Tag Archives: season

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

If the cast of Friends joined Prime Time

20 Sep

This is brand new information!

Ok, I fooled you. It isn’t really. But, shame on you if you’ve missed the media banging on about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the first episode of Friends. It’s literally been everywhere!

And, not wanting to miss out, I’m going to give Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe some airtime of my own. No, it’s not a “20 things you didn’t know about Friends” blog. (Thank goodness, that feature idea has had more re-runs than the show itself).

No, I’m doing something much more industry focused. This, Prime Timers, is the definitive list of where I’d place the characters in my PR and marketing company.

Novel? Yes. Necessary? No. So, bear with me.

Joey – Reception
Imagine how happy you’d be if you rang up Prime Time HQ and were greeted with a friendly ‘how you doing?’

Joey is very much a people person and I’d want to exploit that on the front desk. He also knows how to act (I’m confident about that). So, if a client was getting pushy about why they were being kept waiting in the lobby (because we were obviously putting the finishing touches to our pitch presentation), he’d be able to devise a ‘believable’ cover story.

Note to self: Joey must not be allowed to change the TV station in reception to Days of our Lives. It must remain on BBC News at all times.

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Rachel – New business
Rachel isn’t getting this job based on the efforts she displayed as a waitress at Central Perk. Because, quite frankly, she wasn’t very good. But, when she worked for Bloomingdale’s and, later, Ralph Lauren, she showed that she had an eye for emerging trends and was able to work effectively and efficiently with models, suppliers and buyers. This is perfect for identifying new clients and securing briefs.

Note to self: Don’t allow her to recruit an attractive PA; it stunts her productivity.

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Ross – Research
Some might find this role boring but, with Ross’ scientific approach to problem-solving, he’d be great. Tasked with researching markets and ideas and pulling together competitor reports, he’d be able to justify all of our PR moves to clients with hard facts and figures.

Note to self: Don’t allow him to take breaks during office hours. It gets him into trouble and brings up bad memories for Rachel.

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Phoebe – Marketing
Imagine Phoebe heading up a brainstorm – she’d be brilliant. To create award-winning campaigns, every idea needs to be explored.

As they say, no idea is a bad idea in a brainstorm. And Phoebe would be able to bring the best out in her team by not limiting creativity – due to budgets, timings and resource – at the first hurdle. Even if clients don’t opt for those big ideas, it’s important they know we’re capable of producing them.

Note to self: Always ask her a secret question that only she’d know the answer to, to check her twin sister isn’t doing her job for her.

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Chandler – Social media
I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why isn’t Chandler in advertising?’ He did a great job in the show’. I’m telling you, he didn’t. Slogans and jingles are one thing, but clients expect substance and strategy behind their new product launches. I’d want to harness Chandler’s wit on social media – encouraging him to engage with consumers, start topical conversations and conduct focus groups – giving us, and our clients, the edge.

Note to self: Ensure he wears a name badge at all times, so people know exactly who he is in the office.

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Monica – PR
Monica gets what she wants, always. She’s fierce, competitive and knows how to play the game. From writing impactful features and interviewing powerful case studies to selling-in stories and securing coverage, she’d be a PR machine.

Note to self: Leave a note to the cleaners to ensure her desk is thoroughly cleaned each evening.

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So, there you have it. An all-star agency dream team.

Do you agree with my recruitment decisions, or would you make some internal shuffles?

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London council sends bogus Christmas card to residents

18 Dec

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With a week before Christmas, everyone’s in full swing planning the perfect day. That’s right, it’s the season of giving. But maybe we’ve all missed the point. Maybe we’re not meant to be giving to one another, maybe we’re meant to be giving to the council!

That’s right. Hammersmith and Fulham Council has reminded local residents not to get behind on their rent by sending a ‘bah humbug’ Christmas card which reads: Don’t overindulge this Christmas. Pay your rent!

There’s only two ways you can interpret this card – you can agree or disagree. I’ll give you 10 points for guessing what I think of it. Here’s a clue: I take offence.

If 46 per cent of residents are in arrears then I don’t believe this tactic is going to make much difference. Rather than make the residents feel guilty, it’ll just have a negative impact on the council. It’s bad PR through and through and leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. Essentially, if the council thought they were going to get their money before the big day, then they’ve made a big mistake.

More than causing uproar – many labelling the act ‘disgusting’ – it’s even prompted some to request updates via the Freedom of Information Act to find out how the cards were distributed. According to What Do They Know?, an 81-year old woman, who’s apparently never been late with the rent, was left ‘extremely distressed’ upon receiving it. And who can blame her? It’s hardly subtle.

The council may well think it’s appropriate to thank the BBC on Twitter for helping them to generate coverage with the scheme, but I think they’re underestimating just how much this could backfire.

I’m not saying that being late with the rent is acceptable – when your payment is due you’re obliged to pay up. But, when you compare it to dropping a threatening card through someone’s door seven days before Christmas, you’ve got to question who’s really in the wrong.

What do you think – have you had fake Christmas cards through the door?

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