Tag Archives: culture

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 –

yo celine


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.

yo celine 2


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.



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:




The New Macho

10 Feb


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


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


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


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.

Winning Silver

15 Dec



[ Air Wick ]

Air Wick’s recent advert, The Gift of Home, seemed to speak to older people in a way that feels sensitive and authentic. It focuses on making the big life shift of moving out of the family house easier with scents that evoke the feeling of home.

As the population is become increasingly old, the ability to speak to older people in authentic and nuanced ways is more important than ever. Despite the huge opportunity presented by the older generation in terms of their disposable income, brands often miss the mark when speaking to them. We are all too familiar with adverts aimed at older people which feel patronising or out of touch. However, Air Wick’s advert connects with a life stage which is becoming more and more central to the aging community – downsizing and moving from the beloved family home. By creating personalised scents to remind them of home, Air Wick help to make this transition easier, and showing real life people talking openly about the big changes in their life gives the advert a sense of authentic emotion. It feels as though Air Wick have really stepped in to connect with the older generation in a way that doesn’t feel too saccharine sweet or disingenuous.

We think that other brands need to follow Air Wick’s example in embracing this booming generation’s needs and address them in an authentic and sensitive way. The future potential for brands to utilise this demographic is huge – it is time for them to be spoken to.


The F Word

11 Dec



[ bathfilmfestival.org.uk ]

As the championing of women and feminism becomes increasingly prominent, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Bath Film Festival created an F rating for films that are written by or directed by a woman, or that feature “significant women on screen in their own right”.

It is interesting that an industry which has had a history of gender inequality is starting to introduce tools to highlight women’s achievements. Indeed, in Sweden they have already started rating their films in a similar way using the A rating for films that pass the Bechdel-Wallace test (a test which asks if women in a film talk about anything other than men). Whilst this is clearly a very blunt instrument to initiate change, it feels like it has the potential to have a positive effect. This rating could definitely encourage people to be more aware of, and hence watch, more female-focused films and to celebrate women filmmakers in a way that may not have happened before.

We are interested to see if this rating is rolled out more fully, and what effect this has on the film industry and the world at large in terms of encouraging people to engage more fully with women in creative industries.

The Waiting Game

11 Dec


100 years

[ wired.com ]

We were fascinated to find out that Robert Rodriguez and John Malkovich have made a film called 100 Year, in partnership with cognac brand Louis XIII, which will not be released until 2115. The film reflects the century long maturation period the cognac undergoes – a process which goes completely against our current obsession with having instant access at the touch of a button.

Indeed, smartphones have made everything accessible all the time, and we hardly have to wait for anything anymore. We can even receive online purchases in the blink of an eye with services like Amazon’s one hour delivery. It feels interesting, then, that this video takes the very antithesis of this – an extremely long waiting time – and makes it something desirable. This film will not be accessible to anyone alive today, but this only increases its aspirational sense of maturation and development.

We think the idea of maturation and making people wait for something worthwhile is a valuable one for brands to tap into. When on demand is everywhere, a sense of working for something gives a unique feeling of premiumness and anticipation.

Cosmic Christmas

30 Nov

selfridges xmas

[Daily Mail – Andy Pilbeam-Brown]

We have seen a distinct shift in the cultural meaning of science. Gone are the sole connotations of cold, clinical precision and pristine lab coats. Instead, science has become a truly creative arena. It has gained a frisson of genuine cool – with people eager to learn to code, to delve into the intricate scientific processes behind the products they buy, and to explore the lives of scientists. Major films such as The Imitation Game and The History of Everything have held up figures from the scientific community as romantic leads and war heroes. Science has emerged as a crucible for our collective imagination.

More recently, we have seen the scientific world of outer space arise once again as a vital narrative landscape. Films such as Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian have fed our fascination with the universe, removing it from abstract fantasy, and instead positing it as a thrilling terrain to be explored. This year we’ve seen the far reaches of the galaxy taken as inspiration for an enormous range of creations – from fashion to food, from beauty to literature, from design to public spaces. The astronomical and galactic have become our new muses.

It is perhaps inevitable, then, that outer space has become a magical landscape to set Christmas within. The celebration, which already has a star at the very heart of its story, has now embraced the planetary.


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