Tag Archives: culture

The Black History Month of Tomorrow

24 Feb
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(gettyimages.com)

In the present cultural moment where “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Girl Magic” are at the forefront of discussions centering on African American recognition and achievement, there is also a larger societal shift occurring that may mark this time period as one that not only permanently reshapes the idea of Black History month, but also Blackness as a whole.

The level at which race has surfaced, and the manner in which some people have become uncomfortable is arguably the best thing to happen to America in centuries. The way in which we finish this decade, and even this year will have a resounding impact on the way Blackness is perceived and accepted in the future.

Changing the story is hard work, and it’s not an overnight task, but it can be accomplished with persistently loud voices that challenge the mainstream in ways that lead to progressive, cumulative, collective success.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/whitney-dunlapfowler/the-black-history-month-o_b_9253710.html

Interesting Things About… Fast Fashion

24 Feb

The fashion industry calendar is undergoing a revolution. For 100 years the world of fashion has been split into two seasons: spring/summer and autumn/winter, but things are changing. Now catwalk looks are beamed across the globe just seconds after they’re first revealed, and people are demanding access like never before. This has led to designers rolling out new initiatives on both the runway and the high street:

 

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(rebeccaminkoff.com)

  1. Rebecca Minkoff’s #SEEBUYWEAR

New York designer Rebecca Minkoff has paved the way for shopping straight from the catwalk with her #SEEBUYWEAR line which debuted at New York Fashion Week this February. Much to the delight of her fans, 70% of the items from Minkoff’s latest collection were available for immediate purchase straight after her show.

 

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(tommy.com)

  1. Tommy Hilfiger’s ‘Click & Buy’

In response to the rise of social media platforms, Tommy Hilfiger has recognised the new need for immediate gratification. The label will be rolling out ‘Click & Buy’ in September this year, where shoppers will be able to get their hands on the clothes immediately after they’re revealed, rather than having to wait the traditional six months.

 

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(shop.mango.com)

  1. Mango’s Two Week Collections

From February, Mango will launch new collections every two weeks, starting with its spring collection. The high street brand will also release a new advertising campaign each month to help consumers stay in touch with the changing looks. The change has already resulted in the discontinuing of Mango’s much beloved catalogue that was sent out to around 22 million people annually.

 

Why is this interesting –

These new ideas show how the fashion industry is adapting to the ever-connected world we now inhabit. Once an industry built on a solid foundation of intrigue and anticipation, labels are changing to stay relevant when having things on demand is fast becoming an expectation across all parts of life. We are keeping our eyes peeled for reactions against this, and a refreshed embracing of new forms of thoughtful slowness and longevity.

Interesting Things About… The Zoolander Takeover

18 Feb

Critics may have given the sequel a lukewarm reception, but there is no doubt Ben Stiller has done a 5 star job of bringing Derek Zoolander off screen and into the real world. Everywhere we look it seems Stiller is staring back at us with his signature ‘Blue Steel’ look. Although Zoolander 2 has become somewhat over exposed, the film’s innovative marketing has culminated in the creation of a signature style. Here are 3 examples of creative publicity that stand out to us:

 

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(valentino.com/gb)

1. The Valentino Walk Off

Back in March 2015, before filming for the sequel had even began Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson closed the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week with a walk off. Appearing to deafening cheers, the duo used this real life runway to announce the start of production for Zoolander 2.

 

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(vogue.com)

2. Zoolander Cover Shoot for US Vogue, February 2016

It was Ben Stiller that graced the cover of US Vogue this February, along with his co-star Penelope Cruz. Shot by Annie Leibovitz, Stiller appears in an accompanying spread alongside some of fashion’s hottest stars, including Gigi Hadid, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls.

 

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(kiehls.co.uk)

3. Kiehl’s Collaboration

Kiehl’s ‘The Derek Zoolander Centre for People Who Don’t Age Good’, opened in New York’s West Village last week. Visitors can get misted with Kiehl’s anti-aging serum and are treated to a tutorial on the perfect pants-to-nipple ratio.

 

Why this is interesting – By resisting the urge to over extend itself, and instead channel its marketing efforts through the fashion and beauty industries, the Zoolander brand has succeeded in developing a unique character for itself. Whether awareness will translate to ticket sales is yet to be confirmed, but one thing the franchise has accomplished is distinction in the crowded world of film.

Interesting Things About… The backlash against purposefulness

18 Feb

Every January we are bombarded with instructions about healthy living and focused thinking. As we leave the first month of the year far behind, we have noticed an opposition to this purpose centric world that we are annually encouraged to inhabit.

 

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(amazon.co.uk)

‘F**k it DO WHAT YOU LOVE’ by John C. Parkin

This January, John C. Parkin released the latest instalment of his highly successful ‘f**k it’ franchise. The book encourages us to break free from the monotony of everyday life and live out our dreams, even if the results aren’t the most financially fruitful.

 

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(popchips.co.uk)

Popchips

Popchips’ most recent campaign mocks the surge of motivational messaging that comes at the start of each year. Contrasting the likes of Equinox Gym’s ‘Commit to Something’ campaign, Popchips say it’s ok to just be a bit good now and again.

 

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(instagram.com)

Deliciously Stella

This popular Instagram account parodies those that engage in clean eating and tranquil living, poking fun most overtly at the best-selling author Deliciously Ella. Posting photos of sweets, chocolate and McDonald’s happy meals, Deliciously Stella says it’s ok to shun healthy eating all together.

 

Why is this interesting-

There are few of us that get through January achieving everything we set out to do, with most of us failing to accomplish the sky high goals we set ourselves. By not only recognising but celebrating this reality, the marketing efforts of brands such as Popchips are relatable and distinct from all those trying to help us stick to our resolutions.

 

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Bendy Brains Needed…

16 Feb

 

CI Grad poster 2016

Interesting Things About… Marketing To Older Women

10 Feb

With an ever-growing aging population, the ability to communicate with older people in authentic and nuanced ways is more important than ever. Brands need to focus clearly on how they speak to the older generation of women. We’ve seen this in action recently –

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(theguardian.com)

Celine and Joan Didion

Fashion house Celine using the literary icon Joan Didion as their face seems an attempt to position the brand as one with integrity and substance. But, it doesn’t appear to use her clout in quite the right way – it seems problematic to reduce this intellectual heavyweight to an accessories seller. Covering the lines that tell her stories with oversized shades seems to squash the icon into a fashion box – handbag and all.

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(irvinghouse.com)

Joni Mitchell and YSL

Saint Laurent Paris has become known for using a huge variety of weird and wonderful musicians in advertising – this campaign also includes Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson. This not the first time Saint Laurent has used an older musical icon in their campaigns, but it feels interesting at a time where ‘70s revival fashion is all the rage. The advert captures Joni in a ‘70s inspired jacket, hat and shirt – items she’d surely wear in her natural habitat, and she is holding her own guitar. It feels natural and authentic.

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(thegloss.com)

Iris Apfel and Wise Wear

The 92 year old socialite and model Iris Apfel has recently collaborated with wearable technology designer Wise Wear, creating a range of jewellery that has built in safety features, and a health and tracking system aimed at older, style conscious women. Using one of the world’s most fashionable women to champion this innovative design-led technology not only markets the product to her peers,  but also acknowledges that the older generation are clued up to technology and design – and often are the demographic with the cash to splash.

 

Why is this interesting –

It is refreshing to see older women as the faces of major brands. Using the image of someone with a wealth of prowess and substance is a smart way to make a brand look considered, intelligent and cool, but it can miss the mark if the imagery feels inauthentic. Showing her looking like herself, doing the thing she is best known for can give the glow of genuine honesty. It feels even more compelling to see brands using older women to advertise to their peers, rather than only to twenty-somethings. It feels like a significant positive step forward on brand’s quest to embrace an older generation of women.

 

We discussed this in our previous blogs The Age Old Issue, Style over Substance and Winning Silver:

http://culturalinsight.com/?s=iris+apfel&submit=Search

http://culturalinsight.com/?s=celine&submit=Search

http://culturalinsight.com/2015/12/15/winning-silver/

The New Macho

10 Feb
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(youtube.com)

The Revenant offers up the epitome of macho endurance – through brute force and unwavering determination, DiCaprio survives extreme temperatures, near exhaustion and even a bear attack.

This form of masculinity, one of almost archaic manliness, was dominant a few years ago, but now we are seeing manliness expressed in many different forms. This is something that is evident within the film category alone. The Danish Girl, released just weeks apart from The Revenant tells the story of a man who embarks on a very different journey. In his quest to become a woman, Einar Wegener displays unwavering bravery and determination: qualities often deemed masculine.

Quite simply, the boundaries around what we perceive to be ‘masculine’ are changing, and brands are taking note. Lynx’s new superbowl advert highlights that a man’s most attractive is playing to his own strengths, rather than attempting to fit into a single form of masculinity. Louis Vuitton have also raised questions about what it means to be masculine, by putting Jaden Smith at the forefront of their most recent ad campaign for women’s clothing.

The release and box office success of The Revenant proves that brute manliness is still a prevalent way for masculinity to be expressed. But when the film is put into the context of wider culture, it’s clear that this is just one of many guises that masculinity can take. In this ever-shifting world brands have the freedom to connect with the ‘masculine’ in many different ways.

Egg-traordinary Pop Up

10 Feb

 

creme egg

(facebook.com)

When Cadbury announced they were bringing a pop-up Creme Egg Café to Soho, we were unsure whether it was anything to get too egg-cited about. But, it seems that Cadbury have succeeded in producing a genuinely joyful experience that encapsulates the brand.

Their humble menu offers up dishes inspired by ideas tweeted by fans – Crème Egg with soldiers, Crème Egg tray bake and Crème Egg toasties can be found for just £4 and all come with a cup of tea or coffee.

What really sparked our interest wasn’t the food, but what lies upstairs. For those that venture up to the café’s second floor a giant ball pit awaits, designed not just for kids but adults too. Cadbury have clearly taken note of last year’s hugely successful Pearlfisher art installation ‘JUMP IN!’ which consisted of 81,000 white balls for visitors to dive in.

Cadbury believe their chocolate can ‘free the joy’ inside those who consume it, and the café ball pit is a simple yet vibrant expression of this idea. By thinking about meaningful ways to bring their spirit to life, the Crème Egg manages to exist outside of just the product, and resonate in culture as a result.

Connecting with Culture

4 Feb

Glasto

It is becoming ever clearer that people don’t fundamentally care about brands. They are so peripheral to people’s lives that only around 5% of brands would be truly missed if they were to vanish tomorrow (Meaningful Brands, Havas). Instead people, of course, care about the things in the world that matter to them – the things they find fascinating, thrilling or important.

This sentiment is never truer than with Millennials. The 1.8 billion individuals that make up this cohort are demanding more of brands than other generations ever did; they aren’t simply willing to accept what they are given. They tend to value experience over commodity, and they are constantly seeking something bigger than just products. They want to be engrossed in something different and genuinely meaningful.

This realisation means that brands have to push beyond just their products and services. They have to embed themselves in culture by tapping into the things that people are actually concerned about. Brands are beginning to acknowledge that they have to do far more than just say things – they have to do them as well. They have to contribute something of value beyond their category.

In a world where people don’t care about brands, it is a brand’s role to champion something they do care about.

We think that the best way to do this is by connecting with culture. It is the key to finding the topics that people honestly connect with. This can be major global issues – animal testing, carbon emissions and responsible farming have all not just been addressed, but have seen real change as a result of brands’ actions – but it can also be the smaller, more personal things too.

From behaving like a genuine lifestyle brand the way Dulux do, to encouraging children to get mucky in the great outdoors like the National Trust, to celebrating the power of women and girls the way that Always and Sports England have – brands’ actions and voices can echo far beyond their product offer.

Brands need to understand the role they wish to play. From local start-ups to global heavy weights, more and more brands are pushing themselves to stand for something that is both meaningful to people, and distinctive in the world. This way, they can not only stand out, but they can also have an impact on vital trends and issues. They can pre-empt cultural shifts and harness change for themselves, setting the trail ablaze for the rest to follow.

To connect with the things people really care about, it is vital to understand and even anticipate what those things might be. Here are three topics we can see getting hotter and hotter in in 2016 –

Flexing Masculinity

2015 saw the subject of female empowerment boom – but for 2016, the flexing forms of masculinity will be the vital issue. With the gender debate being pushed front and centre, the rigid definitions of masculinity have fundamentally changed. Events like Tough Mudder – once reserved for the gruff, military trained, alpha male – are now being embraced by the masses, with even the most groomed fashionista yearning for a jam packed, extreme weekend. And it is not all about becoming more macho – charities such as Mind are championing the breaking of taboos around men’s mental health. Men are being encouraged to talk about their feelings, not just to appeal to women, but to make their lives significantly better. Lynx’s recent advert faces up to the identity blurring many men are undergoing, by capturing a multitude of constantly evolving masculine identities. The very concept of masculinity will continue to be fundamentally played with.

Going Outside

People are escaping from the shackles of Wi-Fi and social networks, and going off grid into the wild outdoors. Nature is becoming aspirational as a place where the stresses of the online world don’t even exist. The trend of immersion had moved from theatres and events, and is now been seen in an authentic absorption in the great outdoors. It is not just for adults – Little Forest Folk is London’s first outdoor nursery where the children are immersed in the forest all day – there is no indoors. This shift is about doing more than just turning phones off, it is about people pushing themselves to embrace a natural world that has been previously neglected.

Purposeful Mindfulness

Mindfulness is beginning to break ties with its spiritual origins, and move into a secular, ambitious world that has true purpose. It has shifted from the Zen style of living calmly and purely, to being part of people’s strategy to achieve their ambitions. The Art of Thinking Clearly self-help book enables people to train themselves to think sharply, and mindfulness is becoming less about removing oneself from the world, and more about finding ways to go back in with more vigour. We think that mindfulness is going to continue on its path towards the purposeful, direct and active – nothing will be passive.

(Originally published in AV Edits 2016)

Murders Have Been Given A New Lease Of Life

4 Feb
murder pic

(pinterest.com)

We have become obsessed with true crime dramas. Murders have hijacked our free time. After watching, we all become desktop detectives, Googling to find out more. There are now podcasts about podcasts, and Facebook groups about TV shows – we can now fully immerse ourselves in the murder story at all times and truly get under the skin of the story.

Something that was once quite closed now feels far more open, and we are now captivated with the US legal system (and all its flaws). We have become members of the jury at Netflix’s Making a Murderer, American Crime Story and This American Life’s Serial. Making a Murderer even resulted in call for a retrial by many lawyers, and an official response from the White House.

If this tells us anything it is that CSI can no longer get deep enough into the story – people are demanding more from the storytellers. This new form of true crime drama is more real, more gritty and gives people the opportunity to access the facts themselves.  Making a Murderer’s director Moira Demos said that “creating a sense of interactivity and online involvement was never our intention with Making a Murderer, but watching the reaction to it has been pretty crazy.”

The increased demand for these totally immersive crime dramas highlights people’s desire to dig deeper, discover more and be involved.  Brands should think about the impact this will have on the experiences they create, as people will expect increased access and involvement every step of the way.

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