2016 has been a funny old year for retail. Second only to house prices as the barometer of economic stability, the ups and downs of the high street have never been far from the headlines. As we all (or possibly only those that work in marketing) await the arrival of the Christmas ads, it’s never been as important to ensure that what is promised on screen, is delivered in store.
We have all become very used to the Christmas ads that that dial up our emotional response. In more recent years retailers have partnered with charities, in some part to salve the prickly collective conscience about mass consumption. It’s a strategy which so far has worked well. It delivers financially for the retailers (Rachel Swift of John Lewis, speaking at Effectiveness Week last week, said that the ROI delivered by their Christmas ad overshadows all other campaigns in terms of sales, let alone brand value); it helps remind us that Christmas above all else is a time for humanity and compassion. And a handful of charities get a much needed boost to their fundraising. But will emotional response be enough this year?
Read more of Jo's blog on The Drum, here
The Paralympics is over for another four years and I for one am feeling a little bereft. And also a bit uncomfortable.
Seeing so many impressive athletes at the peak of fitness with skills that go beyond imagining was a stark reminder about how invisible people with disabilities can often be. It’s not just on the track and field where we saw greater representation than we are used to either; in the studio and on the airwaves, the world suddenly seemed like a much more inclusive place. Until the ads came on.
Channel 4’s brilliant coverage of the Games will undoubtedly have helped to change perceptions of people with disabilities and encourage other broadcasters around the world to prioritise and celebrate Paralympic sport. It recognised that its approach should be echoed in advertising too and so it threw down the gauntlet to creatives. ‘Superhumans wanted’ challenged brands to feature disability in their ads to win £1m of commercial airtime with the launch taking place during the Paralympic opening ceremony.
The winner, Maltesers, built on its ‘Look on the Light Side’ theme with characters taking a humorous look at awkward and embarrassing situations, all inspired by real-life stories from disabled people. It is a brilliant piece of work, and notably unique in terms of how front and centre the actors with disability are. But that can’t be it. Disability represented in the media needs to be as ubiquitous as it is in our society – according to Leonard Cheshire, one in six of us will be affected by a disability. This is not a minority issue.
To read more from Jo's blog, visit The Drum, here
I’m excited this week by discovering that I can eat delicious food at the Bombay café chain, Dishoom, and in return they feed a child in need through the NGO, Akshaya Patra Foundation. This is marvellous, it means that I can feed myself and my conscience – a combination that makes for very good digestion. This is not new, cause-related marketing (specifically the idea that part of what a customer pays, is gifted on to a charity), it is tried and tested. What is new, however, is the way in which an increasing number of consumers, are actively making choices based on whether a brand does this kind of thing.
It’s no longer niche for brands to have a purpose, and there are many ways in which they can share that purpose and invite others to join them. But whether it is donating money; expertise; product; innovating to reduce impact; emissions; campaigning or lobbying; or simply changing their product range to ensure it has a positive impact, the way in which it is communicated is vitally important.
Doing too little and saying too much and a brand will get found out – but conversely doing plenty and not talking about it has its pitfalls too. Consumers want to know what brands are doing, in this climate, keeping 'schtum' doesn’t come off as sincere, it comes off as secretive. Furthermore, it is only by brands talking about their higher order purpose and what they are doing to deliver on that purpose, that others will feel the pressure to up their game too.
Unilever are widely quoted on this topic, and rightly so, because they are making great strides, particularly in the area on sustainability. In my view, one of the things that makes them stand out is their desire to help others change too. They famously make their packaging innovations open source so that other manufacturers and the world can benefit too.
The power shift in which we are seeing consumers being more demanding about the brands they patronise is happening right now. There is an imperative for brands to make considered, but expedient choices. But what about the future, and the new range of ethical challenges we will have to face? Hamish Pringle looks at one of the most controversial in this month’s article for The Drum – The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Two thirds of people in the UK are now officially overweight or obese. But at the same time gym membership in the UK is at an all-time high of close on 8 million, and the diet industry is estimated to be worth £2 billion.
So we have good reason to change, and evidence of a desire to change is there. Yet, we are getting fatter, more tired and less fit. Something doesn't add up.
We've been involved in both public health and personal wellbeing for the past ten years. In that time there have been a lot of changes in how Government, brands and charities motivate and support people to change. We wanted to share perspective in this area and highlight some strategies that have worked to get people taking direct action about their health.
As always, our agency focus is on behaviour change and in this series of thought pieces we look at a broad range of trends and strategies. From how data explosion has failed to deliver significant change, to how fetishizing sleep has gone 360 degrees in a decade; from the new wave celebrity ambassadors, to this editions topic: Sugar - Public Enemy Number One.
Sugar - Public Enemy Number One
The UK has the highest rate of obesity in Europe. Being overweight increases the risk significantly of developing illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis as well as a decline in quality of life and mental health. One in 11 deaths are currently being attributed to being overweight which is soon expected to exceed those caused through smoking.
With approximately 6 out of 10 men and half of all women carrying excess weight, and one in three children obese, the issue presents a major threat to the health of the country. The Royal College of General Practitioners and 11 other organisations recently sent an open letter to Dame Sally Davies, The Chief Medical Officer, stating `an entire generation is being destroyed by a diet of junk food and sugary drinks'.
A wide variety of approaches have been used by the food industry and government to reduce sugar; information and labelling, reformulation, portion sizes, new product development but ultimately it is the individual who is responsible for making a healthier choice. Individual behaviour change is the only way the issue can be resolved.
The case for reducing nation's sugar intake is clear, but the role and capability of brands in helping individuals to change ingrained behaviour is less so. Brands should and do help people to understand how much is too much and have invested millions in establishing wider product portfolios that allow consumers to have the products they love with a fraction of the sugar.
We at 23red know that doing something simple right now is the first step to changing consumer behaviour.
Which is why we created Smart Swaps, the most successful Change4Life healthy eating activity since the campaign was launched six years ago. Smart Swaps encouraged the trial of healthier products, and in doing so created a movement of swapping. Hundreds of thousands of families made small but significant daily swaps to their diet, which added up to huge calorie reduction over the four week programme.
The simplicity of picking one like-for-like swap (rather than encouraging a non-specific healthier option) appealed to families and the four-week change support programme provided ongoing encouragement to help them stick to their chosen swap. To overcome barriers to trial, we engaged a whole range of partners, including retailers and manufacturers, to provide money off coupons, as well as promote offers on healthier choices in store. Smart Swaps was a huge success with over 408,000 sign ups, 75% of which said that they `stuck like glue to their swaps, and 70% of which said that they intended to keep to their swaps in future.
The evidence would suggest therefore that there is consumer appetite to change the amount of sugar they eat. And that brands and retailers have a very active role to play in helping them. With mounting pressure on the Government to introduce a `sugar tax' and talk of wider restrictions on marketing, the threat to brands is very real.
But so is the opportunity. Brands that guide people to healthier options within their portfolio, or are clearer about the role that their brand plays in a balanced diet, will win the loyalty of families trying to navigate their way to healthier lives. This goes further than mandatory labelling, or complying with restrictions. It is about applying rigorous thinking to how consumers live their lives, their motivation for how they behave now (and much of that motivation will be unconscious).
For marketers of the more indulgent this means developing communications strategies that set their product in the context of more realistic consumer lives. That understand why over-consumption happens (confusion about portions, habit or the need for fresh inspiration); what the brand responsibility is in helping consumers to make more pro-health choices; and by working in partnerships with brands and causes that offer opportunities for genuinely useful guidance on how to manage reduce sugar.
The prevailing attitude might be that sugar is public enemy number one, but no brand need be if they have a genuine desire to help consumers change.
‘Procrastination is the thief of time’ wrote Edward Young in his 1742 poem, Night Thoughts. I doubt backthen that he was thinking about its application to life in 2015, but never has it been so true. We live in a time where we might never get around to anything, because distraction is so readily available.
If we don’t do things right now, we won’t do them at all. We all need a big injection of urgency.
At 23red, we know that by doing something, it changes how we think and feel. Smile, and you will feel happier (it’s well documented in academia but perhaps best evidenced by trying it now – go on). But arguably, the approach for all marketeers is to get people to do things, somewhere down the line. And therein lies the problem with a lot of marketing strategies – they employ strategies that persuade, convince or coerce at arm’s length, over time.
This is at odds with everything else in a consumer’s life. Depending on the report you read, the average person is exposed to about 1000 brand messages a day, whatever that number really is, it’s clearly tough for brands to make a real impression in that environment. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, our attention span is now, on average, 8 seconds. That’s 1 second less than a goldfish. Expecting a piece of communication to have an impact on behaviour long after the event is, at best, wishful thinking.
By asking people to engage with a brand or cause here and now, giving them a small step to take, an easily achieved action, we start to change their relationship with that brand or cause immediately. The behavioural principles of commitment (I’ve liked a brand on Facebook, I’ve sent a text for info), chunking (I’ve made a tiny step in the journey) and reciprocity (you’ve given me something, I’m now more disposed to do something for you) are of huge importance.
We believe that strong brands can be built, and consumer behaviours changed for good, by giving consumers a role in all communications.
This is not to say that long term brand building doesn’t work – in fact quite the opposite. We believe that strong brands can be built and consumer behaviours changed for good by giving consumers a role in all communications. We are all short-termist now, from consumers that demand instant gratification, to the those that scrutinise the bottom line looking for immediate impact – even longer term change must be sparked with a clear and evinced action from the start.
This works for brands – we increased revenues to Bluewater’s restaurants by adding a time limited door drop discount voucher to a brand building campaign.
And it works for causes and issues to - we helped hundreds of thousands of people stop smoking by getting them to commit to calling it quits on October the first for Stoptober. We have brought about a significant change in the behaviour of tradesmen by providing them, for a limited time with an Asbestos safety kit containing a protective overall – which has been followed already by a 19% increase in sales of the same item.
This is not uncomfortable territory for people. We actually respond well to being given a timescale – we have evolved to be deadline driven and many of us won’t take action until that deadline is upon us. Turning that truth to our favour has been used to astounding effect – think Ice Bucket Challenge; 24 hours to comply was a consumer condition that meant millions did. Would we have seen such a gathering of pace had it been ‘at some time in the future’.
Action plus urgency is a powerful combination and have effective application across all behaviour change challenges. Our philosophy is Do.Feel.Think; we believe that doing is the first step to change. And that step can and should be taken today, immediately, right now.
The sheer power of celebrity was brought home to me years ago when I was in Waterstones in Gower Street – me remembering which branch is telling in itself!
I was browsing the shelves, as you do, and out of the blue a complete stranger poked me in the ribs. As I turned to see my assailant he blurted out “Sorry, I just had to tell you, that’s Robin Cook over there!” as he gesticulated to the Minister who’d resigned over Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
This month’s article by Hamish Pringle in The Drum is all about how to hitch your brand to a star, and it’s not as easy to get it right as you might think...
Read Hamish's article here.
This Christmas, spare a thought for the retailers
Disability in advertising shouldn’t be something we only see once every four years
Can a hashtag save a life?
See the power of blood donation
How behavioural theory and social media influenced Public Health England’s ‘One You’
- Jane Asscher
- Sean Kinmont
- Hamish Pringle
- Philippa Dunning
- Sam Edwards
- Tristan Cavanagh
- Lauren Lukasiewicz
- Jo Arden
- Wendy Manuel
- Scott Smith
- Anna Stone
- Ann-Marie Droughton-Hall
- Nick Cooper
- Chris Macmorland
- Hayley Cocker
- Ruth Stasiak
- Charles Oben
- Tilly Wilson
- Steve Meredith
- Emma Taylor
- Lily Cameron