Packing innovation is the smartest thing a company can do. Here’s why.

Have you ever bought something just because you liked the packaging? Of course you have. I’m not just talking about pretty colours and pictures, but actual design, usability, ease of opening – a feature that makes you pick it off the shelf over its next door neighbour? Let’s take the example of heinz creating squeeze bottles. This is probably one of the best innovations they … Continue reading Packing innovation is the smartest thing a company can do. Here’s why.

This week’s episode of ‘what were they thinking’ has a new segment called ‘who the hell approved this?’

This post is basically the opposite of my Advert of the Week posts. I can only imagine the tense nature of the global Pepsi office this week. I was actually interviewed for a job as a brand manager at Pepsi in Sydney before I accepted my current role. Today is a day I feel grateful that I didn’t take that job. ‘Live for Now’ is the … Continue reading This week’s episode of ‘what were they thinking’ has a new segment called ‘who the hell approved this?’

A life of convienience

Subscriptions have been creeping into our lives increasingly over the past 5 or so years. Before, I would never dream of committing to spend money month in/month out on anything, never mind food or access to TV shows.

But now, when people tell me they don’t have Netflix I am shocked. Really? What do you watch? How do you survive? It’s so cheap and easy!

I can’t even remember what I did before my ASOS delivery subscription.

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Seriously.

Blue-Apron2

For ages, everyone was shouting about supermarket online shopping and delivery. It was the thing. The big 4 were rushing to out do each other and capture this space. But while this was happening there was something else going on.

The health and easy living trends have slowly been merging to create a space that’s perfect for meal delivery subscriptions. Pre-weighed ingredients delivered right to your door with a recipe, which make you feel like you’re still cooking but without 90% of the hassle (no deciding, supermarkets, lists, measuring).

Hello-Fresh-2

I think Graze was the first incarnation I encountered of this, and it was a bit before its time. Since then, HelloFresh and BlueApron, and a whole bunch of others have been fighting for the millennial market share.

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Outside of food, subscription boxes are really doing well. Beauty, health care and even fashion are all making successful appearances.

Most recently, it was announced that Dollar Shave Club has just been bought by mega FMCG company Unilever for $1bn. This shows the mainstream potential of subscription services at moment. I wonder if they will also be purchasing Dollar Rubber Club ?

It will be interesting to see how far the space can go. In the future, will everything we buy come from direct debits and be sent straight to our door? Probably not, but maybe the big things will be.

Continue reading “A life of convienience”

Superbowl Ad Round-up

It’s a bit crazy how much brands pay to have airtime during the Superbowl. It’s become a place of big players. And now, it’s not only about getting the ad up there, it’s about being the best ad up there.

So yeah, you’ve got to have a lot of cash to waste on media buy, as well as probably a whole team and a whole bunch of other cash for production. Costs are up around 11% this year, to roughly $5m per 30s spot. Yes, you read that right – five million dollars for 30 seconds. In other words $166,666 per second. And that is literally just to show the advert. That doesn’t include any production or planning costs. As fun as they are to watch, I actually prefer more subtle and clever ways of engaging in this space that consumers have welcomed as an advertising hot spot (cue reference to the epic reaction of Oreo to the Beyonce blackout).

However, despite my reservations about the ROI on this, it undeniably draws an enormous audience, both live and for a few weeks after whilst the best is debated. Particularly in markets where the Superbowl itself is mostly irrelevant (sorry America), the ads still have some pull for consumers.

“No amount of homepage takeovers, no amount of native content, no amount of posting would bring you the reach and the impact that a Super Bowl ad would.” – SoFi COO Joanne Bradford.

First things first, American TV is basically 75% adverts. Therefore, I could not possibly fit all of them in one post. Someone else could be bothered though (probably because they were getting paid to do it) and you can find that here. 

Audi

I’m in two minds about this one. On one hand, I feel like its a bit weird giving an old man who needs a nurse/carer the keys to one of the fastest cars on the road. On the other hand I like the concept about the car bringing anyone to life. And obviously the backing of Bowie is a nice touch (I wonder if that was a last minute decision or, well I don’t want to say luck but….). There’s the undertone of ‘Murica which is essential in all Superbowl ads. If it were me, I would have the line “Chasing the moon brings out the best of us” instead of “Choosing the moon..” but I’m not an agency creative.

Hyundai

Okay let’s ignore how Americans pronounce Hyundai as ‘hun-day’. I really like this one. You don’t see car adverts aimed at exclusively women very often but I think they’ve made it work. It reminds me of this diet coke advert. Plus – Ryan Reynolds. This advert is actually one of two – the other staring Kevin Hart.

Avocados from Mexico

Love this advert. It’s the second time they have advertised in the Superbowl. It’s comedic, light-hearted and current. I think this is going to be one of the winners this year.

Bud Light

How much ‘Murica can you get in an advert? Not much more than Budlight have managed to pack into theirs. But it’s the good, kind of making fun of themselves but kind of not, type. Not the Donald Trump type. Star-studded. Good, but also almost forgettable (particualrly to the international audience, which isn’t really their audience so we’ll forgive them).

Budweiser

Budweiser, Bud Lights’s older brother, have gone for the opposite approach. Featuring a British actress (Helen, obv) warns against drink driving – which is actually a big problem in America. Good use of airtime from them, but could be more attention grabbing to get their message over.

Heinz

Who can resist a teeny tiny baby sausage dog? Not me. Simple ad, simple idea. Now give me a puppy.

Mountain Dew

SO CREEPY. But also strangely effective….

Taco Bell

I really like Taco Bell’s marketing. They were one of the first to adopt Snapchat, and their Twitter was on point before Innocent knew what Twitter was. This is another well thought-out campaign. A little while ago they released a heavily edited announcement that they were doing a Superbowl advert this year. Since then they have released sneak peaks of their advert, but NO ONE knows what they are promoting yet. They are also giving people the opportunity to pre-order the mystery item to receive it before anyone else. Yep, they want you to buy something when you don’t even know what it is. Good work from them. I imagine they have a lot of social planned too.

2016-02-02 12_05_41-Taco Bell's CMO on the Brand's Big Super Bowl Reveal and Taking It 'Beyond One T

Intuit/ Death Wish Coffee Company

Following on from last year, Intuit is giving up it’s paid for spot to a small business again. This year’s winner is the above. The ad itself is eye-catching, starting as if it was a movie trailer. For Intuit the idea is a good one, showing how it supports small businesses in a real way, rather than just talking about it in an advert. Bold move considering how much spots go for but amazing opportunity for DWCC.

Amazon

Promoting their new Amazon Echo, they have released ads starring Alec Baldwin who is throwing #BaldwinBowl. This advert came first, followed by the above. I think the above is better. It’s short, to the point and showcases the product in a obvious but not gauche manner.

Axe

In a weird twist of events, Axe have produced an advert encouraging men to embrace their imperfections – something mostly reserved for adverts towards women. But hey, it’s all about equality these days, so I’m liking it. I wonder how many Mom’s are going to go out and buy Axe for their sons to say “see! girls will like you for you”.

PayPal

Big and bold from Superbowl first timer Paypal. Really liked this one. It almost plays like a mood film. I would say it definitely would get people to stop and think about using Paypal.

T-Mobile

Hopping on one of the biggest 2015 meme’s is T-mobile. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said they took some cues from the Orange Wednesday adverts. Still think last year’s featuring Kim Kardashian was better, but this is still good.

Digital Thoughts

On the digital and second screen side, Snapchat is going to be a big player this year. They have been amping up their live content, giving out news for the local area, and collecting global shareable stories that let people from across the world engage with big events. With Superbowl being one of the biggest, I’m expecting a lot of action from Snapchat itself as well as brands. The big question is, how much is it going to cost a brand to have a sponsored filter or story on game day? 

If you want to re-watch last year’s ads, find them here.

If you want to watch some of the best from the past, you can take a look here.

Continue reading “Superbowl Ad Round-up”

Who won Christmas?

Now that the festive season is over, all of the major brands will be frantically looking over agency reports telling them how well their millions were spent. Who came out on top? Who drove the footfall? Let’s find out.

I have to admit that being in the US has me a bit out of the loop in the general conversations surrounding the adverts, so bear with me and feel free to comment and disagree. If you want to re-watch any of the ads, find them on my blog post here. 

John Lewis – 24m views on YouTube

The advert cost £1m to shoot and a further £6m was spent on in-store advertising and taking TV slots in advert-breaks (Telegraph, 2015). It was highly anticipated, and on the whole did not disappoint. Their philanthropy and awareness angle – taking a page out of Sainsbury’s 2014 book – was well received.

As a result, John Lewis recorded record retail sales for the festive season. Revenues were up in the department store around 6.9% from last year.

“the John Lewis department stores raked in record revenues during clearance sales, which began online on Christmas Eve.” – Financial Times

I thought their through-the-line was excellent. Their digital engagement was clearly thought-out and planned. Their app was good, well designed and functional (or so I’ve been told).

2015-11-06 12_20_20-(10) Twitter

 

Warburtons – 3m views on YouTube

A new entry to the Christmas ad stakes this year was Warburtons. They didn’t start small however, and well all out with a singing and dancing collaboration with the Muppets. The Telegraph declared it to be the winner of 2015.

“The Giant Crumpet Show” was found to be the most effective advert, with an engagement score of 7.2, compared to the average of 4.5. It was also found to be a persuasive sales driver, scoring 3.5 compared to the average 2.9. – Kantar Group

Awesome work from them. I wonder after this success they’ll do it again next year?

Sainsburys – 29m views on YouTube 

Sainsbury’s went in a completely different direction to last year’s controversial wartime advert, but with similar success. With a whopping 29m views they’ve out-done everyone else with their animation story. PR Week’s poll also saw it being voted viewer’s favourite advert.

Sainsbury’s is expected to reveal a 0.7% fall in sales at established stores in the three months to the end of December” – The Guardian

Although this seems bad, it is actually the smallest growth decline out of the top four – so it’s kind of a win? In a declining market (around 2bn year on year), you’ve got to take the ones you can get.

2016-01-05 11_22_58-Nation's favourite Christmas advert revealed – Sainsbury's beats John Lewis _ Me

Overall, it seems that everyone loved it.

Aldi (mock John Lewis) – 2.1m views on YouTube

Whether it was their intention or not, Aldi made headlines with their second Christmas advert for 2015. They had a planned campaign, which did well but not spectacularly, however it was their mocking of John Lewis which launched them into the spotlight this year.

The internet went a bit crazy for it, and I have to say I loved it. They produced it with a rapid turnaround and hijacked the ad to convey a very brand appropriate message for themselves. It felt like an Aldi ad through and through, and they managed to get on the John Lewis hype.

The discounters have been winning the grocery wars for a while now, and this Christmas was no different.

Lidl – 700k views on YouTube

The Lidl advert is one I really liked this year, and it looks like they’re starting to catch up with Aldi’s marketing success.

Aldi and Lidl’s relentless growth continues apace. The only difference this year is that Lidl is now growing faster than Aldi” – The Guardian

House of Fraser – 400k views on YouTube

House of Fraser has done pretty well this year. Although their 400k views pales in comparison to the supermarket giants, consumers voted that they enjoyed theirs the most of all the fashion retailers.

2016-01-08 15_53_55-The Best Christmas Campaigns 2015

 

We did have some rogue entries from other countries though, including this Spanish lottery one with 5.1 million views on YouTube.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Who won Christmas?”

Advert of the Week – Aldi

I was expecting a lot of John Lewis ad spoofs. I was not expecting one from, essentially, a rival brand. Although they don’t compete a huge deal in terms of sales, in the bid for Christmas media space, they certainly do.

This was extremely responsive from them, and although they claim it was spontaneous, I have my doubts. Serious amounts of planning and production go into TV adverts so it’s hard to believe it’s off the cuff. Either way it was very timely.

John Lewis have said they are “flattered”.

“Jean quickly became a national treasure for her love of our Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin when she first appeared on screens in 2011. We’re confident our customers will be excited by her return this Christmas.

“Our latest advert highlights Aldi’s ongoing commitment to offering high quality products at unbeatable prices that shoppers will be over the moon with.” – Jonathan Neale, the joint managing director of corporate buying at Aldi, to Campagin Live

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Continue reading “Advert of the Week – Aldi”

Christmas Advert Countdown

Halloween is over and Christmas is here. Well certainly in the advertising world it is.

So I thought I would bundle together all of the adverts worth mentioning from the UK Christmas circuit 2k15. If you think I’ve missed any, let me know in the comments!

All in all, brands seem to have moved away from emotional storytelling this year. Perhaps this is because there was too much competition in 2013 and 2014 that they just weren’t standing out now. However, as a result, none of them hugely popped for me. But that’s just my opinion.

So sit back, grab a cup of tea (and maybe a biscuit) and start watching.

John Lewis

I’ve not loved the past two adverts from John Lewis (don’t hate me – I feel like it’s sacrilege not to like them). My favourite is still 2011. However, that does not mean that I don’t admire them for their pretty solid through the line planning and campaign execution in both 2013 and 2014. They were thoroughly successful. It was this very through the line approach that allowed their digital spend to go up while instore sales fell. I have heard that this year they are upping their digital spend, so I’m interested to see how that goes.

This year their tagline is ‘show someone they’re loved this Christmas’. It’s a nice advert, but it didn’t have the usual John Lewis pop – BUT- I will give them the fact that it was unique (as I felt a lot of brands re-mashed old ideas this year). I have a feeling they’re trying to extend beyond the advert though. Strangely, it drew parallels to the direction TV Maxx went this year – see further down.

UPDATE: I’ve just read that the ad aims to raise awareness of AgeUK. It doesn’t make this clear but it’s a noble cause and I like that they’re using their Christmas-power for good. Seems like they’re taking a page out of Sainsbury’s book, who raised 500k for the Royal Legion last year. The landing page they’ve set up is great, and outlines where this digital spend has gone (an app, which looks like it will be great for engagement). I do find it interesting that they’ve continued the in-store presence as a place to visit, because it’s not very Christmassy, so it will be interesting to see if there is as much appeal here as there was with #bearandhare and the penguin.

Sainsbury’s

Now I am sure we all remember Sainsbury’s advert from last year. Controversial, but I loved it. It was relevant and handled sensitively. I don’t think it undermined the story, it felt relevant for consumers and related well to the brand. This year the brand are waiting until a fairly late 12th December to launch their ad.

This year they have reignited ‘Christmas is for sharing’ with a very different story line. At 3 minutes 30 seconds it’s a pretty long advert, so don’t expect to see the whole thing on TV a great deal. It’s half animation, half RL and gives off the air of a children’s short program more than a TV advert. This makes sense as they worked in collaboration with a children’s illustrator, as they have also produced a book for which the profits will go to charity. They could have made this much more emotional, but perhaps chose not to after last year. I don’t think it’s a bad thing as the message is still conveyed. Personally, it doesn’t feel particularly ‘on brand’ to me. Sainsbury’s wouldn’t have been my first guess. I am also curious if they are planning to bring this in store beyond the book..? Someone in the UK will have to let me know on that one.

Paypal

I liked Paypal’s advert. It’s not one usually on my radar, but it told a nice story, and conveyed what Christmas is actually like for parents now. Long gone are the days of hurrying around all the stops and sneaking presents in while the kids are at Grandmas. Instead online shopping is the way everything seems to be going – even if this info-graphic suggests it’s still weighted to physical shopping. Despite this, I feel like it doesn’t do a huge deal for the brand.

Mulberry 

This advert has garned some attention. In my opinion, it’s not as good as last years, but that’s just me.

Sky Movies

A wild card entry to the Christmas game, this year Sky movies have gone all out. Big and bold, you expect nothing less from Sky. Movies are normally a huge part of Christmas, especially for kids, so it makes sense.

Harvey Nichols

I like the tongue-in-cheek approach that Harvey Nichols have been taking for the past few years. They would be much less relate-able to the wider consumer market had they not done this. They’re also another one who are really good at bringing their adverts into store, like their customisable christmas cards from last year, or the ‘I spent it on myself’ bit and bobs from 2013.

This year they prompt people to avoid #giftface .Similar to Curry’s ‘spare the act’ concept.

Coca-Cola

It’s the 20th anniversary of Holidays are Coming! Doesn’t time fly? It’s an all time classic. It does make me think however that they might be mixing it up and doing something different next year. I guess we will have to wait and see.

I do have to say that Coca-Cola make it very hard to find any of their British/US adverts on YouTube.

Coca-Cola also do a Santa Claus variation every couple of  years. This one is my favourite. This one is the most recent I think – but as I said it’s pretty difficult to find their adverts due to the set up of their YouTube channel.

I also really like this Christmas experiential campaign from them.

Burberry

I didn’t really get it. I love Billy Elliot as much as the next guy, but what do Burberry have to do with it? Am I missing something? What’s going on? It’s kind of like the creative team in charge were watching Billy Elliot on a hangover, realised their deadline was on Monday and so just picked it as a theme and called all the celebrities they had in their phonebook and went ‘done!’. I watched it twice and I’m still confused.

They even threw a whole event around it, which was documented on Snapchat and had a performance from the West End. I’ve sung Burberry’s praises in the past but this missed the mark for me. The print campaign looks gorgeous though, and the ad feels Christmassy.

Boots

I have liked the boots adverts in the past. Obviously ‘here come the girls’ is a classic. I loved 2013. Equally last years was lovely. Boots have moved away from storytelling this year, choosing to urge consumers to #discovermore in their product range.

TK Maxx

I really really liked this years advert from TK Maxx. It gave me some Love Actually vibes which is always a good thing, and in concept they’ve done well. Usually, I can take it or leave it from them, but I feel like this year they’ve hit the nail on the head. Moving away from family, their tagline is ‘love your neighbour’ and enocurgaging people to buy a little something for those around them. It made me want to be generous with my gift giving this year. Saying this, it did remind me of the 2013 advert from Boots. 

Waitrose

Nothing revolutionary from Waitrose this year. Classic family around the food.

Anchor

A brand close to my heart, Anchor have released a Christmas advert this year, running with the same characters they created for their previous advert.

Super cute and captures the not so great (but still makes it Christmas) side of Christmas. I am sure this will resonate with their target audience.

Marks and Spencer

In John Lewis style, M&S had a teaser trailer for their ad. Was this necessary? Probably not. I quite liked ‘follow the fairies‘ from last year, and really liked the fairytale christmas from 2013. This year they’ve decided not to tell a story, but go for a classic M&S advert. Bright and catching visually; alright concept, good execution.

Asda

Interesting take by Asda this year. They’ve completely moved away from the family/food focus. If they didn’t have the logo flash up at the end, I could never have guessed that it had come from Asda. Perhaps this is the new integration of the Walmart brand we’re seeing? Undecided on this.

Lidl

I was surprised to find I really liked Lidl’s advert from this year. It made me laugh and it was light hearted. It was also followed up by more video content. It’s a bit different, but not too different. Good job, but I’m not sure if it’s going to drive footfall. They’re all about low prices, and this has been skimmed over a bit here.

Morrison’s

I kind of hated last years advert from Morrison’s. However, I know that it wasn’t made for me, and I think it definitely hit the objectives they set out when they went to make it, but apparently it failed to boost the sales that were so critically needed. This year they’ve dropped Ant & Dec. Whether this is because they had strategic reasoning, or Ant & Dec just became too expensive, I’m not sure.

They’ve gone much simpler, with a 30s spot focusing on the food. Feels like they’re competing with Aldi here (quality with the low price), which of course they are in a market sense.

Aldi

This was Aldi’s advert from 2014. This year, they appear to have moved away from one main advert, and have done a short series on ‘SpecialBuy Stories’ that will be available, including stocking fillers etc. These seem to take all of the noise out of things and just focus purely on the products. When people have less time to watch TV and pick up presents, these are pretty good for saying ‘hey look, we have this stuff you could give to XYZ and it’s pretty cheap’. See the others here. They did get in trouble in August for this advert, as it had a ‘distinct whiff of Christmas’, which people deemed just too early.

They have now released a 50s spot tying all these things together, which is basically the same one they released in August but more Christmassy – so they clearly had the August one planned in to ease people into their Christmas advertising.

Not on The High Street

Not one of my usuals, but it caught my attention this year. Not for the advert (which was watchable but not attention grabbing), but for the YouTube playlist that they have put together to support it. Half content, half adverts, these were what I liked best about their approach.

Curry’s PC World

Not on my original list but people have been loving it. A series of funny adverts starring Jeff Goldblum. Entertaining and engaging. They definitely win points from me. The two below are my favourite but there are a couple more on their YouTube channel. I really like the variation of doing a little series of ads.

Cadbury’s

When I watched this I thought two things. 1) good idea because everyone buys a dairy milk advent calendar! 2) are they trying to be the new Coca-cola trucks?

I have no doubt they’re going to roll this out for experiential, and maybe they’re hoping after the Coca-cola trucks 20th anniversary that they’ll step away from it and Cadbury can step right in to take it’s place.

 

Watch some other ads here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11970587/Christmas-adverts-2015-watch-the-best.html

Continue reading “Christmas Advert Countdown”

#WCW – Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba is undoubtedly best known for her acting. However, this has nothing to do with why she is my #wcw this week. The Honest Company was the brainchild of Alba when she was a new mother, looking for non-chemical options for her child.

She founded the company in 2011, having taken 3 years to find her business partners. They were: Sean Kane, Christopher Gavigan and Brian Lee.

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Despite being told to start small, Alba launched 17 products under the Honest brand in the first year. By 2013, sales stood at around $50 million, and by 2014 this grew to $170 million. Not bad for a 3 year old company, in an extremely competitive consumer goods market. The Honest Company has also never used traditional media in advertising (billboards, print adverts, television).

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By the end of 2014, the company had grown to 275 employees and 90 products on offer in large distributors such as Target, Wholefoods, Costco and Nordstrom.

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In August 2015, the company was valued at $1.7 billion.

Alba has come out saying that it took her a long time to convince people that her idea would work. She is my #wcw because she stuck true to her vision for the brand and didn’t compromise. She really grafted to get the business off the ground, and had a lot less help than people would assume. Alba claims she got a lot of condescension and ‘why don’t you go back to Hollywood?’. She’s also candid about the mistakes and teething problems she’s had on the way.

“You should never be the smartest person in the room – worry if you are” – Jessica Alba, on her best advice for starting a business

She works full time in the office (check out the video below if you want to see it) and is extremely hands on with the business. She really connected with the insight and her consumers and that’s what’s made it a winning idea.

The-Honest-Company

The company touts its Honestly Free Guarantee: it does not use “health-compromising chemicals or compounds”

Like any company, it is not without its controversy. The Honest Company has been accused of ‘scare-mongering’ parents by blasting its competitors for use of ‘unsafe’ chemicals. In 2015, there was also issues surrounding its sunscreen products after consumers complained of getting sunburnt whilst using it.

Click on the link below for a great keynote interview with Jessica.

http://www.forbes.com/video/4292986931001/

Continue reading “#WCW – Jessica Alba”

Advert of the Week – Waitrose

This is what I call a ‘feel-good brand build’ advert. It’s one of those where they are not pushing anything in particular – for example a certain message such as the launch of a new product, range, or a current deal. Instead, they are using it to build brand awareness and what we mushy marketers like to call brand love. It might not drive direct … Continue reading Advert of the Week – Waitrose

Quit horsing around.

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the horse meat scandal. To be honest it doesn’t bother me. I’ve eaten horse knowingly. But some people are funny about it and I guess its more about the mislabeling than the actual meat.    The company who has dealt with it best in my opinion is Waitrose. They sent me a very nice … Continue reading Quit horsing around.