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It’s time for brands to get that festive feeling

Do you feel that festive buzz? Are you readying to hunker down by the fire, mulled wine in hand to watch a duvet of snow engulf the pavements, transforming them into feathery fairy tale perfection? Of course you’re not – it’s July, and even in the midst of a never-ending pandemic, and with no seasonal weather cues in sight, you still know summer from your elbow.

But for us PRers, much like the good Father Christmas himself, the festive season is a year-long consideration, neigh, way of life. With the 1st of July so comes the six-month count-down to Christmas, typically the busiest season in any PR calendar. With this in mind, here at Lucre we’ve complied a naughty and nice list of tips and tricks to tee up the perfect Christmas campaign.

Christmas in a pandemic

The pandemic persists, and though we hoped to be well out of it last Christmas, it looks here to stay for a little longer, and so it needs to be a primary consideration when preparing Christmas campaigns – whether it may be the very practical matter of ‘will my event fall in the middle of a lockdown?’, to discouraging gatherings and being prepared to move everything online. It is also worth critically contemplating the tone of voice adopted by a campaign and accurately reading the temperature of your demographic given the world right now – Christmas may not be the jolliest of emissaries for many this year. A sombre and aware tone is important. But equally this may well be a post-pandemic Christmas so don’t be shy to join the celebration and giving it your all. There’s a fine line to tread, but is that not what we’re here for?

Flexibility is going to be critical this year, along with having solid back-up plans that are ready to go should other plans be cancelled. If your Christmas pitch falls flat due to another lockdown then you want something on the backburner, or a campaign that will work equally well online as it does in person. The abundance of heavily choreographed Christmas ads, taught with in-house rivalry and antagonism betwixt brands is always a high point of the festive season, and rather carried last year’s campaigns. The thought that lockdowns would have ended by December was important in spirit, but did leave everyone scrambling. This year engaging online campaigns and creative solutions needs to bridge the bridge the two-metre gap to ensure the season is utilised properly.

The pandemic may have changed your demographic, and their behaviours. It’s worth considering the price and cost when it comes to your Christmas offering; disposable income has decreased for most throughout this time, so offering more affordable options along with experiences will be key. In the same vein of understanding your customer, remember that last year’s data is going to be heavily skewed by the pandemic, so do look over five years’ worth of data and assess the average. Perhaps your key demographic hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, in fact, they’re spending more than ever. It’s more likely than not that their behaviour will have been affected in some way, and re-examining the last five years is a good way to predict what’s coming and get an approximation of the best direction to take a campaign in.

This year, due to the uncertainty of the world and the constant lockdown pendulum from which we oscillate, Christmas in July has been postponed for many until October, so if you are looking to host events for journalists or influencers to experience your Christmas offering first-hand, then it’s worth bearing in mind.

Christmas not in a pandemic (can you remember one?)

Pandemic, shmamdemic. Some classic Christmas in July prep never changes. The first sage tip that we’re all to ready to ignore is to plan further in advance than you think you’ll need. There are always so many moving parts to line-up, and with the added time-suck of a pandemic, leave yourself room to be flexible and ready to meet any changes head on.

Investing in evocative photography is another vital asset to any Christmas arsenal. Last year lockdown after lockdown had many brands limping on the crutch of stock imagery or moving into animation. This year snatch any moments of mobility and get some images ready to go. If everything moves online, it will allow you to utilise social and get an edge on the competition.

As always, consider product placements now – when will the long leads you want to secure be pulling together Christmas pages, product reviews and the like? Why not get some mailers in the post and start locking down coverage? An early Christmas gift to yourself really…

Finally, how are you going to stand out on social? With or without a pandemic, social media is really the fulcrum of a successful campaign in today’s climate. With Instagram essentially a Tetris cube of monotonous advertising, standing out and engaging with your audience is key.

And remember, if you didn’t follow sage tip number one and leave yourself enough time, there are always ways to create engaging material by upcycling evergreen content into graphics, piggybacking current trends and garnering quick wins off them. Host contests and give-aways, hit the stories hard – and never overlook influencers!



IRL – Why We’d Take the Explication Any Day

What is it?

IRL is essentially a social media calendar that is meant to streamline the process of scheduling meets and events with friends. It was launched in 2018 but didn’t take off immediately, partly due to the initially clunky interface and glitch-prone haptics that made it a less than satisfactory user experience. However, in the last year the app has attracted a monster bit of backing of $170 million from Softbank – and as a result, a little a little bizarre given that lockdowns beget lockdowns and social engagements are off the cards – it’s seen a resurgence in popularity. The similarities the app shares to that of Instagram – it allows for followers, likes, posts, commentary and tagging – probably accounts for this newfound ‘It’ status, particularly amongst Gen Z, the demographic from which it is garnering the most downloads. The creators have chosen not to invest money in any kind of marketing but are instead catching new users from apps like snapchat, Roxblox and TikTok. TikTok is also working on product integration with IRL.

Once downloaded, the user needs register with a phone number, age, and location. Now set-up, it excavates your contact list and allows you to create events, invite friends and established groups, and then designate details like time, date, and location. From there you can create your own meet-ups or set up your own from a list of pre-existing categories including book club, besties, family, call of Duty Squad and more. It allows for commentary through event specific chats, and lets friends chime in with multiple choice polls. You are also able to track your real-life social events using the built-in map functionality. In addition, there is the chance to anonymously nominate friends for their unique attributes, such as who is a ‘mother f***ing legend’?


Any good?

The excessive data harvesting is a little unnerving but nothing new. Similarly, the GPS tracking and built-in map functionality that can’t be disabled is intrusive, but again, not the end of the world.  IRL is essentially a slack channel full of your mates, not work colleagues, that helps to plan events and keeps the group conversation ticking over until you are together IRL.

The app certainly has the potential to be an interesting and useful tool. The organizational power is a siren call to the pedant in us all, and the easily navigable, if somewhat still glitchy interface, is appealing. However, the real rub and point of concern for us is who this targeting?

The odd lexicon it has adopted is far from embodying youth vernacular, in fact, it’s a little embarrassing. Our recent think tanks with GenZers found that – across the board – their biggest turn off was brands unsuccessfully adopting ‘young’ language. If that is the case, then this app is ready for an immediate de-install.

In defence of IRL, though the language might be enough to diminish engagement from GenZers, the extreme lengths it has gone to in order to take care of its users and keep them safe, is worthy of recognition. As mental health concerns and physical security are foregrounded in today’s world of online meets and real-world tracking, the app has taken a step above most to ensure users safety and well-being. Everything is private by default and not visible to other users unless you explicitly opt to do so (Instagram is the inverse of this) users must be age 12+ (though admittedly impossible to regulate) and most impressive of all is the ‘in crisis, chat now’ feature that instantly connects you to crisis management help if you are in need.


Marketing potential?

This is where the app could become particularly promising. The huge amount of backing has given it legs, and enough interested parties to flog it into shape. It is currently experimenting with allowing groups to charge access for tutoring, lessons and other such activities. Eventually, the intention is to allow brands to promote events on the main discovery page, something that could hold real promise for marketeers in the future, especially if it grows as the backing would suggest it could.


Will it take-off in a big way?

It’s hard to say right now, but there is an increase in downloads – the Softbank app already has 12 Million users to date and has gained real traction in the US, with over 1 billion messages being facilitated in just over a year.

The language, and invasive harvesting of data is at odds with the general landscape of Gen Z, however the social appeal and potential for commentary and novel games, especially given everyone’s immediate isolation, may give it a tailwind that sees it through the pandemic. However, we’ve seen the rise and fall of Clubhouse, the success of which peaked mid-pandemic but quickly declined as people met in person. Arguably, with society exiting a pandemic and with parties, events and gatherings on the not-too-distant horizon, this might be the moment for such an app. Time will tell!

Ultimately, Facebook does the same, as do several of the ubiquitous social media apps, so the appeal of downloading something new, moving all your friends over onto it only to encounter mild glitches and invites to the faintly embarrassing ‘litty committee’ makes us a little sceptical of it’s reach. One to watch out for nonetheless – as they streamline the interface, language, and privacy settings, it could certainly have real potential.

Gen Z – How are they feeling and how will their behaviour change as lockdown eases?

As part of our ongoing insight programme into Gen Z, our most recent Zedders Panel saw a group of 16 – 19-year-olds questioned on their thoughts and feelings following lockdown and their intended behaviours as restrictions ease.

Their hopes, dreams and concerns were all discussed in depth, with very definite views made, and here’s what we’ve discovered:

Looking forward…

Like the rest of us, they’ve simmered life down to the things that really bring them joy – all they want is to socialise again, seeing friends and family with no limits or restrictions on numbers.

‘I just want to have freedom to do what I want without restrictions and rules’.

Those who fall on the older end of the spectrum, or who indeed came of age during the pandemic, are absolutely chomping at the bit to get into bars, clubs and live music venues. Stats-wise, a whopping 75% expressed socialising with friends and family as something they were very much looking forward to…

‘Since turning 18, I definitely want to try out clubbing’.

‘Schools’ nearly ended… might be a bit of a party vibe summer’.

Another major area that has been sorely missed is exercising without restrictions. Three quarters of the Gen Z focus group mentioned a desire to get back to the gym, as well as competing in sports matches.

What’s changed?

It’s well established that Gen Z spends more time than any other group online and the pandemic has only fuelled that, particularly with school life and socialising so dramatically impacted. But how has this altered our Zedder’s world view?

Well for starters it’s made them significantly more politically inclined than previous generations, and with good reason. There’s a widespread general concern about environmental issues, with notable commentary surrounding the rising sea-levels, plastic pollution and global warming.

‘The older generation don’t realise so you find yourself having to teach your parents’.

‘It seems a bit of a chore but its better in the long run to recycle’.

‘I don’t do as much as I should – I got involved in protests but then it slowed down with Covid. I need to do more’.

They’re most concerned with reducing plastic use and cutting down or avoiding eating meat. The consensus seems to be that these things are more easily attainable/within their control, whereas when it comes to fast fashion, though most condemn it, they are fashion conscious but lack the finances to invest in long-term, sustainable garments.

‘I would choose a more environmentally-friendly brand if it was at a reasonable price range’.

That said, they are highly critical of fast fashion companies like Primark, Shein, and Boohoo and want them to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. Statistical breakdowns show that 85% are concerned about climate change, two thirds about pollution and half about recycling and loss of habitats.

Their influence is also driving the second-hand market with clothing brands such as Vinted and Depop increasingly popular. This mode of shopping extends to online market places such as Etsy, seen as an ideal middle ground because it is relatively inexpensive, environmentally conscious and also supports individual talent.

Ultimately, like the rest of us, it seems than Gen Z have boiled life down to the important things, seeing friends and family, having a good time, and protecting our planet for future generations.