Brand X Brand: the rise of the collab.

Brand collaborations are not a new thing, but in the last 3 years they have been increasingly utilised by big names to drive organic growth across both existing and new brands, in the face of slumps in consumer spending and reliance on sales. In fact, Google found that fashion collaborations were ranking higher than their solo counterparts in search. Whether brands are seeking audience volume … Continue reading Brand X Brand: the rise of the collab.

Run for Heroes – Viral Social

In March 2020, the world was facing the start of a scary and overwhelming situation – Covid-19. Lockdown in the UK had just started and everyone felt a little helpless. A good friend of mine was out running, and decided that she wanted to raise some money for the NHS front line workers as well as give people an opportunity to positively contribute and keep … Continue reading Run for Heroes – Viral Social

The avs’ and the av nots.

Make brunch not war folks. If you didn’t hear, an Australian ‘expert’ called Bernard Salt (KPMG partner) recently commented that millennials can’t afford to buy houses because they eat too much avocado on toast. Seriously. Obviously his comment was meant to be a wider observation around how much the millennial generation eats out a lot more frequently than previous generations. However, its probably the ludicrous property … Continue reading The avs’ and the av nots.

12 helpful hints to survive the US workplace

Today marks 6 months since being in New York (and my 100th blog post!), so I thought I was now well placed enough to impart some wisdom.   Dress Smart First impressions stick, and in New York this counts for double. When everyone around you is wearing $2000 suits and Prada heels, you could at least iron your blouse (I never do but I like … Continue reading 12 helpful hints to survive the US workplace

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. 


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.


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, 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.


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.


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.


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”.


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.


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”

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

Continue reading “Christmas Advert Countdown”

The future of wearables and what it means for marketers.

Wearable technology has been a buzzword for a while now. And up until now the hype has been unmet in reality.

However, it’s starting to feel like we are reaching a turning point. The adoption of the Apple Watch, although slow, has been the most successful introduction of proper smart technology. For example Google Glass was not fit for the wider consumer market.

Apple made a smart move by getting a large group of famous and influential individuals to wear an Apple Watch (over their probably more expensive timepieces) before launch. They chose people from all industries and age groups. It was actually pretty subtle. And it definitely worked. Around 3.6 million units were sold in 2014. Small compared to the iPhone, yes, but these numbers are likely to rise in the coming years. For example, the first iPhone launched in 2007, had sales units of only 1.2 million, and the first launch of the iPad brought around 3.4 million in sales.

The Fitbit is another wearable – or more specifically ‘wristable’ – that has almost ‘made it’ as a complete wearable success. The thin band is used to track activity that allows the user to understand how many calories they are burning, their sleep cycle etc. The Fitbit is probably the most widely adopted gadget in this market segment.

Wearables need to be more incorporated into our lives. This is arguably why google glass didn’t work – it was almost too futuristic to push beyond early adopters into the wider consumer market.

So something like wearable contactless payment in the form of bPay is probably going to become even more common, because it feels instinctive. People won’t have to work out how to use it, or question why it would be useful to them – it just makes sense.

2015-10-26 12_03_59-bPay by Barclaycard _ Contactless Payments from bPay

Similarly, Under Armour have announced that they are going to beat the tech giants like Google to creating Smart Clothing.

“If we believe that our future is going to be defined by these hard pieces of glass or plastic that sit in our back pockets, you’re crazy. It is going to convert into apparel,” – Kevin Plank, CEO, Under Armour


If the predictions surrounding the Internet of Things arise, there can be no doubt that wearables will be the dominant facilitator of this. What this means for marketers is that they need to think ahead. If you don’t have in the back of your mind a strategy for how your brand is going to look when wearables are the norm then you should probably start having a think. Even just hypothetically.

Of course it’s not going to be applicable to absolutely all brands, and it depends what your overall objectives are, but you can probably count on it becoming a big part of peoples lives.

“Marketers are salivating at the prospect of pushing wearables advertising to you around the clock. As ad revenues dwindle on TV and newspaper formats, next generation devices offer a new opportunity for brands to target people like we’ve never seen before.” – Wired

Rest assured it’s not going to be easy. If you want your brand to have integrity and not become the junk mail of wearables then your strategy better be good, because I’m pretty sure someone can invent an ad blocker for their wristables as much as they can for an iPhone.

Continue reading “The future of wearables and what it means for marketers.”

Back to the future of marketing

Tomorrow is the day that Marty Mcfly travels to in the future. No seriously this time. You may have been duped by the internet before, but this is the real deal. This is not a drill.


And what should we, as marketers, do with such a unique and special occasion? Commercialise it of course!

Okay, joking aside, there is some big brand spend going into this day. Namely Pepsi, who landed what must be the best product placement in movie history (am I right or ammma I right?), are using that 26 year old investment and rebooting it. I wonder if that was in the business case to begin with?

‘Hey, look, I know it’s a lot of money for a product placement, but in 26 years time we can totally bring out a limited edition bottle!’


So, alongside a commerical (below) they are releasing 6,500 special edition Pepsi Perfect bottles. Quite aptly, those getting first grabs will be attendees at Comic Con, and the rest will be available for purchase online.


However Pepsi are not the only ones getting in on the action.

Toyota have released an advert teasing a longer film (which will be available to watch here from the 21st) on their new Mirai car – ‘the future’ of fuel technology.

Something that has recieved a lot of hype is the iconic Nike self tying trainers.


Although these exist in physical form (and were released in 2012), the actual functionality of the self-tying has not yet come to pass. It has been rumoured that this is in the works and some are hoping tomorrow will be the day….let’s all just keep our fingers crossed.

UPDATE: Nike have announced they are coming Spring 2016.

Ford (who provided some prop cars for the film) have used the occasion for a bit of fun (and kind of the flip side of Toyota), and posted a mock video about a flux capacitor upgrade in the Ford Focus and Fiesta. I like this one.

Being a big fan of the movies, I’m appreciating the engagement this is bringing. I think it connects people across many age groups and that’s why it’s such a unique occasion for companies and brands to tap into…even if they aren’t as relevant as the ones above.

From a technology point a view, the film was pretty on point. We have video calling, hoverboards, finger-print recognition, camera drones, 3D movies, and coming very soon smart clothing (see upcoming blog post – shameless plug).

Continue reading “Back to the future of marketing”