Monthly Archives

February 2023

Superbowl Stadium Field Full With Crowd Watching the Game during Daytime

Not Superbowl-ed Over

By | Featured, News

The significance of this year’s annual Superbowl advertising showcase is perhaps not as it seems. The industry takeaway has undoubtedly been that there was an unprecedented number of celebrity appearances, and there were (to an unprecedented degree), with the highest-earning entertainers in the world (and their agents) clearly making hay while the Arizona sun shone. Ben Affleck, Serena Williams, Dave Grohl, Peyton Manning, Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell, Steve Martin, Alicia Silverstone, Bryan Cranston, John (Hamm and Travolta). The list is endless but what does this tell us?

Celebrities controlling the Superbowl ads creatively

We have known for years that putting products into the hands of expensive talent works well and potentially more demonstrably than other approaches. In the same way that Tom Cruise (about the only actor not in an ad this year) delivers a measurable box office return, so Ferrell and Co can be presented to clients as a guaranteed return on a considerable investment.

But what will they be doing?” – asks the client, and here is the problem:

The ideas (remember them?) become dictated by what the celebrity and their agent are willing to agree to do. Creatively, the tail wags the very expensive dog. Alicia Silverstone reboots her Clueless performance, Travolta revisits T-Birds for T-Mobile, and Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul break old ground cooking-up popcorn in their mobile meth van. The pattern begins to reveal itself with brands looking backward, in a star-studded postmodern visual jukebox of self-referential borrowed interest.

The significant thing about this year’s Superbowl ad break is not the plethora of famous faces, it’s the noticeable absence of juicy creative ideas.

In rewatching the spots you can clearly see that most of the concepts are entirely dictated by the casting decision. At $7 million per 30 seconds, one could argue that there are about seven million reasons why it makes sense to play it safe, but with such a huge and engaged audience (for once not able to skip blithely past your ad), the internationally celebrated Superbowl still represents an unmissable opportunity to show the western world what you are about and to potentially make advertising history.

Take these three classics:

Classic Superbowl Ads

Apple – ‘Macintosh Computer’ Superbowl Ad

Ridley Scott’s Apple ad introducing Apple’s Macintosh computer in 1984, which was based on Orwell’s book of the same name. 40 years on and they are the third biggest privately owned company on the planet.

Old Spice – ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ Superbowl Ad

Not only was this an amazing relaunch of Old Spice, but it also garnered thousands of copycat ads in the process. This was filmed ingeniously with a perfect script, delivered by a relatively unknown actor who didn’t outshine the product.

Reebok – ‘Terry Tate Office Linebacker’ Superbowl Ad

The Reebok ‘Terry Tate’ ad of 2003 has to be my personal favourite non-celebrity-driven Superbowl ad. If nothing else, because the idea is so simple, they could pitch it in two words: ‘Office Linebacker’.


Ultimately, the most timeless commercials are remembered for the brands that were made famous by them, and not for the stars who shone (however brightly Rihanna might suggest) upon them.

Young troubled woman using laptop at home

Mental Health Concerns in Adland

By | Featured, News

NABS, the media industry support network, has revealed that calls to its advice line have spiked 35% year-on-year, driven by a need for emotional and financial support. Two-thirds of all these emotional support calls to NABS in 2022 were for mental health support and guidance with burnout, lack of work-life boundaries, the rising cost-of-living, and increased stress at work leading to this severe decline in the welfare of adland’s workers. With mental health being a top priority for the7stars, we explored these findings to see how the industry can do better.

The importance of the NABS Mental Health statistics

Mental health support is as important as ever for the industry. The combination of macro-factors and those facing individuals within their company is only increasing the desire to try and regain a sense of agency through means such as ‘quiet quitting’, or even removing themselves from the industry entirely. The media landscape should be where creative talent can thrive, enjoy themselves, celebrate successes, and push forward their careers, however, if the environment and support systems aren’t there to allow this to happen, then it would only be right for that talent to prioritise their wellbeing and explore different options.

NABS will continue to work harder than ever to support the well-being of the industry, but real changes need to be made within organisations to make a true change. Mental wellness must be at the heart of what this industry does, led by senior management making effective commitments to improve areas such as support, pay, and working conditions.

How we support our workforce’s mental well-being

At the7stars, we make mental health and well-being our absolute priority. A project team made up of individuals across the agency, Team Boost, continuously promotes the support mechanisms in place and helps bring about real change with support and leadership from the senior management team.

We have 14 trained Mental Health First Aiders across the business, as well as direct access to JourneyHR who are always available to support us through professional or personal difficulties. Our extensive healthcare plan with Vitality, given as a benefit to all employees, offers a range of mental health support including free CBT and counselling sessions for those who made it.

Ongoing initiatives include free gym membership to look after physical health, as well as weekly lunchtime yoga sessions to encourage people to get away from their work and take a full lunch break. If the working day is becoming a bit too stressful, there is also a Calm Room which anyone can use to take some time out of their day for a breather from work without having to leave the office.

To support our team with the cost-of-living crisis, we increased the salaries of all staff under £60,000 per annum by £1,000, as well as increasing our pension contributions to 8% for those earning under £35,000. We also introduced an interest-free Cost-Of-Living Loan for staff that needed additional help without the additional stress. This loan was managed by our Financial Advisor (who was available to help all staff with any financial questions that they had) to ensure that staff were able to take out loans that they could manage.


Following the release of NABS’ results, we really hope that it shocks the industry into putting a big and quick step forward in how it supports the mental well-being of every single individual within it. Whilst these numbers are concerning, they can be reversed by people in senior positions implementing the changes and commitments required to improve the environment we work in. If this can happen, it will ensure that the Media industry remains one that talent is excited to work in, knowing that they have the support setup to maximise their mental health and allow them to truly enjoy what they do.

The Future of Data Clean Rooms

By | Featured, What's Hot

As is customary in January, it’s been hard to move for opinions on the latest marketing trends for 2023. We’re over the previous years of DTC, BTC, and NFT, and now we must welcome a new, shiny three-lettered acronym about to revolutionise marketing forever: GPT – or ChatGPT to be precise. However, one trend that has seen steady growth and, importantly, successful implementation from marketers is Data Clean Rooms (or DCRs).

DCRs offer marketers the opportunity to interrogate their customer data in a safe, privacy-first environment, while opening up the ability to shape more of their media plans using insight from that same data. At the7stars we estimate that, by the end of 2023, up to 80% of the UK ad market could be delivered using some form of ad tech. This gives advertisers the exciting potential to liberate ‘data-driven’ ambitions from the clutches of ‘digital’ media, to the breadth of broadcasters and publishers in the UK. This is why we have launched Bridge – our audience connection and measurement platform, which includes DCR technology.

Recent research from the IAB has identified, through a panel of data-decision makers across both brands and agencies, that although eagerness to test the capabilities of DCRs is high, a key element tends to be overlooked: measurement. Measurement and effectiveness are foundational to our approach to data-shaped media and an irreplaceable part of Bridge. As with most new technology in marketing, being an early adopter can give brilliant advantages to challenger brands looking for an opportunity to get ahead. There is, however, one way to guarantee that you’re limiting any potential advantage, which is by forgoing your measurement. Whether you want to prove incrementality, test data-driven audiences vs off the shelf, or just understand more about your existing datasets, having a clear hypothesis and measurement framework is imperative for gaining the most value from DCRs.

DCRs are opening up further options for ‘closing the loop’ with addressable measurement – the ability to match exposed, addressable audiences to new customers is invaluable in a post-cookie world – but DCR effectiveness should not be limited to addressable measurement only, rather it should be one element of a full measurement framework which uses experimentation to test the impact of data-shaped media planning on business objectives.

DCRs, like most (perhaps all) technology, are only ever as powerful as the humans working with them. DCRs won’t build you a hypothesis, nor will they make sense of the nuances between audiences or how best to execute media across multiple channels. DCRs will give you an opportunity to buy media in a way that was never possible before, which should excite marketers and agencies alike. But amongst the excitement, we must ensure that robust planning and measurement is aligned with anything new that we do: we experiment to grow and measure to know.

2023 Media Market Predications

By | Featured, What's Hot

The UK is currently battling inflationary pressures due to the number of macro-economic challenges it has faced in 2022. In consideration of Britain’s vicinity to the war in Ukraine, continued Brexit related cost impacts on businesses and consumers, energy price concerns, government instability, the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II and a very weak pound, continuous interest rate hikes from the BoE were attempts to control things. This all makes for an interesting perspective from which to predict just how the media market will shape up for 2023.

Whilst the media market does not always directly correlate with price pressures on the cost of media, operating cost impacts on many channels and a weaker revenue growth than anticipated last year will be directly contributing to forecast inflation in 2023. Whilst revenue projections overall are fairly flat for 2023 at present, there are still expectations for returns to healthy growth in Digital and a continued climb back to previous levels for OOH and Cinema.

The good news is that no huge waves of panic currently threaten 2023, but for a general recessionary climate that, optimistically, we feel the government will moderate to uphold some form of stability. We have the notable addition in our calendars of the King’s Coronation to lighten the moods of the nation in May, which we expect advertisers to recognise as an opportunity.

2022 had a uniquely placed Men’s FIFA World Cup disrupting the festive period, which 2023 replaces with a Rugby World Cup across September and October as the only notable male sporting addition to the calendar. With the Women’s FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand delivering early morning kick-offs in the UK due to the time difference, the level of impact on any live broadcast media is potentially lessened – with advertisers likely to seek out news-brands and catch-up services to keep track of the tournament.

Outside of these events, we have no direct pandemic related concerns to note (currently) – with the cost-of-living crisis remaining the main topic of concern. Having weathered the experience through 2022, we are confident that opportunities for business to invest smartly will continue in 2023.

Some sectors will feel the deeper impacts of the economic headwinds in 2023, yet the outlook from industry bodies WARC/AA is to expect a 4% increase in total advertiser spend in 2023, which offers the market a decent shot of confidence as we all kick off plans for the year.

At the7stars, we’re predicting single-figure levels of inflation across all channels excluding Print (-2%), with TV, OOH and Digital Video at 8%, Radio at 6%, Digital Display at 4% and BVOD at 1%. Clearly, increases will be far less than those we’ve all suffered as consumers. We know these cost challenges can be mitigated with clever audience planning, strong creative for each channel and audience, and by aligning with the most trusted, relevant media partners through 2023. We look forward to supporting our clients with these goals in every capacity.

NFTs: Innovation or Extinction

By | Featured, What's Hot

It’s been two years since non-fungible tokens (NFTs) first entered the popular lexicon, and the industry has ridden quite the rollercoaster since. NFTs – the tokens which rely on a digital blockchain authentication, deriving their value from relative scarcity – first exploded in popularity in early 2021, with a series of eye-popping sales ranging from a $2.9m tweet to $69.3m .jpeg artwork.

Like other blockchain-enabled technologies, NFTs had a rocky 2022. In a year when Bitcoin lost over half its value, and the cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed, several early backers in the NFT market became embroiled in controversies.

Logan Paul – having already seen one such token lose all but a fraction of its value – was heavily criticised after his CryptoZoo project was reported as a scam, whilst figures as prominent as Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton were listed as co-defendants in a class action lawsuit surrounding the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.

So, does this mean the end of NFTs? In the eyes of some experts, 2023 could be the year in which marketers shift budgets away from NFTs and towards other emerging technologies, such as AI.

That’s not to say we should be reading NFTs their last rites, however. While the initial bubble has undoubtedly burst, this offers an opportunity for the NFT market to mature, ridding itself of bandwagoners like Paul and focussing on innovation. As Adrian T’so, Head of Strategy at DDB Hong Kong, notes: ‘there is no reason why NFTs … should be limited to a coupon for merch or some fancy jpeg. It can be those things, but it is already so much more.’

Indeed, while the failures of some investors stole headlines in 2022, several best-in-house examples slid quietly under the radar. A collaboration between Deeplocal and Shopify at SXSW, which allowed festivalgoers to shop merchandise from the Doodles online store in an interactive experience, won acclaim for its immersion, highlighting the potential for NFTs to thrive in so-called ‘phygital’ e-commerce environments, where the digital and real worlds collide.

Media, too, can benefit from innovative activations centred around NFT technology. In Brazil, a shoppable OOH crypto art exhibition drew some 13 million organic impacts and was named a winner in last year’s Drum Awards. And, though the future of the industry remains uncertain, a host of museums have invested in NFTs, affording digital artists unprecedented mainstream recognition.

While far from refined, the NFT industry is not dead yet. Marketers may invest elsewhere in the immediate term but NFTs are likely to form part of the wider web3 ecosystem, alongside AI and the Metaverse. First, the technology to power NFTs into valuable assets for marketers and consumers requires attention.

For blockchain technologies, sustainability continues to be a major issue, with the demand for resourceheavy server farms and cryptocurrency mines consuming enough energy to power some 80,000 households. But as innovation in the sector grows, so the carbon footprint should fall. Ethereum, the second biggest blockchain, recently transformed to a ‘Proof of Stake’ system which reportedly uses 99.9% less energy, and competitors are likely to follow.

We are certainly years away from realising the full potential of NFTs, and brands would be wise to consider their environmental impact before investing yet. Sure, NFTs are probably Not For Today – but tomorrow could be a different story.

Disruptive Launch for Prime Hydration with Social Influence

By | Featured, What's Hot

It was impossible to avoid images over the Christmas period of the utter carnage that broke out in Aldi stores when sports drink Prime Hydration went on sale. Launched as a joint venture by two of the biggest influencers in the world, KSI and Logan Paul (combined following of over 47M), the collaboration aims to ‘fill the void where great taste meets function.’ The pair have vocalised their ambition to take on some of the biggest players in the energy drinks category, such as Powerade and Gatorade.

Prime quickly became a viral sensation, fuelled in part by suspiciously limited supply, leading to online resales at heavily inflated prices. One particular retailer, Wakey Wines, came under fire from KSI himself after marketing the drink for £100 a bottle.

The pair have clearly created a sales phenomenon, one in which social media is playing a vital role. Social influencers can reach specific niche audiences, and KSI and Logan Paul have promoted Prime through content that is tailored specifically to their teenage fanbase. TikTok stunts and an affiliation with Arsenal Football Club are just two of the marketing strategies employed to add fuel to the fire.

The most effective tactic to date, however, has been their positioning of themselves as the underdog in a market previously dominated by just a handful of brands. Everyone roots for the underdog, right? In this case, that ‘everyone’ includes the entire Sidemen network – a group of YouTubers of which KSI is a member; a group with millions of followers and millions of views, all happy to support their friend and his business partner. It’s a lucrative influencer connection that negates the need for traditional advertising.

And this is where it gets tricky. It is far from unusual to find famous people engaged in advertising, but when influencers are involved it’s hard to know where entertainment ends and advertising begins. George Clooney might promote Nespresso but no one could mistake a TV advert for a film. The difference here is the ambiguity between what this seems to be and what it is.

Logan Paul and KSI want their young followers to believe that backing Prime is almost a spiritual thing for them: ‘We created Prime to showcase what happens when rivals come together as brothers and business partners.’ They haven’t set out to make money, apparently, but to illustrate the virtues of cooperation. More cynical commentators have questioned the authenticity of such messaging.

It may be easy to dismiss Prime as a playground fad that will go the same way as Pogs or the Tamagotchi. The hype will probably die down in a few months, but even if Prime’s success is fleeting, it’s a shining example of the power of social influencers to build brands at breakneck speed.