Christmas AdWatch: Apple

December 17th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Just when we thought we’d finally seen the back of Christmas adverts for the year, along comes a late entry from Apple.

The advert – ‘The Song’ – sees a young lady – via a variety of Apple products, naturally – create a nice duet based on her Gran’s recording of Love Is Here To Stay.

The sell Apple is giving it is: “With a Mac, iPhone or iPad you have the power to create thoughtful, emotional gifts and memories that transcend time. It could be a movie, a homemade card or a song that brings two generations closer together.”

Have a gander at it now. Here.

It’s genuinely quite lovely, and seeing gran tear up as she flicks through photos of yore will have you… no, it’s okay… just something in our eye.

Perhaps it is good that it’s come out a bit later than all the others, otherwise December’s commercial breaks would soon become an intolerable minefield of feelings and heart-string-pulling emotions., and we can’t be having that.

UK trounces rest of World in online shopping

December 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

online shopping  UK trounces rest of World in online shoppingEveryone! We’re a nation of online shoppers! Praise be! That’s how much we hate human contact and actually walking down a street!

The UK spends around £2,000 online per head each year on average – it’s 50% more than the nearest rival Australia manages, and is down to broadband and our inability to get off our arses.

A higher use of debit and credit cards has also been cited as quite a key thing, according to a new report from Ofcom.

As a bonus, Ofcom also discovered two-fifths of advertising spending was now happening online – way more than in any other country.

Ofcom said the popularity of online commerce was boosted by widespread superfast broadband access in the UK, which is ahead of France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Nearly eight in 10 UK homes have access to broadband services that provide connection speeds of at least 30 megabytes per second.

Said Ed Richards. Ofcom’s chief executive: “The internet has never been more important to the lives of people in this country, and the demand for better connections keeps rising,”

“We are making significant progress in this area. However, we all acknowledge that there is more to do, and this will be the challenge for the coming years.”

Sony hack reveals celebrity pseudonyms

December 9th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

playstation network 300x216 Sony hack reveals celebrity pseudonymsSony’s PlayStation online store was hacked on Monday, and the company are still investigating the cause of the attack, after it knocked out the store for two hours. Handy, as they’re currently in the middle of a huge 20th anniversary sale.

Some visitors to the online store were greeted with the message: “Page not found. It’s not you. It’s the internet’s fault.”

Some tweet from a user calling themselves @LizurdPatrol tweeted “50 RTs and we will hit off PSN. 50 FAVs and we will hit off XBOX LIVE.” Whatever gets you hard, dear.

This follows Sony Pictures Entertainment, who were winded by a large attack knocking the studio’s network out for a week, and the added bonus of hackers leaking all manner of embarrassing details about Sony staff. The staff also got emails that they and their families were in danger.

Some sources reckon it has something to do with North Korea being a bit upset about a forthcoming film called The Interview, which stars Seth Rogen and multi-purpose irritant James Franco… but then that itself could be a load of cobblers and part of some plan to flog what sounds like quite a terrible film.

North Korea has denied responsibility for the cyber attack, but called the hack a “righteous deed”, state media reported. Because when you have something like state media, you have the optimum creepy factor.

And in addition to all that, the group has released the pseudonyms used by a host of celebrities. So, if you want to add some famous people and see if you can whoop them at FIFA, here are some names (which they’ll no doubt be changing today):

Tom Hanks goes by “Harry Lauder” and “Johnny Madrid”
Sarah Michelle Gellar goes by “Neely O’Hara”
Tobey Maguire goes by “Neil Deep”
Natalie Portman goes by “Lauren Brown”
Clive Owen goes by “Robert Fenton”
Rob Schneider goes by “Nazzo Good”
Jude Law goes by “Mr. Perry”
Daniel Craig goes by “Olwen Williams”
Jessica Alba goes by “Cash Money
Ice Cube goes by “Darius Stone” and “O’Shea Jackson”
Debra Messing goes by “Ava Harding”

Looks like some celebrities are going to need new fake-names for booking into hotels with.

Having spent much of his career apeing the likes of James Bond – 1998′s second album I’ve Been Expecting You and accompanying videos for the You Only Live Twice-sampling Millennium etc – the popular music recording star Robbie Williams is shivving off the need to rejoin Take That by advertising coffee.

Yes, the star whose last video of him pissing off his birthing wife showed a level of no shame whatsoever, has got his tuxedo on to flog Café Royal’s array of items.

As is the modern way, you can also do something in exchange for free content from the singer.

What with Williams joining George Clooney in the ‘advertising coffee’ we should brace ourselves for clown workshop Olly Murs muscling in soon.

What a time to be alive.

McVitie have launched their first Christmas advert in 30 years!

The biscuit people have released the fifth instalment in its ‘Sweeet’ campaign, wherein biscuits are actually puppies and kittens and people go all “Ooooh” at them.

This 60-second ad also features a duckling, husky pup, piglet, reindeer calf and narwhal, performing a version of Yazoo’s Only You – we’ve reached out to Alison Moyet for a comment on the matter, but have yet to get a response – in front of a family doing that biscuit assortment Russian Roulette where no one wants a coconut ring.

It also marks the first time that they’ve advertised their Victoria variety selection, which itself has had a bit of a makeover, with new foil trays and had the average pack increased to 700g.

Sarah Heynen, United Biscuits’ marketing director for sweet biscuits, said: “Bringing Victoria to TV screens this Christmas is the culmination of what has been an extremely successful year for McVitie’s, following the launch of our masterbrand strategy early in 2014,”

“The latest campaign aims to tap into consumers’ love for McVitie’s and the Victoria range, whilst supporting our continuing efforts to drive growth into the category.”

The move has paid off, with McVitie’s combined sales have risen 4.9% to £392.8m since the company have a reshuffle earlier this year, placing all the sweet biscuits under the McVities brand, and all the savoury items under the Jacobs banner.

We’re still creeped out by the notion of animals living inside biscuit packets. Ed. Mof saw it too literally and went dark on Photoshop

biscuits 500x349 Christmas AdWatch: McVities launch first Christmas ad in 30 years

Christmas adverts – you thought you’d seen the back of them by now, but no.

Harvey Nichols have released their one for 2014, following in their now traditional slightly cheeky line of festive ads. The “Could I Be Any Clearer?” campaign encourages shoppers to send e-cards to their loved ones with messages telling the recipient exactly what they want for Christmas. Exactly. You know what with the internet and all that, a link is just fine, but anyway.

For instance, one reads: “Seasons Greetings… will be very awkward if you don’t get me a pair of Charlotte Olympia silver Octavia sandals. They’re the platform ones with the 6” heel. Size 4 ½, or a 5, if that’s all they’ve got.”

Let’s have a look then, eh?

Consumers are welcome to go and design their own cards via the Harvey Nicks websites or on the ‘Could I Be Any Clearer’ app. They’re also selling cards that you can send with your demanding demands in.

Harvey Nichols said that the campaign had been inspired by unwanted gifts which, according to research by the store, were worth up to £808 million nationally in 2013. According to research of over 2000 people, 52% of people were let down by their gifts last year.

Shadi Halliwell, Group Creative & Marketing Director of Harvey Nichols, said: “This year, we everyone to wake up on Christmas morning and love the presents they get from their nearest and dearest.”

“With our ‘Could I Be Any Clearer’ app, you can cheekily spell out that stylish gift you’ve always wanted, making sure you end up with that Lanvin silk dress rather than the iron to steam it with.”

Well if you’ve got ‘buy an iron for someone for Christmas’ in your head, you may as well book out a bed in A&E for the inevitable ‘thrown-iron-dent-in-skull’ injuries that will occur now.

Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

December 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

It’s December, which means you are likely to see a number of 2014 top tens bouncing about on the interwebs. This one, however, is from the lovely folks at Marketing magazine and list the top 10 marketing fails of 2014.

Some we remember fondly, and others passed us sneakily by. Enjoy.

10. While skilfully drafted, Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorious ad was not judged to be a winner by many, drawing a record 5525 complaints to the ASA. The ad, which offered a ‘money back if he walks’ guarantee for bets placed on the verdict of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, was a play on words, but the betting firm seriously misjudged how funny the nation would find murder of a young South African woman. Or was it culpable homicide? Even taking the piss out of someone with no legs kind of paled next to that.

youre on coke Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

9. Coca Cola has had a number of massive marketing blunders over the years (Dasani anyone?) and this isn’t even it’s only appearance in the top ten. This campaign, which appeared fleetingly in North America probably sounded like a good idea on paper. “You’re on”, like everyone who drinks Coke is a film star or something else glamorous and vital. Unfortunately, when displayed on billboards, it looked like they were encouraging people to go out and take Class A drugs instead. Which was presumably not the original plan.

8. Made.com were probably patting themselves on the back around the time of the Scottish referendum- they’d already planned an ad campaign to go live once the yes vote came in. Unfortunately for Made.com, the result didn’t go as planned, but that’s no reason to waste a good advert, and they sent it out anyway. The ad generated buzz for all the wrong reasons, causing Made.com to issue a Union flag themed apology, saying they had “accidentally hit send on an email we prepared in case of a ‘yes’ vote for Scottish independence”. They later tried to backtrack and claim it was all a deliberately provoking viral marketing ploy. Yeah right.

7. 2014 has been a bad year for Tesco. The once-unassailable supermarket giant has seen its fortunes turn dramatically, with the icing on the cake being the announcement that they had fiddled the figures, to the tune of over £250m.

Tesco blamed the humungous error to problems in the way in which it recognised income from suppliers. Eight senior manag­ers, including UK managing director Chris Bush, were asked to BOGOF. Not even cheesy Shakespearean sonnets can save things now.

6. Tech companies and women. When will women learn their place? Microsoft Chief Exec Satya Nadella told women earlier this year that they have no need to ask for pay rises and should instead put their trust in the system. His brilliant career advice, given  at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing claimed that not asking for a rise was “good karma” that would help a boss realise the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility. Like maybe carrying his briefcase or something.

But Microsoft isn’t the only tech company rubbing women up the wrong way. Both Apple and Facebook proudly added egg-freezing to their employee benefits. After all, women can’t have a comparable career without freezing eggs can they? Far better to wait until you’ve actually dried up to have children…

american apparel Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

5. Seedy clothing retailer American Apparel had its ads banned by the ASA, after their latest campaign was centred on up-skirt photos of schoolgirls. The campaign included pictures of a model bent over touching the ground, revealing her crotch and underwear, and another showing a woman bending over. The ASA concluded that “the ads had the effect of inappropriately sexualising school-age girls and were therefore offensive and irresponsible”, and that the ads “had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers or to society”.

American Apparel were entirely unrepentant, claiming that they were famed for their provocative ads, and people should have expected it from them. Oh, that’s OK then. To be fair, their ads have been banned before, and another 2014 campaign featured mannequins with merkins. Let’s all look forward to 2015 with trepidation.

4. Let’s face it, the 2014 World Cup was a fairly rubbish affair, and the insult of the national team’s performance was only matched by the money-grabbing antics of Nike, who were charging £90 for the replica kit, that lasted all of 3 games, and was the fourth kit produced in 12 months.

The Telegraph ‘Sport’ summed it up most succintly: “England may have a history of underachievement on the field, but the new shirt, made by Nike, shows they are world leaders in what they charge supporters.”

3. Coca Cola got in trouble again this year when they rejigged their ‘Reasons to believe’ advert, which was intended to show there is “more good than bad in the world”. The Irish version cut a gay-marriage scene, replacing it with a St Patrick’s Day shot instead.

Coca Cola claimed they cut the scene as gay marriage is still illegal in Ireland, but critics felt Coca Cola were compromising their principles by cutting the scene in this one specific market. Especially after this “you can’t write ‘gay’ on coke bottles” story.

2. Everyone loves Facebook. Except when they start messing with your head and trying to make you sad. Research undertaken in partnership with Cornell University and the University of California in 2012 saw users’ news feeds altered to control the proportion of negative or positive posts that appeared. The study concluded that Facebook could influence whether users felt more positive or negative by doing this.

When the details were announced in 2014, it was fairly clear that almost everyone felt angry and aggrieved at being fiddled with by Facebook.

u2 500x500 Top Ten Marketing #fails of 2014

1. You have to feel a bit sorry for Apple. Not for long and only a tiny bit, but they must have been most surprised to discover that not everyone wants something for free. Free is no good if you don’t actually want it.

This is, of course, the ‘coup’ Apple pulled off by having U2’s new album given free to every iTunes user. Except rather than jumping up and down with glee at a free album, many consumers were at best disgruntled and at worst rabidly annoyed that Apple felt it had the right (and the access) to poke around in people’s music libraries. U2 didn’t come out of it well either, and the whole shebang led to users frantically searching how to delete an unwanted U2 album from iTunes, before Apple itself was forced to create a tool to do the job for you. Fortunately, there was already a tool in U2…

Twitter Logo1 Twitter to start spying on your apps (and how to turn it off)Twitter have unveiled their plans to start collecting information on the apps that users have upon their phones and tablet devices.

They reckon it would allow them to monitor and target Twitter users with specially tailored advertising. Sounds like spying and invading people’s privacy to us, but that’s the internet for you.

According to a post on Twitter’s help page, Twitter said it would target people who use its app on all mobile devices that run Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.

It continues: “To help build a more personal Twitter experience for you, we are collecting and occasionally updating the list of apps installed on your mobile device so we can deliver tailored content that you might be interested in.”

The social network claim that they will only collect names of applications that users, um, use, rather than the contents and data from them, so the social media behemoth can help to build graph data to personalise each tweeter’s Twitter experience.

Twitter will automatically opt its users into the new data collection service, but if you’d like to turn it off, here’s how.

How to turn this feature off and remove my data from Twitter

If you use Twitter for Android:

Tap the overflow icon (the thing in the top right that looks like three dots)
Hit ‘Settings’
Tap the account you’d like to tinker with
Under ‘Other’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps

If you use Twitter for iOS:

From the Me tab, press the cog button
Hit ‘Settings’
Click on the account you’d like to edit
Under ‘Privacy’, you can adjust the setting to ‘Tailor Twitter’ based on your apps.

Google to offer ad-free internet (it’ll cost you)

November 21st, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google to offer ad free internet (itll cost you)Adverts on the internet can be a bit annoying and ad-blockers only work for certain things. So if you’ve been craving an advert-free internet, Google might have something.

But it will cost you.

Basically, Google have unveiled a new service called ‘Contributor by Google’ and the company say: “Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”

What this means is that you’ll be asked to ‘contribute’ between $1-$3 per month which will go to the website in question (and, you have to assume, Google will take a cut too). You can pay more than the minimum offered too, which basically means, if you really, really like a website, you can throw coins in their cup. Regardless of what you offer, you’ll get the same service.

The Onion, Mashable, Imgur, Urban Dictionary and WikiHow have already signed-up for this, and Google have also said that there’s more on board too, as these are just “a few” of the confirmed partners.

So what happens to the adverts? Well, they’ll be replaced by a thank-you message or a pixellated box, which doesn’t sound like a better option, but there you go.

Google say: “When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site. As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message – often accompanied by a pixel pattern – where you might normally see an ad.”

If you’re interested, have a look at Google’s dedicated page here.

Aldi to launch pop-up restaurants

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi to launch pop up restaurantsAldi are entering the restaurant business… sort of. The discount supermarket have announced that they’re opening a few pop-up restaurants around the country ahead of Christmas.

The restaurants will be serving up a meal planned by chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

The events will happen in selected hotels such as Blythswood Square Hotel and Home House between November 21st and December 10th.

You can try your luck to win a reservation by tweeting @AldiUK using #AldiFestiveFeast as your hastag.

Naturally all the food served will be sourced from Aldi’s Specially Selected range, including such fare as caviar, crab, turkey wellingtons and Christmas pudding.

(Actually their Christmas pudding is well nice).

Joint managing director of corporate buying, Tony Baines said: “Jean-Christophe Novelli has put together a luxury menu that shows off our festive range to the full and offers better value than other supermarkets. We hope that our consumers will enjoy it.”

Tesco launch Secret Scan-ta app

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Tesco Clubcard are hoping to help you find the perfect gift via Twitter! They’ve teamed up with We Are Social to create a campaign that endeavours the find the ideal gift for people via Twitter.

The Secret Scan-ta (OH GOD YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) app will focus on the cheaper end of goods they offer, rather than stuff like tellies and fridges.

secret scanta 500x363 Tesco launch Secret Scan ta app

Both Clubcard customers and non-customers can input the Twitter handle of a person they are buying the gift for, and then Secret Scan-ta will sift through that particular Twitter account sourcing info on what sort of people and organisation the user follows.

Then using this data – which they’ll probably store away and cite you as a stalker or something in the future – the Scan-ta will offer up gift solutions which they have in stock.

Clubcard members who input their Clubcard vouchers at the start of the search will find their voucher value doubled and deducted from the gift’s price if they go ahead with the purchase.

And that’s not all, each week five winners will be selected at random from those who have used the app to receive 5,000 Clubcard points, and one ultimate winner will be in with a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Katie Aust digital marketing manager from Tesco Clubcard, said: “Christmas, although a happy season, can often bring with it panic and stress of buying gifts. This campaign gives the buyer get a bit of genuine insight into what the recipient is really interested in, resulting in a personal, and thoughtful gift. It also promotes the huge offerings of the Tesco gifting range and the benefits of joining Clubcard and boosting vouchers.”

So, ‘gifting’ – we’re saying that now, are we?

Christmas AdWatch: Samsung

November 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Samsung are entering the TV advertising arena this season with their first Christmas campaign!

The series of ads will showcase the company’s range of gadgets while soundtracked by the decidedly ponce and unfestive Ravel’s Bolero. Mercifully, it doesn’t involve this gawdawful rap.

The adverts entitled ‘All Wrapped Up Early’ and ‘Christmas Round Ours’ are already on Samsung’s YouTube channel. All Wrapped Up will be on TV tonight (19th Nov) during that I’m A Celebrity nonsense, and ‘Christmas Round Ours’ makes its TV debut next Monday.

Russell Taylor, vice president of corporate marketing at Samsung Electronics UK and Ireland said: “Christmas provides the perfect platform for us to communicate with a large base of Samsung customers and will help to make the UK’s biggest tech brand also its most loved one.”

The Galaxy Note 4 takes centre stage in ‘All wrapped up early’ celebrating the brand’s flagship smartphone. ‘Christmas round ours’ showcases the whole Samsung range.

Will it persuade you to ask for a Samsung for Christmas? Didn’t think so.

biscuits Some consumers cant tell the difference between brandsA lot of people can’t tell the difference between own-branded and branded goods, according to a survey by Which!!!

Which!!! asked 7,855 members various questions, and discovered that around a quarter of them have difficulty telling the brands from the own-brands, and have sometimes ended up buying the own brand goods by mistake! (the clots).

One of the main examples used was the similarity between McVitie’s Ginger Nuts and Lidl’s Tower Gate Ginger Nuts (pictured). Once the brand names had been blocked off, 39% of respondents confused Lidl with McVitie’s.

Other own-brands that the research suggested bore an uncanny resemblance to branded labels included Aldi’s Snackrite Thick Ridged Crisps (similar to McCoy’s), and Lidl’s Newgate Cream of Tomato Soup (similar to Heinz).

According to legal professional Lee Curtis, partner and trademark attorney at law firm HGF, says the basic test for a design right infringement is if the non-brand gives of the air of the real brand, but even if that’s the case, Curtis says: “Most of the main offenders for copying are big supermarkets. Brand owners will be scared of their commercial power and of being delisted – for many, supermarkets are their biggest customers, and they don’t want the hassle.”

Some companies have tried to legalise elements of their branding, but for some to no avail. Such is the case for Cadbury, which last year lost a legal battle to secure exclusive rights to Pantone 3685c purple in chocolate packaging.

Christmas AdWatch: Cadbury and Vodafone

November 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

The Christmas advert season is in full swing now, with few left to showcase their festive wares. While it seems that we may have reached the peaks with Monty The Penguin and Sainsbury’s tribute to Paul McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ video, there are still some companies hoping to woo you in with imagery of stressed ordinary folk in woolly hats enjoying a reasonable Christmas.

Vodafone’s seasonal effort features a variety of scenarios wherein actors perform ‘Let It Go’ from that Frozen. It’s basically saying “hang out with Vodafone as we can offer Sky Movies and TV shows with NOWTV, included on Vodafone Red 4G”

They’ve also done the admin ahead for you hashtag-wise, with the unsightly #powertothefestive, which plumbs new lows in meaninglessness.

Meanwhile Cadburys have gone into the Christmas ad market with a tie-up with ITV. A series of adverts feature star “talent” from the station such as Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness, Christine Bleakley, Phillip Schofield and Stephen Mulhern. Because Daniel Day Lewis was busy probably.

The tie-in with ITV will also see Cadbury’s sponsor Christmas programming on the channel, including Catchphrase Christmas Special and the All Star Family Fortunes Christmas Special.

According to Simon Daglish, group commercial sales director at ITV: “Cadbury are the perfect fit for this exciting and unique partnership with ITV to unwrap joy across the festive period. The innovative activity is a great example of how ITV can work closely with advertisers and talent across a number of platforms to deliver a highly dynamic and unique campaign.”

If the idea of Cadburys condoning Keith Lemon is enough to drive you off chocolate for life, then these adverts will have done their job.

Behold the novelty Tesco Christmas sweatshirt

November 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Christmas jumpers. You either love them or hate them. Or just buy them anyway and go “Look at me! LOL!”

Somehow in recent years, what was seen as a bit naff has become quite a thing, and now everyone is making moves into this increasing lucrative market, with bands people such as Slayer, Queens of the Stone Age and the Wu Tang Clan offering variations on such festive themes.

Well anyway, some enterprising spark over on eBay has come up with a jolly cheery design, which takes Tesco’s Value range and spoofs that on a sweatshirt.

tesco jumper 500x487 Behold the novelty Tesco Christmas sweatshirt

Maybe Tesco are too busy with other concerns to worry about copyright on this occasion.

Unfortunately, for a value sweatshirt, it actually costs £18.95 (with another £2.95 post and packaging) and so the original chuckle is lost slightly at the expense of the wearer.

Anyway, if you fancy one, head here now before your works Christmas party, or whatever function requires you to dress up like a div.