What is the Metaverse?

Best & Worst Travel Marketing Campaigns

It’s approaching the holiday season. Exciting times for everybody to take some time to themselves. Hopefully to travel to wherever you want. After the last nearly two years we’ve had, we deserve a good get away to a foreign country. But if you’re still unsure and worried or maybe just prefer home, I’m going to talk about the best and worst travel marketing campaigns countries have put forward to encourage tourism. Some have good intentions but maybe are just not appropriate for the masses. Some are amazing and show the real strength and beauty of a country and its culture. And some are just dreadful.  Now before you tut at me for the image above, let me explain. So this is for the Australian Northern Territory tourism advertisement. The imagery shows the huge red rock of Uluru which rises dramatically from the Central Australian desert and is one of Australia’s most famous attractions. In the front is some controversial typography. The phrase reads as “C U In The N T” an abbreviation of “See You In The Northern Territory”. However, as anyone can see, it also reads as an extremely explicit expression. In Australia the term is used more frequently than in the western hemisphere. Because of this the campaign does associate the advertisement with the country successfully. Also the NT in the text, is a play of the already used logo for promotion of the area so works well with establishing the geography. Now although the campaign was a success and is very humorous with Twitter responses saying “Didn’t know the NT named their campaign after you?” and “Should I get a postcard of this for the kids? Lol”. The SA (Southern Australia) confirmed the state government had nothing to do with the campaign. A spokesperson saying “It’s so not us”. The two entrepreneurs who created the Northern Territory campaign, Adam Blackburn and Blaze Tripp, however say “We’re just a couple of blokes that are knocking up some ideas.” I do feel that there could have been a sensitivity to their audience, like the American’s that have a particular distaste for the choice of word and make up over 1,300 of Australia’s tourism. However I really do have crude humour and I do see it as a joke and it definitely worked well in gaining traction. On 14 April 2010 a volcanic eruption started under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland. The ash and damage caused by the volcano were globally reported and most news were inflammatory and excessive to the truth. Due to this within days a wave of cancellations began across all sectors. In this time the tourist arrivals of the country plummeted by 22% in April alone. However, how the professionals required tackled the issue led to a more successful peak season than expected. The Icelandic government, the City of Reykjavík, airlines Icelandair and Iceland Express, Promote Iceland and about 80 other tourism-related companies joined forces to counter the worldwide impression that travelling to Iceland was dangerous. They started by launching the campaign “Inspired by Iceland”. With the message of “Iceland has never been more awake and there has never been a more exciting time to visit the country.” To encourage people to share their stories and memories of visiting Iceland. With an attempt to change the focus from the catasphrophic effects of the volcano into a mass media attention aimed at the safety and beauty of the country. All promoted heavily on the campaign’s website, Inspiredbyiceland.com. The campaign was launched on 3 June with even Stephen Fry tweeting “Despite what you might think, Iceland is as alive and charming as ever.” The campaign was a massive success with a survey conducted in the UK, Germany and Denmark indicating increased interest in Iceland as a destination. So impactful that the figures for travellers coming to Iceland equaled the same number for 2009 with only a 0.6% decrease. An example of something that even for its time was seen as a backwards campaign was 2009 Denmark’s tourism agency via a YouTube advert on the VisitDenmark channel. The advert was a three-minute-long video clip showing a young, blond woman with a baby called ‘August’ where she says he is the result of a brief fling with a foreign tourist. The video shows her saying she is trying to find August’s father. She says ‘We met one night a year and a half ago when you were on vacation here in Denmark. And then decided to have a drink and, yeah, it’s really embarrassing but it’s more or less what I remember. I don’t remember where you’re from or even your name. The next morning when I woke up, you were gone. I just want to let you know that August is here and he exists. I feel I owe that to both you and him.’ It has been revealed that the woman is an actress and was accused of promoting promiscuity and labelled ‘grotesque’ by one Danish newspaper. The campaign was labelled as promoting the country as a place to go and have unprotected sex with strangers. The advert was removed from YouTube and had 800,000 hits. A sociologist, Karen Sjoerup said “You can lure fast, blonde Danish women home without a condom.” and the Economy Minister Lene Espersen said the video “Presented a not very well-thought-out picture of the country.” VisitDenmark manager Dorte Kiilerich said “’I regret that the film has offended so many people.” He then went on to explain that the intent had been to tell “A nice and sweet story about a grown-up woman who lives in a free society and accepts the consequences of her actions.” I believe this advert had to taste at all and made no sense for promoting tourism except encouraging unruly and promiscuous men that don’t accept the consequences of their actions. In 2016, The Swedish Tourist Association and INGO, a Stockholm based agency, gave the country it’s own telephone number. To celebrate 250 years of free speech, the number was open to anyone and everyone around the world. When they call they automatically connect to a random Swedish citizen, who has signed up online at the time. They can talk about any subject and anything in Sweden, in doing so encourage visitors. The campaign was successful and received more than 170,000 calls from 186 different countries. The campaign also generated 9 billion impressions online and made a value of nearly £110 million with a media spend of zero. Even Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven was a Swedish ambassador and member and was accepting calls. I think this idea is ingenious and is a creative and different way of promoting the tourism of the country while also not spending that much money on the campaign. Stewart Russell-Moya

Top 4 Fintech Marketing Campaigns

Weird and Controversial Marketing Campaigns

Fashion Marketing Campaigns

Advertising that shaped culture

What is nostalgia marketing?

Advertising with Love Island

Athletes in Advertising

The world is returning to normal : so are ads!

Rick and Morty in advertising

Horror in Advertising

Something you may not know about me is I’m a big fan of the horror genre, and if you’ve read any of my past articles you’ll know I'm very interested in advertising. So when the two come together it’s like ‘When Worlds Collide’ for me. I don’t think we see it enough so when a brand takes that leap of faith I'm always quite delighted, but delight aside, does it make for effective advertising?

Football Advertising Campaigns

A week on from Italy winning the 2021 Euros and England losing, is it too soon? I think it is interesting to look back on some of the most interesting sport advertising campaigns and reflect on why they did or didn’t work. To create a successful campaign for sporting events, there has to be a certain buzz of excitement around the advert. This could mean a celebrity feature, for example using famous sporting stars like David Beckham, Tom Daley or Serena Williams. Some fast passed music, traditionally a summer, party anthem that can increase anticipation and build up. Normally is accompanied by sound effects of cheering to mimic crowds alongside bright and vibrant graphics and imagery. 

Celebrities in Advertising

Celebrities in advertising is nothing new. In the early 1900s Mark Twain had co-branded pens, and the baseball player Ty Cobb had his own Tobacco. I know, an athlete with his own tobacco made me chuckle as well. This has continued all the way through the century into the modern day, which made me think, if it has lasted this long how effective can it really be, and is it worth it? That’s what I’m going to tackle today.

Is TV dead? Long live the robots!

Before the digital boom of the late 2000s TV advertisement was deemed the most integral way of advertising a product or service. In the UK, this predates to 22 September 1955 with the launch of ITV, the first commercial channel and competitor for the BBC. The first commercial was for Gibbs SR toothpaste. Ever since then, the business of advertising on television has bloomed.

Marketing Trends 2021 by Ekstasy

With so many new advertising and marketing strategies over saturating the market, what are some of the interesting and new ways in which brands are marketing their campaigns so far in this whirlwind of a year? We are halfway through the year 2021 and due to the pandemic and lots of adversity that the world has dealt with both socially and culturally, brands have to show their adaptability and capability to grow and develop new and fresh ideas.

Annoying Opera singers? Sexy dino professors? Virtual Godzilla sized rappers? Edible Hotels?

What is a PR stunt? Standing for Public Relations and stunt being defined by Whikapedia as an unusual and difficult physical feat or an act requiring a special skill, performed for artistic purposes . Companies use this technique to create traction around their brand or a campaign they are currently doing. Some are very successful and have launched very small businesses into being a home hold name. For example, since the launch of Gio Compario in a 2009 advertising campaign for GoCompare (car insurance), the brand and its ambassador Gio himself has become nationally known. The character is quite irate and has been hated for a long time, with advertisements showing his death, billboards being defaced. An unexpected and slightly unusual way of campaigning successfully, is creating a character you hate and a jingle that you just can’t get out of your head. The company had a recorded £142.1 million revenue in 2016.

Plant-based Advertising

Veganism is the new trend. A UK study indicates that two million people are vegan. 60% of vegans adopted the lifestyle in the last five years and according to research taken by Mintel, the UK is leading in its range of vegan products. Going back just a few years the average menu at a restaurant would only have one or maybe two options for a vegetarian. Now there are whole chains that offer a completely vegan menu. The plant-based market is predicted to increase from £559 million in 2016 to £658 million in 2021.  Businesses in the hospitality industry have been forced to adapt and expand their creativity. Marketing strategies had to accommodate this new and expanding market. All I need to do is walk around the local hospitality venues near our office and all I see is ‘Try Our Vegan Menu’. Fast-food chains, which were previously notorious for their use of animal products, have started to create vegan alternatives, and use them heavily in their advertisement. Burger King’s new ‘The Vegan Royale’ and ‘The Plant-Based Burger’ have started springing up, with a green background and the vegan symbol. The colour and bold advertisement for a chain so normally known for its meat products are effective and eye-catching. It encourages greater audiences to purchase their products and also shows how the brand is adapting and changing with time. Burger King’s biggest competitor McDonald’s is in fact starting to look a bit dated, with their lack of vegan products and their adverts emphasising animal agriculture and consumption. Wagamama in 2019 claimed to have created ‘The First Vegan Egg’. The concept of creating a vegan egg is nearly impossible. Made with coconut milk, cornflour, miso egg white, and a Sriracha mayo yolk. The intricacy of combining both flavour and appearance is very difficult, so for an Asian cuisine chain to create this option resulted in a lot of buzz and interest. Wagamama is an innovator in the plant-based food sector and has had an entirely standalone plant-based menu for two years now.’ Since chains and restaurants have started creating these interesting and new ways of turning animal-based products into plant-based, it has created a new buzz in the hospitality world. Companies coming up with their own meat-free alternatives such as KFC’s vegan burger, a brand notoriously known for chicken products. Greggs Vegan Sausage roll caused an online stir resulting in celebrities such as Piers Morgan publicly bashing it. However, this only resulted in greater publicity. In fact, the product was so successful that it resulted in, ‘an increase of 13.5% in sales for the supermarket chain since introducing the product to their line last year.’ I even know people that prefer the pig-free roll to the original! This is a clear display of the growing market and the need for brands in the hospitality sector to adapt and grow too. Now restaurants and chains are judged on their availability of different dietary requirements and veganism is a way for these brands to create new and interesting products, just without hurting animals.

Coke : Why are we so addicted to it?

What is an effective way of selling a product? Well the answer to that question has changed overtime. Here we are in the current digital age, where the best route is through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, but just a decade ago it was more likely to have been Facebook, and a decade before that it would have been TV or billboard posters. Well to have created a successful advertisement you would need a strategy and a plan. A solid campaign. I want to find out how exactly a creative agency can create a relevant campaign. 

Why purpose driven brands must advertise differently?

“Purpose” is a tricky word to describe. I define purpose as “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”: without the sacrificial casualties of utilitarianism as in the case of Jeremy Bentham’s thinking. Because in a venture capital backed capitalist marketplace consumers akin to a colosseum’s audience have choice and can decide to use (thumbs-up) or not to use (thumbs-down) a product or a service, rather than it being enforced upon them. Making a good product is not good enough, if a large number of people do not use it, it’s viability is flawed and in turn the existence of the very company itself. This is what puts advertising in the spotlight, which is one of the most important tools in reaching out to your widest possible audience in the shortest period of time. 

The representation of Mothers in advertising

For mother’s day I thought I’d write about how the representation of mothers has changed in advertising. It’s a very interesting topic and I’ll cover how the representation of women has changed in another article but for now, I want to write about mothers specifically. So what has been the change? Let’s start where I usually start, the ‘50s and ‘60s. Most women were full-time housewives with society thinking that for them, their family should come first and their own goals/ambitions should not really come at all. In ads they’re almost all white, middle/upper class, skinny and doting. Let’s face it, nobody is this simple, that’s the problem.  They’re cliché, one dimensional but also harmful, a mother back then could have seen this ad and may have felt bad that they aren’t this idealistic mother. Nobody’s perfect and we all have our shortcomings. That’s what they fail to mention, they’re trying to sell through false promises and a good ad should never have to do that. Ah the 1980’s, Consumerism was in, Greed was good and it was a great time to be in advertising, or so I’ve been told. A lot had changed from the ’60s but some things had not. When doing my research I actually couldn’t find too many ads directed at mothers but the one I did find that seems very well known, it’s the Oxo Lynda Bellingham ad from 1983. In this ad a mother brings her family together through a dinner made with Oxo, it does a lot of good things like make the mother and family more realistic in the way they look and talk to one another. It’s less aspirational and more relatable. The only place where I think it slips up is it still presents the mother as taking care of her family and home as her only role. However, one print ad I saw that I really liked was this ad Johnson and Johnson ad. I think it’s more diverse than past ads while keeping its authenticity. The 2000s really weren’t too long ago now, well we’re still in them but I’m talking specifically about the early 2000s. When I was doing my research I found something interesting which is whatever I searched for I couldn’t find many examples. I’m sure they exist but I couldn’t find any, it’s interesting as maybe it signifies a social shift in advertising? Moving away from targeting a specific demographic and targeting a broader and more diverse audience. Whether this is true or not I don’t know, it’s just a thought, and whether you think ads should be specific or broad is a topic for another time. Finally, we have recent mothers in ads, and what do they look like? Well, more like real mothers to be honest. The ones that have stuck in my mind have been P&G’s legendary Olympic ads celebrating the mothers of Olympians and the World’s Toughest Job campaign from Cardstore. The reason I love the P&G ads is because of the realistic depiction that being a mother isn’t always easy or glamorous as it was suggested in the ’50s/’60s Another reason is it shows just how much of an impact our mothers have on our lives all the way from childhood to adulthood, deep right? A concept that I don’t think could have or would have been explored in previous decades. The Cardstore ad is along the same lines where it talks about the truth of being a mother and really puts all their hard work in perspective. In conclusion, I think the shift in mothers’ representation has been looking at them honestly, showing that it’s not always easy or glamorous, but that it’s worth it. I think this honesty is spreading throughout advertising and it’s truly great to see. Despite the troubling times we currently find ourselves in, I’m still optimistic about what the future will bring, everyone stay safe, stay positive, and I hope you enjoy mother’s day. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

What are Anti-Ads?

Interesting phrase right? It seems like two words that should never go together, but they do. Like getting a dish that’s the perfect combination of sweet and sour. What brought the idea to mind and made me want to write about it was the latest burger king ad, which really made me think. I love the ad but I wonder how many Whoppers it’s going to sell? I’m personally not a fan of their burgers but I want to buy one now just to say well done on the campaign! It’s creative, honest and brave, but we’ll have to see how the results turn out. So what’s the idea behind ‘anti-advertising’? Well, it’s essentially reverse psychology and honesty weaved into an ad. If someone says “Don’t buy this product, this product isn’t for you” it’s human to want to buy the product. Or if a brand is honest with you in a comedic way you’re more inclined to trust and buy from them. Sometimes this is done very well, and sometimes not so much. There has to be a reason behind its use, otherwise, an ad could come across as just sounding arrogant. So without any further introduction let’s look at some examples of ‘Anti-ads’ that got it right and some that got it wrong. The original ‘Anti-ad’ was the series of VW Beetle ads that came out in the late 1950’s. “Think small”, “Lemon” and several more, they’re iconic have stood the test of time being spoken about 60 years later. Why were they so good? Because they were innovative, witty and most of all brave. Just imagine getting the brief of selling an ugly German car to the American population in the 50’s and 60’s, that’s no easy task. So they decided to go with what the audience was already thinking and addressed it with self-deprecating humor. This had the effect of showing benefits like “Small insurance” “Small repair bills”. Showing how the car hadn’t changed in years showed you wouldn’t be afraid about having the latest model. The ads were genius and paved the road for more to come. Next is a trend that’s become popular not only in advertising but media in general, breaking the fourth wall and being self-referential. This ad for BrewDog literally says it’s an ad and shows their product, nothing else. I know that for me this was a breath of fresh air, an ad that wasn’t trying to sell any lifestyle, health benefits, or social message but just wanted me to know this was an ad and it was for them. I loved it, it reminded me of an Oasis ad I saw when I was younger which just said “Your favorite celebrity would drink Oasis if we paid them” I literally bought an Oasis because of that ad, I thought it was funny. The honesty of some ‘Anti-ads’ is just funny and refreshing to see, and it makes people more inclined to buy your product. Another ‘Anti-ad’ which has a tagline which at first confuses you, then makes sense is the campaign for Hinge, “Designed to be deleted”. At first, this seems odd, what app is designed to be deleted? Then you realize, a dating app that wants you to find someone special. I’m no expert on relationships but what I do know is if you’re in one it’s best not to have a dating app on your phone. It’s a great riddle of a tagline and personifying the app in the video was a clever choice. Now one that didn’t get it right, this was a famously poor received ad from Protein World asking the simple question, “Are you beach body ready?” with a stereotypically and unrealistic depiction of a beach body standing next to their weight loss collection. If this ad had been satirical it could have been great, but it feels like there’s no irony to this ad at all. The really sad thing, along with the misogyny, is the fact this ad actually increased their sales dramatically. Whether that makes it a good ad or a bad ad is up for you to decide. Another that didn’t hit the mark for me but still came closer than protein world was Patagonia’s “Don’t buy this jacket” print ad. The reason I’m not a fan of this ad was the fact that it uses reverse psychology so blatantly, and while I’m sure that it will hook the audience’s attention I think they could have been more creative in the way they did it. I’ll say however that this one is really just a matter of opinion, if someone else liked it I could understand why. Now one last self-referential ad that I think worked well, Oatly milk’s recent OOH campaign. While some of them I think are a little condescending on the whole I think they walk the line while keeping their humor. They definitely made me stop and read them as well as remember them. I now associate the ad with the milk when I see it in the shops and think that’s the Milk from those ads. All of this is just my opinion, let me know what you think of these ads, some people love them, others hate them. I think the point of a lot of these ‘Anti-ads’ is they create a sense of brand identity and they’re memorable. Just look at the Beetle campaign that came out over 60 years ago, people are still talking about it. I still remember that Oasis ad from years ago, because I thought it was witty and true. A brand poking fun at themselves is one of the strongest things it can do, it humanizes them in the eyes of the consumer. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Why use film in 2020?

I never intended for this to be an article, it was just a question I was thinking about. It seems using film cameras is becoming more popular, and why? Is it just for hipsters and Tarantino or is there a reason to use it? For starters film requires more time, effort and money to capture a moment than a camera that’s digital…not to mention most phones these days have pretty great cameras themselves. I have a theory to answer this question and that’s because of the charm film has. The care I think this comes from several factors, the first being the fact when you know you have a certain amount of film you’re a lot more careful with what you shoot. You really have to take time and  think about what you’re shooting as you do it. I think this refines and distills what ends up in the frame. The practice Not to mention it takes a lot of practice shooting on film, I remember the first time I tried film photography, I used the whole reel, thinking I’d captured some at least a few decent photos, but low and behold, I arrived at the developers and was told that my finger had slipped on the release button meaning the whole reel had been wasted. While this was a pain in the neck at the time I’ve never pushed the release button accidentally again. The same goes for all the aspects of film, I’ve messed up lighting and corrected it, I’ve messed up framing and corrected it. Although this can also apply to shooting digitally there’s a lot more that can go wrong using film. The story   It’s all well and good what film can teach you but what does it provide to the story? Well, a few things in my opinion, one of them being a real sense of nostalgia, you can usually tell when something’s been shot on film due to the slight grainy texture and the colours that seem so much more interesting that the ones captured digitally. When I see modern films and have a feeling they’ve been shot on film I feel more invested, asking myself why the director has done this? For instance Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, well it’s set in 1969 so film helps take the audience to that period. The same can be said for Mid90s, though digital cameras were around at this time the film still has the effect of taking the audience back in time. In advertising Now what about the use of film in advertising, strange right? I wondered as I wrote this how many modern ads chose to use film and quite a few surprisingly. The surprise being fim is harder to use and when one has deadlines, clients to please and specific points to hit, it might seem like an unnecessary extra step. That being said the ads do look great and there’s a reason behind the madness. It’s the same reason as the movies, to transport the audience to another time, look at this mini cooper ad which I absolutely love, you’re transported back to this moment in history and it almost feels like you can smell the petrol and burning rubber. Another ad to use this technique is this ad for Audible, I think they chose to use film to make it more personal, almost like it’s raw and unpolished and we’re genuinely walking and listening to this man speak. In this use I don’t think they’re trying to make you time travel but rather you’re connected to a character you just met. In conclusion, I really do have a love/hate relationship with film. It can be frustrating and challenging at times to use but as a filmmaker if you’re not challenging yourself then you’re doing something wrong. Also, when you finally get that shot, that image, that moment you were hoping for it feels amazing. Even in 2020 when you can make movies on your phone and get good cameras for a few hundred pounds, I think film still has its time and its place. I think it always will. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Top 11 Valentine's day ads

Ahh it’s that time of year again everybody, can you feel it? Overpriced bouquets of roses being bought, people are frantically trying to get a reservation at any restaurant they can and engagement ring sales are probably booming. For those of us who are single they’re buying red wine and romantic comedies for the big night, or is that just me? Anyways, enough with the cynicism, I’m just going to get to the point. Like most holidays brands create ads to coincide with them, which can lend a lot to the brand and the ad. So without any further introduction here are my top 11 Valentine’s day ads, in no particular order. We’re going to start with probably one the best companies to produce V day ads which is Durex, I’m not going to go into the reasons as to why they’re perfectly suited to make these ads. In this one we see a field of roses and just as you’re about to mentally check out as it looks like any other traditional ad you see a couple, riding lawn mowers, cutting through the roses. It’s a pretty hilarious image and comes with a great tagline. “Cut the cliche this Valentine’s” Well played Durex, well played. Next we have Virgin trains. For this ad they’ve gone for a realistic approach instead of actors. Now this ad is on the list for two reasons, one how they managed to tie in their brand to the creative and do it as well as they did, and two, because it’s just sweet. Now whether they’re a real couple or actor I won’t think about as I want them to be real. Usually I’m not a massive fan of using animals in ads if they’re just there to be cute and try to get views. I feel like this is just doing a disservice to the creative, however, if the animal is a part of the creative or the story then I’m all for it, why not put two dogs in if it serves the story. While that’s what sainsburys did with this cute, funny ad. This is a type of ad that i’ll admit I’m a sucker for, talking to camera (breaking fourth wall style) with a funny, witty script. The video was produced to promote a third wheel deal for the big day. I must say one of the reasons I like this style is because it can be produced without spending a tonne of money and how good the ad really depends on how well the script is written. I think this one did a very nice job. This was one I’ll admit I hadn’t seen until i was actually doing research for this article, and it’s great. Such a clever idea and really captured me, I felt invested in these people and this story right from the start (whether they’re actors or not). The the twist comes, they’re not in completely different places but actually 1 stop away, literally. It’s hard enough writing a twist for a feature film so to have a twist in a 2 minute ad is pretty cool. Now for another ad I hadn’t seen before, made by Netflix India we see a couple’s relationship, start, develop, get rocky and come back. This pretty much feels like it could be its own netflix original series, it’s got a great, quirky style which lends itself to this, it also references Netflix shows in a realistic way, very meta. I like this ad, it’s got charm. While this may not necessarily be a Valentine’s day ad I think it can work as one. The video was produced to show the subtle gender stereotypes when ordering drinks and how Heineken wants to be for everyone, not just men. I think that’s a pretty nice, not to mention relatable, topic for an ad, even if it’s not exclusively for Valentines Day. Moonpig, Valentine’s day is probably one of their biggest days of the year, so it makes sense to have kick-ass Valentine’s day ad. This is their one last year and it honestly had me laughing, the whole concept revolves around whether the people being interviewed are givers or receivers, I mean the statement makes sense for a company who delivers cards, gifts and flowers but the mind does wonder. It pays on this double entendre as the ad goes on until you finally get the final reveal and a, not so subtle, wink to camera. Take a simple, fun idea. Produce and market it well. Nine out of ten times you’ll have a fantastic ad. In 2017 Tinder ran a campaign for their users to tweet their ideal Valentine’s day in emojis and Tinder would make the best ones become reality. They then produced a series of bite-sized videos demonstrating the concept, maybe just a little too literally. This isn’t an ad but is rather a parody of Valentine’s ads poking fun at the cliches often included as well as the cliches of the holiday in general. While not my favourite SNL sketch, it did make me laugh as I looked through ad after ad that seems to be identical, I thought why not include it. It’s also a pretty good instructional video of what not to do on V day. A lot of the ads on this list have been funny, or charming, but this one really makes you think. The idea behind it is great and effective. It’s a little gift shop that looks on the surface like its full of cute Valentines day gifts but when one looks closer they all have a deeper message, I’ll let you be the judge. Hopefully this list wasn’t too painful to read through and you saw a couple of ads you liked that got you inspired. Despite my cynicism I do actually like the holiday even if it’s just getting a take away and watching a movie, grand gestures and ‘Say anything’ type moments are great and all but life’s not a movie. Sometimes the best nights are the nights spent in, hope everyone has a fantastic day and you all get the love you deserve. My goodness that ending was a cringe-inducing ending. Just kidding. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Is the future of advertising VR, AR and MR?

Things in this world are constantly evolving and changing with advertising being no exception. What I’ve been wondering recently is what will be the next thing to revolutionise the industry as TV advertising did in the 1950’s? I personally think that XR has a very big chance of being that medium. What is XR you may be asking yourself? Well, it’s the umbrella term for several forms of reality, primarily Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Just look at some of the brands that are incorporating it into their plans. Alexander Mcqueen, Burger King, New York Times, Top Shop, Volvo and the list goes on. Did you notice that? Just look at how diverse those companies are. It’s not just one company or one industry using this new technology, but most of them. Why? Not all too long ago using XR was seen as just a gimmick that provided numb entertainment for 30 seconds at tradeshows. Now it seems to be much much more than that, real stories and emotions are being brought into these campaigns. Just look at the Coca-cola/WWF campaign. I think this campaign had much more of an impact using Augmented Reality than if they had simply produced a video around the same topic. This is because the people in the campaign are actually ‘in’ the campaign. They’re not just a passive viewer at home but actually interacting with the campaign making them a lot more invested, and this investment is like the glue that will make the message stick. This can be said for a lot of the XR campaigns you may have seen in the last few years. Whatever angle they’re taking (comedic, emotive, etc) they try and get the audience actively involved, audiences see hundreds if not thousands of ads every day so standing out is becoming more challenging. People will remember something they are involved in a lot more than something they just observed. The Benefits What’s great about having the audience investment is there are also a hundred different mediums under this umbrella to get it. There’s VR headsets, 360 videos, Interactive cubes, AR/MR app experiences and my personal favorite, AR mirrors. A brand writing off XR as a whole is like writing off breakfast because you don’t like cereal. It may not be the right time in a brand’s journey to produce a campaign like this but I think it should be pitched because you never know when one of those mediums will fit an objective led campaign perfectly. Another benefit of XR marketing is that it isn’t just a one-trick pony. If you produce a campaign involving XR technology there’s a multitude of content you can produce other than just the main campaign. You can film reactions to it, create a BTS film, an event film and even a case study around it. So if someone thought it would be one big campaign followed by radio silence that’s not the case, as having a multitude of content to push out after the main campaign is not only easy but also very effective. The Future While this medium has many benefits I think the main thing that will affect whether this becomes one of the key mediums of advertising in the future, is technology. The tech for XR is becoming more advanced and accessible which means it’s also becoming more affordable which, at the end of the day, is determining factor. However one only has to look at the past to guess where this will go, once upon a time you had to have a big budget and a studio behind you to make a movie. Now you can do it with your phone, and if you’re talented and persistent enough make something pretty damn great. I think XR will not only be a big part of advertising’s future but storytelling’s future as well. As the tech becomes more advanced and cheaper, creatives and producers not only accept it but embrace it and consumers get more curious and excited about it. I am truly very hopeful for this medium, stories are evolving just like everything else and there’s a lot of amazing stories that can be told through XR, and I can’t wait. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Top 11 ads of 2019

My first article of 2020, no pressure right? During my break over christmas I wanted to get a head start on my new years resolution of writing more. So I thought I’d rank my top 11 ads of 2019, because why not? So here they are in no particular order. 1: Glenlivet – “Original by tradition” An ad I felt was somewhat overlooked last year but I really enjoyed. What I think made it stick with me was the fact they’ve taken a traditional idea, telling a brand’s story and history, but then combined it with fast stylized visuals and a tight script to create a fun, memorable ad. Well done to the minds behind it, proving you can take an idea that’s been done and still make it original. 2: Burger King “Burn that ad” Going from something more traditional to something completely outrageous, it’s Burger King’s AR campaign which captured not only the attention of burger buyers but also the whole advertising community. I don’t think anyone had seen anything like this before which makes it even better, by far one of the most original as well as edgy campaigns of 2019. 3: Argos – “The book of dreams” One of my favourite things about Christmas every year, other than the obvious, are the Christmas ads. It seems like every year agencies and brands aren’t just trying to beat the competition but also their own ads from last year. Argos really did it for me in 2019 with a funny idea, executed really well, and a classic soundtrack. What more could you want?  4: Starling Bank – “Start feeling good about money” Now some might say I’m biased for putting this on my list as we conceptualised and produced it but I genuinely love the look of this ad. Not only that but being part of the shoot I have a lot of memories attached to it. The one that sticks with me is carrying two 20kg camera batteries up a mountain to get one of the shots. Good times. 5: PlayStation – “PlayStation Now” Sometimes an idea for an ad is amazing, but it doesn’t happen because people say it can’t be done. Playstation made it happen. All your favourite video game characters falling from the sky, you have my attention, before landing in people’s homes showing how PlayStation Now can bring all these worlds right into your living room. This is just one of the ads playstation knocked out of the park last year. 6: Hinge – “The Dating App Designed to Be Deleted” I love this ad because it’s just such a great and relatable idea. Not only this but it can be shown in a very visual and funny way. It only takes one look in the comment section to see I’m not the only one who likes this ad with many people saying it’s the first ad they didn’t skip through. It also worked very well in print making this a very effective campaign as well as fun. 7: Lego – “Rebuild the world” This ad is fantastic for how it takes their product and combines it with the real world to create this completely unique place. I see things throughout this ad and feel instantly nostalgic, as I’m sure many people did, making it work through the generations. There’s definitely a je ne sais quoi to this ad. 8: Bosch – “Like a Bosch” This ad made me laugh out loud, on purpose, while learning the details of a product. Now that’s impressive. Taking what could have been made into a very run of the mill product film and turning into a great parody which not only is hilarious but also tells you all the ins and outs of their product. How cool is that? 9: Sipsmith Gin – “We make Gin not compromises” Imagine it, going into a pitch meeting and suggesting making a stop motion video of a quirky swan talking you through the Gin making process. Sometimes we have ideas that are so bizarre they just work. Like this one. A great looking video, a witty script, and it’s all coming from a swan? Sign me up. 10: Apple – “Airpods – Bounce” While this ad looks absolutely awesome, and does actually capture how it feels to wear Airpods (yes I really did just say that) what I think makes it so cool is the fact everything in the video are practical effects. Yes you heard me right, all of it was done in real life. 11: Renault – “30 years in the making” I absolutely loved this ad, it almost feels like its own short film. While a lot of the ads I liked this year were comedic, charming or visually stunning this is pure storytelling, filling it’s two minute run time with as many twists and turns as most features. I think it’s a great story, literally 30 years in the making. What I love about advertising is the same thing I love about films, books, and most things in life, it’s the fact that it’s subjective. An ad I love could be an ad you hate and vice versa. If you think something should have been on this list, or shouldn’t, let me know in the comments, I love explaining why people are wrong. Just kidding, I love a chat and I’d love to hear your opinions. Now let’s see what 2020 brings!

The things you should never do in advertising.

With new ideas and creatives coming into the industry all the time, advertising is constantly changing and evolving, It seems like the skys the limit, which in a sense it is (if you have the budget but that’s a topic for another time). However even with a deep well of ideas at an agency’s disposal there are still things you should never do it advertising. Sticks and stones Let’s start with a pretty obvious one. Don’t be insulting, don’t get me wrong I like a bit of cheeky humor in an ad but there’s a big difference between humor and insults. Whether that’s insulting your competitors, their customers, your customers or just any group of people. At the end of the day ads are trying to sell to you, maybe not directly but that’s the end goal so insulting or irritating your audience doesn’t seem like the best plan. Buy! Buy! Buuy! Don’t try a hard sell in your ads, now this one does not apply for every ad but let me explain. Everyone knows the buyer’s journey from finding out about your company all the way through to them buying your product or service, ads are usually telling people about your brand or having them recall it, starting to lead them along the journey to becoming a customer. But if you have a hard sell in your ad, and viewer’s never heard of you, it’s like you’re throwing them straight in the deep end instead of taking them on this journey. Also people just don’t really like getting sold too. Ramblers, let’s get rambling Tying in with my last point, don’t spend the entire video or print talking about the specifics of your products or services. Although this may seem strange, and I’ve had companies ask me why this is when they’ve wanted to go into the details of their product. Doing it is fine… in a product film, but for advertising it’s best to avoid. This is because you have no idea if the viewer is interested, the idea of advertising is to make them interested then let them get the details for themselves. Winging it Now one of the most important… not having a plan or strategy in place. Advertising’s usually not cheap and producing a great piece of content is a big step, but if no one sees this awesome content then there’s a problem. You’ve got to figure out who you want to see it and where you can have them see it. Whether that’s on LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook or even OOH and TV. The great thing about advertising strategy today is with most mediums you can test something before you go through with it fully. This allows you to see if a strategy is worth investing in allowing you get the most return on investment possible. The obvious  Lastly, dont lie, once consumers lose trust in your brand winning that trust back is a long long road. Not to mention an expensive one. For instance we’ve all heard of shoes that can help you lose calories and tech that said it was half the price and double the speed of the competitor. Not only would this be very bad for your brand’s image but will also land you a big fine for false advertising. It all seems a lot more hassle than it’s worth. The antidote While I’ve mentioned the things you shouldn’t do in advertising, I haven’t touched on the things that you should do. Like be brave, creative, funny or serious and most importantly…tell a story. People remember stories, what made them laugh, what made them cry, what made them smile, and if someone remembers an ad long after it was made, isn’t that the point? Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Why is it harder to engage people on LinkedIn?

This is a question I’ve wondered for a while, well ever since I first posted to be honest. When you compare the number of views to the number of likes and comments per post it’s almost staggering, especially when you compare that to Facebook and Instagram ratios. This definitely isn’t due to a lack of LinkedIn users, it’s gained 123 million between 2016 – 2018 where as Twitter only gained 9 million users and Facebook even less than that. A theory I have is when you like or interact with a post on LinkedIn it will appear in your connections feed and let them know you liked or commented. Now LinkedIn is different from other social networks in the fact that it’s professional, as opposed to personal. Meaning all your professional connections, colleagues, leads, clients and bosses can see anything that you interact with. I think this is the reason why people who are happy to share their opinion and like content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a lot more hesitant and thoughtful with their LinkedIn accounts. So the funny dog video or silly meme that you might share with your friends on Instagram or Facebook you wouldn’t even like it on LinkedIn because you don’t want your professional network to see an unprofessional side to you. Let’s face it you don’t want your boss or clients to see half of the stuff you like on Instagram. Another theory could be that it seems that LinkedIn is like a science in itself. When researching this blog the amount of headlines I saw telling me how to improve engagement was almost overwhelming. One must account for the time of post, type of post, hashtags, network, locations and a whole range of other things as opposed to simply clicking post. For instance, Gary V has a strategy, called the $1.80 strategy, in which you search relevant hashtags to yourself and leave a thoughtful comment on the top 9 posts and do that 10 times. It gets its name from the expression of giving your 2 cents, as in doing this 90 times would add up to $1.80. What this does is allow you to borrow the posters audience, if they have thousands of followers and even a fraction of those followers see your comment, and this happens across all the posts you comment on. That’s a lot of people starting to know your name. It comes down to the argument of whether you need a strategy for LinkedIn. The answer is yes, unlike other social media it’s professional with a huge amount of noise and competition to cut through and even be noticed let alone liked or commented on. There are several strategies and tricks you can use to raise engagement, so to answer the original question, it’s harder because a strategy is almost always a necessity instead of a choice. If you’re getting lower engagement than you would like it might just be time to do some research and come up with a plan.

Are TV Ads still worth it?

That’s a debatable question, but you know what’s not? Advertising is everywhere. Literally everywhere, try to go from one place to another without getting sold to and I guarantee you can’t. What marketeers have to keep in mind is what is and isn’t avoidable for the consumer. For instance, a lot of OOH content is unavoidable, even if they’re not paying attention, they’re still absorbing it. However what can be avoided for a lot of people is TV ads, so the question arises, should brands still advertise on TV? The answer? Well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise just yet, so let me explain. I think every brand should advertise and produce content, no question about that, and doing it digitally can be done really well. It’s cheaper than TV advertising, more scalable and it’s easier to reach your target audience through digital than TV. As well as this when consumers are online the majority of the time they’re in the mind frame to interact which can be useful for ads with a CTA. However it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, you still need a solid strategy and content to really make a campaign work, adding to this there are thousands and thousands of ads online so cutting through the noise can be a challenge. This is where TV ads can shine, they can not only reach a diverse mass audience (71% of the population) which is awesome for a brand awareness campaign but people trust TV ads. To get an ad on TV it has to meet rules and regulations to make sure it’s suitable for the viewers, and people know this, which means the majority of people trust them. Compare this with online advertising where rules exist but are less strict than TV and you’ll see more people have their guard up. For this example, we’ll ignore the “As seen on TV” products. Also as digital advertising rises in popularity, one would think that TV’s effectiveness would diminish but that’s actually not the case. Looking at the graph below you can see that adding TV advertising to campaigns has actually risen in its effectiveness. As well as this, people spend more time watching television than they do on any other form of media. I don’t need to explain why this is great for brands but I will. If you have a huge audience you’re more likely to gain leads and get people to know you’re brand than if you were to advertise purely online or OOH because you have a larger audience. The more fish you have in a barrel, the more you’re going to hit (70% of TV advertising delivers profitable returns). Now I’ve spoken about how TV can be great for a brand to raise awareness and even generate leads but here’s the golden ticket. Using multiple channels in harmony (TV can increase the effectiveness of campaigns by up to 40%). With a solid strategy behind it campaigns across multiple channels can be twice as effective as opposed to using one channel. Doing this can also move buyers/leads along the buyer’s journey, making them more likely to respond to a CTA and more likely to think about buying your product or service. The analogy I’d use for this would be if someone asked you to build a table with only a hammer, it wouldn’t be very easy, but if someone gave you a whole toolbox it suddenly becomes a lot easier. At the end of the day, not every brand is in the position to advertise on TV but when putting together a marketing plan if it’s not even considered then you’re missing a trick. To answer the question, yes, it is worth it but should your brand use it? Like most things in life…it depends.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, whats a video worth?

We’ve all heard the expression a picture is worth a thousand words , so what’s a video worth? It’s an interesting question as when you look at a photo your mind wonders about the story behind it and the imagination takes over. However the imagination only has so much to go on from a photo. It’s not so much telling a story worth a thousand words but more letting you create your own without realising it. That’s the power of a photo, only so much is filled in for you. That is not only a blessing though, it can also be a curse. I’m sure many people, myself included, have seen a photograph and begun to put the story together in their head only to wish the photo could tell them more. What lies beyond those edges? Only a few will ever know. You begin to put this fiction together and then want to know reality but can’t. Now you have a story with no end, conclusion or resolution; in other words just unsatisfying. That’s when a photo can’t be enough and that’s where video comes in. When a story is told through video, it’s worth as many words as you like. Videos, whether a commercial or a blockbuster, feed the audience a story scene by scene, frame by frame. It takes you on a journey as opposed to starting it and leaving you to figure out the rest. Don’t get me wrong, video still lets the imagination have some fun but it gives you your answers and in the rare cases in doesn’t, there’s a reason for it. For example, there might be a scene, a character walking up to a supposedly empty room making noise, where the audience begins to ask questions. The imagination answers these questions, a loved one, the family pet, a monster etc. and then they get their answer. The certainty washes over the viewers like a wave, their question has been answered. This is the edge video has over a photo, it crafts its story always giving the audience just enough information but never giving away too much. It usually does this with a setup, confrontation and conclusion. It’s in our nature to need closure and even when a video leaves the viewer on a cliff hanger, it’s different from a photo’s lack of answers. A photo gives no conclusion whereas a cliff hanger gives you a multiple choice ending. Storytelling through video answers, and in a beautiful way. Now stories told through video are not always as described. They can be just as frustrating as photos can be. We’ve all watched a film and it makes no sense.You sit there trying to connect the dots and it just doesn’t add up. This can be even more annoying than trying to work out the story behind a photo because you are being shown this story and it’s trying to provide you answers but they’re not living up to your mind’s expectations. The same goes for a bad ending. The whole film builds to this point and your imagination is doing backflips in your head and then the ‘what just happened’ moment arrives. Your mind had made all these grand endings and raised expectations only for the film to disappoint. Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience. Below are the two ads, what do you think? Every medium will have its benefits and shortcomings. Thought out and executed carefully a photo can tell an amazing story. Same goes for books, video and any other way people tell stories. It can’t be rushed no matter how hard some people may try, a great story takes time, effort and care. The point of this article was not to slam photos but was to highlight the ability video has over it when telling a story. Let’s take commercials for example, some powerful stories have been told through commercials but the most powerful are videos, not print. Let’s take a recent ad that gained huge attention: the recent Nike ad. There were print versions and a video. While the print makes you think and hints at the story the video does a lot more. It doesn’t just tell one story but many, all the while arousing a number of emotions in the audience. In conclusion, if you want to tell a story no matter how big or small, be passionate, take your time and make sure it has a good ending because it doesn’t matter how a story is told, it’s about what has gone into creating the story that makes it what it is. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

How has advertising changed?

The point of advertising has always been to sell, and advertising has been around since people were trying to sell. So by this logic, one would think all advertising is the same but not quite. Every advert is different, takes a different angle or tries a new technique and advertising has changed massively as times change, as people’s opinions and views change, adverts also change to comply with the masses. In this article, I want to talk about the ways in which advertising has changed. For the sake of consistency, I’ve decided to look at one company’s adverts throughout the years to show the change. So let’s look at how McDonald’s have tried to sell burgers and fries since the ’50s and ’60s. Ignoring the quality (of the ad, not the food) McDonald’s took a very product-focused approach to their ads as many did in these decades. They are trying to sell food after all. Mcdonald’s wanted to show their food to consumers and highlight its quality and value relying on the food itself to get customers as opposed to the brand. Now the 1980s were similar to the ‘70s but slightly different. There were a lot more songs and music and I think they did it for two reasons. It was the ‘80s and to make the ads catchy and stick in people’s minds after they had finished watching which they would remember as they walked past a McDonalds for instance. They still targeted kids but moved their sights onto the whole family, this was done to give McDonald’s a wholesome family image and appeal. In the 1990s the ads still had a similar style and tone to the ’80s but they began to use their mascots a lot more. They had adverts focusing on this range of characters and their adventure. They did this to strengthen their brand identity and to relate to kids. McDonald’s also used more stories in their ads which would continue into the future. These modern ads show the very different way McDonald’s has tried to sell burgers since their first ads. They now focus on the stories behind a McDonald’s as opposed to the food itself. For instance, in earlier ads, the whole video focused on food and why people should eat it, then it shifted to the people and began to experiment in storytelling. Through the 2000s they did more and more storytelling which is almost all they do now. Originally this article wasn’t going to just be about McDonald’s ads but I wanted to show you how advertising has changed. If you look at any ad from the ‘60s it will almost always show the product with narration. That’s boring and people will forget it. With storytelling instead of making a viewer bored it not only captures their attention but it also evokes an emotion which makes an impression. Whether they’ll go and buy your product based on the emotion you envoke is a story for another article. Another strategy they use along with storytelling is humour, for the same reason. It makes the audience laugh thus making it stick in their minds, which is the first step. So before you go here is one last example, one of my personal favourites, to hopefully give you a laugh and make you crave a McDonald’s.

The role of music in storytelling

Before the days of barely enjoying a movie on your phone with headphones on, there was no colour and no sound. I know right, a movie without music, a terrible thought considering the two art forms are made for each other. Cinemas originally had a pianist making the music up as he went along to go with the film. As the 1920’s went on sound was introduced to film and ‘talkies’ were made, but in 1929 The Great Depression started and the industry came to a halt. When the film industry began picking up again filmmakers realised the impact music could have on a viewer, every score or song in a film is there to create an emotion and it’s done in a huge variety of ways. For instance a horror film’s intention is to scare the audience. Now a basic horror film might use sharp strings, quick changes in pitch or volume and have a dramatic build up to do this and sometimes it works like in Jaws  or Psycho . However these films were innovators and these types of scores have now become clichéd and worn out. Audiences evolve very quickly and catch onto these techniques and can tell what’s coming, so when an audience evolves so do the filmmakers. What some films did (which I love) is having a juxtaposition between a scene and the music, who could forget Huey Lewis and the News in American Psycho , Stuck in the Middle in Reservoir Dogs  or Singing in the Rain in A Clockwork Orange. The fact something horrifying is happening on screen with a happy song in the back plays with the audience and confuses them with two contrasting elements making them even more horrified as a result. Mark Perkins, the Creative Director of W communications, said Imagine Jaws without the music. There is not much that’s terrifying about a crudely made rubber shark, the fear comes from the music, which is a trigger in our senses that something awful is about to happen to the person splashing about happily in the water Music in film can have a huge array of effects on the audience and a good film will create these emotions in their audience in a unique way without just having plain old happy with happy and sad with sad. A great example of this is in The Graduate  (spoilers!) where our main character ‘rescues’ his kinda sorta girlfriend from her wedding. They run away seemingly happily together and board a bus. The audience now expects a run of the mill happy ending but then The Sound of Silence  starts playing (if you haven’t heard it do it now) which is a tremendously sad song which is odd considering this is meant to be a happy moment. Both characters are smiling wildly when first boarding the bus but the scene lingers on as the song plays, at first the audience may be confused considering what they’re expecting. Then their wild smiles begin the fade and the song choice becomes clear as the weight of the character’s actions becomes clear to them and the audience at the same time with the song as a subtle foreshadow. With music playing such a big role in film it’s no surprise there are some film scores and themes which are so deeply related to a film it’s impossible to think of one without the other. Think Indiana Jones , Ghostbusters  and Rocky , you hear the first few seconds of them and the films spring into mind almost immediately. That’s another power music has over an audience, it gives them an idea about the film. You can tell the tone of Indiana Jones in the first 10 seconds of the score, adventure. The Creative Director of FleishmanHillard Fishburn, Kev O’Sullivan, said A surefire way to appreciate the value of music to watch iconic unspoken scenes – preferably of horror or romance – on mute. Immediately, the image loses a tremendous amount of impact. Psycho or Steel Magnolias are handy examples.And in fact, you can totally decontextualise or recontextualise any scene with different music – I refer you to the legion of comedy YouTubers who have transformed films like Mrs Doubtfire and Mary Poppins into thrillers. However the score doesn’t just give you a better idea of the film but also a better idea of a character through the choice of music in their scenes. A scene that nails this is an early scene in Star Wars: A New Hope  where Luke stares out over the horizon. The scene has a unique score to accompany it (as opposed to the normal Star Wars theme) called ‘Binary Sunsets’ in which the viewer learns so much more about our main character from his expressions and the accompanying score than from dialogue. Music in film has come a long way from a pianist in a theatre, now it’s one of the key elements. You see I explained what music does in film but not why it is so crucial for the audience. Music for the most part is somewhat in the background of the audience’s mind when they watch a movie because they’re so caught up in what is happening on screen, but that serves a purpose. While the audience is focused on the visuals music subtly guides the audience’s emotions as they watch. It also amplifies the emotions the audience are already feeling, an exciting scene will have exciting music to increase that feeling and captivate an audience. A film that I think nails this on the head is The Italian Job. Its score is just wonderful capturing the exact mood of any scene and conveying it perfectly. From the opening  scene driving through the mountains with smooth music playing throwing the audience off what is about to happen, to the chase  (see 4:54 for music) through the streets, finally almost getting away  and then the final cliffhanger . The famous scene on the cliff is great for many reasons but one is the majority of the scene has no music keeping the audience on edge and when music does play it is short, subtle and effective. Brilliant from start to finish. There’s thousands of great ways to use sound in film but the same can be said for silence. Think of No Country for Old Men and the amount of tense  and terrifying  scenes in that with no music, and what does this do? The same thing. It increases the emotions the audience are already feeling. After the audience has been introduced to the psychopath Anton they’re put on edge as soon as they see him. Unlike most killers in movies these days Anton is quiet and understated, all whilst committing these terrible acts, the sound choice reflecting this. This lack of music makes every scene he’s in feel more real and more terrifying as a result. Sound as a whole whether it’s soundtracks, songs or silence will always have been chosen for a specific reason and that reason might be obvious  and sometimes you might need to think a little but there will always be a reason. My media studies teacher once told me if I took this subject I would never be able to watch a film again without analysing it and at the time I thought that was nonsense, but she was right. Now without even meaning to when I see a film I ask myself, why did they do that, what does that mean or why did they choose this music with this scene. So next time you’re watching a film and hear music starts to play, have a think about it.

The Stigma of Age in the Workplace

The photo editing application, FaceApp, reminds me that I will be old one day and I will look pretty good actually. But it also reminds me that as a society we are suffering from a major work place stigma around age. It works both ways, “too old” or “too young” is a problem. I shed some light on this issue below using two of my personal stories. When I was 19, I began working at Celedor International under an Executive Producer who taught me how to sell TV programme formats such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire across multiple territories. He was a role model to many within the industry. I could see that, in a job like his, age and experience was revered. He was able to close more deals than his younger counterparts and I always felt that I was “too young” to make a dent or influence any important decisions. My father used to be a senior Banking Executive who had a large work force helping him with his work. However, after his retirement from the banking industry, he finds it difficult to deal with the new technology such as smart phones and softwares to the point of being frightened by them. He is what some might call “too old” to fit into the changing world successfully, which is something he has experienced in the recent jobs he pursued. On a positive note, I am pleased to see more older folk play a second or third innings by starting their businesses using the venture capital funding route. I think this is a great example showing how older workforce are using their experience and life skills to raise capital for their startups and are having a younger workforce help them execute the idea by using present day technology and tools. One way to tackle the stigma of age across all the major industries could be to implement a knowledge transfer process where firms can record the top tips, advice and tricks of the trade from the senior and experienced workforce and pass this on to the newer workforce. In this way, you could avoid mistakes from being repeated and it will create a sense of accomplishment for both the old and the young. The younger workforce will have more ammo to play with whereas the older generation will be able to find new stimulus in training and passing on that valuable information. At my Creative Agency – Ekstasy , we have tried to change the stigma of age by involving our young talent in senior decision making early on and encouraging them to be more brave, voice their ideas and take pride in their work. In this way, they may find their place in the industry 5 or even 10 years earlier than they would have otherwise, as well as make a difference in what is usually a very aged model of advertising and marketing.

Why Brands Should Go Long on Long-Form Video Content.

Credit:© Universal/Kobal/ REX/Shutterstock Serving short-form video ads and not producing long-form content to complement it is like offering a starter but skipping the mains. I invite you to look at video slightly differently going into 2019. Instead of it just being a short and snappy (6 – 15 – 30 secs or 1 min) ad / info tool, treat it as a storytelling medium where your brand for the first time could turn itself into a real publisher. Try Long-Form videos. You ask – How can I make my 6 secs videos / ads grab the attention of my viewers? Sorry that is a difficult battle to win most times. A/B testing is the best tool for that but what after that? What happens when they have seen your 6 secs to 1 min video ads and then your CTA guided them to a landing page to lead capture or give them more product info or sell your product. Is that where your brand video experience ends? The viewers now are more demanding than ever, whether you are selling software or ice-cream. I define long-form as videos that are longer than 2 mins and ideally are in the form of a series. Four benefits of adopting a Long-Form content Strategy: Most Important: Differentiate your brand by giving your long-form content a unique voice. With short-form ads and videos you are fighting a very brief visual battle with your competitors. With long-form you can tell a compelling story and get your audience to engage with what your product and brand stands for. Leaving a lasting impression, which is super important for brand recall. Build long term trust with your customers. Educate, Inspire and Inform them across the awareness, consideration and conversion stages of the funnel. Create short-form ads / videos from the long-form content for free. Yes you heard that right! You can edit a number of mini trailers from the long-form content and A/B test them across multiple social platforms. This way you will have a perfect narrative flow between the ads and the actual content. And the ads will still be leading users to a landing page but this time they also get access to tons of long-form content that they showed interest in by clicking on the short-form teasers. Your long-form videos might get preference over short-form videos on both Facebook and Google, who have openly come out in support of long-form content to give them a boost and hence, more credibility. Three tips to build your first long-form video content: Look at creating a series of a minimum of 3-10 videos with each video being a minimum of 2 to 5 mins long, if not longer or have one film longer than 10 mins. Have a key theme / message across all the videos. Don’t try and do too many things with the series. Decide at messaging and scripting stage what objective do you want to achieve with this series and how you plan to activate them on social. Some examples of brands using long-form content: HP: The Wolf – True Alpha Christian Slater, Jonathan Banks and Betty Adewole star in this epic, global hunt about the dangers of cyber threats from HP Studios and director Lance Acord. Most brands will not have the appetite to spend mega bucks on something like The Wolf, hence, some more realistic examples below. RS Components: For the Inspired An incredible series of videos focusing on inspiration and engineering passion across the community and how lives are being changed by the determination of normal people using RS products. GE: In the Wild Series To educate their audience on how GE powers everything from cities to jet engines, GE created a series titled “Into the Wild”, consisting of 11 videos. The series follows former Mythbuster Adam Savage as he endeavours to understand the mechanics behind GE’s many products and services. Through expert interviews, animations, and easy to understand explanations, Adam (and the audience) learn just how GE helps power the world. Laphroaig Whisky: One Whisky, Many Opinions, 3.5 Hour Filibuster Okay so they took my idea of long-form very seriously and produced a 3.5 hr long video. A half decent execution which makes me chuckle at times and kept me hooked for several minutes in parts if not hours. BMW – The Escape Back to a block-buster example. A modern homage to BMW Film’s 15th Anniversary, Clive Owen returns as a mysterious driver for hire, delivering a human clone to a mysterious buyer. Besides the celebrity costs, it is increasingly becoming more cost effective to produce high quality films. Patagonia: Worn Wear: a Film About the Stories We Wear In “Worn Wear,” Patagonia shares the story of several Patagonia customers and the stories of their clothes. Ranging from 11 to 30+ years old, each vignette features a well-loved, well-worn Patagonia item and the experiences the clothes have held. Patagonia’s message is clear throughout the film, saying, “The most responsible thing you can do is buy used clothes.” Vox – Explained Every episode is a roughly 15-minute dive into a topic that drives our lives or our world. For example the first three episodes cover DNA editing, monogamy, and the racial wealth gap. You can watch the series on Netflix. IBM: Watson at Work The length of each video is less than 1 min but as it is a series of 7 videos “Watson at Work ” it is engaging to watch applications of IBM Watson across various sectors such as security, healthcare, energy, golf, etc. Go long on long-form and help your brand marketing cut through the noise.

The beginning of the beginning for digital marketing. Is Augmented & Virtual reality the future?

Digital marketing continues to innovate and move at the same pace as the consumer, actively if not almost competitively. Standing out from the crowd to get noticed has become increasingly aggressive over the last few years. Hello search engine optimisation, hello social media and now hello the ever-popular video content. Video remains the popular method for marketers to create and distribute content to engage with their target audience. Video is the main disruptor for marketers and YouTube and Facebook videos are the 2 most popular distribution channels according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2017 report. It is easy to see why online video content is popular, YouTube has over a billion users whilst 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter . Online video content has proven effective in how brands are currently reaching their audience, 87% of marketers now use online video to target their audience. Everybody is doing it. It is the current trend. However, today’s consumers are always on a look out for fresh exciting content to stay engaged and marketers have now found technology as an effective tool to reach their target audience. Augmented Reality remains popular as AR technology spending jumped from $6.6 billion in 2016 to $12.6 in 2017. AR/VR technologies are also projected to reach $215 billion in spending by 2021. So, what are the reasons for brands to spend on AR/VR? Consumer behaviour is changing, with so many marketing messages being sent to the consumer through emails, smartphone and social media. It is easy for the consumer to totally ignore your messages or even be automatically opted out, even more so with the new GDPR regulations. Brand experiences can break through the barriers by enabling the consumer to get involved with the product, provide an interactive experience and tap into the emotions of the consumer. Co-founder of Immersive Futures Victor Riparbelli suggested that VR is also capable of generating far more empathy in its viewers than any other medium. AR/VR marketing is emotion driven and builds a foundation of empathy for the consumer which is believed to be an evolving behaviour with the consumer. A 2017 Nielsen study found that 84% of VR viewers demonstrated brand recall, compared with only 53% of those who viewed standard video advertising. Virtual reality had helped Greenpeace charity double their sign up by letting festival attendees try on a VR headset as part of a drive to improve engagement. Paula Radley , the Face-to-Face Operations Manager at Greenpeace told Civil Society Media, The success is a combination of VR video, the decoration of the exhibition area and the opportunity for a potential donor to sit down with a fundraiser, which resulted in double the sign ups. Ikea’s well-known use of Augmented Reality has also showed signs that this is the future of consumer engagement. AR has been used by Ikea to let customers preview how furniture looks on their devices before they buy, eliminating any potential mistakes and increase online sales. Which according to Ikea was an area the retailer was struggling with due to rapid changes of digital media. According to company reports, the app was downloaded 8.5 million times , Ikea have reported an increase in online sales which highlight the engagement potential where AR/VR technology has been implemented. It can be argued that AR/VR is the origin of Future Computing. We are currently going through a seismic shift in technology. Only time will tell how far AR/VR can go. Would we see the first ever AR/VR film in the comfort of our homes? And will there be AR/VR adverts in public areas rather than posters and billboards? As far as we know AR/VR technology continues to rise and is now being implemented by brands which has added an exciting new dimension to digital marketing. Immersive technology is currently in its infancy, however, many brave marketeers are experimenting and incorporating AR/VR into their marketing plans. Many large brands such as McDonalds , Velux and Samsung are taking advantage of the new trend which enforces the idea that AR/VR is the future of digital marketing. Here’s what Brent Hall , Marketing Consultant, formerly Global Director of Digital Marketing at Nokia, has to say about it. I’ve led the creation of VR apps and experiences, from a VR app showcasing videos made with Nokia’s OZO camera (RIP) to a shoppable 360 VR experience showing the future of e-commerce and more. It’s important to note that we’re still in the infancy days of AR / VR, this is the time to test, experiment, and prepare for the tipping point. If you’re expecting ROI in dollars and cents, that’ll be a challenge. But if you’re committed to being an innovator, wait no more. The best way to connect with your audience currently is to tap into their emotions, VR/AR technology enables you to do so. Whilst it is still in its infancy, large brands have been quick to utilise this technology. It is only a matter of time before AR/VR technology is used by all marketeers as the ease of use increases and the cost of production decreases. Writer – Tobi Bolanle , AR / VR Partnership Manager @ Ekstasy

Role of storytelling in the future of payments – In conversation with Marketing Director, Laurel Wolfe.

As part of Ekstasy’s : Brave Marketeer Series we met Marketing Director Laurel Wolfe to ask her opinion on the importance of storytelling in the future of Payments industry, and how she sees this space evolving over the next few years. You can watch the 1.5 minute interview below.

Take your Marketing Strategy from “Zero to One” : Lessons from Paypal founder Peter Thiel’s book.

To benefit most from this article I want you to think of yourself as a startup founder for the duration of the read. I studied Zero to One a book by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters and got super excited about how some startup world insights would benefit us in the Marketing world.

Should a Marketeer Hedge her bets on Creative Evolution or Creative Revolution?

As a marketeer you make a very crucial decision each year on the day you finalise your annual budgets for marketing and media spend. So that you have hedged your bets right, you try and base your allocations on last year’s campaign performance metrics. In my opinion, trying to be as objective as possible is both good and also dangerous at the same time. Because to get your brand recognised in a noisy market place your marketing and media spends need to be more than just objective. They needs to champion the uncertain market trends that will reveal themselves over the course of the year. These trends are not objective but highly temperamental. So what can you do to make sure you strike the near perfect balance? Well you try and tell an engaging story. In a 1996 article (01/03/1996) titled “Content is King.” Bill Gates wrote – “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting… When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content-an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important.” So when you try and tell a story with the means of your multi-layered content driven marketing you need to decide whether you should stick to the type of campaigns which proved successful last year or should you be a little more adventurous. Things get even more exciting if you are newly appointed in the decision making role. If your predecessor was not very successful, then you feel confident to revolt against everything they did and draft out a brand new content marketing and media plan. But if they were, then you find it hard to go against the highly successful road map already set in place. On the contrary, if you have been with the company for a few years and have had some good and some not so good years, then what should you do? Do you rewrite the content marketing and media spend rule book or mix and match? I say think like Charles Darwin. Darwin held back the publication of his book ‘On the Origin of Species’ (1859) because the idea of ‘Evolution’ was too ‘Revolutionary’ for its times. His meticulous and systematic research made him realise that life on earth arose by a purely natural process, and not through the design of some supernatural being. So to be a super successful marketeer you don’t just read the performance data points but look for patterns just like Darwin did. That to me is the only way you can trump the volatile market trends. In marketing, systematic Evolution is the key to success and not outright Revolution. This is what I would say should be the basis of a well rounded marketing strategy. It is the only way to be able to hit most of your KPIs, be they – ‘thought leadership’, ‘brand awareness’, ‘lead generation’ or others. The 1911 Britannica noted Georges Jacques Danton’s (a leading figure in the early stages of the French revolution) fierce saying – “Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.” So to summarise, my dear marketeer, do not fear. Be an audacious Darwinian, study the stats and observe the patterns and the winning hand will be yours. And if you still can’t decide or feel stressed then please watch the intellectual discourse between Ross and Phoebe from Friends TV series, arguing about Evolution.

The Individuality Conundrum: Brands Need Their Own Unique Voice

It is sometimes difficult to give every human being a voice or what you will call “true individual representation” during his/her lifetime. So what we tend to do is to try for the second best which is a collective identity. You can very quickly start to feel like one of the many colourless poppies in a massive field. But you know full well that if someone were to care to give you a closer inspection, they would find that you are this beautiful red poppy, so charismatic and intrinsically unique among all the others. This Individuality Conundrum is also shared by Brands. Brands on a daily basis are desperately trying to be recognised for their distinct voice. No two software companies are the same, or for that matter nor are two cars or laptops similar. Our ‘Human Experience’ is nothing more than a belief system but each one of us buys a different version of the belief, whichever makes us feel more ‘me’ or ‘real’. It is sad and beautiful at the same time that technology can allow us to have very personal experiences whether with media, family or nature, but we still end up recognising human success on a collective scale, which is directly proportionate to the progress of technology. Look at most of the statistics, they tend to be representational and in that representation the true voice of the individual, person or company is lost. My concern is that if we only focus on the growth of the collective technology which is now not incremental but instant, we might forever lose the real meaning of an ‘individual human’ and similarly that of an ‘individual company’. As much as every industry needs to see its sector getting a collective recognition and greater financial success, at the same time we need to make sure no single company loses its true individuality and its sense of being. We at Ekstasy are working on a daily basis to help brands find their unique voice and their own personal story via the medium of film.

Celebrities in Advertising

Travis Usher
July 13, 2021

Celebrities in advertising is nothing new. In the early 1900s Mark Twain had co-branded pens, and the baseball player Ty Cobb had his own Tobacco. I know, an athlete with his own tobacco made me chuckle as well. This has continued all the way through the century into the modern day, which made me think, if it has lasted this long how effective can it really be, and is it worth it? That’s what I’m going to tackle today.

One of the biggest challenges in business, that’s only got harder with time, is breaking through the noise and making the audience listen. It could require an exceptional media spend, fantastic creative, incredible strategy or all three, but a pretty effective way to do it is through using celebrities. Using a celebrity in your ads can do several things for your brand, they can help you cut through the noise and increase credibility and brand recall. 

Not only that but there is a lot of evidence that they do directly impact sales, for example Michael Jordan advertised a lot of brands such as Nike, Coke, McDonald's, Hanes and Gatorade. His involvement has been calculated to have contributed around $10 billion to the US economy during the 14 year NBA career according to Fortune magazine. Also according to Social Media Week signing a celebrity endorsement can cause stock prices to rise and sales to increase by around 4 %.

While using celebrities in your advertising can be very effective it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as there are downsides and risks. One of which is that sometimes they’re suggested to brands by agencies when they either don’t have any better ideas or they just want to take a shortcut. Not only that but when a brand does take on a celebrity as either a spokesperson or a brand ambassador they become integrated into your brand, which means if they have any scandal or PR controversies it means your brand could suffer and receive negative attention as a result. A prime example of this was Tiger Woods in 2009, when rumors of his infidelity were happening brands started to let him go as a sponsor to avoid the backlash from consumers. Nike didn’t immediately release him as a sponsor and is said to have lost customers as a result.

Not only that but they can be really expensive, and in advertising of any scale you’ve got to make sure you’re getting the most out of what you spend. While it has benefits, spending your entire marketing budget on one celebrity endorsement isn't a great plan. Did you know that in 2002 Pepsi signed with Beyonce for a 10-year endorsement contract for 50 million dollars. That’s more money than some brands will spend in their lifetime, but clearly Pepsi did the maths and thought it was worth it. 

Obviously there are arguments for both sides but whatever your opinion is it is getting more popular. According to studies in the early 2000s around a quarter of US ads featured celebrities and a fifth of UK ads featured them. Ad Age published an article last year all about how using celebrities in advertising was actually getting more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. They raise an interesting point that in 2020 Travis Scott was the first celebrity to have a menu item named after him since Michael Jordan in 1992. In their article they cite Doug Shabelman, the CEO and partner at Burns Entertainment as saying:

“A lot of celebrities are home, they are not doing productions of big movies and they also want to be paid, and to remain relevant.”

I think it’s really interesting from a creative point of view that ideas could be conceptualised and pitched with a much higher chance of being made during the pandemic than before. 

In conclusion I think celebrities absolutely have their place in advertising and the pros outweigh the cons. Obviously there are exceptions and a lot of thought needs to go in before moving ahead but I think under the right circumstances it can be really effective and entertaining. That being said I think simply getting a celebrity on board is no excuse to ditch good strategy and creativity. I think a brand should use a celebrity in a thoughtful way and not have them in the ad just for the sake of it.

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