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the7stars

Lightbox Loves: Meme Culture

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The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. With the increasing omnipotence of the internet, we now live in a world where visual communication is taking on increasing importance.

The August wave of The QT found that half of 18-24s feel that using memes can be more effective than words alone, and 32% of 18-34s also agree that memes are an important way of sharing culture. While the majority reserve this to a more comic sphere, as 2020 has gotten underway, we’ve seen memes impact the way we are consuming news online.

The first few days of the new decade saw Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, killed in an air strike ordered by US President Donald Trump. Iran’s supreme leader promised “harsh vengeance” almost immediately, followed swiftly by threats of potential US retribution. Conversation online turned to talk of World War 3 being imminent if both countries followed through with their escalating threats.

However, despite over 44k posts being written on Twitter about WW3 since the 6th January, surprisingly 31% of posts had positive sentiment. This increased over the month to peak on 11th January, three days after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq in its first military retaliation since the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani.

This thread of positive reactions was driven by the posting and sharing of memes referencing WW3. The most popular posts feature political figures including Greta Thunberg and Tony Blair. Whilst the Memes provide a light-heartedness to the conversation, a lot of the captions on the pictures cite them as “a coping mechanism” and a way of “hiding from the fear”, with fear also detected as a dominant emotion in posts.

This reaction online was similar on 8th January when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would be stepping down as senior royals, with many people taking the news as an opportunity to mock the royals through memes.

29% of 18-24s agree that brands who use memes get their attention. Therefore as visual language begins to become the dominant means through which we view and engage with the world, it should be considered a vital part of advertisers communications strategies.

However, a potential pitfall for brands to watch out for among meme culture is illustrated by the misfortune suffered by Weight Watchers. The campaign on social media was timed to align with the “new year, new me” mentality however, in an unprecedented coincidence, their #thisismyWW campaign appeared around trending and unfortunately alliterative hashtags such as #WW111 and #WorldWarThree.

 

Humans Process Visual Data Better

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51018120

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/weight-watchers-social-media-campaign-unfortunately-timed/1669849

Lightbox Loves: How smart is your speaker?

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2013 was the year our digital lives were to be transformed for the better. Not because of the Xbox One launch, or the debut of Apple iOS 7, but the surprising introduction of Microsoft’s smart speaker, Cortana. The following year saw other tech giants follow suit, and it was not long before Amazon, Apple and Google all launched their own versions of this ground-breaking tech.

A virtual assistant, at your beck and call to help you with your grocery shopping, to boil the kettle and that will not answer back sounds perfect, does it not? Many of us agreed that it would be a vital addition to our homes, so much so, that in 2019 the Government added ‘smart speakers’ to the list of items monitored to measure the cost of living. However, the reality is that out of the 1 in 5 who own a smart speaker in the UK, almost half feel they are not getting the most out of their in-home devices.

Despite clearly proving commercially successful, and usage set to grow into 2020, some query the transformative value of this technology. Indeed, the top three commands for our smart speakers haven’t really changed across half a decade: listening to music, checking the weather and setting timers – not entirely revolutionary.

Whilst some argue that this laggard behaviour is down to a lack of trust or comfort in their devices, others put it down to the tech’s difficulty in understanding the nuances in human language, often meaning the robots are prone to error.

Before storming ahead and innovating further in this category, it might be beneficial for Amazon, Google and the like to take a step back and overcome the current barriers to expansive usage. How can they grow trust in smart speaker devices, so they become an irreplaceable and vital part of daily life, instead of being a ‘nice-to-have’ gadget?

https://www.theguardian.com/get-more-from-amazon-alexa/2020/jan/06/from-sous-chef-to-security-guard-how-the-nation-uses-its-smart-speakers

Smart Speakers Most Popular in Living Rooms, Followed by Bedrooms and Kitchens, Survey Says (EXCLUSIVE)

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/11/smart-speakers-baking-uk-inflation-basket

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/6/20951178/amazon-alexa-echo-launch-anniversary-age-funtionality-not-changed-use-cases

Lightbox Loves: Rethinking growing up (and growing old!)

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Advertisers need to align with interests rather than age, or indeed any other demographic. Greater age representation is increasingly demanded of brands and commercially, it seems to make sense; those 55+ hold more than a third of Britain’s wealth. So how can the advertising industry become more representative in its advertising?

Most importantly, we need to be careful of the assumptions we are making of this audience. Often those over 50 are pictured within the home, yet the number of those 65+ in employment has doubled from 5.5% in 1992 to 10.2% in 2018. Furthermore, less than 5% of images of older generations show them handling technology, despite 69% of those 55-74 owning a smartphone. It seems as though our perception is different from the realities facing the Baby Boomer audience.

By more openly targeting a broader audience, brands should not be afraid of tackling traditionally taboo topics. Holland and Barratt’s Me.No.Pause. campaign from last year is a great example of a brand bring the taboo subject of menopause out into the open to appeal and build loyalty amongst an older target. As a result, it won £500,000 worth of free advertising on TfL – however brands need to engage with this dialogue without the incentive of free advertising. Pablo, Holland and Barrett’s creative agency, sums this up nicely: “We hope this campaign will spark and inspire a more open conversation about this important subject.“

Ultimately, a cross-generational approach to audiences – driven by interests – has the ability to provide a brand with a wider customer base and more opportunities in the long term. In the ‘Truth about Age’, McCann has summed ageing up as a “… journey of limitless opportunities and personal growth” and this is a great way for many brands to challenge what they know about those 55+.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/business/ageism-advertising-aarp.htm

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/one-in-five-pensioners-is-a-millionaire-as-young-miss-out-ts53qvjztl

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44042133

http://mccann.co.za/assets/files/documents/Truth-About-Age1.pdf

Lightbox Loves: Sitting on the fence is a fool’s game

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Like it or not, political commentators feel that the country wants to move on from Brexit. Last week, the Conservatives won their largest electoral majority since Thatcher’s victory in 1987, and with the Labour Party achieving their worst result since 1935, the significance of a clear campaign message is something that brands and advertisers could learn from, regardless of their political standpoint.

For many voters, Brexit was the most salient and pressing issue in this election. The Conservatives had a concise, and consistent slogan from the beginning: Get Brexit Done. The Labour Party’s position, however, was ambiguous. Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to adopt a neutral stance in a second Brexit referendum left many voters feeling confused. According to a YouGov poll, 65% of Britons were unclear about Labour’s Brexit position, however, only 27% were unclear about the Conservatives’ stance on Brexit.

The Tories’ clarity on Brexit is also said to have led to dramatic results in Labour’s heartlands. While it was once unimaginable to think that former mining regions like Blyth Valley and Sedgefield in the North East would abandon the Labour Party in favour of the Conservatives, but now, Labour’s ‘red wall’ has fallen.

It can be argued that a similar phenomenon could be seen in the 2016 U.S Presidential election. More specifically, Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ message was powerful because it evoked loss aversion. In simple terms, it’s the idea that people find it more painful to make a loss than to make an equivalent gain. In contrast, Clinton’s campaign, had several messages: ‘Stronger Together’, ‘I’m With Her’, ‘Love Trumps Hate’, which failed to make the same effect, perhaps because these slogans lacked consistency and seemed more a like a reaction to Trump, rather than being standpoints in their own right.

However, having a clear campaign message is not enough on its own. The Liberal Democrats were adamant that they were going to cancel Brexit by revoking article 50, hoping that it would entice Remainers to vote for them. While they managed to increase their vote share by 4.2% since 2017, they still experienced the second-worst election result since in their modern history.

If this election can teach us one thing, it is that audiences will not buy into a brand if they do not understand what the purpose of it is. So, don’t sit on the fence — that’s a fool’s game.

You Gov

The Guardian

Lightbox Loves: The Ambitionless Youth

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With the release of Foresight Factory’s report on the tribes of 2019, we have two new groups to examine. Tribe One, ‘The Hyper Quantifiers’, are commonly addressed by brands across sectors from tech to entertainment and indeed by any product that can help measure aspects of life. In an age of optimisation, they are the perfect subject for companies to cheer and engage as they strive to go better, faster, and more efficiently. They have become the go-to group for youth marketing. In the UK, however, the 16-34 market has a similar sized tribe (about 1 in 5); the self-described Ambitionless Youth.

This tribe consists of the 20% of under 35s who admit to lacking ambition. They might sound disengaged, negative or even nihilistic but this group is not lazy. The percentage desiring a shorter working week, and more leisure time is within 1% of with their more ambitious peers. In truth, they aren’t closed off to new experiences; with 84% feeling the need to learn more – just like their ambitious peers. Instead the phenomenon is, perhaps, a result of lesser faith in the link between work, satisfaction, and professional achievement. Ambitionless Youth are more prevalent in slowing or contracting economies, notably Japan and Brazil, with 47% and 35% of their youth ‘ambitionless’ respectively. In these states of macro-economic decline, the perceived link between unbridled hard work and professional achievement is further eroded.

To talk to this engaged but unambitious audience, brands need to understand the differentiation between ambition and passion. While the ambitious, as Deloitte’s John Hagel has observed, typically follow linear goals, with extrinsic motivations (money, status etc); the passionate will follow more diffuse goals, often at the expense of linear professional progression. While Hagel sees the passionate as useful for an organisation for the innovative thinking of which they are capable; for brands they represent an audience who are willing to invest time and emotional energy in products without needing to justify this with extrinsic reward. While Ambitionless Youth remain the minority, this 20% will find goal orientation alienating. This offers an open space for brands discussing a more immediate value exchange, or indeed more intrinsic and lateral goals.

Sources

https://www.foresightfactory.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Tribespotting.pdf

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/employee-engagement/employee-passion-ambition.html

Lightbox Loves: Christmas Adverts

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There are several clear themes coming out of the Christmas campaigns this year. Some have focussed on their brands’ own cultural heritage, whilst others connect with popular cultural from the year. Brands that have focussed on their product offering tend to showcase the breadth of their range, whereas others choose instead to entertain with their own Christmas stories. However, are these campaigns as big a marker of the Christmas festivities as they use to be, or has their heyday been and gone?

Leading the way on the focus into cultural heritage is Dogs Trust, which in an emotional advert reminds the viewer that “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” a phrase the charity coined itself back in 1978. Sainsbury’s takes the viewer back 150 years in its Christmas story, which builds on activity across the year celebrating its 150 anniversary. Playing on a more recent cultural heritage, Argos celebrates their “Book of Dreams”, drawing on the nostalgia of circling your ideal gift in their catalogue and dreaming about what it would be like to get it.

Iceland’s partnership with Disney’s Frozen 2 anticipates what is likely to be the most popular film over the festive season, with an ad that sees Olaf experiencing a traditional British Christmas. Aldi have also chosen to reference popular culture in their ad this year, with a scene reminiscent of Peaky Blinders and The Greatest Showman, whilst Ikea chose to use Grime music to tell their Christmas message.

John Lewis have once again created an advert around an original Christmas story. This time we meet Edgar an excitable dragon who keeps accidentally breathing fire and melting or burning all the enjoyable parts of the festive season. Asda have also created a unique story about a girl spreading Christmas magic around her home town. These adverts, although not directly linked to the brands offering, provide entertainment in themselves.

Many of these brands are utilising products to keep the association with their Christmas adverts alive at the point of sale. John Lewis has a range of Excitable Edgar products and Iceland have Frozen 2 themed products in-store, which as well as a food range, includes a life size Olaf toy and the charades game which is played in the advert. More than ever, Christmas is allowing brands to step outside of the box with their creative and tell a different message to the rest of the year.

However, public interest in the Christmas ad race does appear to be in decline; Google searches for Christmas ads peaked in 2016 and social sharing is down year on year. The #BusterTheBoxer John Lewis campaign had a net sentiment score of 33%, vs 22% for #ExcitableEdgar. the7stars QT report also noted a decline in those saying that notable Christmas ads defined the start of the season for them.

This could be why more brands, such as Boots, Debenhams and TK Maxx are going purely product focused this year, emphasising the breadth of their range and the ability to be a one-stop-shop for presents. M&S have taken this product centricity one step further by only showcasing a single product: Christmas jumpers, with 50 different ones from their range featured in the advert.

Although Christmas is still a time to for brands to get creative, this may not be translating into as much social chatter as in previous years.

 

Sources:

Brandwatch, November 2019

Lightbox Loves: A fairer value exchange in online advertising?

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Consumers are becoming aware of how valuable their personal data is to advertisers. While many are open to a fair data exchange, this does not mean that they are altogether resistant to sharing their information. However, with around 43% of 18-24-year-olds using adblockers in the UK, it’s clear that brands need to find new ways to improve the online advertising experience to regain this audience’s attention.

Two brands that appear to understand this value exchange are Brave and Pick My Postcode!

Brave is a privacy-centred browser that is looking to transform the relationship between advertisers and consumers. Their adverting platform, Brave Ads, is an opt-in system that is designed to reward consumers for their attention; they claim that ads viewed through their platform have a click-through rate of 14%, compared to the industry average of 2%.

So, how does it work? When a user actives Brave Ads, Brave looks at their browsing history to privately match them to an appropriate advert. Brave then pays the user 70% of their revenue ad share in the form of a Basic Attention Token (BAT). The BAT token is a cryptocurrency that can be exchanged between advertisers, publishers and consumers. Consumers can use the BAT that they’ve earned to anonymously donate to their favourite publishers –YouTube, Twitter, or website content creators.

Pick My Postcode! is another brand that is offering consumers ads in exchange for the chance to win daily cash prizes. They’ve also gone one step further, allowing brands to survey their community for the same tangible rewards. Could these be the alternative experience consumers have been waiting for?

However, there are some questions surrounding their effectiveness. How can these sites be sure that users are actually paying attention to the ads, and not using their platform to just receive rewards? Will this be enough of an economic incentive to encourage more users to the platform?

Regardless of whether you’re impressed by these innovations or not, through rewarding consumers for their attention, respecting their privacy and only showing them relevant adverts, there is the potential to radically improve the relationship between consumers, publishers, and advertisers.

Data as Currency, Foresight Factory, October 2018

Online advertising in the UK, DCMS, January 2019

Brave.com

Brave Browser wants to pay you to view ads but there’s a catch, PC Mag, January 2019

Picture Johan Viirok – Hacking

 

 

Lightbox Loves: Pride & Patriotism

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In today’s culture, patriotism is waning. In particular, young people aged 18-24 are far less likely than their 60+ counterparts to feel very patriotic. In this particularly divided Brexit Britain, there has been much debate on what it means to be British, and according to YouGov data, a fifth of Brits claim that they would be ashamed of their national pride if it were to be aired in public.  So, while British pride is on the decline, how, when and why should brands capitalise on peak moments of nationalism?

The Football World Cup in 2018, and the London Olympics have been the most expressed occasions where Brits feel comfortable expressing their patriotic side, particularly with England’s advance to the quarter finals last year. This past weekend marked England making it to the Rugby World Cup finals, a feat last achieved in 2007 after defeating New Zealand in the semi finals, so hopes were high for England fans.

Many brands advertised around the love of the game, such as Land Rover’s ‘It’s what makes rugby, rugby’ ad, and Guinness’s ‘Liberty Fields’ ad championing Japanese women’s rugby as pioneers. These ads have heroed the game itself, whereas O2, the primary sponsors of the England Rugby team, have consistently framed their advertising around the iconic #WearTheRose campaign, this year encouraging the nation to support the team by ‘being their armour’ and wearing what the CMO of O2 has called “the symbol that represents the very heart of England”.

In an effort to appeal to the masses, it appears as though more brands have placed focus on the sport itself versus the emotions towards the sport and the sense of pride in one’s nation. Studies have found that when consumers have heightened levels of patriotism this positively influences their attitude towards patriotic advertising and towards the brand in question, particularly in the context of international sporting events. And so, sport sponsorships might be a great way of getting mass reach, but they are also a highly effective platform in connecting to consumers over love for their country, particularly for brands where ‘Britishness’ is at their core. With the next Olympics & Paralympics coming up in 2020, how can British brands get involved?

https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2015/07/14/decline-british-patriotism

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/patriotism-uk-national-pride-ridicule-abuse-racism-xenophobia-prejudice-a8312786.html

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/09/18/o2-calls-upon-england-fans-be-its-samurai-armour-ahead-rugby-world-cup

https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-344154942/consumer-patriotism-and-response-to-patriotic-advertising

Lightbox Loves: A Reason to Celebrate

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We have become a nation of celebration. As Hallowe’en related paraphernalia appeared across social feeds, TV ads, supermarket shelves and popular culture as early as August, it would appear that Brits (or at least brands) are looking to elongate the festivities as much as possible.

A phenomenon long attributed to the Christmas period, apparently now no holiday is safe. We asked 500 Brits via our Lightbox Pulse platform their thoughts, and 57% said they felt that holidays start too early, and 27% claiming they last too long. On the whole, this sentiment was strongest amongst 35-64s, which perhaps interplays with the likelihood of having bigger families of children and grandchildren to buy for.

This elongation of celebration is a trend which runs hand in hand with the increasing desire to make a fuss of ever more granular life events. 60% of Brits said that we find more reasons to celebrate these days, with only a miserly 19% disagreeing. Women are the most likely be in touch with this – perhaps because they’re often lumbered with (or secretly revel in) the job of buying the accompanying cards, presents and decorations? This is of course why retailers and brands are happy to encourage us to celebrate more. Everything from alcohol to baked goods gets a boost when we party, and comms are given a renewed focus and some new news to push out.

So, what exactly do Brits feel is worth celebrating? We asked our panel, and whilst the usual offenders (engagement parties, christenings and university graduation) all came out strongly, 1 in 10 said a divorce was worthy of a party, and 8% are on board the Gender Reveal bandwagon.

It doesn’t seem like a high proportion, but if you look at the search trends for Gender Reveal parties over the past 5 years you start to get a glimpse of the momentum behind the movement.

Ultimately, a celebration sits in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a special social event, such as a party, when you celebrate something.” Are we losing the notion of ‘special’ when the parties start to dominate our diaries? There are 14.5m posts on Instagram under #celebrate, and a staggering 160m under #party. It would seem you can have a party without a celebration, but you can’t celebrate these days without a party.

Lightbox Loves: Reuse over Recycle

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Ever since the Blue Planet finale exposed the impact of plastic waste on the oceans, single
use
plastic has been in the spotlight. In May, the government announced that plastic straws, cotton
buds and stirrers will be banned from next April – a move backed by 82% of Brits (YouGov). Such
support has forced mainstream brands to revaluate what changes they can make.

This week, Unilever announced plans to slash the staggering 700,000 tonnes of new plastic used
across their brands globally. Last month, Burger King vowed to stop giving away promotional
plastic toys. Taking a swipe at their giant rival’s Happy Meals, they also agreed to in store
collections of old plastic tat. They plan to melt this into other useful items, such as trays for their
restaurants. In response, McDonalds announced they will let customers choose between fruit and
books and the original toys.

With so much scrutiny given to the lifespan of disposable items, the next logical step is to remove
single use packaging altogether. In the UK we have seen a huge uptake in reusable on the go
coffee cups and water bottles, and we are now seeing this filter into a reuse first shopping
experience too.

Waitrose, for one, has trialled a refillable store concept –“Unpacked”. There are now four
“Unpacked” stores, all with an area dedicated to food refilling stations. Not only do these remove
the need for packaging, they also help reduce food waste, as shoppers can control portion sizes.
Currently, however, the section includes only one brand – detergent brand Ecover – with the rest of
the zone feeling more like a brand-free greengrocer.

Boots’ new flagship store also hosts a refillable station, this time from socially and environmentally
conscious brand the Beauty Kitchen. Rather than opting for pre packaged shampoo, conditioner
and body wash, shoppers can use Beauty Kitchen’s refillable products.

Whilst mass-market companies are waking up to the importance of recyclable packaging, eco
conscious brands are one step ahead, and on a mission to remove the need to recycle altogether.
Other brands may wish to adopt a similar outlook, or otherwise risk being left behind as consumers
become more knowledgeable about the undesirable environmental effect of unsustainable
production.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business 49738889

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/08/waitrose unpacked is packaging free food budget friendly/

https://beautykitchen.co.uk/blogs/news/beauty kitchen refill station boots covent garden