pensions 300x187 NS&I spend £2million advertising Pensioner Bonds  the most popular bonds in recent history...Some people say the best kind of advertising is free, and with the widespread (good and bad) media coverage of the launch of the new NS&I Pensioner Bonds, you could be forgiven for thinking that you must have been living under a rock to have not heard about them. However, it seems the boffins at NS&I have developed an alternative view, and have spent millions advertising these bonds that were, even before launch, already expected to sell out. Genius.

The eagerly anticipated  market-leading Over-65 Bonds were launched two weeks ago, to a flurry of media attention, including complaints over a website that couldn’t handle the high traffic generated. Already, more than 10% of the £10bn Treasury funding has been allocated, and the rest of the bonds are expected to be snapped up over the next few months. Why then has NS&I spent £2million trying to direct even more visitors to the creaking website?

It sounds madness but NS&I do have their reasons- although whether these reasons are worth £2m is perhaps debatable. NS&I said part of the advertising spend was to direct people to the website as the easiest method of investing- presumably despite the problems- as people might otherwise think postal or telephone investment (which presumably costs NS&I more  to administer) was the only way to do it.  NS&I are also looking to attract those who wouldn’t normally be an NS&I investor with their adverts. While wanting everyone to get a piece of the high-interest action is perhaps a noble aim, those with thousands of poundsof spare cash to tie up for three years are likely to read the paper and/or be on the lookout for market leading rates anyway, surely…

A spokesman for the state-owned savings bank said it had spent “about £2m” on marketing the bonds adding insult to injury by saying: “The launch of the Pensioner Bonds has proved hugely popular, with the biggest opening sales of any retail financial product in Britain’s modern history.”

However, the bank went on to say that it is “keen to ensure that potential customers, including non-NS&I customers, are aware of the market-leading rates on offer.”

£2 million well spent then…

Estate agent website to shake up dominance

January 26th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

london houses Estate agent website to shake up dominanceThousands of estate agents are set to remove their listings from the likes of Zoopla and Rightmove. Why? Well, there’s a new sheriff in town.

A new website, called onthemarket.com has launched and any agent that signs up to it does so on the condition that they can’t list on the other two biggest sites. Zoopla and Rightmove get around 100 million hits each month.

The new property website has been set up by consortium of estate agents. Its founders, Agents’ Mutual, which is made up of Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker and the London firms Douglas & Gordon and Glentree Estates, claim more than 4,000, or one in four, agents have signed up to the site and more are being recruited.

Onthemarket will give members the chance to fix a monthly fee for listing properties for five years, and also allows agents to control their costs against the increasing fees of Zoopla and Rightmove.

This new comparison site is trying to garner a competitive edge by encouraging agents to put their properties on its portal 48 hours before listing with rivals. It’s all a bit edgy, this estate agent lark.

Ian Springett, chief executive of onthemarket.com, reckons: “We will showcase hundreds of thousands of UK properties for sale and to let and will immediately become a ‘must-view’ portal because the vast majority of these properties will have been removed from Rightmove or Zoopla/Primelocation so OnTheMarket.com will have a unique inventory of properties.”

“Success in selling is not just about listing on as many property websites as possible, it is also attributable to an agent’s expertise, contacts and overall marketing mix.”

Over at Zoopla, Lawrence Hall says that he expects the newcomer to have a “short-term impact” on his website, and described onthemarket.com as “regressive”.

It “creates the biggest conflict of interest ever to exist between estate agents and their clients, who now have to think very carefully about which agents are looking after the homeowner, versus which are looking after their own interests.”

The world of buying and renting – it is all about to see more shade being thrown than RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Twitter Logo1 Twitter hits the road, offering you big fat lineTwitter is going on a worldwide tour!

The social network braindump is travelling the globe in a bid to encourage developers to build apps using Twitter data. This follows last year’s announcement that Twitter were launching a mobile devlopment platform called Fabric, which is supposed to make it easy for developers to create their own apps.

Fabric features a suite of tools that enable developers to monitor the stability of their apps, embed streams of tweets, verify users’ identities using phone number sign-in, and monetise their apps via the MoPub platform. Money! Everyone likes money.

Twitter will be roaming Earth offering all of these tools to developers for free, and making it extremely simple for developers to embed them into their apps.

Already, the likes of Spotify, McDonalds and the Wall Street Journal have come aboard using elements of Fabric to improve their performance and engagement.

There’ll be a series of half-day events in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangalore and Sao Paolo. The London event will be on February 19th.

Twitter’s director of mobile platform Jeff Siebert said: “The mobile market is very much dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android. Where we’re different is we want to look across both of them, and we’re hoping to provide the tools that solve developer challenges no matter what platform they’re developing for.”

The company has also announced its first worldwide startup contest, called Hatch, which gives winners the opportunity to meet with potential investors and win cash to fund their projects.

“Our goal is to make developing apps as an individual as easy and powerful as if you have a large development team at a big enterprise,” said Siebert. ”While we obviously care about the big brands, our passion is enabling these small independent developers to build equally incredible experiences with just a few lines of code.”

Everybody can have incredible experiences with a few lines of… oh sorry, they said CODE.

Behold! The Lidl kilt

January 12th, 2015 2 Comments By Ian Wade

lidl kilt 300x187 Behold! The Lidl kiltOch aye the noo! Hoots Mon! And other Scottish cliches, for Lidl are rolling out a range of kilts!

Yes, that’s right, ahead of Burns Night which celebrates the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns on 25 January, the cheery supermarket will offer up bargain tartan kilts, ‘leather’ sporrans, and ghillie shirts ahead of Burns Night as it looks to “help everyone celebrate in proper Scottish style”.

OH GOD! YES! AYE!

They’re in store from January 15th across the chain’s 610 stores and available in two separate tartans – although you’ll probably have to read up on it – cost just £29.99, while a shirt is just under £12 and a leather sporran can be picked up for £10.

That’s some fresh garms on the cheap there, which even we’re tempted by – we’ve got the legs for one, apparently. We’ve always enjoyed having a bit of Scottish in us too.

Lidl’s non-food buying manager Josie Stone said: “This fantastic range, at unbelievably low prices, will give everyone the chance to celebrate Burns Night in proper Scottish style, whilst showcasing Scotland’s proud heritage and traditions.”

“Highland wear can often be unaffordable to many, costing hundreds of pounds, so it’s great to be able to offer an 8 Yard Kilt for under £30.”

Cannie!

Ikea have come up with quite a clever advert as part of their ‘Wonderful Everyday’ campaign.

The ad sees flocks of t-shirts migrate back to homes with stylish Ikea storage solutions. It’s quite good. Have a butchers below. The 60-second ‘Joy of Storage’ commercial hits screens on 10th January across the UK and Ireland before print, digital and outdoor in the following weeks.

Ikea UK and Ireland marketing manager, Peter Wright, explained that the brand wants to move people’s thoughts away from seeing storage as simply a functional part of the home.

And he’s spouted a load of guff to back this up.

“Whether you have a detached house in the country or a one-bed flat in town, we know that there is joy and satisfaction in giving the things you love a home, whatever your storage needs are. The Joy of Storage is about the time saved and the stress reduced when you have things easily to hand, stored out of sight, or the freedom you get when things are in order.”

Freedom, everyone. FREEDOM.

marmite 255x300 Marmite to relaunch spoof ads despite complaintsMarmite, eh? You either love it or hate it. That’s the theory. Although you could apply that theory to anything from Mrs Brown’s Boys, Rita Ora, a brother-in-law or anal sex to be honest.

However, it’s their thing, and they’re continuing to go with it, as they’ve announced that the mockumentary style adverts that spoof animal rescue scenarios, are to return despite all the complaints they had when it was first aired 18 months ago.

They’ve done a teaser advert, which bugles the return of the mockumentary which detailed jars of Marmite being re-homed and rescued from the backs of kitchen cupboards.

The short film jokingly lays bare the cruelty from “repeat offenders” that has lead to a resurgence of neglect of the brand just 18 months on from the original campaign.

There’s security officials monitoring security feeds and spoofy undercover interviews to poke fun at the public furore around the first advert, ahead of the full 30 second commercial that will debut next week.

Of course there’s a sodding hashtag – #MarmiteNeglect – thank you marketeers for doing the admin for everyone who will no doubt be inundating social networks about it.

Joanne O’Riada, Marmite brand manager, said the campaign will be “digital-first” and deliver a light-hearted reminder of the ‘Love it. Hate it. Just don’t forget it’ strapline”.

Shall we have a look at it?

What days we live in, people.

aldi logo 252x300 Aldis Swap & Save campaign still hopes to cheer up JanuaryDespite the thwarters, Aldi are still hoping to give you some cheer this January with the latest in its Swap & Save campaign.

They’ve even paid some marketeering knobhounds to come up with the term ‘swap your old January to an Aldi January’.

The campaign is hosted on a dedicated website where users can sign in with their email address to find out how much they save with each shop. Here they can track those savings and share them on online using the hashtag #aldichallenge.

Already since the site began on New Years Day, several hundred have compared and contrasted their grocery bills up against Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.

However they’re being a bit more cautious this time around after their previous ‘Swap & Save’ campaigns were narked at by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), when in May 2014, Asda complained that it was misleading, and the TV and print ad run out was banned after Tesco chipped in and had a moan.

Tesco said the weekly shops highlighted in the advert were not compared on a like-for-like basis, and added that the explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough. It was also claimed Aldi exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge.

This time around, the #AldiChallenge campaign, states that the savings are “based on a comparison of Aldi products against premium brands. Other supermarkets may sell ‘own brand’ products at different prices.”

Anyway, pop along here to see what savings you could make.

funny shaped vegetables Wonky fruit and veg coming to an Asda possibly near you!Following the recent surveys about customers willing to buy wonky fruit and vegetables, Asda have now stepped up with a trial of putting any old crap on its shelves. This is also quite helpful, seeing as Jamie Oliver has made it his new crusade, trying to get shoppers to go for the warped among the beautiful.

The misshapen treats will be trialled in five of Asda’s branches – really going for it there, eh? – and if it takes off, will be rolled out to more stores.

Naturally, they’ve branded it, and that name is Beautiful On The Inside, which sounds more like a mid Noughties power ballad than a range of fresh veg, but hey.

It will be sold cheaper than the prettier produce and plans to make ‘ugly food more accessible’, which, again, smells of marketing clipboard bingo, and in a bid to get families into it, will feature characters such as Paul Potato, Suzie Swede, Alfie Apple and Penny Pear.

Jamie Oliver and his hanger on pal Jimmy Doherty will be highlighting food waste in their new series of Friday Night Feast. Said Oliver: “If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load. There’s no difference in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans. When half a million people in the UK are relying on food banks this waste isn’t just bonkers, it’s bordering on criminal.”

The duo approached Asda and suggested running a trial in store to understand customer perceptions of wonky produce and whether they would be willing to buy it at a discount.

Asda’s produce technical director Ian Harrison backs it up with: “Even if fruit and veg have some knobbles and blemishes, this doesn’t affect the quality or taste – a carrot is still a carrot.”

“Customers are simply looking for great tasting, fresh produce at a value price. Our Beautiful On The Inside range, which would have either gone to waste or been used for further processing, will now be celebrated for its freshness, value and quality. The new specifications mean up to 20% more of a citrus crop, 15% more swede and 10% more potatoes could be sold fresh in-store”

So there you go. Wonky veg. You have no excuse to dismiss it now, you hounds.

McDonald’s bring back the McRib

January 2nd, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

McDonald’s McRib sandwich is back. Back. BACK.

Yes, after 12 years and 20,000 pleas across social media, the fast food gulag is reinstating the sarnie onto its menus as of RIGHT NOW. Naturally engagement demands that there’s a hashtag – #theMcRibisback – to drive one time devotees back into its arms.

They also send up obsessives with an advert, which according to McDonalds: “This teaser Mockumentary celebrates the UK’s love for the McRib. To its loyal fans, it’s quite simply iconic.”

However, it’s not forever. It will be on sale up until February 3rd.

So stuff your kale smoothies and your NEW YEAR NEW YOU routine up its arse, and blow your calorific intake on a McRib while you can. Good thing it is available for a limited as hardening your arteries never felt so good.

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi adverts banned after Tesco complains Swap and Save is misleadingOn the final day of what has been a pretty awful year for Tesco, perhaps a  small victory over Aldi might go some way towards a better 2015. Tesco have successfully appealed to the ASA that Aldi’s “Swap and Save” adverts, showing how much consumers can save by switching to Aldi were actually misleading. However, the ASA still reckons that Aldi is cheaper  overall…

This is actually the second time Aldi has run the campaign, and the second time they have got in trouble over it. Now, after an investigation, the ASA agreed Aldi offered savings, but it banned the adverts on the grounds that they exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge, and questions over the shopping basket data used.

Tesco complained that the comparison was misleading because it believed the eight-week comparison period was out of date and invalid for a price sensitive market. They also complained that weekly shops were not compared on a like-for-like basis- with some ‘high ticket’ or non-weekly items excluded on a sometimes arbitrary basis, and that explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough.

However, Tesco’s main gripe was that the adverts stated 84 out of 98 people saved, and that the challenge upon which the advert was based involved an eight week challenge-four weeks’ shopping at a competitor and then four weeks shopping at Aldi. However, when looking into the background data published by Aldi, Tesco discovered that only four of the 98 individuals had undertaken the eight-week challenge and the remaining 94 had undertaken the challenge over two weeks.

Aldi had tried to address some of the concerns raised by Tesco, and had tested to see whether prices had materially moved since the challenge was undertaken (December 2013) and the advert showing in April 2014. They hadn’t. The inconsistency with the number of people taking the trial had come about after Clearcast, the advertising clearance agency, had advised Aldi they needed more data to substantiate their claims. Consequently, Aldi had rerun the trial with more people over two weeks to add to the original eight-week trial data.

To resolve the issue, the ASA did its own calculations, taking into account items it believed should have been included and excluded, and allowing for inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Aldi’s interpretation of the data. The ASA figures still showed that savings in the original shops ranged from 22% to 33%. The savings for a shorter ‘revalidation’ trial were even better, ranging from 25% to 38%.

The ASA concluded that  “we considered those amounts represented significant savings at the time of both the original shops and the revalidation shop, and therefore that the overall message of the Swap & Save campaign, that consumers could save money by shopping at Aldi, was not misleading to consumers.”

However, “ because we considered the way in which the comparison was presented in the ads implied more people had participated in the eight-week challenge than was the case, we concluded the ads were in breach of the Codes.”

So it’s a bit of a hollow victory for Tesco. Yes the ads were misleading, but not on the actual main thrust of the ad. That it is actually cheaper to shop at Aldi. Happy New Year Tesco.

Weetabix tempts the kids with Weetabuddies

December 29th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

weetabuddies 300x225 Weetabix tempts the kids with WeetabuddiesWeetabix are launching a new campaign to get kids interested in nutrition.

The Weetabuddies campaign will run across multimedia in the next six weeks with a spend of £5.5 million.

They hope that the Weetabuddies characters will engage with the nippers and get them eating Weetabix. Or, if you prefer, eatabixing.

Anyway, the plan is to create a series of individual personalities using bits of fruit that will reflect kids’ personalities. They include Tropicolin, Senor Sultana and Blue Barry. No, really. The latter sounds like some bloke who sells dirty DVDs down the pub.

Children will also be encouraged to create their own Weetabuddy characters and share them online.

All those that are shared to the Weetabuddies website throughout the campaign will be displayed and entered into a competition to win Weetabuddy creator kits. There will be one kit won a day for the duration of the campaign.

In addition, supermarkets such as Asda will sticker the fruits which have been used with special Weetabuddy stickers, to encourage kids to choose more fruit as they try and recreate their favourites. According to Weetabix, on average, children aged 4-10 years are currently only eating half of their recommended ‘five a day’ target (excluding fruit juice).

Weetabix senior brand manager Claire Canty reckons: “We know from our research that as kids get older and experience new tastes and flavours they’re increasingly looking for more exciting, varied breakfasts. However, we know mums still want to be reassured that their families are making healthy choices in the morning which is why we have launched the Weetabuddies campaign.”

“By helping families to get creative and encouraging them to make their own Weetabuddies, we hope that kids will be reminded that a bowl of Weetabix is a lot of fun, while mum can be reassured that they are still getting a delicious and nutritious breakfast, helping us to encourage a whole new generation to fall in love with Weetabix as a result.”

They sound somewhat lighter than the bruisers they used back in the eighties anyway.

Netflix and Tumblr team up

December 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

netflix transparent Netflix and Tumblr team upNetflix is coming to Tumblr!

Although no one really seems to know what a Netflix Tumblr will actually offer fans, but according to a online video on Yahoo’s social network with a post saying: “Waiting is the worst. We are officially counting down. Netflix is coming to Tumblr January 2015”.

It is more than likely that the upcoming profile will follow the template set by other brands on Tumblr, combining a mix of gifs, video clips and pictures to promote films and series on the service.

This should see an uplift in Netlfix’s overall marketing spend, which represents a small fraction of its total revenue. In 2013, the company’s advertising spend was $437.9m, roughly 10% of its revenue.

Crikey!

It’ll make a change from all the .gifs of Bob’s Burgers, Ryan Gosling and… wait… it’ll probably mean a huge spike in those things! Arrgh! Run for the hills!

AdWatch: Confused.com

December 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

confused robot 300x200 AdWatch: Confused.comAs if Christmas Day TV hasn’t enough treats in store for everybody, adland is really going all out in making commercials based around pointless comedic characters.

Not only do you have a meerkat being axed, if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in front of Downton Abbey’s Christmas special, you’ll be faced with a series of three ads for Confused.com “starring” their mascot Brian the Robot.

The hapless droid will find itself in danger, as he becomes attracted to a super-powered magnet.

Yes, people have been paid to put thought into this.

It will also be introducing new brand characters, the Herberts, who save Brian from a sticky end in a junkyard. Come back Argos aliens, all is forgiven.

The whole affair is part of a fully integrated campaign to engage with social media. People who give a shit, will be able to interact with the hashtag #HelpBRIAN, which will lead them to a microsite wherein they can tell the imaginary construct jokes and be thanked with a personalised message.

Fiona Creedon, head of advertising at Confused.com, said: “This is an exciting new chapter in the Brian the Robot story. We are delighted to introduce the Herberts, Brian’s team of sidekicks, to the British public. We are looking forward to an eventful year ahead as the Herberts and Brian’s story unfolds.”

Bloody hell.

Commercial Break: Christmas will kill a meerkat

December 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

meerkat Commercial Break: Christmas will kill a meerkatPrepare yourselves, for we have sad news.

Well, ‘sad’ is one definition that could apply, depending on where you stand on Comparethemarket.com’s irritating meerkats (we’d go for the throat ourselves).

Set your videos, dear reader, as one of the comparison site’s most popular meerkats will be axed on Christmas Day, during Coronation Street’s jolly festive episode.

The deeply unfunny one-joke meerkat adverts have been going since 2009, even if it feels like at least three generations more.

Possibly wondering what had he’d done wrong in a previous life to end up commenting on such rubbish, Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts said: “Christmas is often a time when big story-lines climax and characters can face a dramatic exit. On Coronation Street we’ve said farewell to iconic characters such as Hilda Ogden and Karen McDonald in our Christmas episodes and we’re planning another heartbreaking farewell this year.”

“Meanwhile the departure of an unlikely character this Christmas – one of the meerkats – is also likely to grip the nation.  With such affection for the meerkats, this story has all the makings of a classic Christmas Day exit.”

And there was us hoping a fire would sweep through meerkat manor.

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.