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Lightbox Loves

Lightbox Loves: Miss You Already?

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After more than a year of social and travel restrictions, economic uncertainty, and business closures, today is a day worth celebrating. For the first time this year, we can get our hair cut, shop to our hearts’ content and enjoy a well-deserved pint in our favourite local. With two thirds of Brits agreeing that the past year has been worse than a typical year, you’d think we’d be welcoming our new found freedoms with open arms, and never looking back…

To some extent, this is already proving to be true – even with freezing temperatures this morning, the re-opening of the high street was greeted with queues of Brits ready to experience a dose of normality. However, despite there being a huge appetite to enjoy many of life’s pleasures once more, over half of Brits (54%) claim that they are going to miss some elements of lockdown.

So much so, 1 in 5 of us admit that lockdown was better than expected, with this number doubling among 16 to 35 year olds. For 20% of Brits, personal finances have improved as a result of the pandemic, 1 in 3 now feel closer to their immediate families and 1 in 5 feel a stronger sense of community, claiming that they now have a better relationship with their neighbours.

It seems that we might already be starting to look back at the first lockdown with rose tinted glasses. A viral TikTok video which romanticises some of the cultural highlights of the March 2020 lockdown – such as Tiger King, #clapforcarers, DIY hair cut disasters and baking banana bread, describes last year as the ‘good ol’ days’ and ‘#bettertimes’, which has generated over 1 million likes and 35k comments – many of which positively reminisce about when lockdown was novel, recalling the period as ‘fun’ and ‘a vibe.’

As humans, we are very good at looking back with a glass half full attitude, focussing on the fond memories gained during lockdown, whilst allowing the more traumatic recollections to fade away.

Whilst it’s still too early to tell whether some of the fondness held towards lockdown will become part of culture, or if it will be all-forgotten as ‘normality’ resumes, brands who can help us navigate ourselves out of lockdown, by showing empathy towards our experiences over the past year, and continue to focus on some of the positives gained during this time are likely to engage consumers in both the short and long term.

 

Sources:

https://www.tiktok.com/@wil.gos/video/6917607961292508417?referer_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tyla.com%2F&referer_video_id=6917607961292508417&refer=embed&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-coronavirus-restrictions-lockdown-rules-study-b925875.html

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/a-year-of-life-under-lockdown.pdf

https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/year-life-under-lockdown-how-it-went-and-what-people-will-miss

Lightbox Loves: TV Recap Podcasts

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Throughout the last year, with many of us feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the impact of the pandemic, we turned to memories of the past for comfort. This involved revisiting old favourite TV shows, films and music as this brought a sense of nostalgia during such an uncertain time.
According to a Nielsen study conducted with Billboard in the USA, which explored the impact of the pandemic on entertainment consumption, it showed that more the half of consumers sought comfort in familiar music and TV shows – with 54% recently rewatching episodes of an old favourite TV show. This trend was also observed in the UK where according to a survey by Uswitch, 45% of Brits rewatched the sitcom Friends.

Looking at what is driving this trend, an article by Stylist discussed how when rewatching old favourites, or listening to old music we are remembering the good memories that are associated with them, whilst also longing for those “better” times.

To accompany this, there as also been a rise of TV recap podcasts. Although not a new trend, it is something that has certainly picked up pace during the pandemic with revisiting of old favourite TV shows. These podcasts are hosted by former stars of the show, such as The Office, where they provide listeners first-hand experience of their production.

One example is the popular podcast called; Fake Doctors, Real Friends, which features Scrubs co-stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who relive the hit TV show, discussing an episode of the show each week. In an interview with The Ringer, Braff explained that the podcast happened to appear at a time when people were more likely to revisit Scrubs, as it offers their audience an excuse to focus on something other than the pandemic.

They are not the only ones who have taken advantage of this trend. ‘Talking Sopranos’, debuted last year hosted by former Sopranos stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, and the upcoming launch of “Welcome To The OC, Bitches!” in April with Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarkes, comes nearly 18 years after the show’s premiere.

Going back to our favourite TV shows and / or accompanying them with a recap podcast, has offered comfort and escapism from the situation we have been navigating this past year. It will therefore be interesting to see whether this trend will continue and offer opportunities, especially as we start to ease out of lockdown.

Lightbox Loves: NFTs – Useless Junk, or the Future of Selling?

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Earlier this month, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced he was selling his inaugural tweet, in an auction scheduled to end on March 21st, the fifteenth anniversary of Twitter, with proceeds donated to charity. At the time of writing, the highest bid is $2.5m.

The contents of this tweet, you ask? “just setting up my twttr”.

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

The auction is the most outlandish use to date of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a craze which – from video basketball trading cards to William Shatner memorabilia – is revolutionising the collectibles market. NFTs are digital entries on the blockchain – the technology used by cryptocurrencies – and thus cannot be altered. Each token is unique, and the purchaser receives no physical copy. Once Dorsey’s tweet has been sold, it will still be accessible to anyone online who wishes to view it, free of charge.

Much like Bitcoin, the NFT market is booming, having grown by more than 705% in three years to $338m, according to Forbes, as tech entrepreneurs scramble to invest in rival auction services. That growth is snowballing in 2021, fuelled by ludicrous price-tags like the $69m just paid for a .jpg file at a Christies auction.

While these tokens may seem to appeal only to millionaires with cash to burn, NFTs could play a pivotal role in the future of digital media. The technology offers a secure route for creators to sell their work, with buyers safe in the knowledge that they are receiving an authentic item. If the owner sells on their token, the original artist receives a cut, as they do for each subsequent sale, creating a continuous source of income not afforded by physical art.

After a decade of creators protesting over lost revenue fuelled by the rise of streaming services – an issue only exacerbated by the pandemic, as shops shuttered and venues closed – NFTs may offer musicians an opportunity to claw back lost royalties. The acclaimed group Kings of Leon are among the first to experiment with the technology, releasing a version of their album this month exclusively as an NFT.

Print media, too, may look to adopt blockchain technology. Fuelled by a near-terminal decline in advertising revenue, many titles have sought to implement paywalls, with varying degrees of success. NFTs could offer an alternate source of revenue for publishers, where consumers participate in microtransactions for individual articles.

While NFTs represent only digital works for now, this could change. In 2019, Nike obtained a patent which allows it to create blockchain-compatible trainers – where the token would serve as a digital certificate of the shoes’ authenticity. Should Nike’s experiment prove fruitful, other brands will surely follow.

The use of non-fungible tokens is not without controversy, however. Far from a sustainable breakthrough, the carbon footprint of producing an NFT is enormous – one piece of digital art created by the musician Grimes produced an estimated 70 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Furthermore, like any booming market, the risk of investing in NFTs is substantial: many in the financial world have long predicted that the blockchain bubble would burst in much the same vein as the dotcom bubble of the early 2000s. So far, their predictions have come up short.

Whether the recent NFT craze will have a lasting impact on the digital media industry remains to be seen. Yet, after a year in which almost every aspect of life was forced to adapt to a new digital normal, brands should turn a blind eye to this latest trend at their peril.

Lightbox Loves: The Pratfall Effect

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The Pratfall effect is a theory developed by psychologist Elliot Aronson in the 1960s, and according to the theory you can become more appealing or likeable by admitting or demonstrating your own flaws. The theory was discovered after an experiment where Aronson has recorded an actor answering a series of quiz questions. In one experiment group, participants saw the video where the actor simply answered most of the questions correctly. In the other group, participants saw the actor answer the exact same way but during the quiz he spilled a cup of coffee over his shirt. Boths groups were asked to rate the actor’s likeability and Aronson found that the participants found the clumsy actor more likeable.

This type of study has been replicated with different environments, from people rating other’s attractiveness, to during job interviews or when people are choosing which cookies look more appealing to them. All studies demonstrate the Pratfall effect and the appealing nature of authenticity.

Many brands have already used the Pratfall effect within their advertising, from Stella Artois’s ‘reassuringly expensive’ ads to own up to being more expensive that most pints, to KFC’s famous apology campaign where they changed ‘KFC’ TO ‘FCK’ to apologise for running out of chicken in 2018 using full page print ads. Buckley’s cough medicine ad in 1990 using the phrase “People swear by it. And at it. It tastes awful. And it works.” helped them become one of the leading cough and cold medicine brands in Canada.

The Pratfall effect can have the implications of honesty and fallibility, and by owning these flaws the consumer is less likely to think you are lying about the other messaging they see from you. According to Edelman’s Brand Trust report in 2020, 53% of people say that trusting a brand is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand, only behind price. Therefore, even though it can be a gamble to openly admit a flaw as your ad tagline, it could also be a great way to humanise your brand and be more likeable to consumers.

 

SOURCES

https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/oct/28/pratfall-effect-brands-flaunt-flaws

https://www.einsteinmarketer.com/pratfall-effect-marketing/

https://www.edelman.co.uk/research/trust-barometer-special-report-brand-trust-2020

Lightbox Loves: Hoping for a Holiday

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Despite holiday booking season thrown into chaos by changing and conflicting government advice, most Brits remain hopeful for a holiday this year.  A certain level of realism remains; most currently hope to follow Matt Hancock for a “Great British summer”. This is evident in booking patterns: last week, Pitchup, an online glamping platform, was 92% up on sales year-on-year. Sales even accelerated after Grant Shapps warned against booking travel. Nonetheless a quarter dream of travelling to Europe and 15% still hope to fly to more distant destinations.

But what are we so keen to escape? What does our hopes for holidays say about us? And with travel still uncertain, how can brands help fulfil these urges?

1) An escape from the day-to-day 

Parents of kids under five are the most hopeful to get away. They are not fussy – their wish to escape is prevalent across all destinations. Over half are looking forward to a UK break. It seems that after a year of childcare issues, working from home and parental leave indoors, they are desperate for any change of scenery. Brands can offer audiences a respite from the stasis with gardening, homewares, and decoration to create a sense of change and renewal. And with Mother’s Day on the horizon, they can consider how they to support mums in much need of a break.

2) An escape for new experiences? 

With record youth unemployment, a disastrous exam season and isolated universities students, it is no surprise that Gen Z are dreaming of flying far, far away. Four in ten 18-24s hope to get out of Europe – ten times the 4% of their Gen X parents’ generation with the same aim. Brands such as John Lewis have tapped into the human need for new experiences, with their online experiences covering everything from dog grooming through to wine tasting. Meanwhile, Audible continue to use the slowdown of international travel to promote their subscription service under the line “fly Audible to travel the world”.

3) An escape to new cultures? 

While Londoners are equally likely to anticipate a staycation, they are the region keenest to leave the country altogether. A third want to escape to Europe and a third wish to go farther still. Used to the world’s cuisine and culture on their doorstep, has lockdown life driven this urge to get abroad?  A rise in themed “culture nights” see some groups pick “destinations” and select food, drinks and entertainment from this country, can brands tap into this trend?  And as out of home leisure re-opens, there may be opportunities for pubs and restaurants to offer more immersive cultural experiences.
With normality of international travel still some time away, brands should think laterally about how they can help provide an escape from the ongoing cabin fever of lockdown life.

Lightbox Loves: Love in Lockdown this Valentine’s Day​

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Lockdown has changed the dating landscape. This Valentine’s Day, candle-lit dinners will be replaced by food deliveries and zoom cocktail-making, cinema trips with Netflix. Yet, with 78% of the UK population saying that they have never had a bad Valentine’s Day experience, this Sunday looks to be a highlight amidst the gloom of the pandemic. 

Since March, digital-first (and digital-only) dating has thrived. A modern turn on the exchanging of love letters, dating apps have had a sudden rise, facilitating long-distance, tier-crossed relationships. On Sunday 29th March, for example, Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide – the most the app has ever recorded in a single day. Likewise, rival Hinge experienced a 30% increase in messages (compared to January and February) and OkCupid witnessed a 30% increase in messages sent each day. Facebook is also looking to muscle in on the action, having launched its own dating feature in October. 

The way would-be daters are communicating has also changed. Female-first app Bumble added video chat and voice call functionalities in 2019 and, during Lockdown 1.0, reportedly saw use of this function spike 93% with the average call lasting nearly 30 minutes. The service, which boasts almost 90 million users worldwide, also found that users were more unsure of how to date successfully now, with two in three feeling uncomfortable about navigating the complexities of the post-COVID dating world. Yet, there are positives: daters have reported that the pandemic has helped them figure out what really matters to them and believe that they have developed new healthy dating habits. 

Brands looking to woo customers on the 14th should keep in mind these changes. Last year, ‘Amazon Dating’, a parody of the e-commerce site, became an instant internet hit and received over 10,000 applications. Created by conceptual artist Ani Acopian and writer Suzy Shinn, the website replaced products with potential people to ‘buy’, complete with prices and reviews. Meanwhile Twitter took over the London Underground; romantic messaging was cast aside for real, cringe-worthy tweets, honouring the reality of modern dating on Valentine’s Day. 

Whilst the mode has change, the focus on connection remains the same. Now more than ever, brands wishing to align with romance need to have heart.  

 

SOURCES  –
YouGov Profiles
https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/05/12/love-the-time-coronavirus-dating-apps-buck-the-downward-ad-spend-trend
https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2020/04/05/coronavirus-is-changingonline-dating-permanently/?sh=3a7771233b22
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52743454

How dating apps are innovating with new features in response to coronavirus


Sustainable Now – the7stars Whitepaper

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Please download Sustainable Now – our whitepaper co-written between the7stars and Global, which helps brands understand how they can play a role in turning consumers' climate change goals into reality.

     

    The Original Misunderstood Generation – the7stars Whitepaper

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    Please download The Original Misunderstood Generation, our latest whitepaper that explores how stereotypes about baby boomers impacts this generation's lifestyles and what this means for the media industry.

       

      Lightbox Loves: Positivity Wins

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      The external factors around Brits right now are predominantly negative, so it is no surprise that they are feeling worried and 69% are feeling anxious at the prospect of returning to ‘normal.’ But Brits are looking to counter act this negativity by seeking to add positivity to their lives, with over two thirds of Brits seeking out positive changes.

      The first example of this was the New Year’s resolutions of 2021. The7stars Lightbox Pulse showed that three quarters of Brits were making New Year’s resolutions that were different to previous years. With the focus of resolutions being centred on adding to their lives rather than restricting them. With people more likely to agree that they were planning to start new healthy or pro-active routines and challenges. This trend looks set to continue beyond January, with Brits intending to continue focussing on positive activities and changes such as, a quarter are looking to a make a life change and a quarter are looking to take on a new challenge. This is paired with half wanting to appreciate what they currently have, no matter how small.

      Positivity doesn’t just come from things or experiences, but also mindset. During lockdown last year consumers enjoyed having a slower pace of life and the ability to spend more time enjoying one thing at a time. In June’s QT, 55% of Brits stated that they were going to miss the slower pace of life. As such, going into this year, it is about having more mindful moments so 28% are focussing more on one thing at a time than before. In doing this, Brits hope to reduce the hectic nature of life and in turn half hope to remove stress from their life where possible.

      In 2021, consumers will be channelling positivity into their lives to counter act the negatives surrounding them. As such there are two ways brands can leverage this, first by acknowledging and championing positivity in communication. The second, is as consumers seek to inject positivity into their lives, they will naturally be re-evaluating the brands they purchase so there is an opportunity to disrupt current brand relationships.

      SOURCES  – Canvas8, the7stars Lightbox Pulse, the7stars QT