Welcome aboard, Stroke Association

We’re pleased to be able to share some exciting news with you. Following a competitive pitch, we’ve been appointed by the Stroke Association work with them team to launch a major new campaign and its first TV advertising.

Stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the UK. Anyone who has witnessed this up-close will tell you that the effects can be devastating. But it’s not given the priority it deserves.

We’re here to help the Stroke Association strike back. 2019 is going to be the year when you will see and hear this issue elevated to something that you’re motivated to take action on.

For us, this is a significant opportunity. If you’ve followed our work over the last year, you’ll have seen that we’ve been more involved in delivering purpose-led work that creates real impact (through our work with Plastic Oceans UK and Harvey Nichols). This is an opportunity for us to use our craft to create a positive impact on the world, and we’re going big.

Photo courtesy of the Stroke Association.


Spooky campaigns: Witch were killer

By Emily Barnes

Spooky puns are devilishly difficult.

Ah, Halloween.  Often seen as another of the seasonal bandwagons for marketers and PRs to hop on and enjoy some easy hits from a campaign tenuously linked to their client. But what is Halloween if it’s not fun? By nature, it’s the season of high jinks; to be silly and creative, which is in itself, a place where great campaigns are born.

We’re going to run through a few of our favourite spooky PR and marketing stunts and campaigns, which include some examples which demonstrate that clients with a serious brand message can still cleverly use the silliness of Halloween to keep their brand front-of-mind.

1. Tesco’s ‘Spookermarket’

Delivering on the supermarket’s recent promise to inject humour into it’s marketing, Tesco’s seasonal video content for Halloween last year garnered a social media buzz and an impressive 2.4m views to date as well as praise in trade and consumer press alike.

Delivered with BBH London, the campaign saw hidden cameras capture unsuspecting Tesco shoppers being scared by various terrifying props and actors, including severed hands in freezers and heads amongst toilet rolls. The video also prompted viewers to watch four additional videos which included a pumpkin carving tutorial and tutorial for creating a (fake) severed head in a jar. Delightfully gross.

According to Campaign, the launch day saw 805 conversation hits, of which 97% were positive; proving that even the simplest execution of the beloved hidden camera prank can create a very shareable piece of content with wide appeal, going a long way to show brand personality.

2. DigitasLBi’s ‘Internet of Pumpkins’

To demonstrate the very scary data security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi, DigitasLBi created a pumpkin which acted as a free Wi-Fi hotspot using modified Wi-Fi penetration testing equipment, which is commonly used by criminals. Oooh er.

Users who connected to the network received a ‘trick-or-treat’ message, and whilst some received a sweet treat, others received a trick in the form of a digital crack on their screen, representing the risk of damage from hackers. Each was followed with some friendly advice on how to use Wi-Fi safely and without gruesome consequences.

This is a nice way to instigate discussion on key messages and brand awareness, by utilising a fun surprise-and-delight-tactic to deliver a serious key message.

3. Volvo’s LifePaint Spooky Safety Initiative

(Main picture)

Volvo used its spray-on glow-in-dark substance for cyclist safety, LifePaint, to launch an initiative to keep trick-or-treating kids in London safe in the dark.

Launched with Grey London, ‘Be Scary, Be Safe’ encouraged parents to pick up a can of the reflective spray from their local dealership and download a set of free skeleton stencils online, spray it on to their spooky sprog and feel safe in the knowledge that their child was visible in the dark of the night.

This is an innovative approach to a season saturated with pranks and scare tactics, which reinforces brand purpose and values by providing something genuinely useful for parents and fun for kids. Win win.

4. REI’s Zombie Survival Kit

zombie
Click to learn how to survive the zombie apocalypse

 

Outdoor clothing manufacturer, REI recognised the power of the shareable viral image with its 2013 campaign which saw the company put together an infographic detailing the 13 essentials for surviving a Zombie outbreak, all of which could be bought directly from their online store.

Even better, employees in one of their stores also held a class on how to battle the enemy should a zombie attack happen, also covering basic survival skills to avoid death by the undead.

This was a great way to achieve a relatively quick-win by playing on the novelty of horror whilst shoehorning in product links seamlessly. The in-store event added the bizarre to what is seen by some as the mundane, which gave it broader appeal and buzz.

So, brands or companies with an array of brand purpose can look to Halloween to successfully embrace a season of otherworldly imagination as a vehicle to create awareness in a particularly engaging and memorable way.


How to help clients be ‘brave’

By Sarah Boulton

The Oxford definition of brave is: “to be ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”.

Sounds pretty intimidating, and sometimes brave PR and marketing ideas can feel a little that way to a client. Clients often have ambitions to be brave, but as the definition alludes to, being brave ultimately means taking some form of risk, which presents challenges for internal buy-in. Therefore, when taking a brave idea to a client in 2016 the process needs to be handled delicately and not bull-dozed through.

From creating the Game of Thrones’ Iron Throne out of adult toys, to making the world’s largest emoji crop circle, we like to help our clients be brave, and we believe that there are some simple steps to ensure that the process of getting brave ideas considered and signed off is pain-free for the client, and for the agency.

Ultimately building an authentic relationship with a client is key to getting a creatively bold idea to the point where it will see the light of day, so here are our top tips to get to that point:

Get the basics right

Sounds obvious and a bit old school, but nailing all the basics of client management helps to build trust. Show your client that your account team is a professional and well-oiled machine: get reports over on time, make sure meeting rooms are set-up for catch-ups etc. Although it is a simple argument, it will be the make or break of a relationship, and when it comes to putting forward bold ideas trust in the team will ultimately give the client confidence to take the leap into the unknown with you.

Not all briefs need to be brave

A scattergun approach to brave ideas is never recommended. Work together as an agency and client to spot the right opportunity that is beneficial for the client and for the audience. Don’t take a risk just for the sake of it. A brave idea comes with an element of risk and therefore needs to be considered carefully and done at the right time for the right campaign.

Foster a ‘brave’ team

With a high-risk idea there are bound to be many bumps in the road and having a robust, authentic team and relationship with the client means that you are more likely to get through them. Once this ‘brave’ team is assembled it needs to be managed lightly and every single person in that team needs to be capable of having a client-facing conversation, with everyone client-side, including other channel owners. Everyone should be visible on the account and everyone should inspire confidence in the client.

Avoid the BS

Finally, one of the biggest moments in the life of a creatively brave idea is the client presentation. My main tip here would be to avoid at all costs a ‘ta da’ approach. The trick is to position the idea so it doesn’t look as though you have had an insane rush of blood to the head and got a bit over-excited, but to make it look like it is a reasonable decision. No client likes a hard sell, be honest, tell them about the ideas strengths but look the risks in the eye. Brave work is inherently risky so don’t pretend there isn’t any, just show that you have thought them through.

No chill

Last but not least, don’t relax. Once the presentation is done run with it and keep the momentum. The hard work starts from here on in, and remember that brave ideas require brave people. Be brave.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastically brave clients that have allowed us to bring our bold and creative ideas to life, drop us an email if you’d like to hear more: Hello@fanclubpr.com.

 


Five 2016 sporting campaigns at the top of their game

By Joey Green

June and July saw Euro 2016 and Wimbledon hitting our screens, which was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least.

We saw England’s embarrassing exit from the Euros 2016 AKA Brexit 2.0, Murray’s Wimbledon win, Iceland’s terrifying Viking clap (it’s why we lost, right? Riiight?) and the infamous scratch and sniff incident from Germany boss Joachim Low, bleeugh.

However, we also got to see brands utilising the events of the year so far, to engage consumers. With big sporting events like these, it’s inevitable that many brands want to jump on the bandwagon. As Rio 2016 approaches, let’s see who cut through with the most inspiring and creative campaigns?

Carlsberg

We’re a big fan of Christ Kamara in this office so when Carlsberg packed him off on the tube, dressed as an older gentleman to reward unsuspecting tube travellers who offered up their seat with tickets, we loved it. Part of the ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions’ campaign, it’s funny, it’s heart-warming, it tackles an on-going discussion about offering seats and it got a tonne of coverage. Kudos to Carlsberg.

Evian 

In order to engage Wimbledon fans and those that like to shake their bootay, Evian launched their ‘Wimbledon Wiggle’ (a move inspired by tennis players) campaign where they asked consumers to send in moves, which were posted on the Evian Facebook page. Here at Fanclub, we love a campaign which utilises user-generated content and the likes of Jonathan Ross, Mollie King and Holly Willoughby all got involved with the wiggle.

Copa 90

Bringing together football and current technology trends, Copa 90 created a chatbot specifically for Euro 2016 to keep fans in the know throughout. Content included everything from guides to articles. Although not in-your-face creative, we like the use of new technology trends to reach an engaged audience and actually provide value, the innovative idea received a lot of pick-up in the tech press.

Orange

Continuing with the innovation theme (oh, we do love to see how people use data), we want to give a nod to Orange who analysed each day’s tweets during Euro 2016 to see which nation’s hashtag was used the most and lit up the Eiffel tower in that team’s colours. Again, use of data, a landmark, and some great colours, made a lovely GIF.

Morrisons

After Andy Murray took home the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, Morrisons rebranded its Wimbledon store to Murriwins, complete with sign. Although the store did it before after Murray’s 2013 win, you have to give some credit for recycling a great, quick-fire idea (and hopefully the sign).

With Wimbledon and Euro 2016 out the way, we’re looking forward to seeing what Rio 2016 will bring.


How brands cut-through the news during the political pantomime

By Sarah Boulton

The political pantomime of the last few weeks has had us all glued to the TV and pouring over the press, eager to hear more, with twists, turns and theories to rival Game of Thrones.

There isn’t a day that goes by without a development of some sort. A perfect environment for PR and marketing departments to hijack the news, here are a few of our favourite brand campaigns that took advantage of the headlines:

  1. Ryanair – The Irish budget airline Ryanair chose to address the issues full on, on its website, where it advertised cheaper flights in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum as the pound plummeted. The airline’s website read: “Bye Bye Europe! Visit Europe for a plan…and for advice on how to play to soccer,”
  1. Saatchi London – The advertising agency opened a pop-up ‘Brexit Tattoos’ shop on Berwick St, ahead of the vote. It was free to get a tattoo with the aim of highlighting the permanence of your vote. ‘It’s your choice but it’s permanent’ was the shop’s motto – Nice!
  1. Pornhub – This is one of our personal favourites, which hasn’t been directly claimed from the company but smells suspiciously of a PR stunt. Following Boris Johnson ruling himself out of the leadership of the Conservative Party and therefore the race to become Britain's next Prime Minister, the 52-year-old may found himself a new profession pretty quickly - as a porn star. An “angry voter” uploaded a clip of one of Johnson’s Vote Leave speeches under a title found as 'DUMB BRITISH BLONDE F*CKS 15 MILLION PEOPLE AT ONCE'.

When hijacking news like this where there are some very passionate opinions involved, therefore there are some key guidelines to follow to ensure that you get the reaction you are looking for. Here are our top tips:

  1. Nail the Tone of Voice – This is the most important point. When doing PR around a serious and heated topic the TOV is crucial in nailing the story. It has to be witty, tongue in cheek and in its essence light-hearted. If it makes people laugh during a challenging time, then your story is bound to be a hit.
  2. Know your audience – Will they “get it”? If your audience is used to serious communication from your brand, then think carefully about how they would react to something sarcastic or ironic.
  3. Be speedy – Timing is everything in PR, having a perfect reactive idea to a news situation is great, but if you don’t get the story out quickly then it loses all relevance and interest. You can even plan in advance for big events such as the EU referendum and have something set up for both eventualities.
  4. Be brave – Sometimes it can feel scary to get involved in something that is so heavily debated, but as long as you have taken all the above points into consideration you will have nothing to fear! Trust your PR agency, they know what they are doing

Do get in touch at hello@fanclubpr.com if you would like to hear some examples of how we hijack the news for our clients. We have a hilarious example from the General Election!

 


Using war propaganda for peace

By Adrian Ma, at Eurobest, Antwerp

Alexander Smirnov is head of an agency called Tabasco in Kiev. In the agency world, he comes from a unique place, unlike anyone else I’ve encountered.

Growing up with a dictatorship, where news was manipulated every day, he became adept at spotting propaganda and how dictators use it.

At Eurobest, he even shared his Dictator for Dummies rule book. Here they are

  1. Control the media
  2. Create an enemy to unite against
  3. Feed the fear, so people don’t want to fight the enemy, and let the government do it

Following a bloody revolution, Ukraine is now free from its dictatorship, but violence stills exists amongst separatists who side with the Russians and those who don’t.

This flares up on Ukrainian Victory Day, when extremists take advantage of this national spirit and the debate it creates.

In 2015, Alexander and a band of volunteer creatives formed the ‘Information Resistance’, where they used their understanding of propaganda to create a piece of content to promote peace for Victory Day.

This is it (he calls it a piece of propaganda for peace).

In case you missed it, the grandfather was wearing a Russian uniform while his grandson was fighting for the Ukrainian government. This video unites both sides of the conflict through this moving inter-generational story.

Being a volunteer project, they didn’t have budget to buy media space for this, but it proved so powerful on social media (the president even shared it) that all of the TV stations requested the content to broadcast. So they received complete coverage.

In 2015, there were no violent protests that Victory Day. It was the most peaceful Victory Day, ever.

Alexander shared some inspiring lessons from his experience. These are

  1. Even if you are small, you can have a big impact.
  2. Make truth your weapon. You can’t win over propaganda zombies, people don’t listen to facts, so your propaganda should be based on the truth of feelings. In this case, love and understanding
  3. Your truth needs to go viral in order to break through the walls of propaganda

Alexanda’s not much of a Twitter fan, so I’ve not included a link to his bio here. But here’s a link to his agency’s website, if you’d like to find out more.


Funny is money, why humour is essential to your creative practice

By Sarah Boulton, from Eurobest in Antwerp

One of the talks that we enjoyed the most at our recent trip to Eurobest in Antwerp was Scriberia’s Dan Porter on the correlation between humour and creativity.

The presentation opened to the song “I love to laugh” from Mary Poppins. Porter highlighted that Disney had a fascination with characters defying the laws of gravity, Wendy in Peter Pan had to think happy thoughts to fly, and Jane and Michael in Mary Poppins had to laugh to eat afternoon tea on the ceiling. What they all have in common is that to defy gravity you have to forget the conditions that are keeping your feet on the ground.

He then rightly stated that this is the same in the creative battle; there is a constant downward pull against the weightlessness of flying. The downward pull in the creative sense is the challenges such as budgets, time pressures, expectations and the shadows of previous successes. Being creative needs an unshackling from the ground and everything holding you there, on the ground is not where the magic happens.

This is often the case in the PR world and something that we face ourselves at Fanclub often. Receiving a brief a week before a campaign goes live or integrating into a wider marketing campaign with little wiggle room pushes the creative skills, but as Porter claims the quicker you can forget this, the quicker you can start flying creatively.

The talk goes on to say that in the work place humour is often seen as a distraction, unprofessional, much like an embarrassing friend whom you are trying to suppress. Where as in reality in the creative industry and any job that requires an ounce of creativity, humour is your helpful best friend. It enables you to be inventive, gives you perspective and delivers fresh ideas.

Laughing at work is instrumental. This does not mean taking the brief or the client less seriously, it just means allowing for curiosity and comprehension. Creative businesses thrive from clients that need to appear more exciting; this is arguably the most lucrative ground for creativity. However sometimes the content can be so dry that you enter a desert of ideas, this can often leads to frustration and delirium. Here is where humour again paves the way to success, usually at this delirious point where you are almost going to give up someone will come up with a silly idea, not the idea that ultimately works, but it will provide the crucial breakthrough. In this sense briefs from a client need to be roughed up a bit before you really get to the most creative and innovative ideas, you need to get surreal and slapstick with it before you can really get to the light-bulb moment.

We can really relate to this at Fanclub some of our company values are built around this very point. “We have that Friday feeling everyday” meaning that we bring that light-hearted and fun element of a Friday to all of our work, “We are curious and inspiring”. Some of our most innovative and creative work has come about from brainstorms where “silly” ideas prompt or evolve into campaigns such as Tesco Mobile’s emoji crop circle for the Wake Up campaign which has been one of its most creative and successful PR campaigns to date, and Bondara’s Game of Bones which had us in fits of giggles during the planning and resulted in over 200 pieces of coverage.

However, humour is also a risk and needs to be harnessed cleverly and sensitively on some occasions so that you don’t leap into obscurity.

With this in mind, here are some key principles from the talk:

  1. No comedians – someone who thinks they are funny all the time can overpower creativity from the rest of the group
  2. Create a safe place – allowing for these crazy or silly ideas to be aired Don’t be mean – creating this safe place needs openness and trust
  3. Surround yourself with things that make you laugh – people, films and art can provide constant fountains of inspiration
  4. Too smart is dumb – a witty idea no one understands is worse than an idea that is not witty at all

 

Dan Porter is the Co-founder at live visual representation company Scriberia. He can be found tweeting at @ScriberianDan.

To talk to us about our creative work and our values drop us a line at hello@fanclubpr.com.