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Posting on BR’s Comment Central blog

As you probably noticed we recently relaunched Brand Republic blogs to a new platform. Keeping it simple, we moved to Word Press, which is a much easier to use and more flexible system than we previously had.

The move has meant some change to how contributors to Comment Central blog. In future if you would like to blog here what you now need to do in the first instance is drop our social media editor, Gordon MacMillan, an email and we will set you up and account. After that you will be free to post as before.

How Fever Tree showed up Dry Martini at Goodwood Festival of Speed


I visited Goodwood Festival of Speed last week and it was fascinating to observe a number of premium automotive and drinks brands in action. It’s an event that has always celebrated fast cars and luxury lifestyles with bubbles. Martini Racing and Moët & Chandon have been at the heart of the high end action for decades and Goodwood FOS is known to be the event that lets enthusiasts feel the dream. So surely the priority for the brand managers laying on these events has to be the brand experience.

This year was particularly notable for how open access the Porsche brand has become, providing entertainment for kids on the stands as much as the adults. Fusing gaming and racing with in car experiences, Porsche did what it does best and got everyone involved. McLaren combined supercar aspiration with a full size Lego car you could help build on the stand in exchange for a £1 charity contribution. Innovative, playful and involving.

As for Fever Tree I practically had to fight my way to their G&T Tour. A two-story stand with gin mixing magic, crowd bursting queues and friendly faced folk. Fever Tree was undoubtedly the party everyone wanted to be at both online and off.

Which left me wondering how the well established luxury brands like Ferrari, Moët and Martini were performing. Ferrari displayed its supercars in a cordoned off stand and received maybe one visitor; The Martini Drivers Experience required guardianship by a bouncer, yet they were totally empty. Moët, however, was perhaps the saddest sight of all, accommodating one elderly chap amongst 30 empty tables and chairs. So what went wrong?

It’s obvious that luxury brands are built on exclusivity, but some are starting to just feel excluded. No matter how well established they are as brands, without active and involving brand participation audiences will find them irrelevant and go.

In our social media fuelled world of accelerated content and consumer empowerment, getting your audience to be your brand ambassadors is pretty much the only thing that matters. Engaging with online influencers and securing promotional deals early on is key to amplifying your brand pre- and post- event. Hosting an outreach programme online for the masses and tying this in to pull people onto the stand ensures a busy and popular brand experience at events like FOS. It buys more bang for buck and feeds the rich content machine for the weeks that follow.

Something McLaren tapped into, Fever Tree nailed and Porsche wrote the book on. These brands got people to dance on their stage, play with their toys and sit in their cars. The result was pics, tweets and shares by popular influencers like Shmee150 and Solomandrin, as well as thousands of engagements with Joe (public).

By being relevant their brand amplification, McLaren, Fever Tree and Porsche will have outstripped their stuffy peers and with it they’ll have opened up a new set of fans and a wider set of future customers. That’s brand building 101, and it’s a lesson brand managers need to take on board. A brand that excludes may be exclusive, but it’s a brand that’s dead.

How brands can do less and mean more on social media


This post is a precis of our Social & PR Director Ian McKee’s presentation at #OiConf Cardiff 2017.

If you draw a comparison timeline between social media marketing and SEO, social media’s about six years behind. It’s a loose analogy, of course, but given Google was founded in 1998 and Facebook in 2004, that’s where we are.

Do you remember what SEO was like six years ago? I do — it was a total mess. It was all about SEO people getting up to all sorts of nonsense to try and game the system.

“There’s too much stuff and too little time”

Not much has changed then, I can hear the cynical amongst you mutter. But it has moved on — Google’s slowly forced everyone towards an emphasis on quality content over quantity of links and keywords with the constant tweaking of its algorithms.

Not so in social media. We are still very much in the ‘spray and pray’ phase where everyone’s experimenting and an awful lot of ‘experts’ are claiming to know what’s going on.

Content shock

The problem we’ve got is content shock. You know the stats — 90% of the data created in the world today has been created in the last two years.

The amount of content we’re able to consume has gone up thanks to mobile devices, but time in the day is not infinite. And there are plenty of things that are higher on everyone’s priority list than reading brand’s tweets.

There’s too much stuff and too little time. Something’s got to give, and it’s not going to be the boundaries of time.

At a broad level, content marketing is the culprit — the very idea that all brands must be publishers. But the content marketing genie is out of the bottle here, the media landscape has changed to make this irreversibly true. So what are the worst tactics that are really exacerbating the issue?

‘Agile’ social media marketing

The first culprit, from a social media marketing perspective, is this idea of ‘agile’ or ‘real time’.

It’s Oreo’s fault, really. Them and that bloomin’ dunk in the dark tweet. It’s been repeated ad nauseum in social media marketing circles that the super viral, super fast, Super Bowl tweet was not a one off. It was the product of regular, constant reactive social media.

Essentially, it was a battering ram approach. A strategy that could also be described as ‘throw as much shit at the wall as is possible, and hope that some of it sticks’. ‘Agile’ is the polite term, frankly.

Now the accepted wisdom is that every brand needs to react to everything, because one effort out of 10 (20? 100? 1,000?) will go megaviral.

Which, of course, is ludicrous. When everyone’s taking this approach, it makes it harder for it to work for anyone. It increases consumer skepticism — they see these cynical quirky branded social media efforts, and are increasingly switching off.

Apart from anything else, it’s massively inefficient. The best you can ever hope for are spikes of activity really working. Wouldn’t you rather carefully craft a piece of meaningful considered content with a far greater chance of working than constantly churn out reactive noise?

You don’t have to comment on #InternationalCarrotDay, #NationalDoughnutWeek and #DonkeyWeek unless you make carrot cake doughnuts that are delivered by donkey.

The fallacy of being first

The other major culprit is this desperate rush on the part of brands to experiment with new stuff first.

Chatbots, virtual reality, live video — these new technologies are largely unproven. There are some examples where brands have used them well, of course, but ask yourself — are you using this tech because it’s the ideal platform for your idea? Or are you using it because it’s new and exciting?

If the latter, have a rethink.

There are benefits to being among the first to use a new platform, technology or feature. Industry recognition, access to an early adopter audience, opportunity to ride a bit of the wave of early buzz. But unless your audience is the marketing industry, or early adopters, these benefits are minimal.

Much like the spray and pray approach, wouldn’t you rather be recognised for doing something well, than for doing it first?

So what do you do?

Ultimately, it’s about taking an approach that merits quality over quantity.

There are a few practical tips that can help lead you down this path:

  • Do schedule, don’t automate. Scheduling is a practical necessity for anyone managing multiple channels and brands. But automation? The robots aren’t clever enough yet. If you’re using one of those bots that aggregates content based on keywords, or letting software choose your influencers, you’re adding to the noise.
  • Do recycle, don’t rehash. All good ideas are worth using more than once. If you find something works with your audience, by all means keep ploughing that furrow. But if you see something works for another brand, don’t rehash the idea for yours.
  • Do pay, don’t prop. Paid social is an essential component of a successful campaign nowadays. But it’s about how you use it. Too often I see brands using cash to prop up content that isn’t working — a way of guaranteeing it gets the impression count promised to the client, or boss. You should be paying to promote your best content, see it as a way to reach a new audience with the stuff you know is going to work, with a view to increasing organic engagement.
  • Do influence, don’t be indiscriminate. The blogger who has pitched your brand might be the one that works, assuming they’ve picked your brand as one they care about, rather than the more likely scenario — they’re spamming an email list to get free stuff. Just because they’ve come to you doesn’t mean you need to work with them. Assess the influencers you work with, spend time reading and getting right into the content, follow them yourself and understand their worlds. Then handpick the ones you know will work.
  • Do relevant, don’t be purely reactive. Without proper planning, it’s easy for your social media strategy to become a reaction to whatever’s trending that day. The likelihood of that being relevant is very low. This is all about preparation. Which doesn’t mean don’t be reactive, but be prepared to react, when relevant.
  • Do innovate, don’t imitate. Yeah… sorry about the cheesiness of this one. Just wanted to say that although you don’t need to be ‘first’, that doesn’t mean don’t innovate. As a marketer, just using new technology is not innovation — that’s where the innovation has been done for you already. True innovation can be a new approach to an old idea, or a new idea with an old approach.

Is ‘Creativity for Good’, good for creativity?

halopencilIn 2013, D&AD introduced the White Pencil to honour ‘sustainable and ethical advertising and design that makes a real difference.’ It was originally intended to mark the organisation’s 50th anniversary by ‘putting D&AD’s global community to work in the service of a cause.’ That cause was Peace Day.

There is now an annual category that champions ‘Creativity for Good’ and, in April 2016, a dedicated award scheme was launched – D&AD Impact – to celebrate creativity that stimulates positive change in the world and encourage creatives to ‘do well by doing good’.

At this year’s Festival, Thomas Kolster wasn’t the only keynote speaker espousing the virtues of ‘Goodvertising’.  A look at the list of 2017’s top pencil winners suggests that creatives can certainly win good by doing good.

Of the 62 Yellow pencils handed out, exactly half were awarded to work for noble causes or featured issue-based creative. These 31 pencils embrace an admirably diverse range of subject matter: black oppression, neo nazism, autism, visual impairment, facial disfigurement, domestic violence, road safety, disability, sick children, dementia, urban (community) regeneration, LGBT pride, freedom of speech, breast cancer, weapons control, plastic pollution, refugee crisis, online bullying, gender discrimination.

All 5 Black pencils were elevated from the above ‘worthy’ group.

As an industry, we can be justifiably proud of this. And there is no doubt that every piece merits its level of award for both ‘greatness’ of idea and ‘beauty’ of execution: the guiding D&AD tenet.

But it occurs to me that this year’s spread of blacks and yellows does not represent the day-to-day reality of the industry that we work in. Look at your agency’s client list. Is half your roster comprised of brands, products, charities or services that exist to address a human good?

While nobody would argue against using our creative skills to foster ideas that make the world a better place, we may be short-changing the many millions of commercial brands that demand equal measures of our creativity, invention and craft to simply win friends, boost custom and preserve a place in the market.

In our noble pursuit of all things altruistic, we may also be encouraging a narrower framework for creative expression.

A scan of this year’s top pencil winners reveals – to me, at least – a dearth of humour and a paucity of creative that serves, primarily, to entertain. Dougal Wilson’s ‘Meet the Paralympians’ film is an exception – a double Black pencil winner that pulls off a rare trick of being simultaneously ennobling and entertaining. Perhaps not unexpected from a former creative who cut his teeth writing riotously funny (and handsomely awarded) ads for Irn-Bru.

It does beg the question: have we started taking ourselves too seriously?

There is no doubt that when creatives are tasked with capturing the hearts and minds of consumers, it helps if the client or subject matter resonates on an emotional or human level. It’s much easier to persuade people to care about dementia than Domestos. Awards jurors are no different.

Of course, simply working on a charity brief does not dictate that awards and fame will follow. Rare levels of thinking and exceptional craft skills are still required to create truly standout work.

But it would be a real shame if our juries were to start discriminating – even unconsciously – against work for brands that advance no human good other than delighting our tastebuds, tickling our funny bones or killing 99% of household germs.

Because, for a good majority of creatives, these everyday brands remain our bread and low-fat, spreadable butter.

Making sense of popular statistical terms


Guest blog from Iridium Insights, specialists in data integration, analytics and insights for the consumer goods industry

At Iridium Insights we are all about making sense out of data, and as we recognise that a lot of the technical stats terms can be confusing, we’ve created this quick look-up glossary of statistical definitions.

Bayesian modelling

There are two different statistical approaches to gaining insights from data: frequentist (or classical) and Bayesian. The frequentist approach builds a model based only on the data observed, while the Bayesian approach allows some subjective beliefs about the model to be incorporated with the observations.

CHAID analysis (Chi squared automatic interaction detector)

CHAID is a type of a decision tree algorithm that determines relationships between the variable of interest (for example, the number of purchases of a particular product) and the independent variables (for example, customer characteristics – age, gender and socioeconomic status). CHAID automatically creates the decision tree based on the trends and patterns within the data. It can then help understand a customer’s response to a marketing campaign and is often used for customer segmentation.

Cluster analysis

Cluster analysis is an exploratory data analysis method that helps identify meaningful structures within data. It defines areas/groups/segments of data that share similarities across several measures. In the marketing industry, the cluster analysis is often used to identify customer segments.

CHAID is also often used for customer segmentation, but is a very different algorithm to Cluster analysis. Cluster analysis treats all the variables in the data uniformly, while CHAID analysis recognises the variable of interest and independent variables as separate variables.

Correlation analysis

Correlation analysis studies relationships between a variable of interest and an explanatory variable. For example, a variable of interest could be premium juice consumption while an explanatory variable could be GDP per capita. If the relationship proves to be statistically significant, the explanatory variable is said to be related or associated to the variable of interest. Parameters such as r-squared and p-value are used to assess the strength of the relationship.

Decision tree analysis

Decision analysis is a general name given to techniques that analyse every possible outcome of a decision. A decision tree is a graph that visualises the outcomes and can be easily interpreted. They can help understand and evaluate risks and uncertainties. They also can help answer questions such as: What are the factors that affect the sales of a product the most? Can we predict a consumer group response to a marketing campaign?

Machine learning

Machine learning is a method of data analysis that iteratively “learns” from data as it arrives without human intervention. Machine learning can analyse large amounts of data quickly to enable businesses to make decisions about their marketing campaigns in real time and to deliver insights on to complex consumer behaviours.

Marketing mix modelling (MM modelling)

Marketing mix modelling is a method of data analysis used to quantify the impact of marketing activities on product sales. In simplest terms, MM modelling gives weights to different factors that affect product sales. The weights can be determined using for example multivariable regression modelling.

Multivariate regression

Multivariate regression analysis studies the relationship between several variables of interest against several explanatory variables. For example, the variables of interest could be consumption of beer, cider and wine, while the explanatory variables could be the GDP per capita, commodity prices, new product launches, population demographics and so on. Multivariate regression analysis helps to understand how differently the changes in explanatory variables affect the variables of interest.

Prediction interval/confidence interval

A confidence interval is a range of values that is likely to contain an unknown value of a variable. Prediction interval is a type of confidence interval that can be used for values that are yet to be observed.

For example, let the local train delay in minutes represent a variable of interest. If we know from experience that the train is never on time, arriving either late or too early by 15 minutes 95% of the time – then we would say that we are 95% confident that the train arrives at the station during the period between 15 minutes before departure time and 15 minutes after the departure time.

(Multivariable) Regression analysis

Regression analysis is a more general form of Correlation analysis, where the relationships between one variable of interest and several explanatory variables are measured. For example, the variable of interest could be a premium beer consumption while the explanatory variables could be GDP per capita, commodity prices, new product launches and so on. Regression analysis helps to understand how changes in explanatory variables affect the variable of interest. It is widely used for predictions and forecasts.

If you are interested in what Iridium Insights could do with your data, please get in contact:

Natwest: You are a bank. That’s all you are.

maxresdefaultby Zane Radcliffe, Creative Director, AgencyUK

It was Oscar Wilde who said that there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about. In the twentieth century, an increasingly PR driven ad industry updated Wilde’s maxim to the popular adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

During the halcyon days of TV advertising, when millions of us watched the same ad break at the same time (how quaint!), agencies spoke of creating ‘watercooler moments’ in workplaces on the days following the first airing of their latest TV opus. We sold clients on the idea that ads should polarise people – ingratiate and agitate – because that is how you generate opinion and debate. That is how you become ‘talked about’.

Of course, as a nation, we still talk about ads. Only we don’t gather round the water cooler in a closed group. We share our views openly on social media – in indelible, electronic ink – with an audience that’s unconfined. The consumer has been empowered like never before. It is no longer sufficient to simply be talked about. Brands need to be talked about in the right way.

But how?

Let me refer to the new NatWest TV ‘spectacular’ as an example of a brand that has got it spectacularly wrong. If you haven’t seen the ad, you’ll have read comment on it or caught someone’s opinion. It’s being ‘talked about’. Which is a good thing, right? Not entirely.

The RBS-owned bank has presumably conducted some research that has concluded that people don’t trust banks. No shit and nice work if you can get it. And, in an attempt to address this and win back our hearts and minds, it has served us sixty seconds of sincere, monochrome vignettes that highlight contradictions of the human condition. We are creative … and destructive. We are brave … and stupid. It’s a portentous and pretentious collage of suffragettes, hooligans, war heroes and newborn babies. There’s even a crumbling, polar ice cap (and it’s not even an ironic reference to financial collapse).

For 50 of the 60 seconds, the ad attempts to tug our emotional heartstrings and prick our consciences in the way UNICEF or Amnesty might be expected to do. And then their logo appears. And the bubble bursts, like a water balloon filled with piss. And a nation collectively screams: what the f***??!

It won’t be the reaction they expected. Somewhere within the cosseted walls of their agency or their marketing department, they thought it would be a good idea to reposition themselves as apologists for past actions. ‘We are what we do’ is their pompous and belated promise to try harder. It’s like they’ve just stumbled on the whole notion of corporate social responsibility.

And the reason the ad doesn’t work? It’s because they don’t have permission. They don’t have our permission to co-opt issues of global warming, homelessness and man’s inhumanity to man. They don’t have our permission to represent us from the moment we are born to the day we die. Their ad hijacks the achievements of screen heroes and war heroes. And we do not give them permission to do that. They have not earned the right.

We haven’t forgotten about the sub-prime crash. We haven’t forgotten Fred the Shred. We haven’t forgotten the bonuses, the bullshit and the bail out.

We are what we do, they claim.
If that’s the case, you are a systematic part of the financial malaise.
You are part owned by us, and a drain on taxpayer’s resources.
You are making yourselves inaccessible to older customers by closing branches.
You are vulnerable to security breaches.
You are staring down the barrel of a crippling, multi-billion dollar fine.

And you are not a good judge of your audience.

An open letter to the Advertising Standards Authority, Committee of Advertising Practice and Electoral Commission

I write not through political discontent, a disheartening towards our democratic process or through any ill wishes towards Brexit or Remain voters. I write in complaint of the propaganda and battle cries from which all parties fought their corner. In particular, I write to lobby your organisations so that future political campaigns may fall subject to the CAP Code.

I understand the complexities involved here. If the ASA is enforcing the code on political parties or movements, there’s the possibility of it investigating alleged false claims after those falsehoods have helped a government into power – leaving the ASA in the position of potentially ruling against the government, and alleging some serious criminality.

Currently, as CAP explains:

“Claims in marketing communications, whenever published or distributed, whose principal function is to influence voters in a local, regional, national or international election or referendum are exempt from the Code.”

Whilst the EC acknowledges:

“In general, political campaign material in the UK is not regulated, and it is a matter for voters to decide on the basis of such material whether they consider it accurate or not.”

Unfortunately, the campaigning around the recent EU referendum has shown beyond doubt that this status quo must change. The solution may be to create an independent office outside of the ASA to monitor political campaign materials and messages, but what’s clear is that your organisations must discuss and respond with action.

In the below, I cite multiple references to misleading claims and false facts. I draw particular attention to these specifics (there are many more, but these are the most verifiably false), and urge you as an organisation to embark on a full independent investigation surrounding their origin, their usage to sway opinion and their particular impact on the final outcome.

As part of this official complaint I would like to suggest any culprits are punished to a level consistent with any organisation in similar breach of the CAP code or any ASA guidelines. Private businesses in the highly regulated tobacco, pharmaceutical, health and beauty, gambling and drinks industries could expect high penalties for the use of falsehoods such as these in their advertising.

I also urge you to publish a report clarifying why political campaigns appear to be immune to such basic advertising standards, and why the ASA does not serve in the public’s interest during political campaigns.

My specific complaints reside in the following four claims, which were used as key “sales” messages during the campaign period. The first three are simply factually incorrect, and the fourth is so hard to credibly predict, that it surely can be no more than a speculation.

Leave Campaign

1. The EU costs £350m per week, nearly £20bn per year.

2. The UK consistently loses in the EU because other members favour a highly regulated and protectionist economy.

Remain Campaign

3. Two thirds of British jobs in manufacturing are dependant on demand from Europe.

4. Brexit will make us worse off to the tune of £4300 per household by 2030.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Saman Mansourpour

Managing Director

AgencyUK help Westfield Health turn workaholics into walkaholics

AgencyUK Walking Lunch

Earlier this year, award-winning communications firm AgencyUK was appointed by leading provider of workplace health and wellbeing cover, Westfield Health, to launch a new campaign for National Walking Month.

Following a successful internal campaign in 2015 Westfield Health wanted to grow its Walking Month campaign into something that would resonate with a wider audience. AgencyUK was appointed to take the campaign to a national level and support Westfield Health’s effort to champion the health and wellbeing of the UK workforce.

Delivering a campaign entitled “Walking Lunch”, Westfield Health chose AgencyUK to encourage employees and the general public to reclaim their lunch breaks and walk for 20 minutes a day. A competitive element was incorporated to incentivise sign-up; participants competed to win a £1000 wellbeing voucher for the winning team, and a FitBit for the winning individual. Participants were sent a Westfield Health branded pedometer to help track their efforts, which they’d input onto a specially-created leaderboard which was hosted on a micro-site.

To create campaign momentum, AgencyUK devised a mutually beneficial partnership with Living Streets, the national charity for everyday walking. The partnership included online marketing, social media, guest blogging and press activity.

To drive awareness and sign up figures further, celebrity ambassador Carol Vorderman was recruited. Carol featured in a video produced by the agency, and her involvement, along with a commissioned survey around lunch breaks by Westfield, resulted in 27 pieces of media coverage, including a segment on BBC Breakfast.

AgencyUK also recruited three lifestyle bloggers, known as “Walking Champions”, who completed the campaign exercise early to encourage sign up prior to May’s launch. With a combined social following of 28,000, the bloggers walked every lunch break for four weeks and documented their progress through blog posts and social media content including short videos, tweets and images. Due to this activity, combined with AgencyUK’s traditional media efforts, the campaign achieved 188 million opportunities to see.

As a result of this, over 400 companies and 2700 individuals signed up to the campaign.

Andrew Carver, Internal Communications and Employee Engagement Manager at Westfield Health said, ‘Working with Agency UK on this campaign gave us a great boost in positioning us as a Health and Wellbeing expert. Agency UK were bubbling with creative ideas that really delivered campaign outcomes.’

Client Services Director, Jon Dunbar, AgencyUK, added, ‘We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with Westfield Health, delivering the company’s new messaging to consumers at a national level. We look forward to working together in the future to continue their positioning as health and wellbeing champions’.

Branding Brexit: the comms strategy failures around the EU referendum

By Sammy Mansourpour, Managing Director, AgencyUK

Nine minutes before Boris Johnson publicly declared which side he was backing in Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union, he texted David Cameron to let him know – “Dave, I’m backing Brexit. Soz.” Or words to that effect. It was less than ten minutes before the media-at-large knew.

This was the part of the process of preparation for the announcement, apparently taken after ‘enormous heartache’. Does it sound like a course of action followed by a decisive and committed campaign spokesperson? Not exactly.

Irrespective of your political view, the communications strategies (or lack thereof) around the EU referendum have been a litany of failures.

Grassroots and leave
BoJo’s announcement wasn’t a tidy affair, not much involving the former London Mayor is, but it felt like a kind of campaign ‘kick-off’ for the Brexit movement. Which perhaps added to the general sense of confusion around the campaign’s communications, typified by the fall out of which Brexit campaign got dubbed to be ‘official’.

‘Vote Leave’, the Johnson and Michael Gove backed campaign, was given the honour, beating Nigel Farage and Peter Bone’s ‘Grassroots Out’. It was a narrow margin of 45 to 49 on the Electoral Commission’s criteria, itself indicative of the lack of a through line communications strategy on part of the Brexiters.

What is particularly odd is the fact that the EC stated greater public backing as the key differentiator. How could Farage, who it must be said has been the most vocal anti-EU proponent over the last few years, end up backing the losing horse?

Complacent, or just unexciting?
Which isn’t to say that the ‘leave’ camp has been alone in making mistakes through the course of this campaign. For transparency, I should say that I am firmly pro-remain. But I have remained firmly uninspired by my side’s campaigning.

Perhaps it’s just that the old ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ message is difficult to communicate in a non-patronising way. Perhaps it’s simply because the sensible option is always going to sound less exciting.

Which leads me to the question I keep asking myself – where is the fun in this referendum?

Black and white ‘facts’
There should be plenty of scope in the topic for humour. Why hasn’t anyone taken the sting out of the tail of the debate with a bit of whimsy? And not of the ‘Accidental Partridge’ kind Farage’s flotilla delivered. Satire is a powerful political weapon, and both sides of this referendum are ripe for sending up.

From social media, think of the political memes we’ve had in recent years; David Cameron in airbrushed for change, BoJo on a zip wire photoshop wars, “I agree with Nick”, Milifandom. This referendum has had none of that, and in its place has been monotonous furrow browed debate.

Very arguably, the complexity of the issues at stake here is deserving of seriousness. But it is a complex debate with many perspectives – it’s shades of grey, while the media’s treatment has been black and white. The national news organisations picked their predictable sides, and have done nothing but throw (supposed) evidence based arguments at their opponents, leaving many an average reader with a likely very blinkered view.

Then there is evidence that is getting thrown out of the window, with the UK Statistics Authority repeatedly decrying the leave campaign’s central ‘£350 million a week’ message. Even the facts can’t be communicated properly in this campaign.

Nothing to engage young voters
My main concern is that the outcome of this referendum could have serious consequences, and that none of the tactics deployed by either side seem to have engaged at a wider level. With the outcome likely to have such a longstanding impact, the younger voter you are, the are more impact this referendum will have on you.

And what are the campaigns doing to engage younger voters? Well this is where the impartial Electoral Commission really takes the biscuit, in attempting to inject the humour so lacking in the opposing sides’ messaging. Its ‘#BoatyMcBoatface’ campaign was not only patronising (do young people need the election turned into a joke, or do they need the issues relevant to them communicated properly?) and desperate seeming, it’s literally a real life version of a Private Eye spoof.

As I’ve mentioned, this is a complex debate, and given we rarely get perfectly delivered communications campaigns from our political leaders when they’re on designated political teams, it’s hardly surprising that it’s a bit of a mess when they are working in hurried cross-party alliances. But the complexity is exactly the reason why that’s worrying – young voters have not been engaged, the electorate at large has been stood in the middle of a slinging match of muddied truths, unable to decipher fact from fiction.

Clear marketing communications have an important function, particularly in the political sphere where the outcome is of such gravity. Where intelligent communications strategies should have been cutting through the noise, we’ve had negative campaigning – embittered, repetitive shouting to get heard. I can’t help but feel that both sides of the Brexit camp have failed their voters in this referendum.

AgencyUK delivers integrated campaign for Chang Beer

Comedian Ed Gamble in the Chang Lager tuk-tuk at Machynlleth Comedy Festival,  30th April - 1st May 2016

Comedian Ed Gamble in the Chang Lager tuk-tuk at Machynlleth Comedy Festival, 30th April – 1st May 2016

Earlier this year ThaiBev-owned brand Chang Beer appointed Bath-based marketing firm AgencyUK to run an integrated PR, social media, creative and experiential marketing campaign to increase awareness of the product and its new SKU.

Using the “refreshingly Thai” strapline, AgencyUK organised a series of events to create a greater awareness of the brand and showcase its iconic new bottle design to wider UK audiences, supported with Social and PR activity.

The campaign was kicked off with a launch event hosted on London’s South Bank. More than 150 people attended the reveal of the iconic new bottle. Visitors to the launch event, which took place at the Bargehouse in Oxo Tower, were served bottles of the new Chang Beer from an impressive bar designed to emulate a Thai boxing ring. Over 750 bottles of the lager beer were enjoyed by attendees, paired with freshly made Thai canapes from London’s Thai pop-up restaurant Farang. Seb Holmes, Head chef of Farang, confirmed that nearly 800 canapes were served from the Thai menu.

Entertainment was provided in the form of a magician who performed tricks featuring the new bottle. A street artist topped off the evening with a live, dramatic painting of the new bottle. Chang Beer was also joined by notable guests, including members of the Thai Embassy and Everton Football Club legends (Chang Beer has been the primary shirt sponsor of Everton Football Club for over 11 years).

Following the trade focused launch, the consumer facing campaign to generate awareness for Chang Beer and its new packaging amongst the lager’s target audience in the UK, included sponsorship of Machynlleth Comedy Festival. As official beer partner at Machynlleth Comedy Festival, Chang was the only lager to be served on site. The sponsorship included a fully branded, Chang-only bar, a Chang Tuk Tuk that transported comedians across the site, a live artist who painted a Bangkok cityscape behind the new green bottle on the wall of the Chang-branded bar and a lock-in comedy gig with top name comedians that could only be attended by attendees winning tickets via a social media competition on Chang Beer’s social pages.

The final piece of activity AgencyUK devised was a PR stunt and experiential activity entitled “massage in a bottle” in London’s Westfield Stratford Shopping Centre, Europe’s largest urban shopping and leisure destination. Over 1000 shoppers were offered samples of Chang Beer, as well as Thai-style massages in the giant Chang “bottle” that was designed and built for the event. The event also involved the launch of an online competition, where consumers are encouraged to share pictures of themselves on social media wearing a “Chang smile” beer mat. The competition is to run for six weeks, with the beer mats being placed in Thai restaurants in London and beyond. The winners will receive two return flights to Thailand.

All planned activity has been supported with ongoing community management of Chang Beer’s UK social media channels, ensuring that fresh and exciting content is being delivered across the brand’s various platforms. The PR activity resulted in 1.10 million opportunities to see and continues to rise.

Eleanor Huddart, Marketing Manager, Chang Beer, said: “After celebrating more than two decades of Chang Beer, we have refreshed our packaging to reflect the ever-changing face of the land of smiles. Our new premium look has been crafted in rich emerald green glass, with elegant contours and expert embossing that provide a contemporary twist on our proud heritage – the perfect match to not only our refreshed logo, but also to our crisp brew and the tastes of modern Thailand.

AUK has proven throughout the planning, execution and post-event phases of Chang Beer’s new SKU launch campaign that they are a creative and dynamic integrated marketing communications agency that is not afraid to break boundaries with their ideas. They have been a pleasure to work with throughout the campaign period and ensured that all events and activities ran to achieve the best possible results.’’

Saman Mansourpour, Managing Director, AgencyUK, said:
“We’re thrilled to have expanded our portfolio of Food & Drink clients with our recent activity with Chang Beer. After being awarded with Food & Drink campaign of the year at The Drum Network Awards in December for our work with Welsh Lamb, we were very confident that we could deliver a campaign of a high calibre, and we’re very pleased with the results.”

AgencyUK’s Antibiotic awareness campaign receives national award for its community focus

devon antibiotics
A campaign created by AgencyUK to help tackle antibiotic resistance through educating parents has just received national recognition at the Antibiotic Guardian awards. The award comes as news of a ‘dramatic’ reduction in antibiotic prescription has been announced by the NHS this week.

The news of the reduction follows the campaign which aimed to increase awareness about the effective use and side effects of antibiotics, and provide effective tips for caring for children suffering from some common childhood illnesses.

The Listen to Your Gut campaign, which was co-produced by parents at a North Devon Children’s centre alongside Devon County Council and health partners from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), won the Community Category at the Antibiotic Guardians awards in Birmingham on Friday 13 May.

AgencyUK undertook the planning and execution of the award winning campaign, involving animation, social media, PPC and display advertising. A microsite was also created to help change the way parents view the role of antibiotics in treating common illnesses such as coughs and colds. Social media messages were used to start conversations about caring for a young child with a viral infection, and provide information on how antibiotics can damage gut flora that supports good health, when not used properly.

The project has been developed to be part of the national Antibiotic Guardian campaign and is now widely used in other parts of England.

Dr Tom Lewis, consultant microbiologist for Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, said: “This campaign is all about raising awareness, so it is fantastic that it has been recognised on a national level.

“There is lots of new research that suggests that losing our healthy bugs can make us more likely to develop a wide range of illnesses, including diabetes. Many people do not realise that taking antibiotics can kill healthy bugs too. This campaign is helping us to get this important message across so that people only use antibiotics when they really need them.”

Devon County Councillor Andrea Davis was also part of the campaign, sporting her ‘gut face’ which formed part of the social media interaction.

“We are very proud of this campaign, because it was the result of genuine collaboration and innovation from all the partners involved. The heart of this work and the driving force behind its success were the Ilfracombe children’s centre and the community of mums, who shaped the campaign and really got behind it.”

The national Antibiotic Guardian campaign is inviting the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, to all become Antibiotic Guardians by choosing one pledge about how they will make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

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