All Posts By


Lightbox Loves: the saviour of the high street?

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves | No Comments

Pop-up shops are having a moment. From M&S’s September menswear outlet “Mike and Tom”, to Banksy’s permanently closed ‘Gross Domestic Product’ store, these shops have quite literally popped up all over the UK this summer, and they show no sign of disappearing as we approach the gifting season. Could short-term stores be the long-term saviour of the high street?

PwC reported that an average of sixteen high street stores closed a day at the start of the year as people shop online more. However, these temporary shops have become a fixture of the evolving retail ecosystem. Both offline and online brands are utilising them to provide engaging ways of shopping that they wouldn’t be able to offer otherwise. As a result, the pop-up industry in the UK is now worth over £2.3bn.

Whilst online provides convenience, these brick and mortar stores offer something more: an experience. Compared with traditional stores, the temporary nature of the ‘pop-up’ approach means there’s no room for a ‘slow-burn’ in this space – brands have a limited time frame within which to attract and convert consumers. Additionally, pop-ups not only allow brands to test out products and gather insights on their consumers, but they offer quirky interactive spaces in which businesses can generate organic social media buzz.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, it is frequently online brands moving offline; both Facebook and Amazon have set up pop-ups, proving the value of a physical store. This summer, fashion retailer Zalando also opened a virtual pop-up store in Madrid, which featured no actual clothes but allowed customers to try on outfits using projection technology, whilst marketplace app Depop launched a physical space in London’s Selfridges. Pop-up shop partnerships can clearly be used to drive a younger audience through the doors of more established stores.

Now that summer is over, Christmas is just around the corner! With festive markets a kind of forerunner to the phenomenon, pop-ups during this period are nothing new. However as the high street competes with online competitors for consumers’ business, pop-up shops offer the perfect way for retailers to think creatively. John Lewis for instance have recently opened a number of in-shop pop-ups with a gifting focus, including a KitKat Chocolatory and Quality Street Pick ‘n Mix bar.

We can expect to see many more pop-ups spring up over the next few months, as retailers endeavour to appeal to consumers searching for exclusive personalised gifts. Beyond revenue, when done right, these shops create social value in the form of online engagement as consumers seek to gain a ‘grammable experience![

Lightbox Loves: September: is it a new year, or just new me?

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves | No Comments

It’s safe to say that Brits have had an eventful Summer. July saw the hottest temperature on record, a controversial new Prime Minister entered number 10 and it was also an exciting season for sports fans. As the autumn quickly approaches, we partnered with our friends at mobile research panel OnePulse to ask Brits how they feel now they’re faced with the reality of colder weather and shorter days.

What is clear is that how you frame the question is crucial to the response. Brits are sadder about the end of the summer than the idea of autumn coming. It’s the finality of the season change, rather than the season itself with which they’ve taken their umbrage.

One group for whom autumn couldn’t come quick enough is parents. A quarter of parents with primary school age children feel exhausted after the summer, and its particularly mums feeling the brunt. The same proportion treat September as the start of a new year, and see it as an opportunity to get some much-needed life admin done.

They’re not alone in this. The 16-24 group are the cohort most likely to make big life choices in September, with 29% saying they do so, and 23% saying actively treat it like a new year. With the ‘back to school’ mentality still fresh in their minds, it’s no surprise. But what are Brits trying to achieve?

Finance is Brits’ number one priority for September, with 47% of those asked saying they are looking to save some money this month. This is followed by weight loss ambitions, and giving their home a (counterintuitive) spring clean, at 35% each.

For older Brits, perhaps enjoying the kids or grandkids finally being out of the house, it’s a welcome opportunity to flex their DIY muscles, and 39% of this group are taking September as their opportunity to improve their home.

For parents, it could be about motivating them to do what they’ve been putting off as exhaustion fades, like spring cleaning or DIY. For those without children, it could be about starting the new year as they mean to go on; reinventing their careers or simply having more date nights.

Parent or not, it is clear that September is about getting back to reality and the desire to get some ‘me-time’ back shouldn’t be ignored.

There’s so much more to the autumn than ‘Back to School,’ and it’s clear that Brits have a new energy about them, ready to re-set for the coming season. Brands should see this as an opportunity to celebrate self-indulgence, and encourage us to celebrate ourselves!

Lightbox Loves: Should brands still care about mascots?

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves | No Comments


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

By | Featured, The Seven Trends | No Comments

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

By | Featured, News | No Comments

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?

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves | No Comments

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

By | Featured, Lightbox Loves | No Comments

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