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Christmas TV ads: what are the magic ingredients needed to win the top spot?

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By Mwamba Malama, PR and Digital Account Executive 

Every year the never-ending debate on whether the Christmas season begins in December or November causes a stir. But our favourite brands and retailers are set on making the decision for us by releasing their new Christmas adverts from early November to get us in the festive spirit.

With all the effort and big budgets marketing departments put into their creative campaigns, what is the ultimate recipe for a successful Christmas ad?

A spoonful of synergy

Brands are increasingly optimising multiple platforms to deliver their new Christmas messaging to audiences, and this year is no exception. Incorporating different media such as TV, print and online as part of a strong marketing strategy ensures that the ads have a wider reach and impact.

Marks&Spencer – Go Jumpers

M&S has broken the mould this year from the standard warm and fuzzy Christmassy ad with an energetic dance ad. Dancers shoulder roll to the soundtrack of House of Pain’s Jump Around. With an undeniably good pun, the retailer also partnered with Spotify to create the ultimate throwback playlist and developed the Metro’s first ever video embedded wrap for selected London commuters. And if that wasn’t enough, a flash mob recreated the infectious dance at London stations which sparked online conversation Traditionally, the target market of M&S has been perceived as an older generation, so this modern campaign appears to be a step change from that to entice a younger audience.

Sainsbury’s – Nicholas the Sweep

Sainsbury’s uses age old tropes such as the Dickensian fairy tale and a falsely accused orphan, Nicholas, to pull at heart strings and to commemorate 150 years of service. Like M&S, the supermarket giant invested in a wrap of the Metro designed as an old newspaper that reported on the escapades outlined in its TV advert. The appearance of orange satsumas in the black and white scenes is a smart highlight of the retailer’s brand image and a nice tie in with the festive season. The company has utilised multiple channels to grab consumer attention and no doubt sales of easy peelers will be up this festive season.

A pinch of community

A common theme appearing across many adverts this year is a strong sense of community and the importance of unity during the merry season. This is a theme that is always well received at this time of year and is bound to win hearts and minds all over the country (take a look at our previous blog to see how the Christmas ads tug at our heart strings!).

John Lewis and Waitrose – Excitable Edgar

John Lewis, the godfather of Christmas adverts, joined forces with Waitrose this year to create a two and half minute cinematic experience around Edgar the Dragon. An emphasis on acceptance and inclusion is beautifully depicted in this short film, as the little girl’s flame breathing friend is excluded and eventually welcomed back by the community. The advert has been received remarkably well with #ExcitableEdgar trending for days on Twitter after its launch, achieving over 45k Twitter retweets and eight million YouTube views gained online – not to mention the Excitable Edgar merchandise that’s selling out in stores. Once again, it appears John Lewis is the front runner in best Christmas ads.

A dash of originality

IKEA – Silence the critics

A Christmas ad with no sign of snow, Santa or sleigh bells ringing? Unheard of! We can’t look at this year’s Christmas ads without mentioning IKEA. The home retailer has creatively disrupted the status quo in its very first Christmas ad. The Swedish store enlisted UK grime artist D Double E as the voice of inanimate objects that convince homeowners to redecorate for the holidays. The unexpected arrival of the ad and inclusion of D Double E stimulated conversation online which resulted in #IKEA trending nationally. The retailer is hosting in-store events to help customers be ‘home ready’ for guests over the festive period as part of the campaign.  This is a great example of how originality can help set a brand apart, get people talking and create something memorable for its audience.

Brands continue to compete for the top spot with their Christmas ads each year and while they choose their own flavour, these core ingredients still pop up. Whatever your favourite is, it’s clear a true feast of Christmas ads has been served for 2019.

Which one has been your favourite and why? Tweet us on @PRexpertsUK to tell us or leave a comment below!

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5 ways for Amazon sellers to cash in on Black Friday

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The 29th November sees the return of Black Friday. The sales from last year’s shopping bonanza topped £1.49bn online, making it the second biggest online selling event of all time – second only to July’s Amazon Prime Day which saw Amazon sell over 175 million items across 18 countries.

Black Friday 2019 is anticipated to be bigger than ever, and the sales are no longer refined to the weekend. UK deals are opening earlier, with sales starting on Amazon at 00:01 on Friday 22nd November this year – a week before Black Friday. What’s more, Amazon is hosting a ‘Black Friday Countdown Sale’ between 18th November and 22nd November.

Black Friday offers tremendous potential to companies currently selling on Amazon. But as a seller, how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of the Black Friday extravaganza?

Here are our five top tips for seller success.

1. Optimise your listing title for searches

Making sure your product is as visible as possible in searches needs to be your priority (visibility within Black Friday deals comes later). Make sure you include a generic product description of what your product is within the title. Even if people haven’t heard of your brand, this will ensure that they know what type of product you are offering.

2. Seal the deal with bullet points

The five bullet points are arguably the most important feature of an Amazon listing. Listing features is not enough to persuade buyers; you need to motivate the viewer to buy by setting an expectation of what benefits they will get out of using the product. This is why Amazon places the customer buy-box next to the bullet points – more often than not, it’s the bullet points describing the benefits of the features that convince buyers.

3. Participate in Black Friday Lightning Deals

The main concept around Amazon’s Black Friday is to offer hundreds of exclusive discount deals on popular, quality products. To be able to be a part of this, your product(s) need to have a certain number of positive reviews and a three-star rating or higher. You must also reduce the price of the item by at least 40% to be considered.

You need to choose the quantity of stock you want to sell and submit the deal in advance of Black Friday to Amazon. Amazon then decides when to schedule it. Lightning Deals are tremendously popular due to their high visibility on the homepage, and huge volumes of stock can be sold in a very short time period.

4. Increase your keyword bid strategy throughout Black Friday promotion

If you already use Amazon’s display and brand keyword advertising tools in seller central, make sure you allocate extra budget for the duration of Black Friday to ensure your products are promoted above organic search results.

You’ll reap the benefits of a low advertising cost of sale (ACOS) as your customers’ intention now will be to buy rather than browse.

5. Use vendor powered money-off coupons

Amazon customers use the ‘wish list’ function to keep track of products they’ll be looking to buy at discount during Black Friday. Sellers can make their products more attractive during the sale by buy adding a money off coupon onto the listing. A glance at the wish list will display the discount on offer to the customer.

Couponed listings also stand out in search results. As a seller, you are in control of offering a percentage discount or a monetary amount off the list price, making this a very useful sales strategy instead of Lightning Deals.

As Black Friday’s popularity continues to grow every year, missing out on the opportunity for increased sales around the shopping event could see your brand suffer. Following these tips puts you in good stead to maximise the opportunity Black Friday offers to sellers.

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Want to find out more? Get in touch!

If you have any questions about how to make Amazon an effective channel for your business, please check out our Amazon Marketing services or get in touch. We’ve helped several brands launch and establish themselves on Amazon in Europe. Call us on 01483 537 890 or email hello@brookscomm.com

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The Benefits of a Placement with a PR & Digital Marketing Agency

Looking for a career in PR & Digital Marketing? Our current Junior PR and Marketing Expert Aaron Jackson discusses how a placement with brookscomm has benefited him.

A foot on the career ladder

Often, when I tell people that I’m studying a degree in Media Studies with Film Studies, questions are raised about the employability that accompanies this type of qualification. The connotations with subjects associated with ‘the arts’ are that opportunities following graduation are few and far between thanks to the extremely competitive nature of the industry.

While it may be true that the bright lights of Hollywood are reserved for that select few, studying media equips you with a broad range of skills that can be applied to a number of professional disciplines.

I was introduced to brookscomm through the online recruitment portal that University of Surrey has in place to help students secure a placement in fulfilment of a ‘sandwich’ course (3 years study, 1-year work placement).

The role brookscomm offered was that of a Junior PR and Marketing Executive. A handful of the modules that I had studied covered areas of marketing directly, but PR was more or less uncharted territory from an academic perspective. However, having dabbled in music journalism for the last couple of years, I had been working with PR agencies to some degree.

What attracted me particularly to the role that brookscomm were advertising was the opportunity to dip my toe into not one, but two areas of knowledge that I had a prior interest in. The marketing element would allow me to break away from a lecture theatre and put theory into practice. The PR element would afford me invaluable insight into a world that I had to thank for affording me so many fantastic opportunities as a music journalist.

Moreover, I recognised the role as a rare chance to take another step on the career ladder. As I mentioned, I was already recognising how competitive the media industry is – particularly for students fresh out of university with very little experience.

Research “show(s) that almost two thirds (69%) of hiring employers believe experience is the most important asset when recruiting with 72% of employers also admitting that too much emphasis is placed on qualifications and not enough on experience”.

Now, with nearly a year of experience as an industry professional at brookscomm, I feel well equipped to finish my degree and have a go at that ‘real life’ thing that my parents kept going on about…

The importance of integrated approach

One of the most crucial lessons from this placement that I will take away with me is how important it is for companies to manage their communications with an integrated approach.

In an industry that moves as fast as this one, it’s not enough to focus attention on PR or marketing. The average consumer won’t be thinking about a brand in terms of PR, marketing or social media – they will recognise a brand and their message as one whole entity.

The different areas that contribute to a company’s communication strategy will naturally overlap and cross over into one another to produce the message received by the customer. In light of this, communication professionals should be observing a brand’s messaging strategy through the same lens as a consumer would.

In practice, this involves being flexible and adopting a skillset that spans across the likes of social media, PR, traditional marketing and digital marketing. It has been a massive learning curve to become familiar with all of these variables and, as is often the case, it has taken a bit of time to comfortably work with this mindset.

However, the induction process at brookscomm ensured that, from the start of my placement, I was given a wealth of knowledge and resources with which I could get to grips with this industry.

Within the space of a week, I was contributing to crucial work in the office and was already beginning to feel like an important member of the team. At the point of writing this, I can confidently say that brookscomm has helped me reach a professional standard that has allowed me to work in a way that is integral to the team’s day to day success.

Now is your time

At brookscomm, I have learned things that books could have never taught me. If you’re keen to learn what it takes to work in a professional environment and further progress yourself towards being a top candidate for your dream job in the media industry, then look no further than a work placement.

Our MD Mandy Brooks says: “The placements we offer bring young energy into the office, which is a great way to share experience, generate new ideas and keep the business fresh and exciting.  With the original founders, myself and Chaz, still an integral part of the company, we have established a wide and diverse, knowledgeable, productive results-based team. Each team member is hugely valued and in turn adds particular value to brookscomm.”

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated communications strategy. We can help you boost your business, email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

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Lush quits social media: smart or a stunt?

On Monday, the popular British cosmetics brand Lush announced on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that they would be “switching up social”. The brand will be shutting down its LushUK accounts as well as Lush Kitchen, Lush Times, Lush Life, Soapbox and Gorilla. This dramatic shift comes from the brand being “tired of fighting with algorithms” and that it does “not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed.”

Lush concluded its announcement by stating “This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of something new. #LushCommunity – see you there.”

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the brand’s digital presence. Could this announcement simply be a headline grabbing tactic, or does it speak into the future power of influencer and community marketing over corporate messaging?

Controversial marketing

Lush hasn’t been a stranger to causing a stir with publicity tactics that push boundaries and provoke conflicting reactions in the past.

The particularly divisive “Live Demonstration” from 2012, where a performance artiste was subjected to animal laboratory tests in the shop window of Lush’s Regent Street branch, was a provocative move. Most would agree that the overall message of the campaign was positive, however, this graphic approach to the issue certainly ruffled a few feathers and had a memorable impact. Much like this move away from social media, it certainly goes against the grain.

Maintaining online influence

The term “#LushCommunity” appears to hint towards a new way for Lush customers to engage with one another and the brand itself. Through which platform is unclear, but maybe that’s the point – that the community isn’t confined by a platform, or indeed by role.

Lush has collaborated a lot with online influencers in the past and in distancing itself from social media in one sense, it’s likely the brand will put more time, money and effort into working with lifestyle influencers and online ambassadors to keep the brand alive online.

The brand has already been successful in this arena, largely via reciprocated content. There are large numbers of videos on YouTube of popular beauty, fashion and even family vloggers testing Lush products. Some of the most successful videos are Lush factory tours which have come about as a result of Lush inviting influencers to come down to its factory for a tour. The success of these videos may be a sign of content yet to come for the brand.

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Redefining community

The future of Lush’s communications strategy is unclear, other than the fact that it appears the brand is moving its engagement with consumers into a ‘community’, which will likely include vloggers and influential online ambassadors.

What is clear, however, is that Lush is on the front foot when it comes to making bold decisions in its marketing and communications strategy. This decision has already given them a lot of exposure, but it’s hard to tell whether this short-term win will translate into a long-term gamechanger. The bottom line is that Lush’s attempt to reshape the structure of online communications is relatively uncharted territory and worth keeping a close eye on.

#LushCommunity – see you…where?

Aaron Jackson – PR & Marketing Executive

At brookscomm we have over 20 years of PR & marketing expertise and a proven track record of providing an integrated communications strategy. We can help you boost your business, email hello@brookscomm.com or call us on 01483 537 890. 

Twitter @PRexpertsUK  Linkedin: brookscomm  Facebook:brookscomm Website: www.brookscomm.com

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How to maintain high standards in business

In light of our Managing Director Mandy’s new role as a client PR advisor to the Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR), Carys grabbed her for a quick chat on how to establish and maintain high standards for the benefit of your customers, and how this can be put into practice to make a real difference across all elements of business.

With over 20 years’ experience as an agency leader Mandy has built brookscomm from the ground up, gaining a wealth of knowledge on how having high standards within your company can lead to longlasting business success.

Where does your commitment to high standards come from?

A phrase that my parents always said to me growing up was: “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. It’s encouraged me to have high standards and has stayed with me. Now I realise it’s shaped my approach to most things in life, including business.

The question isn’t just around why we choose to focus on getting the best quality in business, but also how. The ‘why’ is clear – we want to put our best foot forward and in a business environment, we know that this is the way to offer the best service to our customers. It’s the ‘how’ that takes a little more work.

What can be a barrier to businesses maintaining such high standards?

If you speak to any business leader, they will undoubtedly say that they want high standards. We all do. But often the focus is put more on practical details. It is far more a state of mind than it is in the logistics like how people work, or who is working and when.

There’s a lot of misconceptions out there – perhaps that enabling people to work remotely or part-time means they’re not working as hard or to a high standard, or that if you take a lean approach to your business your quick decisions may be ‘knee-jerk’, which compromise your output. But that’s not the case; in fact, in some scenarios it can even be the opposite of what you’d expect. Working smarter and staying agile means you’re quicker with your processes or working setup, not dropping on your quality.

What are some of the best ways to focus on quality within an organisation?

If high standards are lived and breathed, then the concept is always at the top of your mind. It’ll shape all your decisions, from recruitment and processes through to strategy and business development. 

By committing to excellence in your industry, you’re able to provide the best possible service for your clients or customers. Explore new qualifications, make it a priority to stay up to date with latest trends impacting your market, invest in training for your team and stay in touch with likeminded contacts in your industry. This way you can offer accurate and reliable consultancy to your clients and understand your position in the market that much better, helping you finetune your offering too.

What can industry leaders do to drive higher standards?

The CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) is on a mission to develop a level of excellence for our industry, bringing a new level of rigour for PR professionals through its qualifications, events, training and other CPD related activities. I’m playing a role in helping them develop this by operating as a Chartered PR Client Advisor, which means organisations can request support from the CIPR to appoint either an external agency or recruit a communications member of staff.

It’s great to see that through programmes like the CIPR’s Client Advisory service, organisations are committed to maintaining high standards and are bringing in expertise to help with that. By applying the same rules to communications as they do to any other element of the business, leaders can focus on getting value for money and stay focused on maintaining a high-quality standard for customers.

Learn more about how Mandy and the team can support your integrated communications activity here.