Friday 27 November 2020

Lockdown Liebling


After nearly nine months of on-and-off lockdown, and all those brands doing amazing pivoting while being there for me personally every minute of the day, which one has stood out for me as my own Covid champion?

Although it may not have been good for my liver, Jacques' Wein Depot has definitely been good for my soul. 

I'm wary of pushing the "brands are like human beings" analogy too far, but this is surely one brand where I'll admit to having a relationship (and my husband is well-aware of the fact). 

While I'm aware that, like many other brands, I could go online with Jacques', part of the appeal is that the relationship is 90% analogue, real life, or whatever you like to call it. Yes, they do gather data about what I've bought which results in freebies and birthday bottle and suchlike, but I don't have any permanent, alarming reminder whizzing around on my iPhone. The newsletter is paper and comes through the post, and I can read it at my leisure.

I love the combination of dependability, knowledge and little surprises. I've collected a lot of freebies over the years. Some I use, while some sit in their boxes looking pretty. They are always appreciated.

Of course, I buy plonk at the local supermarket, too. Sometimes even good bottles of wine from a trip away (what's that?) or another wine warehouse - but I always come back to Jacques'. Even though there's no tasting there at the moment, and you have to shuffle around in masks.

And perhaps, the strongest connections with a brand are through personal experience. An event at which the brand played a small, but important part. Earlier in the year, having had a Weinwanderung cancelled, I had the madcap idea of a Eurovision Wein Grand Prix - a stagger around local countryside with wine from six different European countries - Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy and France.

Without doubt, it was one of the best days of the year so far. (Italy won, by the way).

It's cheers to my lockdown hero brand, and happy first Advent Sunday to all!  

Saturday 21 November 2020

Email Mayhem


The past couple of weeks have been pretty packed as far as work goes. I'm certainly not complaining, but the focus on getting stuff thought through and done made me realise just how much time I've spent in hungrier days reading other people's stuff rather than doing my own.

I started a sorting and culling action for the email newsletters that I've subscribed to over the past couple of decades and it has been liberating - like the feeling of clearing your wardrobe and realising a few weeks or months down the line that no, you don't miss any of that stuff or regret giving it away.

I'm not sure how many marketing/brand-type newsletters I was signed up for (in addition to all those from retailers, publishing services and other hobbies-related stuff). But it's certainly multiples more than the 5 or so I had back in 2009 when records on the current laptop begin. Back then, I was getting, say, one work-related email newsletter per day of the working week, which seems quaintly handleable. 

My culling criteria were completely unscientific. I decided anything that appears on or near the weekend in my inbox is bad manners and likely written by workaholic desperados I don't want to know anyway - the sort of lost souls who haunt LinkedIn at the weekend. So sorry, any US-based companies who think they're hitting the Friday morning spot when in fact it's late afternoon here. 

Then I used gut reaction. Is this a newsletter that causes a sinking feeling when it flops into the inbox, or one I'm keen to open? 

The sinking feeling can be caused by design (difficult to read), too much content (those newsletters that link to 8 or 10 or more articles are out), clickbait headlines, or re-hashed and repetitive content (some words are simply a huge yawn).

If I had to name two favourites, they'd have to be Contagious - whose newsletter was one of the five I received in 2009 - and Good Business' Friday5. Both of these have a handleable number of items - someone has made choices over what to put in and what to leave out. The newsletters have a distinct house style and the topics covered have a clear focus. 

I'll leave you with a screen shot of the Contagious newsletter from 11 years ago - 24th November, 2009. Unfortunately the links don't link any more, but it's fascinating to see what topics marketing people were mulling over back then: reports are offered on Mobile Apps, Branded Utility, Goodvertising (which must have morphed into purpose-driven brand communications at some point), Social Media (what that?) and Branded Entertainment. 

But nothing on email newsletters - were they missing a trick?

Sunday 8 November 2020

Days of Hope

I've noticed that my blog has become slightly serious and grumpy round the edges of late. And that it's been ages since I've done what I used to love doing - finding an ad that's got a really good idea behind it, and singing its praises.

Well, here we go - two campaigns via the agency Quiet Storm as part of the Create not Hate initiative. This has the aim of bringing more young people from ethnic minority backgrounds into the creative industries.

The "Racist Dinosaur" campaign was created by Jet Harris and Le'vaughan Smith, who are both 16, and I think from Merton, which is my old stamping ground in South London.

Then there's another great idea - "Racism is ridiculous" based on a "What If ...?" question - in this case, what if dogs were racist?

Barks & Spencer is inspired! This campaign was created by 22-year-olds Finton Hurst and Mariana Gonzalez. 

What do I like? Well, where do I start? Both campaigns are packed with insight, cleverness and mischievous humour. And they are both based on a simple idea, the "What If?" question in one case, and the idea that racism is a dying relic from the past, summed up by the clever endline "Make Racism Extinct" in the other. A recipe for effectiveness.

My hope is that the ad agencies will encourage more of this, more doing and acting. And less making pompous statements about giving people voices and letting them see themselves in ads (which is incredibly patronising), issuing sanctimonious reading lists and ticking boxes to keep the inclusion and diversity police happy.