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Stop wasting your breath: in digital space, no one can hear a PR scream

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In a world festooned with communications channels, PR professionals have to make their campaigns shout louder than ever if they are to be heard by the right people. Untargeted, irrelevant work simply reverberates around the digital universe, falling on deaf ears. I’m sure it’s dawned on you by now that yelling through a loudspeaker to whoever might be paying attention no longer works for us folks in B2B PR.

Meanwhile, a working week once punctuated by long lunches with trade journalists now flies by amid the daily combination of content creation and carving out precious media slots for your perfect prose.

In spite of this shift to targeted content, lots of businesses still see the value in ‘vanity’ PR. There is a case for it, after all. Raising awareness of a brand or organisation will never do any harm and can boost search engine ranking along the way.

But there are pitfalls in a singular, media noise-based approach. When was the last time a PR article written purely for the sake of untargeted profile-building helped secure a piece of business? A quantifiable win that could be directly attributed to opinion alone (your own opinion of its quality notwithstanding)?

Let me give you an example. Client X, MD of a customer experience marketing agency, wants to arrange a media tour (getting in front of as many journalists as possible on the same day) to wax lyrical about his ‘unique’ approach to digital transformation. When the journalist finally glazes over, she extricates herself from the meeting by agreeing to commission a two-page comment piece.

All well and good – and a great chance to set out positioning and include key messages – but how is that contributing to the ultimate goal of helping to book and close meetings with prospects?

Media relations and thought leadership in the trades is a faithful, but tired, tactic. As an ex-hack it pains me to say it, but publications are now only one ‘route to market’ for news and opinion. Enter PR’s role in content marketing: reaching the right person through the right channel at the right time.

Content is nothing new; in fact, it’s already becoming a cliché. Despite that, it’s growing in importance. The key to PR’s future success is to prove it can directly drive new business meetings.

Getting the nuts and bolts in place is paramount. Content creation should be a given. Clients naturally expect PRs to handle researching, writing, shaping and filming. What they may not realise is that a good content strategy means the creation of a day-to-day editorial calendar, encompasses targeted distribution, and ultimately underpins lead generation and nurturing.

In B2B PR, it’s now vital to develop ‘prospect journeys’ much like marketers do (or ought to do) for consumers. Get your content distribution strategy right and the person you’re targeting should have no excuse for ignoring the article, report, video or tweet you are putting directly in from of them.

There are so many different ways clients can spend budget these days that PR has to fight harder to prove its worth. Traditional aspects of our craft just don’t do that job. It’s time to get used to the idea that something many PRs never thought we’d do – namely, cosying up to the new business strategy and effectively becoming part of the lead gen team – is the way forward.
In the modern PR landscape it’s what you say and who you say it to – not how loud you say it – that matters.

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Champion the Future: unravelling London's tech scene

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Champion the Future: unravelling London's tech scene

Unicorns are on the loose in London – and they’re spreading across the city.

As a barometer of the capital’s rapid growth, consider this: the UK has produced more billion-dollar valuated companies (unicorns) than any other country in Europe. In fact, 17 of the 40 European tech companies that claim the coveted title of “unicorn” come from British shores, with a further 13 calling London home to their humble roots. To put this in perspective, that’s more than the total in Sweden and Germany put together (two countries which, it should be noted, each boast their own impressive portfolio of tech start-ups).

London has emerged as the outright leader in Europe’s burgeoning tech industry, appealing to aspiring entrepreneurs and daring venture capitalists who boast deep pockets and even deeper ambitions. Fuelled by new-found optimism, investment has soared, business accelerators have flourished and government policy-makers have backed measures to propel the tech industry forward.

With all of this collaboration comes innovation. London-based unicorns like Asos, JustEat and Transferwise have caused considerable disruption in their respective industries. However, while these hero stories serve as mouth-watering inspiration, the competition to follow in their footsteps is fierce, with nearly 40,000 tech businesses headquartered in central London alone (according to research from Stirling Ackroyd). 

"Silicon Roundabout"

"Silicon Roundabout"

At the vanguard of this tectonic shift sits Silicon Roundabout, London’s “Tech City”. Originally located in the immediate area surrounding Old Street Roundabout, Tech City has grown to encompass larger swathes of the East End, including the edgy, start-up friendly Shoreditch. Since Tech City’s birth in 2010, venture capital investment into tech start-ups has increased tenfold, a staggering indication of the market’s growth. Clearly, we’re witnessing a profound transformation in the landscape of London business. Yet, with all the excitement and fervour, naturally some begin to wonder – can London one day challenge Silicon Valley as the world’s centre for tech innovation?

The short answer: no. While these accolades are admirable, let’s not forget that Silicon Valley has produced (and continues to produce) some of the world’s most formidable tech giants. Uber, Airbnb and Snapchat account for a collective valuation of over $100bn – not too shabby. As a consequence, London still plays second fiddle to San Francisco’s South Bay.

However, that’s not to say that London can’t carve out a niche of its own. In fact, we’re already beginning to see how technology can intersect with other industries. London, known for its love of fashion, is now leading the charge in the thriving “FashTech” industry. The world’s first major FashTech Summit will be hosted in London on April 13th - 15th, a showcase of the talent and flair on display in London’s tech industry.  As a hotbed of innovation, look for London to spearhead the evolution of tech for all of Europe.

Is danger lurking on the horizon? 

Is danger lurking on the horizon? 

While London’s tech scene has progressed from strength to strength, danger may be lurking on the horizon. Critics are awash, claiming the tech industry is teetering on the edge of a rocky precipice. Some analysts look to the fact that tech firms now account for only 14 percent of IPOs (the lowest number since 2008) as a sign that the red lights are flashing. Whether or not these fears materialise is a matter of debate; ultimately, no one can predict the future of a market that has been historically volatile.

However, despite the gloomy forecasts, with 2016 under tow, the industry shows no signs of abating any time soon, and, when you hop off the Tube at Old Street Roundabout and step into the crisp, early-spring sunshine of Tech City, that timeless scent of entrepreneurial spirit still hangs heavy in the air.

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Add Instagram to Your Brand’s New Year’s Resolutions

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Add Instagram to Your Brand’s New Year’s Resolutions

In the wake of the holiday season, brands across the UK are reflecting on the success of their advertising and marketing campaigns. Naturally, digital has grown to play an instrumental role in the way consumers discover research and shop for items. The festive period only supports this trend, with many consumers eschewing the chaos of physical stores for the ease of online shopping.

As part of the rise of digital, new social media apps like Instagram offer a unique and interesting way to approach and engage customers; recent statistics show 56% of consumers have purchased a product after seeing it on Instagram. As we begin to digest the aftermath of the Christmas season, let’s take a look at how big retailers have succeeded or failed to adopt one of social media’s hottest new platforms. 

A picture of the present

The release of Instagram’s brand new ad targeting tool in November, which ran until New Year’s Day, sought to make the platform an even more enticing option for brands. The tool allowed marketers to reach highly engaged users, targeting specific occasions such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. While Instagram has been coy about the level of brand investment, the client spend for one social media agency in North America jumped “something like 11,000%” between Q3 and Q4, indicating a massive surge in investment in the immediate run up to Christmas. The self-serve element of Instagram’s new marketing tool ensured that brands of all sizes could afford ads, which opened up the platform for widespread, heavy investment.

Retailers: who bought in and who didn’t?

As we shift our attention to some of the UK’s most popular retail brands, we find there is quite a disparate level of engagement on the social platform. Certain brands have clearly appealed to Instagram’s massive daily audience, while others like Asda, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis have so far failed to land a meaningful presence on the photo and video sharing app. The statistics are quite revealing:

BRAND / INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS*

Asda - 29.5 thousand

Sainsbury’s -37.8 thousand

John Lewis - 72.4 thousand

Harrods - 790 thousand

Asos - 3.8 million

H&M - 11.8 million

*All Instagram follower statistics are accurate as of 04/01/2016

Big budget TV ads like John Lewis’ “Man on the Moon” and Sainsbury’s “Mog the Cat” showed how crucial the holiday period is for retailers, so it comes as somewhat of a surprise to see that certain brands seem not to have taken full advantage of Instagram’s untapped potential. 

Contrast John Lewis’ Instagram feed, for example, with H&M’s. Rather than act as a direct product placement page, John Lewis posts add little by way of product marketing, electing instead to develop an emotional connection with users. It’s a nice touch, but in this day and age a different approach to engagement is required.   

H&M’s feed, on the other hand, takes advantage of the striking visual elements that make Instagram successful, but do so in a clever and inviting way. This image, in particular, demonstrates a clever fusion between marketing and style. It sells the product in a subtle way without directly telling consumers “buy this!” The response says it all; with 109,000 likes, we think the engagement is top notch, and the spread from this image alone is worth its weight in advertising gold.

A snapshot into the future

Instagram is fast becoming an inspiring tool for marketers, with a growing audience of more than 400 million users. Part of Instagram’s appeal lies in the subtlety of its advertising; studies show that consumers find the platform’s ads more seamless and timely. With a bit of forethought and creativity, retailers can create an engaged community of fans and brand ambassadors. This, in turn, makes it considerably easier to convert marketing into sales.

For all of Instagram’s obvious benefits, there are still a few areas it can improve upon to increase wider brand adoption. The platform lacks a full commercial model and is yet to develop an analytics tool to track advertising with detailed ad targeting. The new ad targeting tool is a good step, but is only focused on specific days, which means it lacks an all-encompassing approach. Nonetheless, the future is bright if Instagram can solve these problems and instil more faith in the hearts of marketing departments.

The way we consume media is fundamentally changing; smartphones continue to revolutionise our ease of access to people, goods and information. As the holiday period showed, digital investment in Instagram skyrocketed, with the platform becoming an integral hotspot for modern consumers to discover, research and shop. Retail brands, in particular, need to recognise the significance of this shift and start investing in the future – today.



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The Rise of Instagram in the Marketing World

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The Rise of Instagram in the Marketing World

Social media has long been a central component to any marketers strategy, but in our ‘always on’ and ever changing consumer society, marketers need to tap into the unique features of each platform in order to reach customers in distinct and profitable ways. Instagram, a platform designed exclusively for sharing high quality images and video, is taking the advertising landscape by storm as marketers look for alternative ways to connect with consumers. Brands no longer need to spend millions to compete in the advertising game, opening up the market and allowing SMEs and independent companies to muscle in on the competition. The site currently boasts an impressive 300 million users worldwide, with 14 million in the UK alone. Its demographic is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a predominantly younger crowd with almost 90% of users under the age of 35.  Instagram attracts a primarily female user base and, since its acquisition by Facebook in 2013, profits improved from inclusivity with a 50/50 Android and iOS split. The stats speak for themselves; this is a platform that means business and as marketers become increasingly aware of the sheer power this site can offer to connect with consumers, its influence will only continue to grow.

The Current Landscape

Whilst Instagram has already been adopted by many brands as a key instrument in their marketing approach, there is still a long way to go for others. Creative and visual brands, in particular those in the travel and retail industries, gravitate towards Instagram due to the sites’ strong aesthetic appeal. The platform’s innate ability to help brands connect with its followers in relatable and approachable ways enables marketers to portray the brand as a living character and expose the lifestyle behind the brand. Mr Porter, an online retail brand owned by the renowned Net-a-porter, is leading the way with its innovative approach to Instagram by creating an online persona that drives sales and communicates the brand ethos through the platform. For brands like Mr Porter, Instagram is the most important channel, receiving up to 100 million impressions a year and is the key catalyst behind their online sales.

However, it can be hard to get right.

Earlier this year, global drinks company Diageo became the first in the industry to use Instagram for advertising the launch of a new flavour for its Cîroc brand. Despite proudly claiming that they ”understand how our consumers connect within the digital space”, Diageo has been criticised by some for misunderstanding Instagram’s target demographic: a massive proportion of its following is either under the legal drinking age or students, who are not renowned for being the most discerning of drinkers. So, regardless of the opportunities Instagram can provide, marketers should tread cautiously.

Enough of the small talk!

It is no longer enough to merely interact with your consumers via an occasional hashtag, nor does an impulsive ‘follow’ translate into a sale. In a world where social media users are bombarded with images by the second, brands need to think creatively in order to stand out amongst the noise.  An incredible 57% of users visit the site daily – that’s millions of scrollers, opportunistic browsers and potential customers, and a whole lot of untapped potential. If marketers want to stay at the forefront of consumers’ minds they must find new ways shorten the gap between social media and ecommerce.

After recently launching a shoppable YouTube ad, online fashion retailer Very.co.uk will soon be the first to create and launch these shoppable technologies through Instagram and although this isn’t available yet, it will be one to watch as other brands follow suit.  

Introducing payable features to Instagram to convert visits to sales is another potential move for online digital marketers and big brands looking to capitalise on Instagram’s estimated $2.81 million advertising potential, which is set to outdo its more traditional counterparts such as Google and Twitter by 2017.

Where does Instagram stand?

Instagram is one of the most exciting marketing platforms to date, with huge opportunities for marketers from all corners of the world to take advantage of. As advertisers look to conquer the spawning world of social media, Instagram is clearly staking its claim as a go-to platform with deliverable results. Time will tell how it stands up to bigger rivals such as Facebook and Twitter, but the signs are promising, and Instagram seems poised to brush shoulders with the big boys of the social media marketing world. 

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The Multi-Billion Dollar Jackpot: Sports

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The Multi-Billion Dollar Jackpot: Sports

Your chances of winning the UK national lottery are 14 million to one. Fancy a shot at the Euro Millions? Your odds skyrocket to 116.5 million to one.

For the most popular entertainment industry in the world, however, luck plays no part – sound the horn, flash the lights and ready the confetti, because the global sports industry has struck the jackpot.

There’s no playing around when it comes to money

According to an A.T. Kearney report, the worldwide sports industry is now worth between £310-400 billion. Let’s put this into perspective for a moment – one million pounds could buy you a six bedroom chateau in France, four 2015 Ferrari California T’s, or a .0003% stake of Real Madrid FC, yes you read that right: .0003%! That’s how much you’d own if you chose to invest a million pounds in Real Madrid, who Forbes recently rated as the most valuable sports franchise in the world, at a jaw-dropping £2.2 billion.

As the sports industry has exploded in popularity and viewership, so have soaring sponsorship deals and team valuations that seemingly increase overnight. The United States continues to be the perennial powerhouse of TV network deals. Just take a look at the £3.24 billion TV deal the NFL recently penned, or the £1.7 billion deal the NBA tied up with ESPN and TNT.

England’s Answer

England’s most popular export, the Premier League, is fighting back against its wealthier American rivals. A new £1.7 billion deal with SKY Sports is due to begin in 2016, which marks a 70% increase over its previous network deal. The 168 matches during the season will cost broadcasters approximately £10.2 million per game to air.

Companies are vying to stake a claim in the rich, sprawling goldmines of sports entertainment. Like their forefathers, these individuals have rushed to carve out expansive swathes of the market, toiling with pickaxe and sieve to turn modern football clubs into powerful global brands. The bourgeoning response from broadcasters and sponsors underlines just how influential these brands have become.

Chevrolet recently broke ground by coming to terms with Manchester United over a seven year multi-million sponsorship deal. It demonstrates in rather stark terms just how valuable and attractive an item like the Premier League is, even for foreign companies. In my opinion, Chevy’s deal with Manchester United stands as a poignant representation of the Premier League’s global success. The fact that a company would invest such a massive sum of money into a market where they’ve traditionally performed poorly, speaks volumes about the global appeal of the Premier League. 

Money Talks

All this money and increased revenue is great, but can we find out where it’s actually going? Building on that – is it actually helping the game?

In a lot of cases, teams are investing their money directly into the club itself, paying higher wages to players and coaching staff and improving training facilities.

A football salary website – www.whatfootballersearn.com/ - takes a humorous but insightful look at the massive sums of money these stars earn, with a fun component that lets you track how much your favourite player has earned in the time you’ve been on the website. To put this in perspective, Wayne Rooney earned £4,264 in the time it took me to write this article.

At the end of the day, sport has a unique ability to capture our imagination and toy with our hearts. Do these modern day saints and heroes deserve such extravagant salaries? That’s a question for another day. Ultimately, the money will keep pouring in and TV broadcast and sponsorship deals will only increase.

As David Bailey said, “To get rich you have to be making money while you sleep.” For those invested in the sports world – athletes, owners and team managers – I think they will sleep easy tonight.  

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Augmented Reality: Changing How We See the World

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Augmented Reality: Changing How We See the World

If you don’t believe in magic, maybe it’s time to start.

Augmented reality (AR) is back in the spotlight with companies and governments scrambling to incorporate this cutting-edge, futuristic technology into games, apps, educational programs and everything in between. AR works by morphing a live view of the world around you, overlaying this feed with “computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, and graphics.”

While the technology has been in steady development for the better part of twenty-five years, there is now a feeling that the software is sophisticated enough to be implemented on a mass scale. As we’re working with Kudan – a Bristol-based company on a mission to unleash the creative potential of AR, we’ve been taking a closer look at some of the potential uses of AR. I wanted to share some of the ones that have stuck with me, both practical and entertaining!

AR Goggles for the Blind

One of the most remarkable prospects for AR is its potential to offer restorative eye properties to the blind. This has been the quest of start-up tech company VA-ST, who have developed ‘Smart Specs.’ To work, the user would simply slip on a pair of AR goggles, which relays sensory feedback from the outside world and augments the image by enhancing objects in the viewer’s immediate proximity. While far from being a cure, these glasses still provide the viewer with enough sensory information to detect the general appearance of people and other objects.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/tech/augmented-reality-goggles-are-giving-the-blind-more-than-basic-sight/

Music You Can See

Applications like iTunes’ music visualizer brought us 2D music visualization, but what if you could see and touch music in the palm of your hands? Reify, a start-up company hailing from NYC, has taken this fantasy and turned it into reality. The technology works direct from your smart phone. The app uses a literal stream of your immediate surroundings and overlays it with 3D ‘totems,’ or unique visual experiences that differ depending on which song the user selects. The technology gives people the ability to play with and experience music in a way that has never been seen before.

In my opinion, this is certainly one of the coolest ways AR technology has been implemented so far.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/reify-turns-music-into-3d-printed-sculptures/

 

U.S. Military

In a more explosive fashion the U.S. Military has picked up on the potential of AR by incorporating its technology into training exercises. On the 21st of May 2015, U.S. Marines were given the opportunity to test out the new software, which transformed a grassy field in Virginia into a scene straight out of Black Hawk Down. The visual overlay created real-life scenarios for the trainees, which could revolutionize the way troops are prepared for combat by acclimatizing them to more visceral and life-like situations. 

http://science.dodlive.mil/2015/06/17/navy-marines-test-glasses-for-augmented-reality-system/

Futuristic Dashboards

Here’s one for all you car lovers out there. BMW has announced, to much fervour, that its 2017 5 series will come loaded with an AR Head-Up Display system. The display will overlap the car’s windshield, providing real time information to the driver. Speed of approach, distance to the next turn, information on blind spots and much more will be available to the driver all on the windshield in front of them. The technology appears so sophisticated that its proponents claim it will aid drivers’ safety on the road.  

http://www.bmwblog.com/2015/07/13/2017-bmw-5-series-with-augmented-reality-and-autonomous-driving/

What’s next…

Augmented reality looks poised to shake up the way we see and interact with the world. These few examples are merely a drop in an endless sea of possibilities for this ground-breaking technology. It will be exciting to follow the many different ways that companies will incorporate this technology into their products and services. Believe in magic now?

 

 

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You’re listening to the Beat

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You’re listening to the Beat

Since Zane Lowe announced earlier this year that he’ll be leaving Radio 1 for Apple, many, including me have been eagerly anticipating what’s in store for the technology giant. And finally, earlier this week at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled the details of its brand new music streaming service ‘Apple Music’.

It’s safe to say that the much coveted iTunes has revolutionised the way we listen to music, but Apple is now charging into an already crowded space of music streaming that includes established players such as Spotify and Pandora. Being rather late to the game many are wondering whether Apple Music will be a hit or miss with the public. I reckon it will be a great success and here’s why.

Despite having an incredible 400 million iTunes accounts worldwide, music download sales are falling fast and streaming is quickly on the rise. Therefore by introducing Apple Music, the brand can build its new service into the hundreds and millions of devices that its loyal customers already love.  It will also be available in 100 countries, opposed to 55 for Spotify, and users can sync songs to an offline model. Cleverly, later on in the year Apple will also be making the service available on Android phones and Windows PCs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there has been a mixed reaction to the launch of Apple Music’s new radio station Beats1. Described as a global radio station Apple has said it will launch the station with three very specialist music programmes - a hip hop DJ from New York, a grime DJ from London and Zane. But Beats1 isn't about radio, it's about music. And despite being a very specialist offering at the moment, I’m sure this will grow in time. 

One of the problems with on-demand streaming is that a lot of people don’t know what to search for and listen to. Therefore by creating a flagship, 24/7, human-run Beats1 radio station, listeners will be able to discover artists which they can later stream at their leisure. Win: win surely?

Unlike Spotify, Apple will not be offering an advertising supported version at launch. However its innovative Connect feature will give artists the ability to reach their fans directly through a blog-like interface. And once video is introduced this will offer brands a huge opportunity to partner with artists to co-create personalised content for their fans. A must in today’s saturated market.

Finally, with everyone able to give Apple Music a free go for three months, what’s not to like? What’s more at $9.99 a month, Apple has introduced a highly competitive family plan that costs a mere $14.99 a month for up to six accounts.

In my opinion Apple can do no wrong and I for one will be shortly deleting my Spotify app in favour of Apple Music.  

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Retail disruptor: How to change brand perceptions

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Retail disruptor: How to change brand perceptions

This week we attended the Brain Food Tasty Marketing Debate and joined the discussion about how brands can change their customer’s perception.

Perception is everything – if a customer has a poor or negative feeling about your brand then it’s very difficult to change it without a real focus. In the hyper sensitive world of social media, your brand and how you respond to your customers’ issues has become increasingly important to manage and defend. 

In most cases, negative perceptions exist because the brand has not lived up to its customers’ expectations – the service was poor, the food was bad, the quality is not as good as it should be. In some instances, issues arise when brands with a particular image try to do different things and appeal to different audiences.

Brand success story: Lidl

One particular brand that was discussed during the panel debate is Lidl. The UK supermarket brand flipped the perception of cheap products to focus on providing good quality products at reasonable prices for the local community.

By increasing its budget and changing the marketing strategy, Lidl ditched the traditional reliance on leaflet drops in favour of a national, integrated approach, with significant investment in TV and digital channels.

Lidl kicked off #LidlSurprises, a £20m campaign with a national TV ad showing real consumers unwittingly trying Lidl food in a farmers’ market setting and being surprised by the quality. The branding message cleverly challenges the public’s perception of its products buy asking customers what they think about the brand. 

Being cheaper than the competition is not enough to build a brand and ensure longevity, in order to change perceptions of Lidl among the public, the brand had to change the public’s underlying belief that “you get what you paid for”.

Onwards and upwards

By successfully finding the balance between the physical and the digital world, Lidl has doubled its turnover since 2010 and carved out a 3.6% market share. Instead of focusing on cutting costs and lowering prices, it has been improving quality, building up from a low-cost base. They are now, in a way, classless and sell products that are relevant to everyone.

The reason these type of campaigns work is that they create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience. Also, by capturing the public’s reaction you get some shareable content that can be posted on YouTube, or indeed used as a TV ad.

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Social politics: how the #hashtag won the day

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Social politics: how the #hashtag won the day

What a week. With the final votes in and political leaders dropping like flies this has been one heck of a ride for everyone following the general election. We’ve witnessed all sorts, from comical memes through to viral videos and trending hashtags (#whyimvotingukip is a personal favourite), as the whole internet was brought to life with everyone throwing their thoughts into the mix.

The whole event reached fever pitch yesterday as people hit the polling stations and turned to social media to join the discussion- making it the most talked about event on the planet as the hashtag #Ivoted became top trend worldwide on Twitter.

But in what was deemed to be the “closest election for 70 years” the results seem to have turned out very differently to how we all expected. With countless surveys and polls telling us labour and conservative were neck and neck it seems pretty baffling that our predictions weren’t even close. So where are the surveys going wrong? What’s the point in all this polling if we’re only going to get it so wrong? As a society obsessed with data and statistics we’ve never known more about each other and yet it seems we’re more unpredictable than ever.

Does this mark a trend? Are we rising up against the institutions by lying to them? Or are we simply a generation that likes to change our minds? Who knows, but what is certain is that social media showed its true power in the fight for democracy. By giving us the platform we need to voice our opinions and enter online debates it seems the power really is in our hands as the parties struggle to keep up. So whilst the Conservatives may have walked away with the keys to number 10 today, there is no doubt the social media sphere will continue to knock on that door and make sure the voices of the people are heard.

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The beach body debate

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The beach body debate

Everyone’s seen it; everyone’s got an opinion about it.

Yet the first time I saw Protein World's "Are You Beach Body Ready?" advert, at my local tube station, I didn't really think much of it. And that’s coming from a girl who’s pretty far from a size 8. The concept of a slim woman promoting weight loss; where have I seen that before? Of course - in the thousands of magazines bought daily by women looking for inspiration and advice. Get your best beach body ever. Lose 5kg in a month. Drop a dress size in a week. We’ve heard this all before and do we take it seriously? I certainly don’t. And we definitely don’t go organising a demonstration in Hyde Park.

So why has this advert caused so much outrage? Especially during a week where there’s far more pressing issues which should be taking centre stage, such as the earthquake in Nepal or the execution in Indonesia.

Ultimately the rise of social media has given people a voice, and women who are fed up of being objectified in this way have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns. Who is the brand to decide what body is worthy of wearing skimpy swimwear and hitting the beach? But why has this one caused huge uproar and not one of the many others we see every day? Or what about size 6 swimwear models showing off this year’s collection? Being six foot tall and planted across almost every tube station in London probably didn’t help. Unsurprisingly the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now banned the controversial ad for misleading health claims whilst also launching a 'social responsibility' probe.

However despite the backlash, Protein World has ultimately reaped the rewards. Its own marketing boss has even said, “I think it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting this level of exposure - but it’s fantastic.” The campaign has turned a £250,000 media spend into a viral phenomenon turning a little known brand into a household name.

But whatever your personal opinion is, the campaign has got people talking and it’s got people thinking. Body positively IS an important issue and we’ve taken huge leaps forward in promoting this over the past few years. Just look at Dove and the success the brand has had with its campaign for ‘Real Beauty’; or the huge influx of plus-size models promoting the latest fashion trends.

In my opinion, if this whole fiasco has helped women to have the courage to put on a bikini and say “screw you”, then we are making progress. Let’s move away from whether the ad is right or wrong and focus on what’s important.

 

 

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Key takeaways from Advertising Week Europe

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Key takeaways from Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe – a jammed packed week of the world’s best and brightest discussing latest trends that will shape and influence the industry. From Hollywood star Salma Hayek to swimmer Rebecca Arlington and Yannick Bolloré, chief executive of Havas; the week was certainly entertaining. But what did we learn? Here are my five takeaway points:

1.       Marketing is actually just like Tinder

The former Red Bull UK marketing director Huib Van Bockel claimed that marketing today is ‘like Tinder’ and called out the need for brands to react faster to the pace of disruption.

According to Bockel, two things have changed: firstly, brands have to communicate with consumers constantly, particularly via social, and secondly, the once standard 30 seconds of advertising is non-existent in today’s impatient landscape. 

As a result marketing has become like Tinder; in one second you decide to engage with that content or swipe it away, and that’s what brands have to get used to.

2.       Authenticity is key

Authenticity was a theme that speaker after speaker came back to on the stages surrounding Ad Week’s BAFTA headquarters. All agreed that audiences demand it; many warned that marketing success depends upon it; but few could offer a simple, risk-free path to achieving it.

Interestingly this is also true for brand partnerships: Cassandra Gracey, the agent of Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora claimed that brands that want to successfully work with bands need "authenticity in a deal”. She supported this claim by revealing that Goulding wouldn’t do a deal with Coca-Cola, because she doesn’t drink it.

3.       Don’t look for quick wins

According to Andrew Warner, vice-president of marketing at Monster, marketers are falling into the trap of doing things that are easily measurable in the short-term rather than focusing on more traditional forms of media that could deliver longer-term benefits.

He said: “All too often marketers today go for things that show a quick return instead of thinking about the bigger overall business agenda, building a case and arguing it.” Instead he urged that marketers to “think from a commercial perspective, understand the business agenda, and be determined to build and prove hypotheses”.

4.       It’s all about the new visual economy

It was discussed how the new visual economy represents a huge opportunity, both for brands and the creative community. A panel discussion reminded marketers that securing the most high profile, or most followed influencer is not always the right strategy for marketers. Instead they should shift their focus to building relationships over time with credible partners.

5.       Diversity really does matter

In London, 42 per cent of the population is of black, Asian and minority ethnicity but these groups make up just 13 per cent of the London-centric advertising industry. And women fill just 25.6 per cent of senior roles.

Karen Blackett, chief executive of Mediacom believes that the business case for diversity is really simple. “It is about future proofing your business. It is important to have people in your workforce who can build empathy with different people in the UK.”

Similarly, Ben Bilboul, group chief executive of Karmarama claims that “some of the best creative ideas come when you mix things up, so having a variety of different cultures really helps.”

Ben adds that it’s not just about creativity, “we are the interface between a brand and its customers. If we can’t represent the customer then we’re not doing a good job.”

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Guardian Media Changing Summit 2015

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Guardian Media Changing Summit 2015

Last week saw the 10th annual Guardian Changing Media Summit and just in case you couldn’t make it, don’t panic as we were there to capture all of the latest trends and insights. Here are some of the key findings from the two-day event, make sure you check in later this week to read more in-depth content around the top trending topics.

1.       How social media has changed everything

We’re not just living in a mobile-first society, we’re a mobile-first, second and third society. The most important thing in the advertising world is the attention graph. Consumers gloss over everything because they’re constantly getting pounded with ads. So how do marketers break-through in a world that never stands still? People keep up with their world via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – this is where the consumer focuses their attention. Marketers and advertisers need to connect with their audience across these channels so that they appear naturally in their news feed, otherwise they will never be seen.

2.       The future of advertising – programmatic advertising is changing the media landscape

More than 80% of online ads are now bought programmatically, however a lot of people still don’t know what programmatic actually is. Brands and independent publishers face a huge threat if they don’t build programmatic platforms as the bigger businesses are sucking the life out of traditional advertising methods. The data science used for the buying and selling of ads has massively impacted the ad industry. With the shift towards multi-screen, programmatic can give publishers, advertisers and agencies the opportunity to channel more creative content direct to their target audience.

3.        The Twitter elections - how the general election is coming to life on the social platform

With around one billion tweets now getting posted every two days, there has never been a better time to be working at the intersection of news and Twitter than today. This is especially true in the lead up to general election season in the UK - a recent survey revealed that more Twitter users than ever are looking to the platform to motivate their voting decision. This is a generation that relies on the moment-by-moment conversation and politicians are starting to take advantage of this. By offering a platform that is public, real-time, conversational and distributive, Twitter has given politics the centre-stage to what could be the most exciting general election to date. 

4.       The future of agencies - how will technology impact the relationship between brand and agency?

Technology is driving a change in the way agencies and brands interact with each other. Brands now have the capacity to take functions that they would traditionally outsource to agencies in-house. So how should agencies respond to ensure they continue to play a significant role in the future?  With companies like Hailo admitting they no longer refer to the term ‘advertising’, it is clear these new age brands thrive on the ability to be agile. Gary Brammel, CMO at Hailo argues that “agencies need to look to be partners, building products and meaningful things, not the fluffy creative campaigns on top.” It is clear the traditional relationship no longer exists for these brands - agencies can no longer co-exist; they need to build up and become partners. By getting involved in the integrated processes, it seems agencies will have the opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition and become invaluable to brands moving forward. 

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