Tag Archives: opportunity

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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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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Vittel vamps up water bottles to remind you to keep drinking

28 May

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Midweek question: should PRs and marketers attempt to create a campaign when an app already exists?

I woke up at about 3am this morning and killed some time checking Twitter (yes, I’m one of those people who reaches for their phone) and saw that Ogilvy – the agency behind the UN’s predictive Google search campaign to raise awareness of gender inequality – had posted some of its latest client work.

I took another look at the tweet, at a more appropriate hour, and found that the agency had created a ‘quick and dirty’ PR stunt off the back of consumer research.

A new survey has found that 80% of French adults aren’t drinking enough water, simply because they forget. So, Ogilvy has teamed up with Vittel to create a special bottle lid that reminds you to sippy sippy every hour.

Originally, I’d have thought this was great – especially after seeing that it’s secured coverage on Creativity Online, Design Taxi and has generated a social media buzz – if I hadn’t downloaded Water Balance recently, which takes a note of my weight and height before prompting me to drink at various times during the day.

Maybe I’m taking it too seriously. The video to accompany the stunt certainly doesn’t. It’s fast, fun and contains flags – what’s not to love?

But, don’t get too excited. At the moment, this is exactly what it says on the tin – a marketing opportunity for the company to study consumer behaviour, with no current plans to bring it to life.

So, I guess I’ve answered my own question. Although apps are convenient and cost-effective, stunts will always have that talkability factor – and Vittel is a great example of this.

What do you think – thirsty for more? Watch the video here:

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