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Lightbox Loves: Are Your Stars Aligned?

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From using healing crystals for wellness, practicing yoga with sound baths, to using one of over 10,000 astrology apps that deliver on-demand forecasts; ancient practices have seen a rise in usage among modern consumers looking for a way to manage their body/minds and also navigate the world around them.

In particular, the rise again (and probably not the last) of astrology, horoscopes and zodiac signs is seeing consumers, particularly younger people, find comfort in these mystical practices despite not necessarily believing in it. These techniques help assist them in decision making and finding a life path, against a backdrop of a chaotic modern life and an uncertain political and economic future.

As one JWT trend report states, “We are increasingly turning to unreality as a form of escape and a way to search for other kinds of freedom, truth and meaning…. What emerges is an appreciation for magic and spirituality”. This has given rise to apps such as Sanctuary – which offers users on-demand help by providing them with live personalised readings from professional astrologists.

There has also been an increase in brands currently tapping into this space. Some key examples include Amazon’s own zodiac led shopping recommendations; Spotify’s star sign curated playlists and astrological readings, as well as Bumble, which now allows users to filter potential matches based on their star sign.

Whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, we are yet to see if this is a fleeting trend or here to stay. However, during these unpredictable times, this alternative belief system seems to be offering consumers some clarity; by giving them an individual interpretation of their life and guide of how to go about living it.



Lightbox Loves: Coaching Crazy

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‘Life Coaching’, a phrase typically used to describe a professional paid to help others achieve their #lifegoals. Traditionally common in the corporate world, recent studies have shown that Gen Z are now fuelling an increase in both supply and demand for this vocation, both professionally and personally.

Bidvine, an online directory to find local professionals, has recently seen a 280% surge in searches for ‘life coaches,’ of which over half have been made by 18-22 year olds (1). Further, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) found that a third of Gen Z-ers across the globe already have a life coach (2).

This cohort are almost twice as trusting of others than Millennials, so it is of little surprise that they are turning to others for assistance to achieve their personal and professional objectives (3). For some, it’s about regaining confidence, whereas for others, life coaching helps build relationships, whilst also experiencing ‘real human’ interaction. Further, Gen Z are not just enlisting life coaches, but are also increasingly keen on being one themselves, with the CEO of the International Coaching Federation believing that “they are the future of the profession.” (4)

With this trend only set to grow further, and with Gen Z notorious for their fickleness towards brands, it is certainly timely that companies are moving away from being a one-dimensional product or service provider. Instead, brands are beginning to demonstrate that they care about us as people, through ‘coaching-style’ services outside of traditional realms.

For example, last year, Lidl opened up a pop-up café in Ireland to inspire young people to open up about their mental health, whilst also encouraging customers to take part in yoga, meditation and other mindful activities.

With many companies fighting for Gen Z’s attention, is life coaching an authentic means to entice our newest generation of spenders, and will this influence our #lifegoals?


1. The Guardian, 2019

2. ICF Consumer Awareness Study, 2107

3. IPSOS, 2018

4. The Guardian, 2019

Lightbox Loves: Stranger Things

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Coca-Cola, Burger King, adidas, Pentax, Cadillac and Casio are just a few of the 75 brands reported to appear in the record-breaking third season of Stranger Things (1). Nostalgia is an important theme in the show and brands have intertwined themselves with the series since the beginning. Benefitting both the brand and show alike, it offers mass exposure for the products as well as supporting the Duffer brother’s storytelling. However, has this season taken it too far for consumers?

A study found that, based on viewing figures and screen time, the value of the brand placements amounted to $15m over the first 3 days of the show launching (2). This is a sizable figure considering Netflix have stated none of the product placements were paid for. When the placements were culturally relevant, the products featured benefited from a rise in interest. For example, Coca-Cola saw searches for their 80s product “New Coke” rise by 250% on the release day of the new series (3).

However, consumers took to social media to condemn the makers for allowing their show to be flooded with product placement, particularly when this included forced dialogue and lingering logo shots (4). These negative brand experiences may have taken some of the shine off of the pure media value received by brands.

The show itself has been met with great reviews and, despite some viewers being surprised and annoyed by the product placements, the show is now synonymous with nostalgic 80s brands. However, if there is a season 4, brands should think more about the consumer’s experience and whether the co-promotion fits naturally with the plot, or otherwise risk an inauthentic diversion from the show itself.


  3. Google Trends UK
  4. Twitter

Lightbox Loves: Meme This

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In 1989, the World Wide Web was conceived and some 30 years later (after a few life changing revelations), the storm settled. Waiting for us, all giddy at the altar, was the untapped world of memes.

Netflix’s Birdbox, watched by a staggering 45 million accounts globally in its first week of release, is a great example of a film that harnessed the power of memes. The interesting story here is that the marketing for the movie wasn’t at its most powerful pre-release date, but rather post it. This was down, in part, to a little creativity and to the plot of the movie, where characters blindfold themselves.

Many of the meme wizards hiding amongst us right now are probably feeling their neurons firing in the brain; scheming and plotting funny pictures, clips (from the movie) to coincide with even funnier captions. This was the gold mine which Netflix tapped into. Aaron M. White, a civil litigation attorney in Chicago, said it was when his inbox became flooded with memes from Twitter and Instagram that he considered watching Birdbox. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a glimpse at the power of memes and their ability to spread like wildfire.

Another example of this weapon of mass interaction (see what we did there) is British music artist Jay1, who boldly and un-boldly used a situation that had appeared in Love Island to promote his new single ‘Your Mrs’. The results are telling: a 27% increase in followers, along with a notable +3k increase in Spotify listeners. This was all achieved through 4 posts across 2 influencer pages.

Memes work because their primary intention isn’t to promote a brand or movie, that’s just a side effect; rather they aim to give something else to the consumer – laughter and a dash of happiness.

  • Jay 1 – Your Mrs X Love Island Reactions EOC Report – the7stars

Lightbox Loves: One Year On

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Everyone’s favourite piece of legislation, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), turned one at the weekend. With it brought the promise of tough new data laws in the EU to give people more control over the data being collected on them. To mark the occasion, we’ve run a LightBox Pulse in partnership with OnePulse, to see whether Brits actually think this is now the case.

It’s rare in an industry such as ours that most people haven’t been impacted by GDPR, or at least have a vague comprehension of what it stands for. However, 3 in 10 Brits claim that they still don’t really understand what GDPR is, despite many companies having to ask consumers last year to review their updated privacy policies.

A further half of adults think that GDPR has made no real difference to them personally. That’s not surprising, given that 1 in 3 still feel that online ads are intrusive, despite GDPR, with a similar number believing that GDPR has made no difference to how Facebook behaves.

It may be for this reason that 1 in 5 Brits have found GDPR to be an anti-climax. The information commissioner’s office (ICO) has logged 14,000 data breaches since these new data laws were put in place. However, in the UK, no fine has yet been issued under GDPR (Google was fined in France). According to Richard Breavington, partner at law firm RPC, the ICO has “… barely scratched the surface of it’s powers” – and Brits seem to be more than aware of this.

However, the younger generation (18-24s) is the most optimistic about the impact GDPR has had, with 2 in 5 believing that positive changes have occurred as a result of the regulation laws (+4pts on all adults). A further 2 in 5 also believe that companies are now asking for their consent before storing their data (+5pts on all adults).

A year in and brands are also identifying positive changes that have come about as a result of GDPR, when previously there was seemingly only frustration and confusion, plus a big hit on many of their CRM resources. Brands are now being more targeted, sending fewer but more relevant emails, and seeing better open rates as a result.

Whilst GDPR hasn’t been as impactful as expected in many consumers’ eyes, brands are reaping the rewards that come from better quality data and (hopefully) more respectful ways of using it



Lightbox Pulse in partnership with OnePulse, May 2019

Lightbox Loves: Easter is getting more and more Spegg-tacular

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With many of us still suffering from our chocolatey sugar crash after tucking into a wide and wild variety of Easter eggs this weekend, it’s time to reflect on how the once simple hollow chocolate egg has become so much more. It appears that brands are now putting our sweet tooth to the test in what seems to be an Easter egg extravaganza. Each year eggs are getting bigger, better and brighter and the holiday period is no longer reserved for just chocolatiers, with beauty to clothing brands now tapping into this space.

One example of this is Lush, who this year encouraged their consumers to “forget the Easter hamper as it’s time to Easter pamper”. They brought out a wide range of Easter treats, from a sparkly gold bath bomb egg, bunny and sheep shaped bath bombs (don’t worry they are all still vegan friendly), to a chocolate lip scrub. Lush have managed to create a buzz each year around their Easter specials, with consumers eagerly anticipating their limited edition products. The popular makeup brand Revolution also got involved in the Easter fun, releasing an egg-citing eye shadow palette in a pocket-sized Easter egg shaped package.

Yet, it wasn’t just beauty brands who got creative this Easter; our favourite flat pack furniture brand Ikea also put on a show with their flat packed chocolate bunny. The bunny starts off as a small cardboard packaged box with three separate parts, and it is down to the consumer to put the jigsaw pieces together – or just eat the chocolate pieces – to form the perfect Easter treat.

Moving back to the more traditional Easter egg – the once standard hollow shell has become a work of art with supermarkets and chocolate brands alike pushing the boundaries. However, they now have to compete with a new set of competitors. One brand who took Easter eggs to the next level was Deliveroo, with their Game of Thrones inspired eggs arriving in time for the return of the final season of the show (1). Harvey Nichols had their own unique take on the Easter egg too and produced a breakfast inspired chocolate egg on toast, which found its way into Stylist’s top 30 chocolate treats (2).

Although Easter is now behind us, it is a great time for brands to think how they can tackle Easter in 2020. As Lush has proved, there is clearly room for non-chocolate brands to enter and dominate this space in their category. Who knows what eggstravagant Easter goodies we will get next year?

Source 1:

Source 2:


Lightbox Loves: Trying to find the slow lane…

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Due to an age of acceleration, work worries and financial strain, Millennials are now being labelled the burnout generation (1).

Millennials are finding themselves in a dilemma where they feel the need to be on the go and working continuously, just to keep on top. This is driven by them being always available online, leading them being reachable wherever, whenever, giving way to feelings of exhaustion, stress and anxiety – some of the initial signs of burnout.

Research has indicated that 1 in 5 are currently at risk (2). While 49% of those aged 18-24 experienced high levels of stress due to the constant need to compare themselves to others (3). Work is considered one of the main driving forces behind this, yet social media also contributes due to the constant pressure to show you are “living your best life” (4).

Inevitably, when the pressure is relentless, their goals feel unattainable, and the work-life plate spinning never ceases to slow down – this is when the detrition starts to happen.

This is leading to a backlash of “a culture of constant optimisation”, and instead a desire for objective free activity is being sought (5). People are now looking for any opportunity to slow down and reset in order to maintain a healthy mind and body. This has given a rise to fun and/or relaxing activities in order to boost wellbeing (5). This includes wellness, meditation and sleep apps (6), such as Calm and Headspace.

We have also witnessed brands tapping into this space, creating calm, relaxed atmospheres for their customers. For example, skincare brand Origins, provided spaces for their shoppers to sit down in order for them to have a more leisurely experience (7).

It will be interesting to see how other brands and the media adapt and account for this. For example, we may see a rise in demand for more light options, such as Lite media (e.g. the likes of Love Island), where deep thought and concentration are not required – alternatively it offers the chance relax and slow down to a more leisurely pace (5).

2. http://https//

Lightbox Loves: The Met Gala

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Monday night saw the return of the biggest night of the year in the fashion calendar, the Met Gala. The Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (to give it its full name) was first held in 1948 as a fundraising gala for the Institute. In the years since, it has become renowned as the night Anna Wintour, Vogue Editor-in-Chief, curates a ‘who’s who’ of the most famous faces across the worlds of fashion, music and film, all dressed to embody a theme inspired by that year’s exhibition and breaking the internet in their wake.

Previous themes have ranged from ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ (maybe best summed up by Cardi B’s saintly three-point hat covered in pearls, rhinestones, and jewels) to ‘China: Through the Looking Glass,’ which has gone down in pop culture history as the year Rihanna took to the red carpet in a yellow, fur-trimmed dress that spawned a viral meme comparing the outfit to an omelette.

This is not all bad news; meme culture is starting to mean big business for the designers involved. While this year’s SXSW coverage saw debates on whether brands should enter into the world of meme culture for marketing purposes, there appears to be an element of ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ when it comes to the viral success of the Met Gala moments. Chinese designer Guo Pei, the designer behind Rihanna’s viral moment on the Met steps has stated: “Rihanna wearing my design had a great impact – and the international fashion industry gained a new understanding of me.”

Looking more at the exhibit theme that was central to this year’s gala, it was inspired Susan Sontag’s seminal essay from 1964 entitled ‘Notes on Camp’. The exhibition’s curator, Andrew Bolton, explains that Sontag argued that camp is the “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration… style at the expense of content… the triumph of the epicene style”. Given where we are societally, he “ …felt it would have a lot of cultural resonance.”

Camp, as Bolton notes, “…has become increasingly more mainstream in its pluralities — political camp, queer camp, pop camp, the conflation of high and low, the idea that there is no such thing as originality.” However, he argues this does not give license to view that the theme is frivolous: “I think you’ve got to be incredibly sophisticated to understand camp — look at Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs.” For Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele, Sontag’s essay, “…perfectly expresses what camp truly means to me: the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture.”

For brands outside the fashion world, the theme of this year’s bash and the hype it has received from across social media, highlights the increasing interest (particularly among millennials) for escapism in an era where everything is politicised, by celebrating the joy and inclusivity of all things camp.

Lightbox Loves: Brace yourselves, regulation is coming

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What do we want? Regulation! When do we want it? Now! This was the request of Mark Zuckerberg in an op-ed in The Washington Post last week. Not what you would expect to hear from the world’s most popular social networking site. Nevertheless, the media titan has called for more laws to guard the use of social media platforms against those who wish to publish malicious content, compromise the integrity of elections and infringe upon user privacy.

Facebook is the first of the big tech giants to go on the offensive to make this happen, posting a new commitment to protect EU elections from interference and promising a searchable archive of all advertising on the platform. Zuckerberg has furthermore called for all tech companies to release a transparency report every quarter, along with their financials.

This could go some way to restoring the confidence that is currently on the decline in media, which according to our very own QT, is at an all time low of -38%. Crucially, the new common rules for adherence by social platforms, as Zuckerberg envisions them, are to be enforced by third parties: “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree.”

However, calls for tougher regulation of media outlets have not always gone smoothly. The Leveson Inquiry set up in 2011 after the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, failed to bring about a unified approach to the regulation of the Press. Only a small number of Press titles joined the ‘approved’ regulator, with all the major newspapers instead going on to form their own regulator (Ipso), which has no official government recognition (the Guardian and the Financial Times self-regulate).

However, is change on the horizon? Just today the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has proposed a independent watchdog that will write a ‘code of practice’ for tech companies. Whilst this is long overdue for many, how it will hold companies in Silicon Valley responsible remains to be seen. And where to start with this ‘code of practice’ is a complex enough task in itself. It’s not as simple as deactivating accounts – our laws need to be adaptable enough to apply to the virtual space of social media, so that the consequences are clear.


  1. QT: February 2019