Pollution Brings It Home

23 Jan

With the recent news that some areas of London have already reached their annual air pollution limit for 2017 in just 5 days, the topic of pollution has been on our minds lately. Separate to the effects these pollution levels may have on the planet (and at a time when the incoming US President is known to be a climate change sceptic), concerns have been rising over pollution levels in our cities due to the effects it may be having on us at a personal health level.


City Air App

The change from environmental awareness on a global level to concern over our local area and our own personal health has been brought into sharp focus by the recent cultural trend of self-monitoring through apps such as ‘London Air’. This app shows us in real time, and down to an individual street level, the invisible pollutants surrounding us. This expression of pollution on a micro scale, and in an easy accessible format, means that people are both more aware, and more concerned about the after-effects of human activity on our environment.

Brands have been aware of the importance of climate change and sustainability for years now, and are better than ever at tapping into consumers’ desire for them to address this in their internal and CSR policies. But when the discussion surrounding pollution becomes more focused on individuals, it also becomes more emotionally charged. People will soon start to expect brands to not only address the effects of climate change on a global level, but also at a local level: ‘what are brands doing to protect me from air pollution?’


Apple iOS Health App

Brands who champion a cause through lobbying, CSR and internal practices do a fantastic job, but with an issue such as climate change, it is important for people to be able to take ownership and feel like they are having a positive impact. Apple have already made huge tracks in terms of self-monitoring health apps, but what about an app that measures the air pollution you contribute to per day in easily understood figures? ‘You have created 0.08 tonnes of CO2 today.’ Or more positively; ‘You have saved 1.8 tonnes of CO2 this week.’

To take full advantage of this opportunity, a brand would do well to both highlight air pollution, and also encourage people to make positive changes to their lifestyle to prevent air pollution.

Brands for a cause: Maltesers

12 Jan

We’ve blogged before about Maltesers’ recent advertising campaigns that have focused on representing disabled people’s lives in a ‘lighter’ way, and this week they have increased their efforts by releasing a bus stop advertisement entirely in braille, with the raised dots the size and shape of a Malteser.



(The sign reads “Caught a really fast bus once, turns out it was a fire engine. #LookOnTheLightSide”)

In many ways Maltesers taking up the mantle for disability and becoming a ‘Cause Brand’ feels like a strange fit – do people really want their chocolate snack to take a political stance? Or are Maltesers’ efforts assuaging our guilt; we can buy their chocolate safe in the knowledge that they support the rights of disabled people, and we need not worry about disabled issues.

It’s interesting to consider whether a brand such as Maltesers has the right to talk about these causes and adopt a stance on issues such as disability awareness. Perhaps a good indicator would be to evaluate whether they mirror this stance internally, for example with policies that make sure that members of the disabled community are represented in their staff teams.

There is a broader question as to whether it should be the role of brands to advocate for these causes in society. The progressive stance that has been adopted by certain brands such as Mac, Smirnoff and Always has gone some way to shift our cultural thinking, but should it not be the government (or we the people) who take this on ourselves? Perhaps it is the case that because these brands take up the cause, we feel we need not worry about it.



From a branding perspective we’re wondering if this poster is indicative of a larger trend towards representation, intersectionality and inclusivity becoming the norm for all brands, or if like so many marketing gimmicks before, it is just a fad that will pass when disability/transgender/women’s rights become unfashionable and are no longer the hot topic of conversation.

We’ll continue to update you on brands that are taking on a particular cause, and whether our predictions ring true.

The New Carlsberg Export

10 Jan

Next month Carlsberg will begin their £15m global rebrand with the launch of the newly designed Carlsberg Export. The new look packaging has been designed to create a more premium feel and bring the brand’s Danish roots to the forefront.

We have decoded the new packaging to see how Carlsberg are hoping to achieve this:


The Edge of Seventeen

6 Jan

After we’ve just about got to grips with Millennials, a new group is on the horizon; Generation Z. Those born around the millennium are coming of age in 2017. More diverse, complicated and nuanced than ever, this group is already affecting seismic shifts in culture, and as brand consultants we think that these are the people brands need to be marketing to right now.

Teen Vogue’s December op-ed piece ‘Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America’ caught the attention of Twitter and mainstream media recently. Commentators were surprised that such an intellectual article on the danger of trusting the new US president-elect could come from a teen girls fashion magazine. Perhaps they were unaware that Generation Z, the target audience for Teen Vogue today are more attuned than any other generation to the events and machinations of politics and global news today.

Globally minded, Generation Z have defined themselves in opposition to the disorder they see in the world; they are overwhelmingly positive but are pragmatically forward focused. Politically active and hyper aware, they are holding the world to account on issues from homophobia, to gender, to racism, to inequality. They are the drivers of change in our current world.

Powerful and influential, Gen Z are not only globally aware, they are incredibly diverse, if Gen Y were multicultural then Gen Z are completely blended, and they expect to see this reflected in the media they consume and the worlds they inhabit. This expectation of diversity is forcing the generations around them to change their perceptions and ideas.

Intimately connected with technology, this group has never known a life ‘pre-internet’, they are constantly social connected and have an innate understanding of technology and how to use it for their own advantage. These are the first ‘visible teenagers’, we have watched their lives played out on the digital stage, from Facebook to Instagram.

Gen Z are often the early adopters of apps that will later become major global players such as Vine, Musical.ly and Snapchat. Superstars are now made on these apps, there are 13 year olds with 2.5 million followers on musical.ly; when many of us have only just heard of this platform, Gen Z-ers are ahead of us creating huge cultural and social trends online.

Here in the Cultural Strategy team at Kantar Added Value we are constantly tracking culture, to see where it will turn next, and as the power shifts in the favour of Generation Z, we have a new cohort of cultural transformers to work with.

So who are the Gen Z-ers to keep an eye out for?

The Creative Set: Evita Nuh, Troye Sivan, Alessia Cara, Hailee Steinfeld


jellyjellybeans.blogspot.com, twitter.com/, indebanvan.nl, pinterest.com

This group of talented Gen Z-ers range from singers and songwriters to actresses and performers.

Spotlight on: 17 year old fashion blogger Evita Nuh has been hailed as the Jakartan Tavi Gevinson; by age 12 she had already launched her own fashion brand and is a clear example of the independent business minded nature of Gen Z, that when combined with their creativity makes them a force to be reckoned with.

The ambitious activists: Amandla Stenberg, Malala Yousafzei, Yara Shahidi, Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh


jonesmagazine.com, emaze.com, playgroundmag.net, flipboard.com

These young activists are challenging and pushing our political and cultural norms.

Spotlight on: 16 year old indigenous climate change activist Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a group of young activists from across the globe who are stepping up as leaders to create positive change to address climate issues. Admired by the likes of Barack Obama, he exemplifies the global minded nature of all of Gen Z.

The tech disrupters: Shubham Banerjee, Ben Pasternak, Mihir Garimella


smartworld.it, mashable.com, huffingtonpost.com

These tech thinkers are solving problems that innovators 3 times their age can’t solve.

Spotlight on: Inventor Shubham Banerjee is the creator of ‘Braigo’, a Braille printer design that uses commonly available Lego in its components. At the age of 15 he is the youngest person to have received venture capital funding for a start-up. Ingenious and gifted, he demonstrates the inner confidence all Gen Z-ers aspire to have to believe in themselves.

 The cultural provocateurs: Zendaya, Jaden Smith, Kylie Jenner, James Charles.


twitter.com, teenvogue.com, elle.com

A group of talented Gen Z-ers who provoke controversy and push our limits of cultural sensitivity.

Spotlight on: The youngest of the Kardashian clan, 19 year old Kylie Jenner has courted controversy for most of her teenage life. Demonised as the purveyor of selfie culture, her vanity has been seen as emblematic of the shallow nature of Gen Z. She continues to celebrate her look on Instagram, despite the criticism, and symbolises the inner confidence that all Gen Z-ers desire to be their genuine selves.

Please note a version of this article orginally appeared here


Spotify – A Year In Review

20 Dec

When it comes to being truly culturally relevant, knowing exactly what their audience wants and how to communicate with them, we have to take a moment to talk about Spotify. In a category that is constantly being invaded by the big players – Apple, Tidal collective, SoundCloud – Spotify have created a clear, and loud character in a chaotic music scene.

In their current campaign “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird” they have created different versions of the same campaign across 14 markets, containing localized messages, driven by data from listeners and pop-culture topics relevant to events from 2016. From looking at their adverts from around the world, we can see how they communicate with the people they serve differently – both in terms of location and at a one to one level.


In their UK campaign Spotify pokes fun at the Brexit result and the British sense of humour through their data led advert. This highlights how they understand their audience but also that they know that their role in the world is to make every day more humorous and enjoyable – even in dark times.


“Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ the day of the Brexit vote, Hang in there.” – spotify.com


The USA campaign taps into a popular holiday in the country, and the connotations of listening to music on your own on Valentine’s day.


“Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, What did you do?” – spotify.com


In Germany, the brand taps into German beer drinking culture with their advert named ‘10 hour playtlist named I love the pub’.



One on One Interaction

And for its loyal followers, this year, everyone got a summary of their year in music – from their favourite songs, artists and albums to how big a fan they are of their favourite musician in comparison to the rest of the world.



Spotify is a great example of a brand being truly connected to culture, understanding its followers’ needs completely and flexing to that without losing its brand personality.  In a world where we are constantly bombarded with data driven communications that apparently “know” us – we think it’s really refreshing to see a brand use our data in a way that feels relevant and interesting to us on a personal level. We believe that if brands take the time to understand what their role is in culture – not trying to have a worthy mission if it doesn’t feel right – but actually connect in a relevant way that feels authentic, they will create a huge feeling of warmth and goodwill from their consumers/users.

Nike, Empowering Women?

12 Dec
Image result for nike town womenswear oxford street


Despite the huge improvements in the design, construction and provision of women’s fitness clothing, as well as the sky-high demand for it, women’s sportswear remains a relatively untapped market. Nike positions itself as a brand with social purpose, namely to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. They have done many high profile campaigns celebrating women athletes, both the famous, and the everyday. Indeed, their brilliantly inclusive claim that “if you have a body, you are an athlete” demonstrates their vocal support of all sportspeople. It was incredibly disappointing therefore to realise recently that this social purpose is not lived and breathed across every brand activation.

At Nike Town Oxford Street, a mecca of sporting and fitness prowess, there is not a single article of women’s clothing on show until the fourth floor. Such blatant physical segregation wildly undermines Nike’s bold statements about the importance and validation of women’s sport. If men’s and women’s sports are ever to be perceived as truly equivalent they need to be showcased on an equal level. Why not showcase men’s and women’s products alongside each other? Or to make a real statement, why make a gender distinction at all? Other brands, such as Uniqlo, already practise this ungendered visual merchandising and it puts them well ahead of the curve.

This should act as a cautionary tale for other brands because there are very important but very simple lessons that can be learned. Firstly, the in store experience is crucial to a consumer’s perception of a brand and can undo untold amounts of hard communications work because an immersive experience necessarily leaves a greater impression than branding. Secondly, brands must be constantly on the lookout for the ways in which they are becoming outdated as culture subtly and inevitably shifts. And lastly, having a social purpose is not something that a brand can duck in and out of without any backlash. Their purpose must inform every decision the brand makes because in our tightly connected, instant world, people are prepared to call out hypocrisy where they perceive that brand purpose and brand reality do not align.

Dyson Needs Dreamers

8 Dec


The UK suffers from a large skills gap in the field of design and engineering. Every year the already dwindling pool of would-be engineers go abroad to study and work, finding higher quality courses, at a fraction of the cost. Dyson argues that the UK is “competing globally with Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. It’s all the major technology nations and [the UK has] got to be better than them”. Dyson has made a move to tackle the issue by opening a fully funded engineering institute. Students will receive an annual salary of up to £16,000 while they work and study alongside Dyson engineers.

Increasing the number of engineers in the UK is certainly a practical, straightforward step in the right direction, but if we truly want to solve the problems the world is facing in the engineering and design fields, becoming more creative is arguably a better approach. In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, design needs to be steeped into every aspect of culture and daily life in order for it to be meaningful, and unique. To focus solely on engineers is to miss an opportunity to shine. If Dyson truly wants to be ahead of the curve, and bridge the design gap in a significant way, why not create a campus where great minds from every industry can come together to first understand and then solve the issues of the day.  Students of psychology, philosophy, art and literature, thought leaders and creative minds included. In other words: Dyson needs dreamers.

On Gendered Children’s Toys

18 Nov

Earlier this month we saw the release of a new advert from Smyth’s the Toy Store which was hailed by campaigners as a step forward in the right direction for gender-neutral children’s toys.

In the ad, Smyth’s feature a young boy playing in his imagination, being a robot, flying the Millennium Falcon and dressed in a pink dress as a queen. Although not the main focus of the advert, the image of a boy in a typically female outfit has been applauded for its forward thinking and the nuanced way in which it portrayed the breaking of gender norms. This is only strengthened by the adverts choice of backing song- a cover of female pop icon Beyoncé’s ‘If I Were A Boy’, reimagined to read ‘If I Were A Toy’.



Rather than tackle the gendered toys themselves, Smyth’s have instead chosen to allow children to decide for themselves what toys are for them, and have given them the space to define their own version of masculinity and femininity as they wish.

Whilst depicting childhood play in this way would have once been considered a bold and daring move, the understated tone of this advert suggests the topic is becoming more and more normalised- It is now just another one of many themes toy brands can choose to engage with.

A step back in time with Burberry’s Christmas ad

16 Nov


With the release of its Christmas advert Burberry continues fashion’s lengthy relationship with film with a three minute “trailer” spanning over 50 years of British history. The tale takes us from Thomas Burberry’s invention of gabardine in 1879 to Betty Kirby-Green’s record-breaking flight from England to Cape Town in 1937. Burberry emphasises the fact that this advert has been “160 years in the making”, placing the heritage of the brand firmly centre-stage as we follow the founder and his various pioneering exploits (notwithstanding a dose of creative licence with the chronology).

Despite describing itself as a timeless brand and producing timeless pieces, in this advert Burberry is anchoring itself in another time, not our own. The notions of innovation, invention and exploration come through loud and clear but there is little attempt to update these notions for today’s audience, and so the question arises, how does Burberry want and intend a modern viewer to relate to the story told? Doubtless these concepts are compelling but the brand hasn’t realigned them to their modern incarnations; while the mind-set of innovators, inventors and explorers may not have changed much in 200 years, their paths, behaviours and outputs certainly have.

The cinematography is undeniably beautiful, the story reasonably captivating, the ad brimming with stars but in short, visual form and narrative outweigh brand and product content. The storytelling is impeccable, but is it really the story that Burberry needs to be telling in the face of ailing sales?

Winning Christmas

11 Nov




It wasn’t long ago that Christmas adverts decried the hassle of the festive season – with harried mums struggling to cope with the myriad demands placed upon them. This year, the Christmas tone of voice has changed – it has become empowered. The adverts we have seen so far show Christmas as something to be tackled head on and decisively won.

House of Fraser’s ad begins in a playfully sinister way, with festive tropes creeping towards their unsuspecting victims, but ends with the gleeful declaration that “Christmas is Coming for You”. Argos celebrates eagerness and excitement, with multi-coloured yetis hurtling through snowy streets towards the tagline #justcantwait. The Morrison’s ad shows a gutsy little boy challenging his grandfather at Trivial Pursuit, and Tesco simply tells us to “bring it on.”

This vision of Christmas is bold and assertive. It is positive and self-assured, and feels culturally tuned in. It seems to echo many of the sentiments we’ve seen throughout other seasons of this year. It borrows the empowered language of sports brands from Nike to Sports England’s #thisgirlcan campaign, it takes the energy and optimism of this year’s slew of life advice books (from Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo to Bloom by Estee Lalonde), and reflects the Instagram universe of motivational quotes.

Unlike some recent years, the tone of this Christmas’s adverts is anything but stressed – instead it is bold, emphatic and empowered. Christmas is now something you can win at.