A Learner's Perspective: The future of using virtual technology as a marketing tool

June 20, 2017 07:35 by Emma Hailstone

A Learner's Perspective: The future of using virtual technology as a marketing tool CC0 Public Domain

I am basing this blog on the rather clever advert by Nissan which showcases the talents of the tilt brush artist Stephen Wiltshire as he draws the Nissan Micra from memory using a VR headset.

The advert shows the image of the car appear in the same room Stephen is standing in as he draws it. This relates to recent developments in augmented reality; i.e. using a VR headset to view 3D images in your own surroundings, the concept behind Microsoft’s latest HoloLens technology.

However, the common view that virtual reality was a way of escaping reality is starting to be replaced by a more progressive view that it is more about switching that around to how virtual reality can enhance reality.

This defines the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Augmented reality is deemed more realistic as it maintains a user’s connection with the real world. This however does not always have to be streamed through a headset, as seen with Vein Viewer, a medical device that projects a patient’s veins onto their skin so that medical professionals can administer injections more accurately.

These developments in virtual technology will particularly benefit automotive companies who will start to struggle if they do not keep up with digitally enhancing their stores; a trend that is starting to be seen in the automotive industry as some carmakers such as Hyundai are starting to move from out-of-town dealerships to showrooms in popular shopping centres like Bluewater and Westfields.

Jack Rands, Renault’s social media director aptly defines this process as ‘moving with the customer’ (Marketing Week, 2015). When buying a car, it has become more about convenience, as people are less likely to drive to an out-of-town dealership if they can buy the car in a more convenient location or explore their options online.

Toyota’s GB marketing director Andrew Cullis has said ‘he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon starts selling cars’ based on his observation that ‘a [simpler] ecommerce buying experience is what a lot of drivers crave’ (Marketing Week, 2017). The future of buying a car is changing, and who knows what will happen in the next few decades, the number of people who buy cars may even decrease as they rely on other modes of transport instead such as an Uber taxi. The future of driving could also be driverless, which is something that Uber are looking into in order to make their fares even cheaper.

Eventually other retailers will be required to use virtual technology in their stores. This is supported by the findings of a report conducted by Westfields in 2014 assessing the future trends of shopping (How We Shop Now Report, 2014) backing up the claim that customers increasingly expect retailers to use technology to intervene in the shopping experience. Companies that sell a service such as a travel agency could really benefit from this as for example using virtual technology to sell a particular holiday location would make the sales process easier as people will get to ‘try before they buy’ a holiday package.

Using virtual technology in stores goes beyond using VR headsets; retailers can use ‘real-time tracking’ to help manage their stock more efficiently or even to track a customer’s movement around the store. For example, Sweden’s largest grocery chain ICA monitors shopper behaviour using their CCTV so that they can respond to long queues quickly and identify the areas of the shop with the highest concentration of shoppers. Some stores are also using heat map software to assess the visual effectiveness of their shelf displays in real time.

However, this raises the issue of privacy. Customers place a high value on their privacy and so as marketers we must listen to this.

The important point here for marketers is to prove the value of using the technology. To do this, you must tap into the storytelling power of VR to achieve ‘VR excellence’ (Marketing Week, 2016); this means using VR in a way that helps you tell the story of your brand to the customer, helping them to engage more with your company and persuading them to buy your goods and services. A good example is using virtual technology in sponsorship of an event, such as Jaguar who launched a ‘Feel Wimbledon’ campaign to give people the chance to feel what it was like to hit the winning shot as Andy Murray, therefore offering a clear reward. The key here is providing customers with a reward, otherwise it risks being a gimmick.

The view that VR is seen as a ‘gimmick’ may detract customers away from engaging with the use of VR. It is important to properly integrate the use of virtual technology to avoid ‘doing VR’ for the sake of ‘doing VR’ (Marketing Week, 2016). The point of using virtual technology is to improve the customer’s experience in store, and this may not necessarily be improved if a customer has to put on a headset. It is important to make the experience interactive, as this is more likely to maintain the customer’s attention. The carmaker Skoda set up a kiosk in Waterloo Station by asking commuters to design their own custom version which was subsequently put up on the main advertising screen in the station, something which would have definitely attracted the attention of fellow commuters. This is one example of how the traditional car showroom is slowly being transported into an ‘interactive showroom experience’ which has the potential to be experienced anywhere.

The important thing to remember with virtual technology is that it is early days; to reap the full benefits customers will need educating about the ways in which it can enhance their experience and be more than just showing off the latest technology.

In the future, virtual technology could be a great way for marketers to sell a brand and to generate sales by providing an engaging and immersive shopping experience. However, care should be taken with how it is used as it has the potential to be a disruptive rather than a productive presence.

Tags: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Automotive industry, Digital Marketing

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner's Perspective: 6 ways to improve your professional networking online

June 9, 2017 07:32 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: 6 ways to improve your professional networking online

Having access to a whole world of connections offers great potential for professional networking. There are ways of using your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to boost your presence online and network with potential business connections.
Networking online is very similar to networking face-to-face; first impressions are very important. The difference online is that you are putting your persona out there before you have even started speaking to anyone.
Here are 6 ways to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward when you are networking online.
1. Protect yourself. Google yourself and delete inappropriate images from your profile(s). This is a quick and effective way to see what others see when they search for you online. Set up a Google Alert for yourself, which will notify you when someone has searched for you.

2. Be positive. People are less likely to connect with you if you post negative messages on your profile. Keep these messages clean and consistent.

3. Be professional. Separate your personal and professional life online. Create another account if necessary.
Use a professional image on your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles (if you use the latter for business).
Use a professional email address.

4. Keep it private. Check your privacy settings to make sure they are appropriate.

5. Post regular, relevant and authentic content on your profile. You can use your Twitter profile to your advantage here as it prompts you to post short, concise messages. Posting a link to a blog post or website and using images in your posts are more likely to attract engagement.

Use relevant keywords in your profile that potential connections will be searching for. Job listings and other people’s profiles are a good source of inspiration for generating these keywords.

Use relevant hashtags in your posts as this will improve the reach of your message to your potential audience. Don’t use too many hashtags however, as the impact and meaning of your message will be lost.

Retweet relevant content and reply to tweets to increase your presence on Twitter. This can be positive customer feedback or helpful articles. Anything you post should be in line with your overall purpose and values.

Twitter is an effective platform as you can use your Twitter activity dashboard to see who is engaging with the content you post on your profile.

6. Be persistent. Once your profile is ready to go and the connections come flooding in, the important thing is to nurture these connections. As recommended in my last blog, it is key to plan ahead. Plan what goals you would like to achieve and try to stick to them. This way you are more likely to stay on track. Joining online communities is a good way to stay in touch with events that are coming up and the latest discussions on issues in your area.
Don’t just rely on social networking sites to make professional connections; online networking should supplement and not completely replace face-to-face networking. Connecting on LinkedIn is a good start but meeting face-to-face is a worthwhile follow-up activity.

Tags: Networking, Social networking, Online, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner's Perspective: 6 ways to improve your professional networking

May 17, 2017 13:34 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: 6 ways to improve your professional networking

Networking is an important marketing tool as it will increase awareness of your business and will allow you to gain the knowledge and expertise to enhance your credibility as a professional marketer.

Here is a basic guide composing of 6 things that you can do to ensure you are on track to becoming more successful at networking.

1. Get the basics right!

Look – maintain eye contact with the person in front of you. Avoid letting your eyes wander around the room. This will reassure the person that you are talking to that you are interested in what they have to say which means they are more likely to be open and honest with you.

Listen – listen actively
Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said. This involves being seen to be listening such as nodding your head for example and maintaining eye contact to show that you are engaged in listening to them.

Being patient and neutral in your approach to the conversation will also be very beneficial in getting the most out of it, allowing short silences in the conversation so that you don’t jump in too early.

2. Be prepared – the key is to sell yourself and be proactive.
What unique value do you offer? Prepare a short and concise introduction of who you are and what you have to offer.

Have your first question prepared before you go up to someone; ask them why they have come to the event for example, which is a direct and informative question. The Five W’s who, what, why, when and where are a useful place to start when coming up with open-ended informative questions.

3. Set yourself a goal – this can be something you want to learn more about or specific people you would like to meet before you attend the event. Use these to document how well the event went afterwards.

4. Be positive – go in with an open mind and a positive attitude. Every networking event is an opportunity, even if you feel that you will get nothing out of it there may be benefits further down the line. It is important to show yourself in a good light as the people you meet will have a lasting first impression of you.

5. Build bridges – look for ways in which you can offer a solution to the problems that they may be facing. If you are unable to do this, there might be someone you know you may be able to help them, and who knows they may return the favour in the future.

6. Stay in contact – Always follow up a conversation promptly if you have promised to do so. When you do, mention something specific that you enjoyed speaking about with that person; this is an easy way to help you to maintain a positive attitude during a follow-up conversation.

By following these six simple rules you will be on your way to becoming a more professional networker.

Tags: Networking, The Five W's

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner’s Perspective: What are the implications of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for marketers?

March 24, 2017 11:13 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner’s Perspective: What are the implications of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for marketers?


The idea of providing a basic income has been around for a long time; Thomas Paine in the 18th Century wrote a pamphlet about how people should receive a basic income funded by “the common property of the human race” i.e. the profits from the land. Its aim is to support people who are struggling with rising living standards equated with poor growth in wages.

Therefore, providing a universal basic income will benefit those around the poverty line the most. These are people who have been labelled as ‘precariats’ as their life has become precarious, filled with insecurity that is not being addressed by the current welfare system. The basic income will lift them out of not being able to afford the essentials to live so that they can consider other opportunities without the worry of whether enough money is going to come in each month.

This will depend on what extra support is available apart from the universal basic income for larger families. This may make the administration of the basic income more complex.

It is also likely to benefit women and young people in particular by giving them a sense of financial independence. Although there are a lot of women who work compared to previous generations, a lot of women still depend on their husbands for disposable income. This is something to bear in mind when considering how household products are going to be advertised in future, as it would be labelled as rather traditional and possibly discriminatory to only target women with these ads.

There is a concern that without the universal basic income, we will not be able to adapt to the changing nature of work. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, this has led some to question the future of our identity, as if we lose our jobs this is part of what people may consider as their identity.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX supports this, and has brought the argument back up recently.  He says that the universal basic income is “going to be necessary” to survive the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. However, this view may be considered a little far-fetched as historical events have demonstrated that society can adapt to technological advancement, as seen in the Industrial Revolution. There is the possibility that with further technological advancement this will create more jobs for people, so what would be key here is to retrain people to be able to do these jobs.

Along with the possibility of many jobs becoming redundant, there has been the rise of zero-hour contract jobs, now commonly referred to collectively as the ‘gig economy’; this has offered a lot of people the opportunity for flexible working but it also brings about a level of insecurity. Therefore, it is important going forward that these workers are able to take this risk but to be supported in doing so.

Those who choose to take on flexible roles and work fewer hours will have more time on their hands. Therefore, as marketers, it is important to make timely advantage of this opportunity. If people choose to only work in the morning for example, this would free up more time in the afternoon for leisure time.

This would be a specific group of people, as not everybody is going to choose to work part-time immediately. These are likely to be older people who have the comfort of relying on more savings and having less to pay out for. Therefore, this is likely to change your strategy in the future. People may choose to go to the cinema more in the afternoons during the week and so a cinema company should promote cheaper cinema tickets in order to encourage people to spend this extra income.

The leisure industry has become a much more significant part of British life, as the number of shops and restaurants has multiplied over the last 50 years. Therefore, with the potential for more leisure time, this is a budding area to introduce more competition i.e. new opportunities for setting up a business. This would likely be those who receive enough income to live on, and so would see this extra income as an opportunity for investing in setting up their own business.

Traditionally, a popular choice of spending leisure time would be going to a football match for example. However, with the rise of gaming as a way in which many young people spend their spare time, this is another area that may not have been considered. It has become a much more collective activity, with the Guardian naming it as ‘the world’s newest spectator sport’ in the form of large conventions, such as the ‘League of Legends tournament’ held in Paris in May 2014, to which 30 million people tuned in to watch. If you are considering how to target the younger generation, this is certainly an exciting opportunity to invest in.

We can think of younger people from a professional point of view also, specifically those looking to further establish their careers, as they may choose to invest their extra income in professional development i.e. further education and training. Therefore, for organisations like The Chartered Institute of Marketing, this could offer the potential to attract more people to study with them.

It is possible that the universal basic income will be tested in the UK, as there have been a number of promising results seen from the schemes implemented in other countries, such as Finland and India. There is even a pilot being conducted in Glasgow. For it to be rolled out nationwide however, this means that the question of how it would be funded would need to be addressed, as it has been calculated that it could cost up to 1% of GDP.

In order to afford giving everyone a basic income the Government are likely going to raise the funds by increasing taxation. This is most likely to be an increase in direct taxation, so there are going to be some people who do not benefit at all from the extra income. For example, if the basic income was £100 and some people end up paying £100 more in taxes, then there is no benefit.

To conclude, the universal basic income is an exciting prospect for us all, and offers a number of opportunities for us as marketers, but it may be a while yet before we see any further developments in the consideration of its implementation in the UK.

Tags: Marketing, Economy, Universal Basic Income

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner’s Perspective: The rise of the millennial consumer

February 21, 2017 10:04 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner’s Perspective: The rise of the millennial consumer CCO Public Domain

Who is a ‘millennial’?

Millennials are an increasingly talked about demographic in research. Their behaviour as consumers has started to affect, and will continue to affect businesses in different ways, but not just in the marketing department. With big businesses such as RSM and Goldman Sachs talking about them, it is clear that this is something which is a significant talking point. As a millennial myself, it is a subject that I have been keen to write a blog about.

For those who are not familiar with the term, the ‘millennial’ generation refers to people who are currently between the ages of 16 and 35, so those born between 1980 and 2000. They have grown up in an era of rapid technological change, globalisation and economic trouble, giving them their own unique set of behaviours and experiences.

What is important to them?

Young people are reported to have different priorities from previous generations. The number of people that choose to go to University has increased; but with the rise of inflation, fees also continue to increase, recently increasing to £9,250 with the forecast that this will rise over £10,000 in the future. Therefore, graduates are coming out of University with higher student debts.

Once they have graduated, on average young people are also earning lower incomes; it has been in the news that there is an increasing ‘intergenerational divide’ in earning potential, based on the calculation that young people will earn £8,000 less during their 20s than previous generations. Coupled with rising living costs, this means many graduates choose to move back home after graduation or rent shared accommodation to save up to buy a house, as house prices are unaffordable.

As young people are putting off marriage and buying a house and tying themselves into a mortgage, this leaves them with more disposable income to spend on other things. This means they are vital consumers for industries such as technology, fashion, entertainment and travel as they would rather spend their money travelling around the world, buying the latest gadgets and socialising with friends.

Young people are also keen to invest in their wellbeing due to greater knowledge of the importance of living an active, healthy lifestyle. We are now more aware of the health risks associated with overeating and not exercising enough, and so growing up with these advancements in medical knowledge means young people are more willing to exercise more, eat better and smoke less than previous generations. This is helped with health apps readily available on smartphones and also the increasing fashion of owning a fitness device such as the Fitbit. Research conducted by Goldman Sachs found that millennials are more willing to spend money on ‘compelling’ wellness brands, as it has become fashionable to wear active wear. Brands are beginning to respond to this new fashion by diversifying and creating their own lines of sporting wear, such as Cath Kidston and Jack Wills who have both launched a new sportswear range recently.

What does this mean for marketers?

Authenticity is key to prosperity online, as young consumers are well-informed so are quick to latch onto anything negative through online reviews or peer recommendations. The customer’s experience needs to be just as important as price and product when putting together a marketing strategy. If a high level of service is expected, this should be rolled out consistently to every customer touchpoint, resulting in a seamless customer experience. Seamlessness is something which has become almost expected when purchasing online, with the ease of being able to purchase almost anything and having it delivered the next day without a hitch. If someone is able to make a quick and easy purchase, it is likely that they will make another purchase in the future.

For brands to succeed at marketing to young people, an online presence is also important. Young people have grown up as ‘digital natives’, constantly connected online on their phones and browsing using different online platforms. This makes them an ideal target for brands. However, the way in which brands reach out to millennials is important. Young people are unlikely to ‘like’ a page on Facebook if it does not have anything to offer. With less money to spend on average, loyalty schemes and vouchers are more appealing so that they get value for money. They have a wide range of knowledge at their fingertips on their smartphones. Often when making a purchasing decision, they are likely to compare the product or seek reviews online before deciding where to buy it from.

For those who have become online retailers, many brands have started to use their online presence to deliver a personalised experience. This is more popular amongst young consumers as it is appealing to be treated as a valued customer. Integration across channels is therefore important here so that there is consistency. This will enable you to have a ‘single conversation’ with young consumers and hopefully offer a better, faster and more memorable experience. However, this should not be limited to young people, as their parents are also becoming more digitally savvy. Consumer uptake of new communications technologies has compressed over the years; it took 30 years for radio, 15 years for mobile phones and social media just 3 and a half years. Those who do not adapt and evolve with these technologies are likely to be left behind in the fast-flowing current of new technology.

In order to create this personalised experience, it is key for you as a marketer to develop a persona of a young person as your target market. A persona is a fictional representation of needs, goals and behaviours. This will help you to understand young consumers better and will ultimately help you to create the solutions to the potential problems they may face.

Tags: Millennial Consumer, Digital, Technology, Persona

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner's Perspective: What will 2017 look like for marketing?

January 11, 2017 14:41 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: What will 2017 look like for marketing? Happy New Year - michila

It seems appropriate for my first blog of the New Year to be looking to the year ahead. The trends that I am going to discuss are by no means an exhaustive list, but they are the trends that are going to be significant in 2017.


At this time of year, a lot of people are likely to be thinking about what holidays they wish to go on to beat the post-Christmas blues.

The falling value of the pound and the uncertainty of security will have an impact on the travel industry; holidaymakers are likely to get less for their money when they exchange into foreign currencies, and so going on holiday abroad will be more expensive.

The benefit for marketers working within the UK travel and tourism industry would be a cheaper destination for overseas tourists and costal resorts will be far more appealing to UK citizens, which will all benefit the British tourism industry. Targeting these sectors might be fruitful.

The B2B sector may suffer due to the recent political uncertainty, which may deter corporate guests coming to the UK, who make up the majority of hotel rooms booked by overseas travellers.

The extent to which all of the above affects consumers’ decisions is yet to be seen, but as often holidays are booked well in advance we will find out in the near future.


As a result of the decision to leave the EU, the price of sourcing global produce is likely to go up. This could be a problem for supermarkets that source their meat, fruit and vegetables from abroad. Therefore, consumer patterns may change as they may choose the value supermarkets instead, or at least those that source all their meat from the UK.

We have seen the consequences for supermarkets already with the dispute between Tesco and Unilever over their request for a 10% increase in prices. This led to a day of panic as favourite brands disappeared from Tesco’s shelves. Although they were able to resolve the dispute quickly, this is not the end for price disputes and so consumers are likely to see price increases in the new year.

For brands, the key is to establish whether they focus on price or whether to focus on customers.

A brand which has adopted both these strategies to remain in the premium bracket is Marks and Spencer, who have been struggling to compete with their clothing range.

M&S CEO Steve Rowe proposed and implemented a number of changes last year including a focus on their food sector, as this area of their business generates 50% of profits (BBC News, 2016). I am sure that most of us will agree that we would rather go to M&S for their food rather than their clothing or homeware.

To combat the falling profits in the clothing sector, price cuts and a reduction in price promotions were proposed. A number of stores have also been closed as the company reviewed the viability of the stores themselves.

Other retailers who will take a hit are those who outsource their production, such as Ted Baker whose labour is based in Hungary. The truth to this will come with the outcome of the negotiation of the trade agreements with the EU, the time of which is still yet to be determined, as this cannot happen until the UK has officially left the EU. Ultimately, trading globally could become much harsher and more competitive as the UK is no longer under the protection of the benefit of free trade within the EU.


In 2017, the nature of work may change. Over the past couple of years, we have seen a rise in what has been termed the ‘gig economy’. This term refers to workers who are on a form of a zero-hour contract, getting paid for the ‘gigs’ they do rather than receiving a set wage per hour, applying to people who work for companies such as Uber and Deliveroo.

This change in the nature of employment is not compliant with UK employment law. There is the danger here that wages will be too low and so there will be an increase in inequality, so therefore it has attracted scrutiny as all workers are entitled to the national minimum wage.

A tribunal in October last year ruled that Uber must pay the minimum wage for all their workers and that they are no longer considered ‘self-employed’. In response to this, Uber has sought a legal ruling to class itself as a digital platform rather than a transport provider to avoid this ruling being enforced (Marketing Week, 2016). This acts as a warning to brands to be mindful of how they communicate in response to tackling these issues as they pursue a new way of defining work in the future.


Augmented reality has come to the fore this year, particularly with the success of Pokémon Go. This has been an enlightening development for local businesses who have attracted more customers by becoming a ‘pokéstop’. Further developments in this area will be interesting to see in 2017.

For years the future of tech has been in artificial intelligence. Some argue that Siri, the voice recognition service used by Apple is a form of AI but the key competitor in this area is the online retailer Amazon, with the release of the smart speaker ‘Echo’. Increasingly, businesses are finding ways to offer consumers choice and the ability to simplify daily tasks by communicating with a ‘faceless machine’ (Marketing Week, 2016).

Something else to consider is whether TV will become less relevant in wider advertising strategies. There are those who think that TV ads are going to be less effective as people migrate to using other channels to watch TV programmes. Engagement will therefore be defined by number of views online. However, analysing online metrics has been criticised in light of Facebook inflating their data (The Guardian, 2016), therefore we can question whether people will trust online advertising data that is reported, especially from big companies such as Facebook and Google. This offers a warning to brands to make sure that they are attentive to detail to avoid misreporting that users are more engaged with content than they actually are.

‘Post-Truth’ Consumers

Furthermore, the dangers of communicating false information resides in what has been named ‘post-truth’ politics, awarded the ‘Word of the Year’ by the Oxford Dictionary last year. The term ‘post-truth’ defines the moment when we as consumers are quick to react based on emotion or personal belief rather than by checking the facts.

To feed these beliefs, some newspapers are quick to put out news with misleading content. These particular newspapers have been targeted by the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaigners on Facebook who particularly targeted companies who advertise in these newspapers, as this symbolises their support for the misleading articles printed, including those which demonise migrant workers. As a result, many of these companies have stopped advertising in these newspapers. This campaign comes at an appropriate time, as the Christmas adverts released by companies such as John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, designed to inspire a sense of goodwill and unity are in conflict with the money raised from Christmas sales that is being put towards adverts in newspapers that inspire a ‘culture of hate’ amongst its readers.

This offers a positive lesson for marketing as it demonstrates how marketers should appeal to the ‘post-truth consumer’. Customer experience is a topical issue with consistency being key to gain the trust of customers as they will be quick to latch onto any criticism and broadcast their complaints over social media.

Tags: Retail, Technology, Work, Travel, Post-Truth Consumers, 2017

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner's Perspective: Social Inclusion in Advertising

December 6, 2016 14:15 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: Social Inclusion in Advertising Social Inclusion CCO Public Domain

Something I consider as hugely important in society today is the issue of social inclusion. As a marketer, it is worth highlighting that there is a key role to play in tackling this issue as there is the ability to influence how consumers think and behave. Society is made up of a wide range of diverse people, and it is important that everybody is equally represented as we are all part of one society regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, gender, wealth, health or sexual orientation. There is a need for a greater representation in advertising of those representing minority groups in order to break down the barriers they may face resulting in them being treated differently.

We are all made aware of the issue of social inclusion at various points every year, such as recently in the Children in Need campaign. This year has also been the year of the Olympics and the Paralympics, with the Paralympians characterised in adverts as ‘super humans’, a term carried over from the London 2012 Paralympics. Everybody is represented equally in the Olympics and Paralympics, with the Paralympian Ellie Simmonds and Olympian Susie Rodgers both appearing in the same Samsung advert for their ‘School of Rio’ campaign. On the Samsung website, they claim that the aim of these adverts was to ‘shine a light on the athletes that push the limits of what is possible’. This is in line with the Samsung brand which has an innovative approach to technology at its core. There is also a humorous theme to these adverts as different athletes attempt to teach the comedian Jack Whitehall how to swim, cycle, play rugby and so on.

MARS Chocolate, who won Channel 4’s Superhumans wanted competition for the £1 million advertising slot available for the Paralympic Games, also chose a similar innovative approach to equal representation in their adverts. Appropriately named ‘Look on the light side’, these adverts used real tales of social mishap delivered by actors with disabilities and good humour, staying in line with the message of the Maltesers brand and the cheeky tone that has run throughout their recent advertising campaigns.

The risk that was taken with this campaign was that some people would call the ads insensitive, but the majority described them as ‘brilliant’. MARS do not claim to be experts in disability however, they did seek guidance from the charity Scope that aims to encourage everyday conversation surrounding disability. They also conducted focus groups as they were at first hesitant about using a humorous approach, but the outcome of the group was that ‘humour can be a powerful force for positive change in overcoming taboos’ (Marketing Week, 2016) which, in essence, describes what these advertisements are all about. Michele Oliver, the Vice President of Marketing at MARS, states that they wish to be a beacon for other marketers to follow in promoting more diversity through their advertising campaigns:

As one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, we have a responsibility and a role to play in reflecting diversity in everyday media.’

- Michele Oliver, MARS website

Where there is greater risk taken, there is also the chance for a greater reward. Customers may be more enticed to engage with the MARS brand as a result of them using it ‘for good’ which is a key principle of the MARS brand.

The success of this campaign will have a long-term impact as it has prompted MARS to change the brief they give to their casting agencies.

Therefore, we must not just think of this issue at the highlighted points in the year. The key to including and advocating social inclusion as a marketer is longevity. Promoting equality is for life, not just for a moment, avoiding ‘tokenism’, i.e. only making a small gesture to contributing towards a more diverse representation in advertising. 

It is also really important that we are all aware of the legal requirements when undertaking advertising. The Committee for Advertising Practice set out clear guidelines for disability, children, religion amongst many others. For advertisers who breach these, the Advertising Standards Agency have stringent penalties. With regards to using humour, CAP remind marketers to be mindful of using a light-hearted approach as it can cause offence.

For more information on these guidelines, please to go the CAP website

Roderick, L. (2016). Mars 'embraces diversity' with campaign at overcoming disability taboos. Available: Last accessed 1st Dec 2016.

Tags: Advertising, Social inclusion, Diversity, CAP codes, Mars

Categories: A Learner's Perspective | Advertising

The Learner's Perspective: Celebrity Endorsement

November 17, 2016 19:04 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner's Perspective: Celebrity Endorsement Walkers Crisps

This week I have chosen to focus on brand.

Who you choose to represent your brand matters.

But who is the right person to represent your brand?

As marketers, we must be mindful of the impact of celebrity branding. Donald Trump’s recent presidential success has polarised the American people and threatens the Trump brand. As Ivanka Trump contemplates the consequence of her father’s high profile campaign and the criticisms levelled at him by the Clinton Camp, we must reassess the impact of celebrity endorsement.

In light of this recent event, I have chosen to focus this week’s blog on Walkers and the face of their brand, Gary Lineker, to highlight the limitations of associating a celebrity with your brand.

When we think of the Walkers brand, Gary Lineker comes to mind; a former footballer and sports presenter who does not have a direct link with the Walkers brand, but Walkers has a significant presence in Leicester and Lineker was born in Leicester. The first ad that Lineker starred in was appropriately called ‘Welcome Home’ as he had recently returned from playing football abroad.

Gary Lineker has been in the news recently as he has spoken out about Walkers relationship with The Sun newspaper because of their stance over the Calais refugees. As a result, there are rumours that The Sun have asked for him to be sacked from Match of the Day. His political stance is therefore putting his career at risk.

The question is whether this will threaten the strong, clean image that he has spent so many years building up and maintaining as the face of Walkers.

Lineker’s 21-year long association with the brand could also be challenged as Walkers look to change the focus of their brand. Walkers have recently taken on other sporting stars to launch the brand into the world of social media. This is evidence that Walkers want to appeal to a wider audience, starting with the Leicester City player Jamie Vardy who featured last December in the promotion of the limited edition crisps ‘Vardy Salted’. Vardy had recently fired Leicester City to the top of the Premier League table after scoring in 11 consecutive matches.

Lionel Messi, one of the top football players, appeared in an advert with Gary Lineker in February, which unsurprisingly piqued the interest of football fans online, as the activity on Twitter indicates (Campaign Live, 2016). This could also be a result of Walkers recent focus on sport in their online promotional campaigns as a result of their owner, PepsiCo, becoming a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League.

Lionel Messi is surrounded by recent scandal over tax evasion. The question here is whether Walkers are taking a huge risk by choosing someone more relevant like Messi to represent their brand despite his image. His overwhelming presence in the sport certainly does make him a favourable candidate for the role, and I wonder whether this will propel him forward into becoming a strong representative for the brand, following Gary Lineker who also had a successful sporting career.

The case of using Messi as an endorser for Walkers highlights a limitation when choosing a celebrity to represent your brand, as there is the risk that their image splits into two. We can look back to when the sports brand Nike chose to start making golf equipment with the endorsement of Tiger Woods when he turned into a professional golfer in 1996. He had the image of a great golfer, and his unique name, ethnicity and articulation serve him well as somebody to support a brand. He also held the image of a happily married man until the accusation of his infidelity shattered this image. This led to many of his sponsors dropping him from their brand, which has had implications for his image but he never cheated at golf so sport sponsors remained loyal, as the focus of why they chose him was on his position as a top golfer. Instead of ending their sponsorship with him, Nike made an advert in which Tiger was listening to advice from his father Earl talking from his grave, and the caption they attribute to him in their campaigns ‘Winning takes care of everything’ seems apt in relation to the resilience of his image as a top sportsman.

From these examples, we can see that there is hope yet for someone like Gary Lineker, whose well-established image as the face of Walkers could aid him survive the storm of his political engagement with The Sun.

Who you choose to represent your brand definitely matters. I think that the right person to represent your brand should be someone relevant, as I personally do not see the change in the way that Walkers advertise their brand as a bad thing. We must acknowledge the limitations of celebrity branding, as you cannot guarantee, even after 21 years, that your choice of celebrity will never be considered a risk; the image they choose to portray as a celebrity could ultimately come into conflict with the message of your brand.

Tags: Celebrity endorsement, Brand Walkers, Crisps

Categories: A Learner's Perspective

The Learner’s perspective: Marketing to the digitally connected consumer

November 7, 2016 16:22 by Emma Hailstone

The Learner’s perspective: Marketing to the digitally connected consumer Connecting with the digital consumer

This week I have been reading about marketing in the ‘digital age’. I have discovered that many organisations are finding it difficult to connect with consumers, as overbearing advertisements are having a significant impact on consumer behaviour. It is becoming increasingly challenging to engage with consumers that are starting to avoid these ‘annoying’ adverts.

The looming problem for professional marketers is the ease through which consumers can find ways to avoid these kind of adverts altogether. A report issued by PageFair and Adobe Ad Blocking in 2015 highlighted that 198 million people worldwide use some form of adblocker. Compounding this issue, consumers are now using multiple devices to access the Internet, which makes them almost invisible to advertisers. In fact, around 25% of people in the UK confess to use 3 or more devices a day, in what has been termed the new ‘multi-screen reality’.

Another issue is that advertising has become disruptive for television viewing as well as online browsing. There are many ways in which consumers can bypass adverts all together such as using the fast-forward button on a Sky remote. Alternatively, people are choosing not to engage in watching adverts because they are distracted by their smartphone. Research by Accenture (2015) found that 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time, most commonly watching television and browsing on a smartphone.

Consumers are also using their televisions and other digital devices to stream online content. On-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime offer the service of unlimited, and almost uninterrupted content for a low monthly fee.

So with all of this in mind, I then thought - what can we do as prospective digital marketers to combat the problem of creating a disruptive browsing experience, to ensure the future of digital advertising?

The good news is that it is something that we are already beginning to see today, with some organisations embracing new initiatives such as real-time marketing.

Two possible real-time marketing solutions are ‘native advertising’ and ‘moment marketing’.

A preference for native advertising has been found amongst consumers. The promotion of a product or a service is situated within the flow of the scheduled content, therefore being less disruptive for the consumer experience.

An example of a native ad is the New York Times 1500-word article about women inmates that was published online to promote the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. This article was successful because it appealed to a particular audience, offering them an interesting topic whilst advertising a way for them to explore it further by watching the series online. The article was particularly engaging as it included audio clips, a slideshow and graphics which moved when the reader scrolled down the page.

An alternative solution is ‘moment marketing’. An important thing to acknowledge is that people today live their lives in moments, which we must identify and capitalise on in order to stay up-to-date and relevant to the modern day consumer.

Through their best-selling chocolate bar KitKat, Nestlé have changed their marketing strategy to attract the modern consumer. They chose to invest in the KitKat brand to become more relevant and engaging to consumers.

For the many years that it has been around, KitKat has been synonymous with ‘taking a break’. However, the ways in which people take breaks has changed over time. So, as part of this change in strategy, Nestlé redesigned KitkKat packets to mirror the different ways people spend their breaks such as ‘YouTube my break’ which involved a link to a short YouTube video that people could watch. This interactive approach is a great example of ‘moment marketing’ because it is engaging for the consumer and is consistent with the tagline of their brand which has been the same for 80 years.

To conclude, what is key, for those of us who are aspiring digital marketers, is to make it personal by remaining people-focused, putting the consumer at the centre of everything that we do. A key part of facilitating this is staying up-to-date and relevant with consumers, responding in real-time to changes in their behaviour.

Tags: Digital Marketing, Customer behaviour, Marketing strategy

Categories: A Learner's Perspective | Digital Marketing