Monthly Archives

September 2022

Marvyn Harrison giving a speech in the7stars offices to an audience of employees.

Exceed Expectations – Value Week

By | Event Summaries, Featured

Many of you will know that the7stars lives and breathes six values: Clients Come First, Exceed Expectations, Think Smart Act Fast, Be an Entrepreneur, People Above Process and Do The Right Thing. They are principles that guide us on how to treat ourselves, our colleagues, clients and partners every day.

Throughout the year, our Values Team organises ‘Values Weeks’ – a week that shines a light on each of our values. Having just returned from an incredible couple of days of training and team bonding on Osea Island (that truly did Exceed Expectations), we thought there was no better way to continue the momentum by celebrating that very value the following week.

We kicked off the week with a special company get-together, where we outlined our plans for the week and reminded everyone what Exceed Expectations really means. Throughout the following days, we were encouraged to call out any team members who had lived and breathed this value, for which they were awarded a delicious packet of Magic Stars. We all felt the love with over 20 people being recognised for their amazing work.

We were also lucky enough to have two guest talks that week. First up we welcomed the CEO of CALM, Simon Gunning, into our offices. In a talk hosted by our very own Liam Mullins, we learned how their helpline Exceeded Expectations every day and saved lives. We also discovered how their creative ideas Exceeded Expectations, most recently, their powerful ‘The Last Photo’ campaign, which was met with high acclaim. You certainly don’t need big budgets to Exceed Expectations. Instead, you need brilliant teamwork, diversity of thinking, freedom to push boundaries and passion for what you do.

The following day, we were incredibly excited to host the amazing broadcaster and author, Marvyn Harrison – the Founder of Dope Black Dads. He gave an inspiring and powerful talk on how, for him, Exceeding Expectations involves breaking down racist stereotypes about what being a black dad means and creating a community of black dads who can come together and share their experiences – both good and bad.

Marvyn Harrison giving a speech in the7stars offices to an audience of employees about exceeding expectations.

We were incredibly excited to host the amazing broadcaster and author, Marvyn Harrison – the Founder of Dope Black Dads – discussing Exceeding Expectations


Exceed Expectations week provided us with a great opportunity to celebrate team members and brilliant people who are striving for positive change. It has reminded us to constantly challenge each other, never be complacent and continue to be brave by pushing the boundaries on the products, services and partnerships we create.

Stay tuned for Think Smart Act Fast week in November!

A top-down image of someone using their laptop and holding their credit card.

How to improve digital measurement of campaign effectiveness

By | Featured, Uncategorised

Ultimately, businesses want to know that advertising had an incremental impact on business metrics, such as conversions, sales or revenue. By analysing historical data, we can use effectiveness measurement techniques to determine how valuable each marketing channel has been. To help brands get the most out of modelling and marketing strategy recommendations, you need to have the right infrastructure and approach in place for meaningful effectiveness measurement.

Get our best practice principles guide to learn what you need to put in place to improve your digital measurement of campaign effectiveness.

Big Brother’s Big Return

By | Featured, What's Hot

After five years absence from our screens, Big Brother will return in 2023 to its new home on ITV2 and ITVX. Along with sister show Love Island, it crowns ITV with two of the biggest reality shows in the UK. With its re-branded format, ITV will be hoping to awaken this sleeping giant.

The Doors are Back Open

Launched back in 2000 on Channel 4, before moving over to Channel 5 in 2011, Big Brother dominated for 18 years. Over the decades, Big Brother became one of biggest programmes on these channels after consistently performing well, attracting an average 9.7m viewers a year. However, in its final series, only 2.4m people watched, 62% lower than Love Island’s followship this year.

ITV’s Big Move

Clearly, fans have been hankering for Big Brother’s return. After the announcement during the Love Island Final on ITV2, Twitter blew up with Big Brother trending No.1 in the UK, stealing the limelight from the final… But could all this excitement wear off?

It’s hard to say where ITV will take Big Brother. A re-brand was crucial but how much will the format change? The joys of Big Brother’s greatest moments will certainly survive the show’s evolution, while many of us are still hungry for the drama that we loved.

The monumental factor for ITV is the introduction of ITVX, a new platform launching in November. Considerable content for Big Brother, aside from the daily shows, is rumoured to be scheduled for ITVX. This is where ITV are going to evaluate the early success or failure for their new projects. ITVX is aiming to provide content that would ‘especially engage with younger viewers’ – the brainchild of Director of Reality Commissioning, Paul Mortimer. Such engagement would be essential for ITV to put this show back on the top block alongside Love Island.

A Vital Force

Along with ITV’s other huge entertainment shows and Dramas, their acquisition of Big Brother is good news for everyone in advertising. The demand for advertisers to access Love Island is too vast to accommodate every brand. Big Brother’s return will provide clients with another chance to align with a mammoth reality show.

ITVX x Big Brother

It’s an exciting time for TV with BB returning. The hype around the announcement is likely to ensure that Big Brother succeeds and can look forward to a prosperous future. For ITV and the ITVX product, this show will be the catalyst for its launch and will provide endless opportunities to show the public what their new product can offer.

ASA Names & Shames Influencers who Repeatedly Flout Disclosure Rules

By | Featured, What's Hot

Food supplement brand Huel and podcast host Steven Bartlett have been reprimanded by the ASA for failing to disclose commercial intent following an ad that featured in an episode of The Diary of a CEO. The response was the result of a single complaint, demonstrating the regulator’s commitment to cleaning up the industry.

Non-disclosure Erodes Consumer Trust

Earlier this year, the DCMS Report on Influencer Culture was critical of the ASA’s ability to regulate influencer advertising effectively, with influencers repeatedly flouting the rules around disclosure. The rules state that brands and influencers should declare any material connection when collaborating on sponsored content.

Lack of effective disclosure erodes trust with an audience, calling into question the integrity of a channel that depends heavily on authenticity.

ASA Fights Fire with Fire!

While social platforms can take action against individuals for non-disclosure through account suspension, the ASA themselves cannot impose financial penalties or haul influencers and brands through the courts. That said, they may be getting tougher.

Last year, a dedicated webpage was set up to name and shame influencers who failed repeatedly to disclose ads masquerading as posts. These influencers were subject to enhanced monitoring. Yet placement on a naughty list provided small deterrent for many who continued to break the rules. The ASA is now escalating action by taking out their own branded ads against these influencers on Instagram – targeting the very same audiences that the influencers have profited from misleading.

Brands Beware while Regulators Play Catch-up

In a channel where trust is currency, this approach may be effective. No-one likes to be lied to. With that being said, negative publicity is not always a bad thing in the influencer sphere and arguably, for those whose reputation is built upon courting controversy, integrity may not outweigh the commercial benefits. That is why it’s crucial for brands to ensure that their influencer partners have a genuine affinity to the brand or product they are asking them to promote. Recruiting talent that do not need to deceive their followers in order to reap rewards – because the brief is properly aligned to their interests, values and previous content – will help clean up the industry and the root.

For now, the ASA’s crack down seems to be targeting influencers rather than brands. But there’s a sense that regulators are still playing catch-up with an industry that’s moved from emergence to growth phase. The rules for disclosure apply to all types of posts across all social platforms, so it’s important to ensure all branded content is labelled correctly. Brands can further protect consumer trust by ensuring they have a compliance strategy in place, so they can respond quickly if they or their influencer partners do make a mistake.

Streams Like Teen Spirit

By | Featured, What's Hot

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift in the music industry where music consumption is less clearly defined by the boundaries of genre tribes and generational eras. Rather, musical taste has become more liquid and flows with the current of culture. For instance, the resurgence of ‘Running up that Hill’ by Kate Bush, which was originally released in 1985, perfectly encapsulates this new wave of music listeners in today’s modern society.

the7stars’ latest whitepaper ‘Streams like Teen Spirit‘ explores how listening habits are evolving, with Generation Alphas (born 2010 onwards and predicted to reach a population of 2.2B by 2025 globally) acting as society’s trailblazers in creating a more fractured and mosaic music scene. Not only do they mature into fully fledged active consumers at an earlier stage, but they are also one of the most culturally complex generations the world has ever seen.

Two in five of 7–14-year-olds agree that they have a wide taste in music and a third agree they like to listen to new bands (the7stars Kantar TGI Youth, April 2022). This is largely thanks to the evolution of music technology, which has broken down barriers in all areas of music discovery, curation and sharing. For instance, Spotify continues to release social features on its platform – such as blended playlists, follower activities and algorithms that recommend music based on your current tastes – all making the music platform another form of social media in its own right. With the dawn of the TikTok era bolstering music discovery even more, the landscape is a free-for-all where genres, eras and tribes diverge to reflect youth’s expressions of multifaceted, modern self-identities.

What emanates is a plethora of opportunities for brands and artists alike – from virtual reality concerts within gaming, to new possibilities in sponsorships and partnerships. With trends and culture continuing to evolve at a rapid pace and the future of music becoming even more unpredictable, not only does the significance of brands’ awareness of current behaviours become amplified, but their understanding of Gen A’s unique core values that will capture this generation for years to come.

The Tiktokification of Meta

By | Featured, What's Hot

In a blog post this July, Instagram quietly announced an expansion of its app’s ‘remix’ feature, allowing users to remix public photos and welcoming a series of new templates, all designed to make video content, including popular reaction videos, easier for newbie creators.

The rollout included a controversial caveat, however: all new videos uploaded to Instagram would now automatically become Reels. For many users who had previously chosen to shun or ignore the Reels feature, this announcement created a mixture of confusion and frustration.

Yet, Meta’s motives in shifting its focus towards video content are clear. Since its launch in 2016, TikTok’s popularity has boomed. Capitalising on our collective desire to feel togetherness, TikTok’s features – such as duet and react – made it the perfect antidote to lockdown living. While the overall usership of Meta’s products dwarf that of TikTok, TikTok’s popularity among Gen Z has fuelled its rapid growth. According to IPA Touchpoints data, the platform has a weekly reach among 15-24s of 47%, behind Instagram (73%) but ahead of longer-standing channels like Twitter (35%) and commercial radio (34%).

When Meta launched Instagram Reels in 2020 – with the feature debuting on Facebook the following year – analysts widely described it as a ‘TikTok copycat’ – a charge Mark Zuckerberg did not explicitly deny. Indeed, Meta is not the only social media company looking to adapt in the face of its Chinese competitor, with Twitter recently trialling a ‘For You’ page which eagle-eyed users were quick to point out looked suspiciously like a typical TikTok feed.

So, is Instagram foolish in shaking up its central premise and, if so, will this prompt a user backlash? In shifting its focus even further towards video content, Meta clearly has its reasons. In April, Zuckerberg revealed that 20% of the time its 2 billion plus monthly users were on the platform, they were engaging with Reels content.

Of course, such a dramatic shift will not be universally popular. the7stars’ Lightbox Lowdown found that while 16-24s narrowly supported the changes by a 41-37% margin, those aged 25-34 were opposed, by 40-30%. Perhaps more troublingly for Meta, just short of one-in-ten of those surveyed said they had recently considered deleting their Instagram account as a result of the changes.

However, it’s worth remembering that comparable product changes in the past have provoked similar ill feelings. The launch of Instagram Stories in 2016 was maligned initially as a Snapchat clone. While its introduction prompted much noise from the community, users soon grew to accept and even enjoy the feature, with Stories now as familiar a part of Instagram as food pics or beach selfies.

For brands for whom influencer marketing is pivotal, the Instagram changes could provide an opportunity as much as a challenge. Advertiser content originally created for TikTok can be seamlessly transitioned to Reels, potentially allowing brands to tap into Instagram’s larger monthly audience without the need to produce bespoke content. Should Reels eventually come to be accepted by Instagram’s broad user group – as Stories were half a decade earlier – this would open the door for a more age-diverse audience to become attuned to brand-led video content.

Such an acceptance is far from certain but, if past platform changes are anything to go by, much of the initial noise will soon quieten down. And however long Instagram’s lead over TikTok lasts, one thing is clear: video content is here to stay.

Lightbox Loves: 7 Lessons from The Queen

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

Yesterday, the nation came together in both sorrow and celebration to lay our late Queen to rest. Although the ten days of national mourning is over, her legacy will be impossible to forget. Let us look at 7 lessons she has left us with over her 70 years of reign, that will inspire as we move forward into a new era:

Consistency is key. The one thing that has been mentioned more than anything since The Queen’s death is her consistency. Not many people remember a life without her- and her presence was constant throughout many periods of tumult. And it was that constancy that millions of people loved. Brands too, have the opportunity to remain a constant presence throughout life’s key moments, in order to build positive reputation.

Get yourself ‘out there.’ The Queen was lucky enough to have visited almost 120 countries. Although a privilege, very few were holidays. Instead, our late Queen made the most of her travels by soaking up different cultures and communities. We should take heed of this by going to the places where our customers are and speak to them first hand – it will generate unique insight that’s almost impossible to grasp behind a computer screen.

Tap into resilience. 14-hour queues? No problem. Although our country was in mourning, we did not wallow. Instead, thousands of people braved several hours of waiting to see our Queen lying in state. Our recent research with Kantar shows that in hard times, 64% of Brits look to ‘keep calm and carry on’ – brands should not underestimate the strength of their customers.

Embrace change. The Queen said in 2002, ‘the way we embrace change, defines our future.’ Although leader of an institution steeped in tradition, The Queen has been unafraid to accept that certain practices and behaviours need to change, in order to connect with those that she served.  Her Zoom appearances aged 96 were testament to that.

Be true to your values. On her 21st birthday, Princess (soon-to-be Queen) Elizabeth famously said that her whole life, whether long or short, would be dedicated to service. Rarely has anyone been truer to their word. Her dedication and sense of devotion has always been praised for its authenticity. Brands too should stick by what makes them who they are, and act accordingly.

Show thanks. From visiting hospitals to knighthoods, The Queen has always ensured to show gratitude to those who gone the extra mile to serve her country. Rewarding loyalty and thanking those that deserve recognition both inside and outside of your own organisation is likely help boost your brand in a positive way.

Have fun. The Paddington themed tributes displayed outside Buckingham Palace over the past week has shown that whilst The Queen has always been the epitome of decorum and class – a real standout memory was when The Queen took part in a comical scene with Paddington Bear to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.  Showing the lighter side of life and giving people reasons to smile can be a great way to engage with consumers.

Source: People First Response in a Crisis, the7stars, June 2022

Lightbox Loves: The Dupe Swoop

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

As the UK continues to feel the pressure of the cost of living crisis and consumer confidence diminishes, the7stars’ QT reveals that Brits are making the necessary swaps and actively seeking deals to make their pounds stretch further. As 38% of Brits claim to reduce their spend on luxury items, the popularity of ‘dupes’ – i.e.  cheaper imitation products to luxury items– are having a moment.

During lockdown, beauty enthusiasts with extra free time gave rise to ‘skintellectuals’ –  beauty fans who sought greater control over the products they brought by educating themselves with the science behind products and their ingredients, allowing them to personalise products with their needs whilst foregoing inflated prices that come with big brand names. As lockdown drew to a close, the mindset persisted within consumers. Now, value based brands such as Aldi are capitalising on this by releasing a line of their own fragrances that duplicate the likes of Thierry Mugler’s ‘Angel’ and ‘Decadence’ by Marc Jacobs.

With word of mouth being a key player in the beauty and fashion space, influencers from all of TikTok, YouTube and Instagram have only allowed knowledge of dupes to spread like wild fire, giving rise to the ‘Buy this – not this’ trend on social media. By seeing influencers advocate for lesser known products and brands, consumers’ need to research products are cut short and are more willing to trust dupes quickly. Moreover, blogs and websites such as ‘Dupe Shop’ and ‘Finding Favourites’ also help guide shoppers into finding the right imitation products. This has meant that the popularity of dupes now span beyond beauty, spilling onto other non-essential items that Brits are finding hard to forego, such as luxury fashion and homeware. Now sellers such as DHGate are enjoying a lot of attention from bargain hunters on TikTok.

Besides the illegality of counterfeit luxury items, it also signals to consumers’ waning brand loyalty. Turned off with the idea of giving their hard-earned money to large corporations and brand names, cluttered markets such as beauty and fashion which offer many different options to the everyday shopper are seeing consumers prioritise their financial security and seeking the thrill of a bargain.

However, dupes also have their own shortcomings and are not a one sized fits all solution to all shoppers’ necessities. Besides the implications of quality issues, there is also a stigma with buying dupes, especially if they are visibly an imitation product.

What this teaches all brands, whether they are budget-based or high end – is that consumers’ priorities are shifting. Where quality, sustainability and brand reputation might have been important before, current economic and political climates are certainly morphing consumers’ shopping behaviours.

Sources: Canvas8, the7stars QT