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Lightbox Loves: The Pratfall Effect

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The Pratfall effect is a theory developed by psychologist Elliot Aronson in the 1960s, and according to the theory you can become more appealing or likeable by admitting or demonstrating your own flaws. The theory was discovered after an experiment where Aronson has recorded an actor answering a series of quiz questions. In one experiment group, participants saw the video where the actor simply answered most of the questions correctly. In the other group, participants saw the actor answer the exact same way but during the quiz he spilled a cup of coffee over his shirt. Boths groups were asked to rate the actor’s likeability and Aronson found that the participants found the clumsy actor more likeable.

This type of study has been replicated with different environments, from people rating other’s attractiveness, to during job interviews or when people are choosing which cookies look more appealing to them. All studies demonstrate the Pratfall effect and the appealing nature of authenticity.

Many brands have already used the Pratfall effect within their advertising, from Stella Artois’s ‘reassuringly expensive’ ads to own up to being more expensive that most pints, to KFC’s famous apology campaign where they changed ‘KFC’ TO ‘FCK’ to apologise for running out of chicken in 2018 using full page print ads. Buckley’s cough medicine ad in 1990 using the phrase “People swear by it. And at it. It tastes awful. And it works.” helped them become one of the leading cough and cold medicine brands in Canada.

The Pratfall effect can have the implications of honesty and fallibility, and by owning these flaws the consumer is less likely to think you are lying about the other messaging they see from you. According to Edelman’s Brand Trust report in 2020, 53% of people say that trusting a brand is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand, only behind price. Therefore, even though it can be a gamble to openly admit a flaw as your ad tagline, it could also be a great way to humanise your brand and be more likeable to consumers.



Lightbox Loves: Love in Lockdown this Valentine’s Day​

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Lockdown has changed the dating landscape. This Valentine’s Day, candle-lit dinners will be replaced by food deliveries and zoom cocktail-making, cinema trips with Netflix. Yet, with 78% of the UK population saying that they have never had a bad Valentine’s Day experience, this Sunday looks to be a highlight amidst the gloom of the pandemic. 

Since March, digital-first (and digital-only) dating has thrived. A modern turn on the exchanging of love letters, dating apps have had a sudden rise, facilitating long-distance, tier-crossed relationships. On Sunday 29th March, for example, Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide – the most the app has ever recorded in a single day. Likewise, rival Hinge experienced a 30% increase in messages (compared to January and February) and OkCupid witnessed a 30% increase in messages sent each day. Facebook is also looking to muscle in on the action, having launched its own dating feature in October. 

The way would-be daters are communicating has also changed. Female-first app Bumble added video chat and voice call functionalities in 2019 and, during Lockdown 1.0, reportedly saw use of this function spike 93% with the average call lasting nearly 30 minutes. The service, which boasts almost 90 million users worldwide, also found that users were more unsure of how to date successfully now, with two in three feeling uncomfortable about navigating the complexities of the post-COVID dating world. Yet, there are positives: daters have reported that the pandemic has helped them figure out what really matters to them and believe that they have developed new healthy dating habits. 

Brands looking to woo customers on the 14th should keep in mind these changes. Last year, ‘Amazon Dating’, a parody of the e-commerce site, became an instant internet hit and received over 10,000 applications. Created by conceptual artist Ani Acopian and writer Suzy Shinn, the website replaced products with potential people to ‘buy’, complete with prices and reviews. Meanwhile Twitter took over the London Underground; romantic messaging was cast aside for real, cringe-worthy tweets, honouring the reality of modern dating on Valentine’s Day. 

Whilst the mode has change, the focus on connection remains the same. Now more than ever, brands wishing to align with romance need to have heart.  


YouGov Profiles

How dating apps are innovating with new features in response to coronavirus

The Original Misunderstood Generation – the7stars Whitepaper

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Please download The Original Misunderstood Generation, our latest whitepaper that explores how stereotypes about baby boomers impacts this generation's lifestyles and what this means for the media industry.


    Lightbox Loves: Positivity Wins

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    The external factors around Brits right now are predominantly negative, so it is no surprise that they are feeling worried and 69% are feeling anxious at the prospect of returning to ‘normal.’ But Brits are looking to counter act this negativity by seeking to add positivity to their lives, with over two thirds of Brits seeking out positive changes.

    The first example of this was the New Year’s resolutions of 2021. The7stars Lightbox Pulse showed that three quarters of Brits were making New Year’s resolutions that were different to previous years. With the focus of resolutions being centred on adding to their lives rather than restricting them. With people more likely to agree that they were planning to start new healthy or pro-active routines and challenges. This trend looks set to continue beyond January, with Brits intending to continue focussing on positive activities and changes such as, a quarter are looking to a make a life change and a quarter are looking to take on a new challenge. This is paired with half wanting to appreciate what they currently have, no matter how small.

    Positivity doesn’t just come from things or experiences, but also mindset. During lockdown last year consumers enjoyed having a slower pace of life and the ability to spend more time enjoying one thing at a time. In June’s QT, 55% of Brits stated that they were going to miss the slower pace of life. As such, going into this year, it is about having more mindful moments so 28% are focussing more on one thing at a time than before. In doing this, Brits hope to reduce the hectic nature of life and in turn half hope to remove stress from their life where possible.

    In 2021, consumers will be channelling positivity into their lives to counter act the negatives surrounding them. As such there are two ways brands can leverage this, first by acknowledging and championing positivity in communication. The second, is as consumers seek to inject positivity into their lives, they will naturally be re-evaluating the brands they purchase so there is an opportunity to disrupt current brand relationships.

    SOURCES  – Canvas8, the7stars Lightbox Pulse, the7stars QT

    Lightbox Loves: Mental Fitness

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    It’s safe to say that 2020 was a testing year for mental health. After a taxing year, tending to our emotional wellbeing has been crucial, as more and more people are having mental health resolutions parallel to physical fitness ones.

    Demand for mental wellness apps has increased during the pandemic, as people strive to find innovative fixes to beat lockdown blues. In 2020, Calm, an app which provides its users with guided meditations, saw a total of 60 million downloads – an increase of 20 million from 2019 (Business of Apps, 2020). Headspace, founded in London and Calm’s biggest competitor, also saw a surge of over 500% in interest from companies last year, as an ever-growing list of industries sought mental health support for their employees (CNBC, 2020). These trends are likely to stick around long after lockdown ends: a Headspace survey found that 53% of workers believe mental health benefits are now essential (Headspace, 2020).

    Emily Anhalt, co-founder of Coa – one of the world’s first mental health gyms, which offers meditation classes, mindfulness sessions and therapy – says that we are beginning to think of “emotional fitness [in] the same proactive way we work on our physical fitness.” Likewise, Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier, believes that ‘mental fitness’ is an exciting concept because it challenges outdated mindsets that happiness is something that just happens – rather, Harris shows, it is a skill that you train through meditation and mindfulness.

    With more people engaging with mental health support, and organisations pushing wellness apps, society may finally be making progress towards dismantling deeply rooted mental health stigmas. Going forward, it is important for us all to recognise that mental health is inextricably connected to physical health – we need to work on both as part of our regular routine, even when we are having a good day.

    Lightbox Loves: Memory Lane

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    2020: the year of looking back. Our nostalgia research in April showed that 1 in 3 were feeling nostalgic about the past 12 months and many were participating in nostalgic hobbies. With lockdown 2.0 now upon us, there has been a shift, with half now looking back at 5+ years ago and to their childhood, rather than this past year (up 34% April-November). And let’s face it. By now, most of us have spent this past 12 months indoors, so this shift is perhaps to be expected. A condition once described as a ‘neurological disease of essentially demonic cause’ by a Swiss doctor in 1688 – nostalgia – it is very much a mainstay in 2020.

    Here at the7stars, we’ve been following the impact of nostalgia for the past year. So what does it do for us? Nostalgia acts as a buffer against existential threats, particularly relevant in the era of Covid-19. Especially in times of isolation or heightened anxiety. “It changes the narrative you’re constantly telling yourself — reminding yourself you do have people who love and care for you even if you haven’t had a hug in a while,” claims Dr. Lasana Harris assistant psychology professor from UCL. Memories of childhood often evoke this intimacy and comfort which we all long for.

    It is also likely to occur in those who are classed as ‘bored,’ with their mind seeking purpose through times of inactivity. Across music and fashion alone, these trends have been more than evident. Spotify users have been feeling the blues, with data showing that lockdown measures altering the trend of nostalgia consumption, with it peaking roughly 60 days after policies were announced, driven by the drastic change caused by lockdown rather than the virus itself. And with so many of us WFH, the velour tracksuit brand that was once confined to the 90s and Paris Hilton – Juicy Couture – is once again trending.

    Arguably, nostalgia will be even more potent this lockdown due to the time of year and the dark, wet winter we’re facing. 8 in 10 of us get nostalgic at certain times of the year, and a peak time for reminiscing is Christmas. With the pandemic restricting events and gatherings, it’s likely that an increased number of us will be thinking back to past celebrations to feel festive this year; whether that’s through a dress formally reserved for Christmas parties, old photos or through a mulled wine, many of us will have to find different ways to remember festive traditions this Christmas.

    So with the festive season fast approaching, there’s an opportunity for brands to help bring traditions and re-invent traditions outside the home and with others, and bring them into the home and adhere to social distancing. By giving consumers a taste of what life used to be like, brands can leverage emotions to trigger dormant purchase intent for items or lifestyle changes they hadn’t been remembered up until now.

    Ancestry’s Look Back at WW2

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    To commemorate the 80th anniversary of The Blitz this September, Ancestry commissioned 80 pieces of art to tell stories from their records about what everyday Britain was like during WWII. Our campaign marked the moment by transforming key UK cities into real life art galleries, showcasing the bespoke local art across cherry-picked print and outdoor. This activation bolsters Ancestry’s current brand campaign which includes brand TV, sponsorship of Sky History and an original content partnership with The Times.


    Beyond Binary – the7stars Whitepaper

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    Please download Beyond Binary – our whitepaper co-written between the7stars, semiotics agency Sign Salad and neuro-marketing agency Neuro-Insight, which helps brands to navigate the evolving gender landscape.