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Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: The Video Revolution

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HQ Trivia proved themselves to be a game changer in the world of video entertainment. Once hosting over 2 million users per quiz, the much-loved real-time quiz app should be lauded as an example of just what can be achieved in the 21st century video space rather than an example of failure following the announcement of its shutting down.

“With HQ we showed the world the future of TV” (Rus Yusupov, CEO). MTV demonstrably agree, having commissioned the remarkably similar new quiz show “MTV Stax” to run on the Facebook Watch platform 3 times a week. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery after all.

Looking ahead, it is imperative that this trend of video innovation is continued. 83% of 12-15 year olds now own a smartphone (41% of whom use it to consume TV). The next generation constantly find new and alternative ways to consume video content.

Enter stage left, QuiBi; the mobile first short-form video streaming service set to launch in the US on April 6th. Built for on the go use this new player will specialize in high production, on the go, bitesize content with the USP of delivering full screen content both horizontally & vertically; offering different shots for whichever orientation the user views the content in.

Innovation isn’t reserved only for the subscription VOD (SVOD) space, however. Far from it.

NBCU’s Peacock has focused on innovation in its advertising VOD (AVOD) proposition. Advertisers can now benefit from such opportunities as shoppable TV (ads that allow viewers to buy products related to the show they are watching at that moment), voice activated ads (to interact vocally with advertiser offers) and solo ads (which give the advertiser the single break within a show); great not only for the SOV of a brand but also for the consumers viewing experience.

While neither of the above-mentioned innovations are currently available in the UK, they are indicative of the direction in which the UK video market is eventually heading.

As the SVOD market swells, an increasing number of services will be forced to turn to providing an AVOD offering to relieve the financial pressures on consumers; creating opportunities for innovation in the advertising space that will allow brands to deliver their message to notoriously hard to reach audiences.

1.https://variety.com/2020/digital/news/hq-trivia-shuts-down-1203504848/

2.https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/media-literacy-research/childrens/children-and-parents-media-use-and-attitudes-report-2019

3.https://quibi.com/

Lightbox Loves: “Dark” Social Environments

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“The greatest growth in how people are communicating continues to come from private messaging, small groups, and disappearing stories,” Mark Zuckerberg stated in one of their latest earnings calls. This continuing shift in the way people are communicating and sharing content online is being part driven by the new, younger online audiences craving privacy and deeper connections than are found within many public social platforms.

These, aptly named, “dark social” environments come in a wide variety of modes but the majority can be grouped into three main categories: private messaging platforms (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc.), shared interest closed groups (e.g. private Facebook Groups) and experienced based communities (e.g. online gaming such as Fortnite squads). What users are enjoying about these spaces is that they allow them to be and share what they want, avoiding “friends” and relatives who may be judgmental or share unwanted comments, as well as being away from advertisers snooping eyes.

Understandably, the likes of Facebook may be concerned by and reacting to this shift as around 98% of their revenue comes from advertising across their public platforms. Not only do “dark” environments often contain little to no advertising, they are very sensitive to intrusions and breeches of privacy. Additionally, from a brands and agency point of view, it restricts the amount of insight that can be gathered from online conversation and how and where content is being shared.

Although there are options to appear in private message environments, brands are looking for alternative opportunities to engage their consumers in more private social environments. Nike released branded Air Jordan skins within Fortnite and Adidas have recently been prompting their fans to start private interaction with them over WhatsApp to promote their Predator range.

Understanding the attributes of the sub-culture you are engaging with and how they identify themselves (something we dived into with our Life Behind Labels research), makes interactions from brands valuable to the consumer, rather than just a blatant data gathering exercise. Creating bespoke content for different sub-cultures is the key to making these kind of activations work and should be a focus for any brand looking to enter the private social arena.

https://qz.com/1793651/facebook-q4-earnings-reveal-its-future-is-in-private-messages/

https://hbr.org/2020/02/the-era-of-antisocial-social-media

https://www.statista.com/statistics/271258/facebooks-advertising-revenue-worldwide/

https://www.voguebusiness.com/consumers/gen-z-reinventing-social-media-marketing-tiktok-youtube-instagram-louis-vuitton

https://twitter.com/adidasUK/status/1224625382437064704

Lightbox Loves: Ads & Crafts

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Both Waitrose’s latest ad and Carling’s 2019 campaign have a key ingredient in common and no, it’s not grain: it’s craft. While the term ‘craft’ is most often applied to independent micro-breweries, craft has taken on a new significance to big brands across multiple categories. Spurred on by rising consumer concern over provenance and ethics, big brands are adapting lessons from the craft beer revolution to breathe new life into faltering mainstream products.

The hallmarks of a craft brand, as pioneered by BrewDog and their kin, is a quality product, a clear brand identity and a strong brand purpose. It’s not hard to see why these behaviours are being adapted by big brands with high levels of success. In 2018, Carling launched a craft rebrand that increased their sales by 8.7% while the likes of Fosters and Carlsberg fell. Bringing back its original black label and Burton-on-Trent emblem built a clear identity based on Carling’s history and quality ingredients. Carling cemented their new craft identity with the ‘Made Local’ advertising campaign, championing other makers who help their local communities to thrive. By mimicking the behaviours of its smaller challengers, Carling recreated a brand that better resonated with modern beer drinkers looking for authentic products.

Similarly, in the face of declining pre-packaged bread sales, bread brand Allinson’s  revamped their breads to emulate hand-crafted artisanal loaves sold in independent bakeries. With paper wrappers, a simplified design and cheeky names like ‘Scandalous Seeds,’ they look like bread’s answer to craft beer. Like Carling, Allinson’s also saw success in numbers with a year-on-year sales uplift of 73%. It could be said that Waitrose has applied this strategy to their most recent campaign, conveying a sense of crafted quality and authenticity by focusing on the bakers and farmers who produce their goods rather than on their chain of supermarkets.

The mass appeal of craft can be put down to science. Craft appeals to us on a system 1 level (the part of our brain that makes instant decisions based on instincts). Our brains quickly interpret crafted designs as expensive, higher quality and even luxurious. Craft also appeals to us on a deeper level, to our innate saviour complex. Craft products position themselves as the little guy, the one battling the monotony of mass production to bring people authentically made products with a personal history and social purpose. Whether or not they actually are ‘the little guy,’ brands can benefit from thinking like they are; If brands can show consumers that they care about their craft, then both brand and consumers will be better off.

‘Carling’, Warc (2019) [https://www.warc.com/content/article/dba/carling/126505].

‘Allinson’s’, Warc (2019) [https://www.warc.com/content/article/dba/allinsons/126506].

‘How to create a successful craft brand’, Warc (2017) [https://www.warc.com/content/article/admap/how-to-create-a-successful-craft-brand/110764].

Ibid.

Lightbox Loves: Misinformation in The Name of Entertainment

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The term ‘Based on a true story’ has long been a grey area in the world of cinema with the level of dramatisation broad ranging and often unclear. In a similar vein, the current political climate has seen growing scrutiny of social media posts and news coverage. It seems that the increasingly competitive TV and streaming sphere is also seeing amplified curiosity surrounding the blurring of truth and fiction.

Goop, released on the 24th January, is the latest Netflix series to be accused of deliberately spreading misinformation in the name of entertainment. They’ve been facing fierce criticism from the NHS England chief exec, Simon Stevens, as a result. It’s not the first time Netflix has been accused of this either. Early 2019 saw Root Cause, which suggested that root canal treatment causes cancer despite no empirical evidence, removed from the platform after backlash. Amazon too faced similar criticism for Shoot Em’ Up: The Truth About Vaccines, a topic that’s caused controversy for decades (it was removed from Prime search results last March). Traditional broadcasters have also been unable to steer clear of this conundrum. For example, the BBC was maligned by agricultural groups following the release of Meat: A Threat to Our Planet? which they believed to twist facts to suit their anti-meat cause.

It’s not uncommon for documentaries or dramatisations of real-life events to be released with little or no disclaimer, leading them to be taken as truth and leaving the shows open to reproach. The impact of trust in broadcasters this has is little understood but, with shows such as Game Changers increasingly influencing how people live their lives, it’s something they should contemplate if they want to avoid the increased calls for regulation social media giants are currently embroiled in. That said, some shows are already conscious of their impact. ITV’s White House Farm, for example, features a clear disclaimer at the start of each episode about the background of its dramatisation of the infamous murders.

Whose responsibility is it to inform audiences about the level of truth behind such shows though? Referencing the fallout from Goop, Netflix points out that the show is “designed to entertain, not provide medical advice”, which seems somewhat fair. Perhaps it’s the responsibility of audiences to tread carefully when viewing them? Particularly if they are considering making lifestyle changes as a result. These questions become even harder to answer when the line between truth and fiction is unclear or debated. Whose responsibility it is, we don’t know, and it’ll be interesting to see if and how such cases may be regulated in the future. For now, all we can say is; don’t believe everything you watch folks!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51312441 https://slate.com/technology/2018/05/the-insidious-conspiracy-theory-documentaries-on-netflix-and-amazon-prime.

html https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/carolineodonovan/amazon-removes-anti-vaccine-videos

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/feb/27/netflix-root-cause-pulled-root-canals-cancer

https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/bbc-receives-complaints-as-farmers-rally-against-biased-film-98607

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/nutrition/game-changers-effect-star-studded-documentary-has-changed-game/

Lightbox Loves: How smart is your speaker?

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2013 was the year our digital lives were to be transformed for the better. Not because of the Xbox One launch, or the debut of Apple iOS 7, but the surprising introduction of Microsoft’s smart speaker, Cortana. The following year saw other tech giants follow suit, and it was not long before Amazon, Apple and Google all launched their own versions of this ground-breaking tech.

A virtual assistant, at your beck and call to help you with your grocery shopping, to boil the kettle and that will not answer back sounds perfect, does it not? Many of us agreed that it would be a vital addition to our homes, so much so, that in 2019 the Government added ‘smart speakers’ to the list of items monitored to measure the cost of living. However, the reality is that out of the 1 in 5 who own a smart speaker in the UK, almost half feel they are not getting the most out of their in-home devices.

Despite clearly proving commercially successful, and usage set to grow into 2020, some query the transformative value of this technology. Indeed, the top three commands for our smart speakers haven’t really changed across half a decade: listening to music, checking the weather and setting timers – not entirely revolutionary.

Whilst some argue that this laggard behaviour is down to a lack of trust or comfort in their devices, others put it down to the tech’s difficulty in understanding the nuances in human language, often meaning the robots are prone to error.

Before storming ahead and innovating further in this category, it might be beneficial for Amazon, Google and the like to take a step back and overcome the current barriers to expansive usage. How can they grow trust in smart speaker devices, so they become an irreplaceable and vital part of daily life, instead of being a ‘nice-to-have’ gadget?

https://www.theguardian.com/get-more-from-amazon-alexa/2020/jan/06/from-sous-chef-to-security-guard-how-the-nation-uses-its-smart-speakers

Smart Speakers Most Popular in Living Rooms, Followed by Bedrooms and Kitchens, Survey Says (EXCLUSIVE)

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/11/smart-speakers-baking-uk-inflation-basket

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/6/20951178/amazon-alexa-echo-launch-anniversary-age-funtionality-not-changed-use-cases

Lightbox Loves: Meme Culture

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The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. With the increasing omnipotence of the internet, we now live in a world where visual communication is taking on increasing importance.

The August wave of The QT found that half of 18-24s feel that using memes can be more effective than words alone, and 32% of 18-34s also agree that memes are an important way of sharing culture. While the majority reserve this to a more comic sphere, as 2020 has gotten underway, we’ve seen memes impact the way we are consuming news online.

The first few days of the new decade saw Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, killed in an air strike ordered by US President Donald Trump. Iran’s supreme leader promised “harsh vengeance” almost immediately, followed swiftly by threats of potential US retribution. Conversation online turned to talk of World War 3 being imminent if both countries followed through with their escalating threats.

However, despite over 44k posts being written on Twitter about WW3 since the 6th January, surprisingly 31% of posts had positive sentiment. This increased over the month to peak on 11th January, three days after Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq in its first military retaliation since the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani.

This thread of positive reactions was driven by the posting and sharing of memes referencing WW3. The most popular posts feature political figures including Greta Thunberg and Tony Blair. Whilst the Memes provide a light-heartedness to the conversation, a lot of the captions on the pictures cite them as “a coping mechanism” and a way of “hiding from the fear”, with fear also detected as a dominant emotion in posts.

This reaction online was similar on 8th January when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would be stepping down as senior royals, with many people taking the news as an opportunity to mock the royals through memes.

29% of 18-24s agree that brands who use memes get their attention. Therefore as visual language begins to become the dominant means through which we view and engage with the world, it should be considered a vital part of advertisers communications strategies.

However, a potential pitfall for brands to watch out for among meme culture is illustrated by the misfortune suffered by Weight Watchers. The campaign on social media was timed to align with the “new year, new me” mentality however, in an unprecedented coincidence, their #thisismyWW campaign appeared around trending and unfortunately alliterative hashtags such as #WW111 and #WorldWarThree.

 

Humans Process Visual Data Better

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-51018120

https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/weight-watchers-social-media-campaign-unfortunately-timed/1669849

Nostalgia: Is It What It Used To Be? – the7stars and YouGov Whitepaper

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Download our free whitepaper on the nostalgia and the power of reminiscence marketing.

 

The Seven Trends in 2020

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The Seven Trends in 2020

 

Download this thought piece from the7stars by filling in the form below.

 

Lightbox Loves: Rethinking growing up (and growing old!)

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Advertisers need to align with interests rather than age, or indeed any other demographic. Greater age representation is increasingly demanded of brands and commercially, it seems to make sense; those 55+ hold more than a third of Britain’s wealth. So how can the advertising industry become more representative in its advertising?

Most importantly, we need to be careful of the assumptions we are making of this audience. Often those over 50 are pictured within the home, yet the number of those 65+ in employment has doubled from 5.5% in 1992 to 10.2% in 2018. Furthermore, less than 5% of images of older generations show them handling technology, despite 69% of those 55-74 owning a smartphone. It seems as though our perception is different from the realities facing the Baby Boomer audience.

By more openly targeting a broader audience, brands should not be afraid of tackling traditionally taboo topics. Holland and Barratt’s Me.No.Pause. campaign from last year is a great example of a brand bring the taboo subject of menopause out into the open to appeal and build loyalty amongst an older target. As a result, it won £500,000 worth of free advertising on TfL – however brands need to engage with this dialogue without the incentive of free advertising. Pablo, Holland and Barrett’s creative agency, sums this up nicely: “We hope this campaign will spark and inspire a more open conversation about this important subject.“

Ultimately, a cross-generational approach to audiences – driven by interests – has the ability to provide a brand with a wider customer base and more opportunities in the long term. In the ‘Truth about Age’, McCann has summed ageing up as a “… journey of limitless opportunities and personal growth” and this is a great way for many brands to challenge what they know about those 55+.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/business/ageism-advertising-aarp.htm

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/one-in-five-pensioners-is-a-millionaire-as-young-miss-out-ts53qvjztl

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44042133

http://mccann.co.za/assets/files/documents/Truth-About-Age1.pdf

Lightbox Loves: Veganuary

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Veganism is set for an even bigger boom this month with a record number of 300,000 people already signed up to Veganuary – an 18% increase from last year.

Whether part of a “New Year, New Me” resolution or for health, ethical or environmental reasons, Veganuary began in 2014 and has significantly grown year on year, with more and more people abstaining from animal products and instead opting for a plant-based diet. For some, this carries on beyond January; 62% of Veganuary participants in 2018 intended to remain vegan

To accompany this surge in signups, there has been a string of vegan product launches by high street favourites and major supermarkets to make the journey and vegan choices readily available.

To name just a few; McDonalds has launched its first ever vegan meal called Veggie Dippers, which accompanied with their vegan friendly fries now allows customers to order a fully vegan meal. Meanwhile, Co-op has also launched what they have described as; “the largest ever product rollout of own-brand vegan products by a supermarket.” Their new vegan food range is called Gro and features 35 meat free products, including pizza, nachos and curry based options. Other supermarkets are also expanding their vegan ranges this January including Iceland, Marks and Spencer’s and Waitrose.

Veganuary – and this trend influencing eating habits throughout the year – is opening up new opportunities for more brands to invest in a prolonged approach to providing better meat free alternatives for this growing market. Brands are offering a greater range of vegan products that are no longer limited to one month each year.

The rise in signups and brand involvement is undoubtedly a reflection of the changing face of veganism in society. It will be interesting to see how much this year on year trend continues to grow and whether an even wider audience and demographic will not only start but stick with this major change of lifestyle.

Sources:

Foresight Factory, Veganuary: What we learned from social media conversations on Veganuary 2019

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/veganuary-vegan-vegetarian-red-meat-eater-data-a9267116.html

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/31/veganuary-record-high-participants-plant-based

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/mcdonalds-vegan-happy-meal-veggie-dippers-vegetarian-a9240351.html

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/dec/22/vegan-boom-veganuary-retailers-on-trend

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/co-op-vegan-food-meat-free-plant-based-gro-january-veganuary-a9267231.html