Monthly Archives

February 2019

WARC Media Awards win for Suzuki and the7stars

By | Featured, News

Having won Gold at the WARC awards in 2018, Suzuki and the7stars stepped it up a gear to take out the Grand Prix for Partnerships in 2019. With a new model to launch and an entirely new audience to reach, the7stars demonstrated what to do when content is king, but not fit for a queen…

Sadly, when it comes to marketing cars to women the automotive market will often turn to a collection of patronising stereotypes.

Our research found that much like men of their age, 20-something women are looking for adventure, independence and achievement. Initially we sought to put the Ignis at the heart of content which celebrates adventure, independence and achievement among young women, but to our surprise there was nothing which fitted the bill. So we created our own.

We set out to create content which better reflected the audience’s life stage, and place Suzuki at its heart.  Working with the E4 Commissioning team, we collaborated to create a brand-new TV format – All Star Driving School.  A peak-time TV show that serialised the trials of learning to drive, but ultimately showing the adventure and independence a first-time car can grants its owner.

By completely integrating the Suzuki Ignis into a TV series which promoted these values, and then amplifying the spirt of our partnership to 86% of young women in the UK, we showed the industry how it should be done. And sold a load of cars in the process.

All this was achieved without a pink car in the range.  Fancy that.

The QT turns 10! Round-up from the latest wave

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

The QT turns 10! Round-up from the latest wave

February 2019 represents the tenth wave of our proprietary consumer confidence tracking study, The QT. What a long way we’ve come! After our November Brexit special, we thought we’d turn our attentions to some less, confusing topics, covering everything from Brits’ attitudes to Hybrid cars to where they turn for dish inspiration.

Read below for a hearty digest of the national zeitgeist…

We’re not as happy as we were last February. Sad face.
Happiness is down 4%pts from February 2018, and is far from its all time high in November 2017 of 41%. Only 33% of Brits feel more positive than they did last year, and this figure is lowest amongst the 55+. Only 23% of this group claim to be happier now.

There’s nothing guilty about our pleasures.
We asked Brits their attitudes to different things that could be considered ‘guilty pleasures’ and the resounding insight is that we are by and large unashamed as a nation!

As a nation of takeaway lovers, 62% claimed they love to get a greasy takeaway, but only 2% said they’d want to hide it from others.
The biggest guilty pleasure came from the 10% of Brits who cancel plans so they can stay home and chill, and wouldn’t want others to know that they do it. 28% said they do this and don’t see anything wrong with it! 2 in 5 don’t see binge watching on Netflix something to be ashamed of either.

Subscription services truly are king..
44% of Brits said they would rather pay for a streaming service than a TV licence. No wonder, with all that binging. This rose to a startling 71% of the 25-34 cohort, happy to trade Strictly Come Dancing for Making a Murderer.

Keep an eye on @the7stars on twitter for more nuggets from this wave of the QT.
To find out more on any of these topics, or ask for more information please email

The Seven Trends 2019: #2 Plead for Certainty

By | Featured, The Seven Trends

Plead for certainty.

The group of people born after 1980 are experiencing the greatest levels of living uncertainty since the post-war baby boomers.


As a descriptor for a group of people, the word Millennial must be approaching the end of its useful life. Some ‘Milllennials’ are 39 this year. Possibly older if you care to argue over the precise dates of their birth. What is clear is that the term itself is decrepit. They have adult concerns and pressures, yet continue to be treated like children.

Access to free higher education, affordable housing and, potentially soon, healthcare are being restricted; it seems that the state is downscaling social structures by stealth. In response they seek a sense of certainty from people and brands, far more than Generation X before them.

What about the generation after ‘Millennials’? Generation Z are already in maturity, and have been thrust into a world without the structures needed to benefit their post university years. Career paths are far less certain, and many are thrown into the gig economy, leading to a further sense of insecurity in employment.

Against these day-to-day anxieties, it’s no surprise that 62% of Millennials want more control over their future, preferring to be independent and not to rely on others (Foresight Factory). 40% side hustle to support themselves (Henley Business School). Using free resources, such as video tutorials and online learning, they are adapting their skills for the modern workplace. Increasingly they are building their own close networks of people and brands which can help them work, learn and earn.


Where can brands fit in? For one, banks who take a modern view of the gig economy, and design accounts and services for this, will benefit. Those who choose to sell bank ‘products’ and old-fashioned business accounts with eye-watering charges, probably won’t.

Gen Z will move on, and there is no shortage of ‘second generation’ banks like Monzo or Metro who will adapt to their lives and offer them the certainty that established financial institutions will not.

This sense of uncertainty isn’t restricted to those with the benefit of higher education. In the service sector, the looming spectre of zerohour contracts becoming a normal part of retail work adds to the sense of uncertainty and undermines the ability for many to plan ahead.

Against these anxieties, the backdrop of a government squabbling over Brexit gives the sense that politicians have lost the plot. There is little wonder that the generations born after 1980 are feeling uncertain. They don’t LOOK to brands to solve these problems, but brands have a onetime opportunity to step up and be part of their infrastructure for years to come.



The Seven Trends 2019: #1 Stand For Something

By | Featured, The Seven Trends

Stand for something.

As we trust institutions less, we crave what we think they lack
– a social voice.

Over half of us now think it is important for brands to have a clear and transparent view on the wider issues in society (YouGov), something we expect to increase in 2019.

In 2018, Nike threw down the gauntlet and supported sportsman and divisive civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick. After the explosive tweet “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”, Nike’s stance on America’s institutionalised racism was clear. Nike saw a huge increase in social chatter – but not all was positive, with #justburnit famously tweeted by disgruntled patriotic Americans (YouGov)

The move was disruptive, but as they picked an issue their target care deeply about, they saw huge gains in brand values. Nike chose carefully what – and who – to stand with. In this instance, a specific subject in a game they share a long history with, not the broad topic of human rights. And so they continue to avoid issues (such as labour rights) which are farther from their stomping ground.

This side of the Atlantic, Iceland took on a less controversial but equally emotive issue: environmental concerns. Their banned Christmas ad – originally made by Greenpeace – featured Rang Tan, a homeless Orangutan. The palm oil protest video helped the retailer dominate the Christmas conversation – with over 70 million YouTube views and not a penny spent on TV.

But purpose marketing isn’t just about upper-funnel brand building. It translates into purchase too.

Nike’s provocative allegiance saw a 31% increase in sales (YouGov). And overall, 57% claim to be belief-driven buyers – up 20% year-on-year (Edelman).

A similar number (58%) are more likely to buy from a brand that expresses a view they agree with. Validation, rather than a challenging world-view, is what consumers seek from purposeful brands (YouGov).

Nonetheless, success isn’t simply a case of parroting back consumer opinions. It comes down to authenticity: credibility of commitment and relevance to join the conversation is key.

Iceland’s support for Rang Tan wasn’t a savvy marketing stunt: removing palm oil from own-brand products followed a series of market-leading environmentally concerned changes. This gave the campaign credibility. Iceland moved outside category conversations on product, price and promotion – and made an unexpected partnership, with Selfridges stocking their mince pies.

67% of Gen Z believe being true to your values is what makes someone cool; brands who win at purpose in 2019 will have to be equally woke.

Lightbox Loves: How brands win hearts (or strike out) on Valentine’s Day

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

Now heavily commercialised, Valentine’s Day has lost much of its original symbolism and meaning. However love it or hate it, the romantic observance is too big a commercial opportunity for brands to ignore. Despite the fact that 46% of Brits say they don’t ever buy for this occasion¹, love-struck consumers spent over £620m on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2017, a figure which has been steadily rising year-on-year². Following the ‘worst Christmas in a decade’ for high-street shops³, Valentine’s Day presents itself as an opportunity for retailers to attract more customers and generate revenue after weeks of post-Yuletide frugality.

The romantic holiday is laden with expectation not only from loved ones, but from brands too. From championing LGBTQ+ customers to creating charitable initiatives, many brands have responded to the demand for equality, diversity and social justice in their Valentine’s advertising. However as brands compete to steal consumer’s share of attention across the romantic holiday season, many fall foul to hitting the wrong chord.

Financial tech company Revolut has been slammed for its recent ‘single-shaming’ campaign, which saw London Underground posters leverage ‘fake’ transaction data to mock those who bought a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day last year. The backlash the campaign has received online and in the press highlights not only the pitfalls of an ad falling flat, but also raises questions around the use of customer data (whether fictitious or not).

Of course, while some brands have failed to successfully land their Valentine’s marketing initiatives, others have harnessed humour to their advantage. Marks & Spencer’s ‘Love Sausage’ product has polarised Twitter users, but generated a host of positive PR noise. The light-hearted approach to the ‘breakfast of your dreams’ has created a host of social chatter, with M&S forecast to sell over 15,000 ‘Love Sausage’ products by 14th February4.

Successfully aligning a brand with romance appears to be almost as difficult as navigating the waters of love itself. Nevertheless, if done right, it can ultimately result in both commercial success and brand affinity.

1) QT: November 2018




Lightbox Loves: Trouble in paradise?

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

At the forefront of technological innovation, ecommerce and artificial intelligence, there appears to be nothing that Amazon can’t do in this age of comfort and convenience. Valued at the $800 billion-dollar mark, Amazon has grown at a rapid rate and worked its way into many of our lives through the sectors it operates in: retail, entertainment and even advertising, through Amazon Web Services.

However, Amazon’s recent unamicable break up with New York on Valentine’s Day begs the question; is their dominance as one of the world’s biggest corporations under threat?

When looking at Amazon’s revenue growth over the holiday period, the answer is no. Sales were up 20% from the same period last year and whilst growth shows a slight sign of slowing down, the emphasis from Amazon on their shipping and advertising divisions is expected to continue to drive the company forward. Furthermore from an acquisitions point of view, Amazon also shows no sign of stopping, recently acquiring Eero, a WIFI router manufacturing company purchased in a bid to bring a full smart home product service to the modern-day consumer. However these aspects can easily detract from the rising criticism Amazon is facing on the streets.

Behind the scenes of their innovative products and services, Amazon is facing a challenge to its power. Most recently in New York, where the city’s citizens were so outraged at the prospects of Amazon receiving $3bn in subsidies and taxes for supplying jobs there, that Amazon had to reluctantly back out of a deal to build a second headquarters in the city.

Standing up to one of the world’s biggest corporations sends a sign to the rest of America and indeed the world, that those who may have suffered from Amazon’s monopoly control over many of the most high-profile markets, can speak up and win. Another recent example of resistance to Amazon can be seen in India, one of the world’s fastest growing markets, where the government recently banned the corporation from selling products that were in direct competition with the products of other companies. New York may have been unable to prevent Amazon forcing out local businesses, but it seems this frustration has fed into their reaction to the Long Island office deal.

Nonetheless, whilst this is less of a case in New York of saying a firm ‘no’ to Amazon and stopping the services it provides – rather more a protest against the abuse of power – it does call into questions whether Amazon’s heyday of being an unstoppable force without limits is over. If not, they’re certainly a lot further away from New York’s treasury.


Lightbox Loves: An Unforeseeable Event

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

On the train ‘oop north’ recently, there was, shock horror, AN UNFORESEEABLE EVENT. Was it a storm? A power cut? Some sort of mass protest or surprise celebrity appearance?

No, it was merely a faulty oven on the train. Bear with me, we’ll get there.

As passengers settled in for the journey ahead, the slightly harried and haughty train guard announced that due to AUE (as I shall now abbreviate it), there would be NO food service in the First Class carriages for the duration of the trip.

Now, as I tucked into my M&S meal deal, this had little impact on the status of my travel, but it did get me thinking. The way in which brands and companies choose to deal with ‘the unforeseeable’ can have a serious effect on how much their customers believe and trust them later on. Indeed, 58% of consumers say they don’t trust a brand until they’ve seen real life proof that it has kept its promises. With lifetime customer value the holy grail for most businesses, its not something to be ignored.

Recalling other incidents where AUE has occurred, the scenarios in which staff have been truthful, transparent and even often mildly humorous have been those least negatively recalled. This smacks of a bigger issue at play, and that’s one of treating people like people, not inferiors.

Our recent proprietary study, “Brand Jargon: Is there a language barrier?” in partnership with Reach, looked to unpick the various terms of brand gobbledygook marketers use, and identify better ways to communicate with a mass mainstream audience.

Whilst as a media agency we don’t often get to influence the message, we are very much responsible for the campaign platforms we write, the KPIs we set and the evaluation we undertake. These are all areas in which we should be mindful of our Ps and Qs. Or more appropriately, the ways in which we think consumers perceive and feel about our ads, brands, products and services.

Steve Jobs famously proclaimed, “a brand is simply trust”. That still rings true. But when we talk about trust, really, we’re talking about honesty. About transparency. About humanity.

After all, what sounds more human: a faulty oven, or AN UNFORESEEABLE EVENT?

I’ll let you decide.


Source: eConsultancy, 5th April 2018

Lightbox Loves: The Fyre that keeps on burning

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

“Fyre was basically like Instagram coming to life;” that’s how DJ Jillionaire described the promise of the (now notorious) Fyre festival in Netflix’s latest documentary. In reality, this was far from the truth.

Despite ten of the world’s top supermodels promoting the festival in front of a backdrop of yachts, jet skis and bonfires, young, wealthy festival goers were met with chaos; leftover hurricane tents instead of luxury villas, cheese and bread instead of sushi, and Blink-182 nowhere to be found.

Whilst this sparked an investigation into the founder of Fyre – Billy McFarland – who has been convicted of fraud, the role influencers played in it’s promotion cannot be overlooked.

The absence of any promotional references in influencers’ posts of the festival, especially in the mass uploading of the ‘ambiguous orange title,’ has been seen as misleading, and in fact illegal, as a result of the compensation they received. Kendall Jenner was reportedly paid £190k for an undisclosed post that led to a considerable uplift in ticket purchases.

When it comes to UK guidelines, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) states “it’s important that we understand when we’re being marketed to so that we can make informed decisions about what we’re being told.” Therefore, especially when it comes to the younger audience these influencers reach, it is imperative that this transparency is upheld to educate and build trust.

It’s of little coincidence that less than a week after the documentary debuted, social media stars in the UK were pledging to be more transparent about posting paid-for content. Whilst said influencers were already under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for breaking the rules repeatedly, it seems to have put more pressure on influencers (at least in the UK) to clearly communicate the difference between organic and paid-for content.

Undoubtedly, Fyre festival has demonstrated the power influencers have to drive a brand, whilst also raising the issue of the responsibility that brings; as the founder of the Influencer Marketing Hub states, “I think brand managers and influencers will be more cautious and that can only be a good thing.”