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Lightbox Loves: Should brands still care about mascots?

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Some brand mascots have been around for well over 100 years, although a few may have had a facelift. They’re a great way of bringing brands to life and making advertising more memorable. With that being said, there has been a steady decrease in brands using mascots – are brands missing a trick here?

Mascots are generally used as a way for people to differentiate and recognise not only brands, but also groups or organisations. It is also a great way to humanise a brand and allow big corporate brands to drive awareness. Studies have shown that having a brand mascot doesn’t just boost recognition, but also boosts market share by 37%.

Brand mascots that are most distinctive are proven to be most effective. Gio Compario, the Go Compare opera singer, has been encouraging us to compare insurance deals to save our money for a staggering 10 years now. However, a mascot this prominent doesn’t come without its critics, and Go Compare’s Gio was labelled the most annoying man on British TV, as well as being the most complained about ad in 2012. In spite of this, Gio creates cut through in a crowded market; Go Compare has been crowned most recognised insurance brand, proving even more effective than the 2 furry little mascots for Compare the Market.

Newer brands are also adopting mascots as a way to break into the market. One brand who has taken theirs to the next level is Hinge. They’ve used a mascot to not only increase brand recognition, but also to drive their message forward in a unique and unexpected way. Their cuddly character, Hingie, who usually acts as a fly on the wall during dates, eventually gets killed off in their ad campaigns once the couple have deleted the app. This drives a powerful message that Hinge isn’t meant to stay with you forever if you’ve successfully found love, which is what their app is set out to do.

In a world where it is becoming even harder for brands to connect with their audience, creating a brand mascot is a great way for consumers to remember and relate to brands. In addition, brands should not fear the unknown when making a brand mascot; if Gio Compario still sings on, then there is hope for all.



The Seven Trends 2019: #6 New Interfaces

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New interfaces.


Our interaction with different interfaces as a means of experiencing the world is changing.


According to Ray Kurzweil, change – social change, cultural change, technological change, all kinds of change – and the rate at which it happens can only do one thing. Get faster and faster and faster.


We seem to have hit ‘peak social’, evidenced by the shift to chat-based messaging such as WhatsApp and community-orientated platforms such as Twitch, and away from news feeds and posting.

Meanwhile, voice continues to grow – smart speaker penetration has doubled in the past year. Tech brands continue to launch new hardware, competing for the highest share of our homes, and our wallets. The likes of Alexa are moving into integrated appliances, cars and our devices, as well as screens. Combining voice with screens (and other interfaces) drives greater uptake of services, especially shopping, as users can see what they’re buying.

The Crest Chompers skill for Alexa turns a chore into a something kids look forward to.

Contrary to expectations, Amazon don’t plan on selling the ‘top voice spot’ akin to paid search. Instead an algorithm driven by price, usage and reviews will select the top three choices and give them out in a random order. It is important that brands start testing and adapting to the algorithm so they can get onto the Choices shortlist and feature in the most frictionless way possible.

When it comes to taking photographs on your phone, after selfies and other people, ‘reminders snaps’ of things you need to remember are next. A billion photos a day are utility pictures. This is why ‘visual search’ is poised to take off in 2019. Google will finally make their Augmented Reality lens available, turning the smartphone camera into a device that can ‘read’ objects, text and the world around us.

Use cases for AR include as a ‘realworld browser’ (think browsing the menu of a restaurant by pointing your phone at it) and identifying similar products at the best possible price (recognising the clothes worn by a celebrity in a magazine and helping you ‘get the look’). Mercedes used AR to scan their dashboard, acting as a pocket manual, inspired by the insight that 70% of features in a new car go unused.

The Mercedes AR app scans dashboard to act as a pocket manual.

Any clear picture or text can trigger content anchored to visual search, from brand advertising to products, and data (such as the individual user journey, demographics and location) can be used to serve relevant messages. Expect to see websites anchored in the real world, such as products unlocked by smartphone camera.

So, while change is afoot, really we are seeing new interfaces fit into long established human needs of communication, sociality and expression.

the7stars named one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to work for seventh year in a row

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We are thrilled to continue our seven-year streak of being named as one of The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to work for. It is a title we are extremely proud of and demonstrates our consistent commitment to over-investing in our staff to ensure they are full of energy and motivated to produce great work for our clients.

Read more about The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies here 

Lightbox Loves: A Step Forwards for Sustainable Fashion?

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At their 2019 annual shareholders conference fashion giant Inditex (the holding group behind high street favourite Zara and other brands including Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Bershka) announced their plans to transform the business into something more sustainable.

Inditex pledged that by 2025, all of its eight brands will “…only use cotton, linen and polyester that’s organic, sustainable or recycled,” which make up 90% of the raw materials they use. They also detailed plans to transition to zero landfill waste and renewable power sources, aiming for them to make up 80% of the energy consumed at their offices, distribution centres and stores. They now join other brands, such as H&M group and Marks & Spencer, in having information about their sustainability targets publicly available.

While premium brands like Stella McCartney have been flying the flag for more ethical practices for the best part of a decade, the transition of these attitudes onto the high street has been much slower. The industry accounts for a staggering 10% of global carbon emissions and remains the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil. So why the rush for fashion brands to join the conversation around sustainability?

The answer can be found in the next generation of shoppers. Gen Z’s passion for the environment is well documented, and it appears be influencing their approach to fashion. “A 2017 study from NDP Group found that Gen Z is willing to spend as much as 10 to 15 percent more on sustainably produced clothing. Meanwhile, a Nielsen study from 2015 found nearly three-quarters of 15- to 20-year-olds would pay more for a sustainable product, compared to just 51 percent of Baby Boomers.”

There has been speculation recently about whether this claimed behaviour translates to where they’re actually spending their cash, neatly summed up by Missguided’s now infamous £1 bikini. Despite there being an almost immediate backlash on social media questioning the ethical and environmental implications of creating such a low-cost item, the Guardian reports that Missguided’s biggest concern was actually that “…the bikini was selling out in every size – from 4 to 24 – within 45 minutes after each restock.” This begs the question, is Gen Z’s approach to fast fashion all talk?

Brands would do well to remember that the spending power of Gen Z is just in its infancy, and to build for long-term success, they shouldn’t ignore the increased noise around the topic of fast fashion and its environmental consequence. Whilst it may not be an obligatory requirement for the industry currently, it will undoubtedly become the norm as more brands establish greater sustainability agendas.

Facebook Audience Insights: Interests > Additional Interests: Missguided

Take a Spring Break: The latest findings from The QT

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Take a Spring Break: The latest findings from The QT

May 2019 is the eleventh wave of our quarterly consumer confidence and state of the nation tracking study: The QT. This time around, we’ve asked Brits’ their attitudes to gardening, healthy eating & fitness, modern advertising, and most crucially; which of their household and daily routines are *really* a chore, and which they secretly enjoy rather than endure. Read on for more…

The Bank Holiday bonanza has done nothing to make us happier.

Compared to February 2019, there has been no real change in the nation’s happiness. One in three Brits feel more positive than they did last year, and just under half feel no different. The happiest cohort are those in Yorkshire & the Humber with four in five (79%) saying they’re as happy or happier than they were at this time last year. Maybe the recent success of the Tour de Yorkshire did something to brighten the mood.

Political positivity in a downward spiral… again.

Following the recent local elections, confidence in the political system is at an all time low. In February, the score was -66%, and May scores have plummeted to -73% net confidence. Parties themselves are at a staggering -77%, with negative sentiment more than doubling since this time in 2017.

If we look to talk about the elephant in the political room, the overriding emotions towards Brexit continue to evolve. 27% of Brits now say they are bored of Brexit, a staggering growth from 18% in February 2019, and 8% in May 2017. Only 1 in 20 (5%) of Brits are happy about the current state of affairs, which is a marked reduction from the 12% who felt this way in May 2017.

Pleasure or pain? The nation has spoken.

In light of the rise of cleaning and folding influencers (Mrs Hinch and Marie Kondo, anyone?), we decided to put it to Brits which of their daily habits or routines they had a secret satisfaction in doing.

Top of the pile? Walking the dog and booking holidays. 4 in 5 Brits who do these activities find them a pleasure, rather than a chore. Clothes shopping and exercising were hot on their heels, with around 3 in 5 Brits who do these activities finding them a pleasure.

The generational splits were the most interesting here. Cooking and Ironing were the mainstays of the older audiences, but cleaning brought great joy to around a third of 18-34s, versus 1 in 5 over 55s. Tidying personal possessions was also a surprise hit amongst the younger group.

Representation is key.

Back in 2018 we launched our whitepaper into Diversity and Inclusion in advertising, ‘Representing?’. This wave we wished to check back in with consumers to see if anything had changed in the last year. Unfortunately, only 1 in 4 (26%) of Brits feel they are fairly represented in advertising. Seems there is still some work to be done…


Keep an eye on @the7stars on twitter for more nuggets from this wave of the QT.

To find out more on any of these topics, or ask for more information please email


the7stars wins second place in Campaign’s Top 5 Large Companies to work for

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We are delighted to be named 2nd in Campaign’s Top 5 large companies to work for.

“You won’t find a holiday form or a timesheet at the7stars. And nobody has a job title. It’s all because of the founders’ philosophy that good community spirit is the bedrock on which a successful agency is built, resulting in a place where staff can grow their careers and have fun while doing so. Starters are assigned a “buddy” who guides them through their first month at the agency.” -the7stars

Read more about Campaigns Top 50 Best Places To Work here

Lightbox Loves: RuPaul: Rewriting Herstory

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The original supermodel of the world, RuPaul recently wrapped the eleventh season of the self-titled runaway success, RuPaul’s Drag Race, with a speech about how “a TV show made by queer people, for queer people” has taken over the mainstream. Whilst these comments may have attracted some criticism around inclusivity, the sentiment rings true.

With June being LGBTQ+ Pride month, and the UK’s first spin-off series purported to launch on the BBC in late 2019, the time felt right to cast some light (no shade) on the opportunities for brands in partnering and supporting something which everyone from Christina Aguilera to Cara Delevingne has expressed sheer joy at being part of. Viewing figures are hush hush, although an article post season 10 indicated it had broken ratings records for one broadcaster*. RuPaul has an Instagram following of 3.1m, and the show almost 1m on Twitter.

In the recent, glitzy, celebrity sprinkled season 11 finale, which saw Yvie Oddly snatch the crown, we also saw the queens, judges and guests all posing in front of a giant Levi’s rainbow logo. The brand is no stranger to the queer community, being a consistent and vocal campaigner since the 1950s where they removed segregation of workers before the laws changed, but it’s the first time they’ve played such a visible role on RPDR.

Brand support is at the very heart of Drag Race, with Mama Ru number one at promoting and cross-selling her own brand – from autobiographies to music, dolls and perfume. Whilst the majority of the sponsorships and ad-funded challenges in past series have been for US based brands, they are benefitting from a global audience through the show’s presence on VH1, Comedy Central and, of course, Netflix. The category is…everything from travel and holiday companies, to alcohol, jewellery, underwear and fashion brands.

How can British brands show their support, love and fandom for all things drag? Genuine interest starts at the grassroots level. One of the most resounding criticisms levelled at brands in their quest to show support for their LGBTQ+ consumers is that they ignore the opportunity to support at regional and foundational communities; instead pumping their money into the highest reach and profile events.

Engaging the drag community in the UK, whether it involves supporting drag events and expos financially, or enabling tours to spread the drag message far and wide;  visibility and understanding of this increasingly popular artform could provide a rich area of opportunity for the right company.

To do so with honesty and integrity, as with any plan to immerse your brand in a subculture, requires an internal review and alignment first, because in the words of Ru: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”