to see that Grassroots, a Brighton-based suicide prevention charity, is launching a new app next month called #StayAlive.

The app, not to be confused with the British Heart Foundation’s Bee Gees‘ inspired Staying Alive campaign, will offer support to people who feel suicidal.

Up to 4,400 people in England end their own lives each year, and 10 times this number attempt suicide, so why am I so shocked?

It’s one thing for a charity to empower you to save a life – whether that’s through a quick dose of CPR, donation or volunteering opportunity – but it’s another story to encourage people to keep living. It’s brave and the reality is that it’s a partial solution to a growing problem.

How will the app provide support?
1) Using location data to identify local services
2) Encouraging users to upload positive images to remind them of happier times
3) Advising on what those thoughts might mean and how to overcome them

My issue is that the apps on my very old iPhone are split into various categories: social, news, entertainment, lifestyle, shopping and utilities. So, I’m not entirely sure where #StayAlive would sit on my desktop. And, if I did need to refer to it, how often I’d revisit. And, if I was experiencing mental health issues, would I seek comfort in an app?

But, for a digital generation that’s logged on 24/7, there is some logic in the fact that our phones – a simple photo or a quick call – could mean the difference between life and death.

But, the one thing Grassroots lacks is maximising its social media presence. It took me a while to find the charity on Twitter – not ideal when the app name is actually a hashtag!

However, the charity’s already got the backing from regional newspaper The Argus and works closely with key stakeholders. But, I predict that it’ll get a lot of questions from the media on launch day about its innovation. So, it’s a prime opportunity to boost followers and starting conversations by setting the agenda.

After all, how often does a regional charity get to do that? This is definitely a campaign to keep an eye on.
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The Barbour shop spruces up with a lick of paint

5 Apr

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Despite the smog, I rocked up to work yesterday morning in my SLB (Summer Liddesdale Barbour) which is something that I bought just before every high street store decided to introduce them. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

But now fans are being given the chance to up their game by adding a spark of colour to their wardrobes, thanks to Barbour’s partnership with Pantone.

To celebrate its S/S 2014 collection, Barbour has created a film, with the help of four bloggers, to showcase the British brand’s love affair with colour.

And it’s giving fans a chance to win items from the colourful collection by taking part in a photo competition.

For a company that sticks out in our minds for (probably) using old men on wearing flat caps and wellington boots with a Labrador by their side promote its range, this approach is youthful, fashionable and fun without trying too hard.

The fashion and lifestyle bloggers – who have more than 158,000 followers combined – share what inspires them on an easy-to-use microsite – which gives users the option to browse the collection; enter a competition; and view the latest entries.

To open up a 120 year-old brand like Barbour to a new generation naturally – peer to peer marketing was key. The sophisticated bloggers are aspirational without being show-offs. These are ‘everyday’ creative people who can appreciate the quality of the brand and they’re encouraging others to do the same – and I believe them:

· Niran & AdamYing & Yang
· Steve Booker Steve Booker
· CatTake Courage
· Carin OlssonParis In Four Months

I know I’m biased. I’ve already bought into the Barbour club. But, this campaign works on both levels. It validates my previous decision and prompts me to buy again.

The video launches on the site on Monday and it’ll be interesting to see how the competition takes off and how it transforms potential consumers into future customers.

But, it already has subtly on its side. The #BarbourPantone concept is shareable without being showy – down to the fact that Barbour’s felt secure enough to create a digital campaign around its brand without over-talking about its brand (Barbour appears just seven times on the microsite homepage and one of those is the hashtag).

Jolly good!

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