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.

Super Bowl Ads 2024: Celebrating Brand Love on Game Day

By | Featured, What's Hot

Get yourself a client that looks at you like Travis Kelce looks at Taylor Swift. 

Quarterback, star wide receiver and tight end meets global mega pop star. Oh, for a creative client with pockets deep enough to treat you to a Super Bowl spot. Relationships are everything in this game. No more so than on this very specific given Sunday. And, whilst it will never guarantee a lifelong relationship, a stonking Super Bowl spectacular will at least declare that you’re in the ‘rude health’ phase of love.

It wasn’t a vintage year by any means, but today is not a day for thoroughly reasonable critique and barely masked creative jealousy.

There were some serious PDAs on display this Super Bowl Sunday and here are three that caught our eye across a crowded room.

Let’s start with the very definition of a ‘love in’ using the obligatory Super Bowl superstar formula courtesy of this Boston mafia uber ‘throuple’ – Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Tom Brady. Ben and Matt have been infatuated with Tom for many years now and seeing their relationship brought to life (not to mention the star-studded entourage that accompanies them) means there was an awful lot of love in the room. Brash branding, lots of content and plenty of in-jokes, what’s not to love?

Reese’s and their agency are way past courting; this spot was love at its purest.  A refreshingly simple love letter in a sometimes needlessly complex forum. The news of a product change among lovesick diehards sparks fear, chaos and sweet visual gags. Repeat as necessary until the confusion is cleared up. Job done. The key is in the detail here and the love for the product is there for all the world to see. American agencies doing what American agencies have always done so well. Relax, tell it like it is and be funny.

Everybody’s favourite Allan took centre stage in the ad for skincare brand CeraVe. Michael Cera played Michael Cera with tongue firmly in Michael Cera’s cheek. A smart piece of social intrigue led to this love fest and, whilst it’s probably only a one-night stand, the relationship must be on a strong footing if the brand is confident enough to let that happen with the eyes of the world upon them.

Clearly, the true test of love will be how many brands continue their undying love for the other 364 days of the year but, at least for Sunday alone, Super Bowl agencies still love Super Bowl clients… IDT… INDT (If Destroyed, True… If Not Destroyed, True).

Reflections and Resolutions in Marketing Effectiveness

By | Featured, What's Hot

Effectiveness underpins all great media plans. The question that normally springs to mind, however, is what makes one plan more effective than another? There are many answers to that question although, ultimately, measurement lies at the root of them. To drive better effectiveness outcomes, we at the7stars think it’s also important to overlay the context of key priorities for brands, agencies and media providers.

This year we set out to understand how to create a roadmap for effectiveness for ourselves and for our clients at the7stars. We conducted research that surveyed 103 senior industry professionals – across brands, media agencies and media providers – who shared their feedback on marketing effectiveness ambitions and priorities for the year ahead. Our research shows that data siloes, a lack of holistic measurement frameworks and a disconnect between marketing investment and objectives top the list of marketers’ challenges for the year ahead. 8 in 10 agree that effectiveness has never been more important, nor higher up the CFO’s agenda.

With the measurement and evidence available to marketers, we believe this is an opportunity, not a threat. Guided by new year quantitative and qualitative research of the advertiser, agency and media owner effectiveness communities, we at the7stars have drawn up our effectiveness resolutions for 2024. We aim to improve client effectiveness outcomes by:

  • Providing strategic glue in a fragmenting measurement landscape.
  • Unlocking the power of existing evidence to de-risk investment.
  • Using experiments strategically to drive competitive advantage.

Looking Forward

The full report adds further colour around the outcomes, but what’s been evident from our research is that there is a clear opportunity for intentional effectiveness programmes with our clients. As a part of this journey, we have codified our point of view on the most important effectiveness topics and will use this knowledge to continue to partner with clients to drive stronger business outcomes.

Our full report breaks down these three resolutions and offers solutions in more detail.

Please email for a copy of the report.

Unique Opportunities As OOH Surpasses Pre-Pandemic Levels

By | Featured, What's Hot

It is expected that this positive momentum of the out-of-home market will continue into 2024 with forecast annual growth levels of around 6% across the market. Revenues are forecast to hit £1.3m, surpassing 2019 levels (i.e., pre-pandemic). Amid continued investment into new inventory, creative and data opportunities by media owners, 2024 is set to be an exciting year for outdoor.

Showstopping opportunities

Digital outdoor is forecast to be 67% of total OOH revenue in 2024, compared to 50% in 2018. Media owner investment in digital sites continues to grow (at the expense of classic) with a +16% increase in Roadside D6s, and a +17% increase in roadside 48s. It’s within digital where the most interesting OOH trends lie.

3D Digital OOH is set to continue to grow, and media owners are investing in inventory that allows for this technology. JCDecaux has just launched 2 national OOH productions that will allow advertisers to use 3D at scale. Anamorphic 3D on the Waterloo Motion gives the illusion of 3D when viewed from a particular vantage point, while their 3DOOH At Scale product allows for 3D to be on 6s and not just big impact sites.

The rise of Faux OOH is another trend that is likely to continue into 2024, as even established brands like M&S are starting to use this technology. Although it may drive talkability, as this technology gets used more often, consumers may become less impressed with the newness, and talkability may fade. Nevertheless, there is still a place for that joint physical and digital presence and these elements can work together for a stronger campaign. Ocean’s ‘Digital Out of Home: The Vital Ingredient Study’ found that individuals are drawn more towards the brand on social media having seen a physical DOOH activation first.

Precise targeting

Innovation is not confined to the creative domain alone; data-driven opportunities are increasing and this year represents a key shift in audience tracking. The death of the cookie in 2024 means highly specific targeting with ads will become more difficult. In 2024 we’ll see brands start to use their own first-party data to generate audience-first OOH campaigns. This data opportunity combined with the dynamic opportunities that OOH offers will mean this channel has the potential for exceptional targeting and relevancy. Programmatic OOH formed 3% of all OOH campaigns, and that figure is set to double in 2024.

Another area of increased media owner investment is retail media. ClearChannel will begin their rollout of Sainsbury’s Live In-store screens from H2 this year. These screens will be located in-store and bring incredible opportunities for brands to be close to purchase.

New opportunities and advancements in technology and data make OOH an extremely versatile channel which should be considered across every part of the funnel, from impact brand building to smart targeting and even point of purchase.

New Opportunities as TV Streaming Becomes More Shoppable

By | Featured, What's Hot

Last month, Disney became the latest streaming service provider to introduce new products and tech partnerships aimed at increasing the shoppability of its ad offering.

Gateway Shop is an evolution of their commerce-focused opportunity that enables advertisers to send QR prompts, mobile push notifications and emails to users without disrupting the viewing experience.

The endeavour to make streaming more shoppable is gathering pace and is taking precedence over live shopping experiences, which have struggled to gain traction. By integrating shoppability into the content viewers want to watch, in non-disruptive ways, shoppable streaming taps into existing behaviours rather than trying to alter them.

In October last year, a survey of over 1,000 smart TV owners by Samsung Ads and Kerv Interactive showed that over 25% of TV viewers actively shop online or via mobile while watching TV. 28% of those respondents claimed that they browsed for an item after seeing it on TV.

It’s almost as if advertising and product placement are interest and intent drivers! Who knew!?

Of course, now, streaming is providing the opportunity to shortcut that user journey from awareness and inspiration to purchase. With that, the connection of commerce to streaming and TV provides advertisers with all the benefits of programmatic ad buying, including new ways to deliver relevance, efficiency and short-term effectiveness.

These benefits include:

  1. Increased ad relevancy with the ability to reach advertisers in contextually relevant moments, matching product ad prompts to onscreen content. So rather than a user going to search for those new Nike trainers displayed on the screen, a relevant prompt or QR code will be available to shortcut that journey to the advertiser’s shop.
  2. Closed-loop measurement and the ability to attribute sales directly to ad exposure.
  3. Subsequently, the ability to optimise ad spend and delivery to these measures in real-time.

It’s like bringing the opportunities and benefits of paid social advertising to the big(ger) screen and high-impact formats. But with new opportunities come the same potential pitfalls and the industry must be aware of them.

Firstly, a poorer user experience. Of course, the focus of Disney’s developments is to be non-disruptive. No one intends to disrupt the user experience, but only time will tell. In general, it’s easy to see how streaming and smart TVs are seeing the proliferation of interfaces and complexity that make it harder for the user to get to the content they wish to watch without jumping through hoops and navigating past sponsored content. Will this only get worse as vendors seek to increase ad load?

Secondly, the opportunity for closed-loop measurement inevitably encourages advertisers to overinvest in short-term outcomes. We’ve seen how detrimental this can be for brands as the digital media landscape has developed. As always, the key is to understand the long and the short and retain the perspective that not everything we do must, or should, prompt an immediate action from the user.

Man watching TV, lying on sofa, legs on table. Person holding remote control in living room.

The Resurgence of Free TV

By | Featured, What's Hot

Q1 2024 has started with a bumper month for free TV, with ITV’s Mr Bates vs. the Post Office clocking up more than 16 million streams on ITVX, while the second series of The Traitors more than doubled viewing figures on BBC iPlayer compared with the previous year. In addition, the UK’s four major broadcasters recently unveiled Freely, a free-to-air streaming service set to launch later this year.

Through analysis of industry data and continued tracking of consumer sentiment, the7stars’ AV team have identified four key trends which are driving the recent success of Free TV and the growth in ad-supported streaming services.

Financial Reassessment

The cost-of-living crisis has prompted individuals to limit their budget and limit their spends on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.  Instead, people are turning to free streaming services to keep themselves entertained without eating into their budget.

While linear television remains central to modern households, there’s been a noticeable shift in viewers’ behaviour to free streaming platforms such as Freevee, Samsung TV Plus, Roku and Pluto. In the last 12 months, Roku TV has reported a 14% YOY growth and Samsung TV Plus has similarly seen a massive 60% growth in viewership.

Slimming Down Services

Previously, consumers required multiple subscriptions to access diverse content, however recent data indicates a change in behaviour. Increasingly, consumers are being more selective in choosing which subscriptions are worth their while. According to recent data from BARB, there has been a reduction in those with two or more SVOD services from 46.4% of the population in Q3, down to 44.7% in the following quarter. As Maria Rua Aguete, Senior Research Director at Omdia, reveals, ‘This is partly driven by the increasing popularity of Free Ad-supported Television (FAST) channels, which are becoming a preferred choice for supplementary viewing’.

Shifting Perceptions

As users are diversifying their time across various platforms, public perception of free streaming services has improved, as users become accustomed to the benefits of easy accessibility.  This attitude shift across free streaming services has been driven by several factors, in particular improvements in ad targeting and a more seamless user experience.

Better Quality Content

Viewers have long been platform agnostic when it comes to content, with most willing to hop between TV and streaming services in search of quality content. Accordingly, FAST services such as Samsung TV Plus have invested greatly in their output, with popular shows such as Schitts Creek and Masterchef UK helping to boost viewership figures. Such a change has not gone unnoticed: some 64% of viewers believe that content quality on FAST channels is improving.

As the FAST channel market continues to grow, this gives advertisers new opportunities and challenges to align with the correct service providers, whilst adapting to the changing landscape to keep up with evolving viewer demands.

Google DV360 team

the7stars Achieves Google Display & Video 360 Certification

By | Featured, News

Following on from our PPC team successfully obtaining Search Ads 360 certification earlier this year, our in-house Programmatic team has also become certified across Display & Video 360!

This certification bolsters the7stars’ commitment to using the Google Marketing Platform to push clients’ media spend further and to use the platform in new innovative ways. The partnership means we can now tap into bespoke Google resources for Display and Video 360, such as platform alphas/betas, product roadmap updates, and unique training sessions with DV360 specialists for new tools and features.

Each member of the team has undergone individual training and certification for utilising the platform and has used this knowledge to deliver forward-thinking campaigns for our clients.

For this certification, the team submitted two different case studies where advanced implementation methods were applied.

Our first case study focused on supercharging Gousto’s YouTube acquisition activity with first-party data. The team utilised the client’s customer data in Bridge, our first-party data clean room solution, and matched these users with Experian data to enrich the client’s audience. By utilising a test and control methodology, we were able to measure the effect of the seed audience and optimisations made. The campaign was successful, and we were able to drive more sign-ups for the client and lower the CPA, outperforming the CPA targets set, and proving the value of enriched first-party data for programmatic buying.

Our second case study focused on Sustainable Performance and leading Froneri into a greener future of media buying. To measure and reduce the carbon emissions of the campaign, we partnered with Greenbids to use their custom bidding algorithm to optimise performance and reduce emissions, activating activity across more sustainable suppliers and devices without detracting from media performance. We used the same testing methodology to measure delivery and completion rates across the test and control segments in addition to a brand lift study. Through this campaign, we were able to drive a stronger VTR and lower carbon emissions by 40% compared to running without the custom bidding algorithm in place.

The programmatic team will continue to deploy advanced campaign implementations for our clients, making use of the new partnership benefits, materials, and beta offerings provided by Google. We can customise measurement and optimisation for our clients according to business goals, using bespoke data-driven attribution models, automated bidding strategies, and custom metrics. We will continue to grow the team to bolster our services offering and keep on top of the ever-changing trends in the programmatic landscape, taking into consideration sustainability and privacy as key areas of focus.

Becoming certified for Display & Video 360 alongside our existing Search Ads 360 certification means that our partnership with Google grows much stronger as we push forward with gaining certification across the rest of the Google Marketing Platform product stack. We aim to achieve more certifications and elevate our partnership level even further later this year.