Awareness is everything.

It may seem like a long time since we heard anything about #TheDress, last week’s viral sensation.

But a charity has turned interest in the Blue & Black or White & Gold social media conversation into a powerful message about domestic violence.

This picture was tweeted by the Salvation Army in South Africa, which said one in six women are victims of abuse.


I think it’s an outstanding use of social media to drive campaign message brilliantly and it was quickly conceived and executed. Sure the dress was “so last week”, but can’t we have it both ways? Can’t someone be clever and still make a difference in someone’s mind? Can’t someone turn #TheDress debate into something meaningful?

The stats on this campaign state 1 in 6 women suffer abuse. That’s enough for a campaign to end violence, don’t you think? Piggy back off of anything that will give the cause attention. Keep the momentum going, bring your issue to the forefront of people’s minds when the opportunities present itself. Ride on viral trends and aid discussion of issues which would otherwise get swept under the rug.

Sure, it could be better. We’re encouraged to ‘see’ the bruising, but no information is given about how to actually help women living with Domestic Violence. The campaign doesn’t link with any direct benefit to women’s organisations, refuges, services for women experiencing DV. But so many people have seen (and spoken) about this ad that even if only a quarter of them donated, I’d still consider it a success.

Is it the perfect way to campaign around an effort? Probably not. Viral is fleeting. Smart marketers don’t always chase viral. But there is a time and a place and I think the Salvation Army of South Africa did a good job at leveraging a meme that worked.

What do you think? A powerful advert or a bad idea?

– Atekka xo


Promoting The Love of Words

For my Final Major Project (FMP), I’ve set my own brief that focuses on books, everything and anything related to do books.


Here is a section of the research proposal that I submitted last Friday for approval:

Design Brief

To investigate the issues surrounding public libraries and the increasing use of eBooks, and understand the reasons behind the decline of libraries and the role that technology has. Using copywriting, graphic design, social media and possibly photography, a new and creative campaign is to be developed to promote the use of a public library.  It should build awareness and be a combination of digital and traditional media.

I have always had an interest in reading since a young age and my local library is what inspired my love of words. Also an avid book-reader, I’m regularly asked on my opinion about the Books versus eBooks debate. This will give me the opportunity to promote something that is of personal significance to me and will be a talking point post-degree. It will combine my interests in books, technology and human behaviour.

This project will use the medium of copywriting, which will be an effective way to storytell in advertising. It will challenge the concept that “long copy is dead”. I believe that my specialist area is copywriting however my portfolio doesn’t document this so this project is an ideal opportunity for me to show off my hidden skills. My career aspiration is to be a copywriter so it’s a particularly important that my portfolio evidences this. Also by conducting an investigation, I will be able to show my research skills allowing for further opportunities to be identified. I believe this is an important issue and a worthwhile project.

Check out the research blog for this brief. Please join in with any observations or advice that could aid my discussion and the final outcome.


The Secret to Going Viral

In today’s digital world, to be noticed you have to step outside the box and do something that might seem risqué. Whether it’s a red button that unleashes drama or a devil baby, guerrilla marketing stunts are the secret to going viral.

We Know Drama

In 2012, the American cable channel TNT created “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square” to promote its launch in Belgium. The network put a big red button in the middle of a quiet Belgian square with a sign reading “Push to Add Drama.”  When the button is pushed, drama ensues and it is incredible! It’s produced by one of the leading agencies of guerrilla marketing stunts in Europe, Duval Guillaume Modem and has since become the second most-shared ad ever.


Duval Guillaume Modem declared that “A dramatic surprise on quiet square” gathered over 10 million YouTube views and 1 million Facebook shares in less than 24 hours, and since then it’s been viewed over 48 million times. The video research company Unruly has listed it the second most-shared global ad of all time; to date it has been shared over 4 million times. The only one with a better result is the 2011 Super Bowl ad from Volkswagen called “The Force”.

Another goal of the campaign was to generate national press coverage and it also passed this target with flying colours. As outlined by Duval Guillaume Modem, all major Belgian media (including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines) reported on the stunt and it was even picked up by several international media outlets, such as ABC News, The Sun, Deutsche Welle, Financial Times, Forbes, The Morning Show and Time Magazine.

“A dramatic surprise on quiet square” has also been widely recognised by the advertising industry. The awards range from nine Lions at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes (including five gold) and one Epica’d Or at the International Advertising Awards to one gold award at the IAB Mixx Awards and eight awards at the European Festival of Creativity Eurobest in Lisbon.

Marketing Magazine looked into the popularity of the ad and explains the phenomenon by several sharing triggers, which are packed into this less than two minutes long video. In addition to being surprising and offering a twist on the familiar flashmob phenomenon, it is spectacular, funny and smart. In the campaign’s first couple of days, it also benefited from being picked up by highly influential sites 9gag and Reddit, which significantly boosted its social-media spread.

Devil Baby

Similarly in January 2014,  the people of New York were getting scared out of their wits by a demonic baby popping out of a stroller with horrific screams and projectile vomiting. OK, so it isn’t a real demon baby. It’s a remote-controlled animatronic creation that surprised random New Yorkers while hidden cameras captured their reactions. And it wasn’t just a prank; the stunt is actually a viral promotion for found-footage horror movie, “Devil’s Due.”

The video is the creation of Thinkmodo, the NYC-based viral marketing company that’s been grabbing attention online for three years. They “hacked” the giant video screens in Times Square to promote the Bradley Cooper thriller “Limitless.” Then they made it look like flying people were soaring over Manhattan for “Chronicle.” And last October, they started an online sensation with their “Carrie”-inspired prank where an actress appeared to wreck a coffee shop using telekinesis (actually, it was all practical special effects). That video went on to be viewed over 52 million times on YouTube.

Interestingly, there weren’t any hurt feelings from the victims of the prank. Thinkmodo founder, Michael Krivicka, told Yahoo News, “People were totally cool with being in the video after getting the living hell scared out of them. Each reaction ended with a laugh, and everyone loved the look of the baby.”

Playing it safe

Now my issue is why aren’t more brands learning from these lessons and jumping on board? I understand this medium isn’t suitable for every brand however for many it’s the perfect solution. For my recent Zombie brief, we took inspiration from the TNT commercial and came up with a concept of a zombie stunt in Manchester, UK. We thought we were on to a winner, it had all the ingredients to successfully go viral. However when we pitched the idea to the clients, they weren’t convinced. They argued that too many people would be offended, it would cause disruption and even the police would to get involved.

I’m puzzled how you can release a Devil Baby in New York City but a few Zombie actors in the UK is not practical?

What do you think? Are brands playing it too safe or are pranks overused?


The Shift to Visual Social Media

The way we communicate online, especially on social media, has had a major shift. In many ways, the focus has moved from written social media to visual social media.

What started as websites and blogs where we shared our message with 500 to 1,000 words or so quickly moved to micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Even micro-blogs became more multi-media driven as we watched Tumblr take off and YouTube reach more than 4 billion views daily. Pinterest and Instagram are now two of the fastest growing and most engaging social networks.

This infographic from UberVU makes a clear point, “Visual social marketing is here, and it’s making money.”

Social Business Infographic, Part 4

Next up is an infographic from Socially Sorted which not only shares a variety of statistics about visual social media usage trends but also explains how brands can leverage the power of social media. A few tips included in the infographic are:

  • Don’t tell if you can show.
  • Create original visual content.
  • Crowdsource visual content.
  • Add the words back in.

Shift to Visual Social Media Why Brands Must Embrace Visual Social Media in 2013


A Step Forward For Advertising

I came across this today and it instantly tugged on my heart-strings. A huge well done to Marks and Spencer, a brilliant example of PR done well.

Marks and Spencer’s has made history and heralded a step forward for British advertising. It’s the first big, mainstream brand that has featured a person with a disability in their adverts. The advert is being hailed as a bold, and long overdue, step forward for the treatment and perception of people with disabilities.

The mother of a four year old Seb White says she became frustrated with the lack of diversity in kids modelling campaigns, and felt that children like her son were not being represented.

‘When Seb was born, I vividly remember seeing lots of ads with hundreds of beautifully perfect kids in them and it just added to my sense of isolation and difference. ‘Then back in July when we were shopping for Seb’s school uniform it occurred to me again that all the “different” children out there that are starting school are just not represented.’

She wrote on their Facebook page and thanks to an overwhelming response, the company accepted her idea. Seb also features in the Nov/Dec edition of the Your M&S Magazine.

Now many may question if this is really a step forward in disability rights or pure tokenism. My opinion is that every act like this should be acknowledged and praised. M&S didn’t pursue this, but responded to a request by the child’s mother. This isn’t being hailed as the end of discrimination, exclusion, or prejudice, but “a start”.

Also it may seem like a publicity stunt, designed to improve their brand image and Seb’s role may seem incidental. I wouldn’t have noticed Seb’s disability if it hadn’t been pointed out. However that Seb appears ‘incidental’ is surely the point, he is just another happy child – not a freak or a token. And that’s how it should be. He isn’t the focus of the ad, but he’s there – the same as any other child. Plenty of people with disabilities are indistinguishable from the rest of us. I sincerely hope this will change attitudes towards Down’s Syndrome and disabilities in general.

Further reading:

The Guardian posted an article that discussed the advert and the changing perceptions of people with disability that I recommend everyone to read.

Advertising doesn’t just sell a product, after all, but a lifestyle. And, put bluntly, disability isn’t a “lifestyle” many want to buy. For reasons simultaneously based in logic and prejudice, in most people’s minds, it’s the lifestyle they’d pay not to have. With this thought, the advertisers steer clear.

In an ideal world, the man using the wheelchair will be depicted as successful, the woman with the amputated arm beautiful. Today, as a start, we have the little boy with Down’s syndrome shown as a happy child just like yours.

Change is going to be circular: adverts including people with disabilities will alter perceptions of disability that will in turn make their inclusion second nature. It takes one big brand to start things moving but many to continue it – to get to a point where exclusion is unrealistic and not accepted. Only then will disability not just be on-screen for Christmas; it will be for life.