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The Misdefined Majority: Divesting from SEG Targeting

By | Featured, What's Hot

In its latest whitepaper, the7stars has joined industry voices including Channel 4 in calling for brands & media agencies to rethink their approach to social grade, and to celebrate all class communities.

Social grade, or SEG, has been widely used as an official classification since the 1950s and its score assumption remains rooted in the past: that the occupation of the head of the household strongly indicates the family’s social status and disposable income. The notion of assigning individuals with a career based social ranking is highly controversial. Working-class author and campaigner Darren McGarvey describes SEG as ‘a class-based analysis and one so brazen, Karl Marx himself would likely have been offended by it’.

Moreover, in recent years, social grade’s efficacy as a measurement tool has diminished as the British workforce undergoes seismic change. As recently as 2015, around 50% of adults were classified as C2DE, but today, that figure is 39% and plummeting. The disconnect between official SEG classifications and how Brits choose to self-identify has formed quantitative research by the 7stars, in partnership with Pure Spectrum. Some 22.9 million adults associate with a working-class background – with more than 6 million not identifying with any class at all.

These groups comprise the Misdefined Majority, a group who have long since felt ignored or trivialised by the media. Through a comprehensive study, exploring the values and motivations of the British public, the 7stars has created a playbook for engaging with them.

Seizing the Opportunity in the Misdefined Majority

At first glance, working-class audiences have lower spending power, with a self-reported £200 average monthly disposable income, compared with £500 for the middle classes. This translates to an above-average proportion of income being spent on essentials.

Yet, to discard the spending power of this group would be to ignore an enormous opportunity. Many working-class people surveyed by the 7stars intended to spend on technology, clothes, entertainment and holidays in the coming months – creating an opportunity for brands willing to foster meaningful connections with them. Fewer than 1 in 10 working-class people believe their typical media portrayal is accurate, outside of soap operas. Media has the power to play a pivotal role in rewriting this narrative but, to do so, brands will need to listen and learn from under-represented communities.

Recommendations for Targeting in a SEG-less World

Although social mobility is commonly assumed the ultimate goal for working-class people, the 7stars’ research found otherwise. When asked to define what makes a person successful, 41% chose their career; yet only 26% said forging a successful career was a personal goal of their own – with building a solid family unit by far the nation’s main aim. In the face of the UK’s economic disparities, working-class communities thrive on shared values of family, honesty, and compassion. For media to truly represent the country, it must recognise and celebrate what makes these communities tick – not rely on stereotypes.

Media planners must overcome the one-size-fits-all approach of SEG-based targeting, using better tools to segment the British population in every way imaginable. In The Misdefined Majority, the 7stars outlines recommendations for a more inclusive approach to planning, through a combination of affordability indicators and value-based attitudes. To download the whitepaper, visit this link.

The BBC’s Foray into Commercial Podcasting

By | Featured, What's Hot

In a strategic move that could reshape the UK’s commercial audio sector, the BBC has provisionally agreed on plans to commercialise selected podcasts hosted on commercial platforms, such as Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Spotify. Led by BBC Studios, this marks a significant departure from the broadcaster’s ad-free model across the UK, sparking debates about its impact on licence fee payers and the advertising ecosystem alike.
While the BBC plans to maintain ad-free content on its native platform, BBC Sounds, commercial platforms will soon feature ads on BBC podcasts.

This move seeks to augment revenue streams to support the broadcaster, licence fee payers, suppliers, and rights-holders. By phasing the introduction of ads, set to commence in late 2024/early 2025, the BBC aims to minimise the disruption to user experience, especially considering the prevalence of ads on commercial platforms. Notably, news and current affairs podcasts will be exempt from this transition. However, with the BBC’s share of listening declining to 43.2% according to Q4 Rajarfigures, concerns have been raised about the potential ramifications this move could have on the broadcasting landscape.

Public Perception

Critics argue that the recent 6.6% rise in the BBC’s licence fee should suffice to cover expenses (i.e., production, talent fees), maintaining the sanctity of ad-free content across all platforms. As a public service broadcaster, the BBC is viewed as a unique entity that should distinguish itself from its commercial counterparts. The prospect of commercialising BBC content could raise questions among licence fee payers, as they question the necessity of the aforementioned increasedfees amidst potential ad interruptions. This could cause the public to seek a reduction in their increased licence fees (especially as many are looking to make cuts to their budget due to the cost-of-living crisis, particularly with regards to subscriptions). Whilst licence fees account for almost 65% of the BBC’s total income, the idea that this fee should encompass all broadcasting costs, eliminating the need for more commercial revenue, underscores the delicate balance between tradition and innovation.

Implications for the Advertising Landscape

While acknowledging the BBC’s compelling content, industry stakeholders have voiced apprehensions about its invasion into commercial territory, with the potential distortion of the advertising market being a top concern. By utilising licence fee funds to create content supported by advertising, the BBC could disrupt competition and set a dangerous precedent. This could potentially allow the BBC to “muscle into the UK advertising marketplace,” marginalising commercial players and skewing competition dynamics. Global chief strategy officer Sebastian Enser-Wight shared these concerns before the Lords Communications Committee, cautioning against the BBC’s encroachment into the commercial advertising space.

The plans to commercialise BBC’s podcasts are currently under internal assessment as they wait to be assessed by Ofcom. This move could see a significant shift in the commercial audio sector, impacting both competition and costs. The influx of new ad inventory could call for recalibration for existing commercial players, challenging them to maintain their market share amidst heightened competition. Whilst the market boasts a diverse array of commercial content for advertisers to align with, the entry of BBC podcasts into the commercial space introduces a formidable competitor, potentially reshaping the dynamics of podcast advertising in the UK.

The Misdefined Majority – Whitepaper

By | Featured, Whitepapers

Download the7stars' latest whitepaper, The Misdefined Majority, which unpicks the problems with using SEG-based targeting, outlines recommendations for brands wishing to move beyond social grade, and offers a playbook for connecting with working-class audiences.

    Unlocking Advertising Potential in Six Nations 2024

    By | Featured, News

    As part of their £460 million deal in 2022, in the UK, the broadcasting rights for the Six Nations 2024 are being shared between the BBC and ITV, whereby as part of the deal, BBC would televise home matches for Wales and Scotland while ITV would broadcast home matches for England, Ireland, France, and Italy. Additionally, ITV would act as the host broadcaster for England’s home games at Twickenham Stadium.

    The Rugby World Cup, like all major sporting tournaments that air across the UK, represents an established and reliable home for advertisers to get their brand message in front of millions. So far, 3.1 million individuals on average have tuned into each game of the Six Nations. Viewership is comprised of a diverse range of key demographics including young adults, sports fans, and affluent audiences alike.

    This year’s edition averaged 3.4 million concurrent viewers for each game, with England vs. Ireland peaking at 4.5 million individual impacts. Brands aligning themselves with the tournament not only gain access to the millions of eyeballs tuning in but also benefit from the brand rub that is synonymous with appearances around “premium content” live events. Advertisers can target specific viewers and even become sponsors (like Guinness) for deeper product integration with the event. The massive viewership translates to high brand awareness and potentially increased short-term sales.

    However, this comes at a steep price. Competition is fierce for ad space, requiring a strategic and calculated campaign approach. Additionally, the traditional TV audience, especially younger demographics, is steadily shrinking but the opportunity presented in the Rugby World Cup opens up an avenue for brands to still explore this market. While measuring the direct impact of TV ads on sales can also be difficult and the benefits might not be immediate, the uplift in brand awareness is priceless.

    In conclusion, buying linear TV airtime during the Six Nations offers high visibility with an engaged and varied audience. However, the high cost, fierce competition, and declining viewership necessitate careful consideration before committing.

    Curiosity Week: Insights from Brief to Debrief

    By | Event Summaries, Featured

    Understanding our audience and prioritising people lies at the heart of what we do within the the7stars Insight team. After hosting our inaugural Curiosity Week last year, which aimed to spark curiosity within our agency, we returned with a new iteration focusing on how to find and utilise insight from ‘brief’ to ‘debrief’.

    Our first Curiosity Week led to a culture change within the7stars, with teams around the agency understanding the value of asking the question “Why?” and questioning what they know about their audiences. Being curious and inquisitive is an innate trait in Team Insight, and it was only a matter of time before we started thinking about hosting another week which could enhance the agency’s understanding in a tangible way. Following mathematician and statistician Paul Halmos’ advice: ‘the best way to learn is to do’, we decided to democratise the process of looking for and discovering insights within the agency.

    The theme of the week was getting to grips with the practical elements of audience understanding, using the tools within our arsenal to find, analyse and communicate insights more effectively to the end stakeholder. Ultimately, we wanted to improve the planning teams’ understanding on how to approach their day-to-day work using the lenses of curiosity and creativity in every step of the process to produce ‘killer insights’.

    We organised multiple activities each day for a week, tailored to individuals with diverse levels of experience in the media industry, to ensure that the implications were tangible to all. After kicking off the week, we hosted a ‘Tools Roadshow’, aimed at increasing familiarity with three key bespoke tools/approaches used at the briefing stage for those in planning teams (The QT, Joydex and Consumer Profiler). We enhanced agency-wide insight identification, enabling them to think smarter and act faster. Furthermore, through a lively ‘Kettle Challenge,’ we showcased the rapid gathering of insights, emphasising it can be done as fast as a kettle can boil!

    Curiosity Week 2024: Tools Roadshow

    On Tuesday, we held bespoke ‘Insight 101’ sessions to help people of differing levels draw out insights using our top techniques. For newcomers to the industry, we focused on effectively utilising desk research. Those with one to three years of experience were guided through understanding and cultivating audiences. Lastly, for those with 3+ years of experience, we explored extracting pertinent insights and connecting them with actionable implications for our clients.

    On Wednesday, our most recent cohort of grads competed against each other in a ‘Consumer Safari’ challenge where they lived and breathed the consumer journey process for some of our clients including Twinings, Wagamama and Iceland. The competing teams were tasked with presenting their findings along with actionable media implications in our weekly company meeting. They emphasised the diversity among consumer journeys and the importance of understanding them to connect more deeply with each unique audience. The winning team suggested capitalising on a sense of ‘luxury associations’ for their client, suggesting insight-led partnership opportunities and planning implications.

    On Thursday, we held a drop-in breakfast session for those with burning questions for the team and we arranged a ‘storytelling symposium’, in collaboration with Team Strategy. This focused on the ‘debrief’ aspect of the week and emphasised the power of storytelling and connecting emotionally with the audience in delivering ‘killer insight’.

    Curiosity Week 2024: Storytelling Symposium

    Finally, a detailed wrap-up on Friday brought the learnings of the week to a close.

    Curiosity Week stemmed from the idea that to defeat the bad and the boring, we need to revitalise the agency’s understanding of the power of insight and create autonomy for planners to find and utilise insight. By creating a sense of curiosity around the work we create, and by looking at the world from this lens, we can better empathise with audiences, and ultimately deliver better quality outputs.

    Giving people tangible ways and shortcuts to achieve ‘killer insights’ from ‘brief’ to ‘debrief’ embodies the ‘think smarter and act faster’ ultimately producing richer outputs that are more interesting and unique. By drawing insights from diverse sources and perspectives within the agency we can craft engaging narratives that appeal to both intellect and emotion. Thus, increasing the likelihood of surpassing stakeholder expectations and evoking a resonant “ah!” reaction.

    Looking ahead, we plan to further empower the agency by emphasising and democratising insights across the agency as well as providing accessible tools and ongoing applicable training sessions. Ultimately providing greater value to our clients through more insight-driven outputs delivered across the agency.

    This, we believe, is the recipe for any truly killer insight!

    Lightbox Loves: The Rise of Gen Alpha Influencers

    By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

    As Gen Alpha enters tweendom, their immersion in social media is more significant than ever before. With the oldest members of this generation already 14 years old, many have established their presence on various social platforms, paving the way for a new wave of influencers within their age group. From beauty routines to fashion trends and culinary endeavours, Gen Alpha influencers are captivating their peers with content that blurs the lines between childhood and adulthood.

    Influenced by the digital realm from a tender age, Gen Alpha views social media stars as role models, with 49% trusting them as much as their own family and friends when it comes to product recommendations. This shift in consumer behaviour is significant, indicating that traditional marketing strategies may not be as effective with this demographic.

    However, concerns arise regarding the appropriateness of certain products promoted by these influencers. The phenomenon of “Sephora Kids” highlights a growing interest among children in beauty and skincare products designed for adults, raising questions about premature exposure to such industries.

    For Gen Y parents, navigating their children’s online presence is a balancing act. While many aim to limit their children’s exposure to social media (75% want to keep their children off of social media as long as possible), they also recognise the importance of teaching responsible online behaviour. As Gen Alpha’s digital footprint grows, parental involvement in monitoring and guiding their online activities becomes paramount.

    As such, brands must tread carefully, ensuring their efforts align with the values of Gen Alpha and their parents. Collaboration with child influencers can be fruitful, but it’s essential to avoid exploiting their influence for products unsuitable for their age group. This not only protects brand reputation but also prioritises the well-being of young consumers. As social media platforms face scrutiny and potential regulatory changes, brands must adapt and self-regulate to maintain ethical standards.

    Source: Canvas8

    Inclusivity Week: Driving Inclusion in Media

    By | Event Summaries, Featured

    In late February, we celebrated our annual Inclusivity Week, honouring our diverse workforce and educating ourselves on how we can be more inclusive in our work and daily lives. As an agency, we deeply value creating a welcoming and inclusive culture for people from all walks of life, and this initiative – spearheaded by our Inclusivity Team – enables us to continue discovering new ways that we can improve in doing so.

    For this year’s celebration, we ran three events throughout the last week of February, beginning with an insightful panel discussion – hosted and led by the7stars’ employees – exploring how we can be more inclusive in our various campaigns. This ranged from a discussion on how we can continue utilising inclusive planning (led by Emma Ramji, Hannah Partington, and Eve McGladdery) to how we can better use audience insight to ensure we reach a diverse audience (led by Rob McLaren and Melike Dogan). Following this, Tommy Gleadell explored how we can activate more inclusivity and consider more niche partners, highlighting the importance of supporting these businesses. The panel was a resounding success and sparked important conversations throughout the agency about how we can actively improve going forward.

    Inclusive Planning Panel as part of our Inclusivity Week initiative.

    The following day, we were fortunate to have the esteemed John Ayres OBE leading a session on how we can assess our progress as an agency when it comes to inclusivity in policy, practice, and culture. In this thought-provoking workshop, John provided actionable insights relating to what ‘good’ should look like and how to achieve it, giving us much to think about and more insight into areas for improvement.

    John Ayres OBE delivering a talk on a framework for inclusivion as part of our Inclusivity Week initiative.

    Finally, this year’s Inclusivity Week came to an end with our International Food Festival (hosted by Biren Datta and Megan Bennet), which was sponsored by Captify, celebrating the wealth of cultures that exist at the7stars. We set up a station in our Reception/Bar area filled with delicious foods from a wide range of countries, accompanied by information cards that enabled our team to learn more about each food, country, and culture. The event was a hit! People from across the agency came to try the various snacks and were equally eager to learn more about the different cultures.

    International Food Festival as part of our Inclusivity Week initiative.

    While these three events captured our team’s attention, we also recognised the importance of sending out agency-wide educational communications every day throughout the week, teaching our team more about communities and topics such as the LGBTQIA+ community, social mobility, mental health, race and ethnicity inclusivity, and accessibility for people with impairments.

    Overall, our Inclusivity Week initiative is particularly important for the agency as it raises awareness about diversity and equality, while also encouraging much-needed dialogue among our team. Not only this, but it also addresses unconscious bias, discrimination, and microaggressions through our impactful events and communications, providing a platform where people can work together to promote positive change and create a more inclusive workplace for all the7stars’ employees.

    Moving forward, we look forward to continuing to create opportunities such as this to educate ourselves and celebrate diversity. Every year, we hope to grow and learn from previous events, taking feedback from colleagues on what worked well and what we can do more of.

    A group of four people happily huddled around a laptop as they collaborate together.

    Unlocking Potential: the7stars’ partnership with Future Frontiers

    By | Featured, News

    Over January and February, 15 volunteers from the7stars participated as coaches in a programme with Future Frontiers. Future Frontiers is a charity that provides disadvantaged young people with the guidance, networks, and opportunities they need to realise their potential at school and achieve post-16 qualifications that build towards secure and fulfilling employment.

    This was the7stars’ fifth year working with Future Frontiers. To date, we have supported over 70 students to plan for their next steps. During this year’s programme, we supported 15 young people for 6 hours of coaching each (amounting to 77 hours in total across all students). During this period, coaches provided young people with an invaluable space to explore their interests, discover inspiring careers, and plan for their next steps. Throughout the course, we helped students explore industries and careers that matched their interests and even set them up on calls with industry professionals within their chosen careers.

    This year, we partnered with Greatfields School, a mixed-secondary school in Dagenham. The programme was a huge success, and the students gave us great feedback. Future Frontiers provided us with an impact report which provides results of pupil surveys, validated by the Student Career Readiness Index, that demonstrate the progress pupils have made throughout the programme in their career knowledge, skills, and self-belief.

    Some highlights from the report are included below: ​​

    Future Frontiers' impact report that demonstrates the progress pupils have made throughout the programme.

    Source: Future Frontiers, 2024


    At the7stars, we are passionate about moving the dial on social mobility and fostering an environment where someone’s social background doesn’t impact their opportunities or their ability to succeed. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Future Frontiers in the future and helping young people unlock their full potential.

    Lightbox Loves: How Stanley Cups and Crocs Became Icons of Contemporary Culture

    By | Featured, Lightbox Loves

    Terence Reilly is the mastermind behind the remarkable marketing strategies that have propelled products like Crocs and the Stanley Quencher cups from obscurity to achieve a cult following amongst Gen Z consumers.

    Originally targeted at workmen and outdoors enthusiasts back in 1913, the Stanley Quencher cup has undergone a remarkable transformation. It has evolved into a symbol of contemporary well-being and ‘Clean Girl’ aesthetics. Similarly, Crocs, once dismissed as ‘unfashionable’ in 2016 and associated mainly with professionals who spent long hours on their feet (e.g. medical professionals, waiters), have now found their place in the luxury fashion industry.

    Both brands owe their iconic status largely to a shift in their marketing strategies:

    Embracing User-Generated Content:

    The success of the Stanley Quencher on TikTok underscores the influence of user-generated content. The cup gained viral fame when a TikTok video showcasing its resilience in a car fire amassed 96 million views. Capitalising on this momentum, Stanley actively encouraged further user-generated content from enthusiastic fans, even rewarding the woman involved in the incident with a new car.

    Cultivating Collectibles Culture:

    Crocs have positioned themselves as a footwear brand catering to a diverse audience, from luxury fashion aficionados to those seeking comfort. A key aspect of their appeal lies in the customisable and collectable nature of their shoes, featuring 13 holes where wearers can attach charms to express their personality and individuality. Doing so encourages emotional engagement with the brand and the product, transforming a mere shoe into a symbol of one’s identity.

    Symbolising an Ideal Lifestyle:

    Stanley successfully tapped into the ‘hustle’ and ‘girl boss’ culture prevalent on platforms like TikTok. While these trends coincide with the economic challenges of modern times (e.g. rising inflation, rent prices and uncertain job markets), the Stanley cup offers an aspirational avenue for its audience to embody this ‘girl boss’ ideal. While career advancement may pose real-life challenges, owning a Stanley cup symbolises this achievement and status. With online resale values soaring to £300 and beyond, the Stanley Quencher has aligned itself with contemporary wellness and lifestyle ideals.

    For Crocs, the journey to iconic status was paved through collaborations with aspirational brands, celebrities, and influencers such as Balenciaga, Justin Bieber, Liberty London, and Post Malone. These partnerships have positioned Crocs as a symbol of belonging to a particular community within modern pop culture.