Backing Buy North-East Initiative

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce has launched a new campaign to persuade businesses in north-east Scotland to source more products and services from within the region and in turn support fellow local firms.  The aim is to retain more money in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and give the local economy a shot in the arm.

buy-north-eastBuy North-East is being run in conjunction with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, Scottish Enterprise and Aberdeen Journals and encourages local private, public and third sector organisations to procure more items from local suppliers.  The Press & Journal and Evening Express newspapers are highlighting the importance and benefits of sourcing products and services locally with regular editorial articles.AberdeenHundreds of businesses of all sizes and operating in all sectors have signed up to the initiative, including ourselves here at Innes Associates.  As an Aberdeen-based advertising, marketing and PR company we know the importance of using local suppliers.

Explaining why Innes Associates is backing the campaign, managing director Charlie Innes said: “We have always aimed to use local suppliers as much as possible.  Working with suppliers who are on our doorstep allows us to build strong relationships with them.  Nothing beats discussing a project face-to-face and having that personal relationship can help when last minute projects crop up.

Charlie Innes, managing director, Innes Associates

Charlie Innes

“Our network includes freelance designers, photographers, video production companies, gift suppliers and printers, and although each varies in size, they all contribute to ensuring we have a diverse economy here in the north-east.

“This campaign gives us the opportunity as a business to explore how we can support more north-east suppliers to fulfil our own needs and those of our clients.  Businesses should also be encouraging their staff to examine where they spend their money and inspire them to shop locally where and when they can.  If we all make some small changes it will have a positive knock-on effect right down the supply chain.”

For more information on Buy North-East visit www.buynortheast.co.uk.

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History repeating itself

Are companies too quick to change their branding or ditch an ad campaign?  We take a look at how history can repeat itself in marketing and beyond.

The old adage of holding onto something for long enough and it’ll come back into fashion seems truer today than ever. Perhaps it’s this age of austerity that we’re living in or that these items have an emotional pull that makes us look back fondly on a certain point in time. Maybe it’s just that we like to get our money’s worth out of a product! Whatever the reason, many things that were sales successes decades ago are among today’s must haves.

If you were a child of the 1970s and 1980s you probably got busy with the fizzy and were used to the iconic sound that a Soda Stream made. The machine and the bottles have undergone a few redesigns over the last 30 years, but Soda Stream’s sales are once again rising – up 25% in 2013. If you’re still using the version with the glass bottles you’ll probably be seen as the height of retro fashion.

When it comes to toys and games, some things have an enduring appeal. Board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo have remained popular for over 60 years, and building just wouldn’t be the same without Lego. One game that became popular with youngsters again recently was Subbuteo. Originally manufactured in the late 1940s the game was a mainstay of kids’ toy boxes until the mid 1990s when production stopped. With lots of accessories you could recreate your favourite teams and even stadia! Production started again in 2012 and youngsters once again discovered the joy of Subbuteo – also the injury your finger sustained from flicking the little figures…! With the FIFA World Cup just round the corner, players young and old will no doubt be laying the green Subbuteo cloth over the kitchen table and getting competitive with the plastic men wobbling about after the ball.

Even computer technology launched in the 1980s is being reinvented. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was a popular home gaming computer and over its 10-year production run around five million of the British-built devices were sold. Now mobile games firm Elite Systems is aiming to reinvent the iconic computer as a Bluetooth keyboard that can play an array of classic games on phones and tablets. ‘Head over Heels’ or ‘Arkanoid’ anyone?

As was shown last year it is not just products that can be successes 20 years later, but music too. In 1994, when starring in Byker Grove as PJ and Duncan, Ant and Dec reached number one with ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble’ and in 2013 after performing it on their Saturday Night Takeaway show it hit the top of charts once again as a result of downloads.

Over the last couple of years two things have become fashion must haves – quilted jackets and leather satchels. Walk down the street in any city recently and you were bound to see someone in a quilted jacket. They were the height of fashion in the 1970s and early 1980s, were revived and remodelled in the 1990s as puffa jackets, before Barbour added their twist in 2012 and every clothing manufacturer jumped on the bandwagon. The humble leather school satchel that carried every primary school pupil’s jotters until the late 1980s has also become a must-have accessory. The bag has been jazzed up from its brown origins and can now be bought in all sorts of vivid colours.

An old schoolbag is now the height of fashion

An old schoolbag is now the height of fashion

Even the royals are famous fashion recyclers. The Queen has been known to dust off the same outfit time and again; recently she was snapped wearing a coat that she bought in the 1960s. Her Majesty’s make do and mend attitude has also rubbed off on her children. Princess Anne has been known to sport outfits 20 years after she first wore them and Prince Charles has been seen wearing 40-year-old shoes and darned jackets.

Marketeers and advertisers aren’t averse to delving into their promotional archive and blowing the dust of successful campaigns from bygone years.   We’ve seen many of them do it and to great effect. Milky Way revived its ‘Red car and the Blue car’ advert 20 years after it was aired, while Persil, Fairy and Tennent’s all looked to their advertising past for inspiration for TV campaigns 25 years on.

When it comes to brand identity, however, some firms don’t bother undertaking rebranding exercises. Instead they just update their brand to prevent it from becoming dated. Shell’s Pecten has stood the test of time over the last 114 years, with only its shape and the typography used altering slightly. The most drastic changes were the introduction of red and yellow in 1948 and then the removal of the word Shell in 1999.  This is how it has evolved.

Motor manufacturers are another example of brands that rarely change their logo. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota have all made few changes to their identities. However, Fiat has changed its logo several times throughout its history and the most recent incarnation from 2006 takes inspiration from the badge of the 1930s that adorned vehicles for more than 30 years.

Regardless of whether it is something in our home, an item of clothing or even an ad campaign, hang on to it for long enough and it will be back into vogue before we know it. Maybe we should also take the view of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and save ourselves a lot of hassle and money. Let’s hope we’ve seen the back of some things though. Do we really need shellsuits again…?

Mission Christmas Appeal Takes Off With Bond’s Help

Cash for Kids logoInnes Associates has been supporting Cash for Kids over the past year and yesterday we helped to launch the charity’s annual Christmas present appeal.  Read the full story below or head to www.northsound1.com/mission-christmas or www.northsound1.com/charity/ to find out how you can help.

Mission Christmas Appeal Takes Off With Bond’s Help

Cash for Kids' Mission ChristmasAn annual festive campaign to ensure that underprivileged children living in north-east Scotland receive a present this Christmas has been officially launched by Aberdeen charity Cash for Kids.

The charity’s Mission Christmas appeal encourages members of the public to purchase an extra toy or gift when they are doing their Christmas shopping and donate it unwrapped to the appeal.  Cash for Kids has set up 20 donation points across the north-east in order to make it as easy as possible for people to donate items.

It is estimated that around 10,000 children in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire live in poverty.  Cash for Kids is one of a number of local charities that run an annual Christmas toy appeal in order to provide these children with at least one toy or gift on Christmas day.

Bond Offshore Helicopters is the main sponsor of the appeal.  One of the firm’s pilots and Cash for Kids’ Courage the Cat were on hand to help Santa Claus load the first batch of presents bound for his workshop at the North Pole into one of Bond’s helicopters.  This year’s appeal was kick-started with a donation of 168 quality toys from Aberdeen’s Disney Store.

Last year’s Mission Christmas appeal saw around £160,000 worth of presents generously donated by individuals and businesses in the north-east.  This helped to ensure that 2,966 underprivileged children in the region were guaranteed a Christmas present.  Cash for Kids expects to fulfil a similar number of applications on behalf of children this year.

Mission Christmas appeal lifts off

Bond staff, Santa and Northsound DJs Greigsy and Aylissa launch the appeal

Michelle Herd, charity manager, said: “Christmas is a magical time of the year, but for thousands of children living in poverty in the north-east often it is not, with many not receiving a present.  Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas appeal aims to ensure that as many children as possible in this situation wake up on Christmas morning to the joy of a new gift.

“Last year we distributed over 10,000 presents to youngsters in the area and we have already received over 1,000 applications on behalf of children.  All gifts and donations are gratefully received, no matter how large or small, and should be unwrapped.

“We are really pleased to have Bond as the main supporter of our appeal this year and their assistance is really appreciated.  The Mission Christmas appeal is a huge logistical task for us and we are indebted to everyone who helps to make it operate successfully.”

North Pole bound

Greigsy, Santa and Aylissa

Luke Farajallah, managing director, Bond Offshore Helicopters, said:  “Cash for Kids is one of the most worthy charities in Aberdeen, and as a locally based business we feel the responsibility to play our part in making Christmas a special time of year for all children.  It is heart-breaking to understand that 10,000 children in the Aberdeenshire area live in poverty, and it is this fact that has inspired us to step up and make a difference.

“We are extremely proud to be the main sponsor of this event, and we would urge local people and businesses to play their part by also making a donation, however small, in the full knowledge that they will be bringing some Christmas magic into the lives of the children who need it most.”

Cash for Kids is Northsound Radio’s listeners’ charity.  It makes grants to individuals, families, children’s groups, organisations and projects throughout the Northsound transmission area.  All money is raised locally and spent locally to benefit local disabled and disadvantaged children and young people under 18.  More information on Cash for Kids can be found at www.northsound1.com/charity, or telephone 01224 337010.

Can running benefit your business performance?

The name McLaren has long been associated with speed and never more so than in the Innes Associates’ office of late…

Our very own PR account manager Ian McLaren recently completed a hat trick of 10K runs held in the north-east and at each of these events – The Glenlivet 10K, Run Balmoral and the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k – he finished in under 45 minutes. (Well done again!)Ian_McLaren_Race

Like many exercise enthusiasts, Ian enjoys running for a variety of reasons. Along with all the well-documented benefits, there is now a growing belief that working out can help a business’s bottom line as well as the employees’ waistlines!

According to Zest magazine you can increase your mental functions by going running as it boosts blood flow to the brain and helps it receive oxygen and nutrients, making you more productive at work. This theory is echoed by greatruntraining.org, which also states that running is positively beneficial to your grey matter. Their website quotes a recent Swedish study, which found a clear link between high levels of aerobic fitness and better results in an IQ test – making running the ideal workout for a brain boost.

Many businesses today also encourage staff to take on physical challenges in order to raise money for worthwhile causes and, indeed, Ian used his trio of races to gather sponsorship for VSA, one of Aberdeen’s major social care charities.

Increased fitness + increased mental agility + increased support for good causes = a very healthy hobby. Time to grab those trainers?

Augmented Reality (AR)

It’s been around for a while but we’re hearing more and more about augmented reality or ‘AR’ as it is often abbreviated to.  So what exactly is augmented reality, how does it work and how might it affect the way that you communicate with your customers?  Read on to find out more…

What is augmented reality?

Wikipedia describes augmented reality as ‘a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.’ 

A shorter – and perhaps simpler – description is provided by Oxford dictionaries. It refers to augmented reality as ‘a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.’

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality, where the real world is replaced with a simulated one.

How does it work?

The reasonably new technology of augmented reality blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.  The basic concept behind AR is to superimpose graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time.

Perhaps the best way of understanding augmented reality is to experience the technology in action.  You may have already done so without realising it – particularly if you are an IKEA customer.  The Swedish furniture giant’s 2013 catalogue app was the most downloaded branded app of 2012 and featured an augmented reality viewer that allowed readers to use their tablet or smartphone to visualise furniture from its catalogue in 3D, along with related video and digital content.

A recent Business Insider article highlighted some recent clever AR campaigns that achieved what many organisations strive for: They created a positive ‘buzz’ around the brand.  A couple of our favourite examples are highlighted below:

Ford shows off some of the features of its Grand C-Max via an outdoor AR campaign that offers the next best thing to actually test driving the vehicle.

Food processing company, Heinz, uses augmented reality technology from blippar to allow customers to access a virtual cookbook by scanning their Heinz ketchup bottle. All of the different recipes used ketchup as their “secret ingredient”.

How can I use AR to communicate with my audience?

As smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly sophisticated and their use more prevalent, augmented reality offers organisations another opportunity to bring their brands and products to life for prospective customers.  AR is therefore likely to secure a place in many companies’ advertising budgets in the future. It is estimated that the market for augmented reality in the US will reach $350 million in 2014, compared to $6 million in 2008.

As with many types of technology, there is always the risk that some will use augmented reality incorrectly, or in a ‘gimmicky’ fashion.  When used properly, however, AR has huge potential as part of an organisation’s marketing efforts. By its very nature, it allows individuals to interact with the brand and its products or services.

Augmented reality also offers new opportunities for non-commercial purposes, such as educational or charity campaigns.

Two very different examples below show how a charity has used AR to highlight the serious issue of domestic violence, while National Geographic embraced the technology to introduce members of the public to ancient dinosaurs.

Non-profit domestic abuse campaign

National Geographic’s live augmented reality campaign

If you would like some assistance with your organisation’s communication activities, please get in touch.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

ChristmasEverywhere you go, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Christmas lights are already adorning the shopping streets of London and here in Aberdeen the Christmas lights have marched their way down Union Street thanks to the efforts of the council staff.  Let’s just hope that they aren’t subjected to the strong winds that battered them last December, which meant they didn’t shine as brightly or for as long as usual.

Christmas is always a busy time for the retail sector with every brand fighting for our custom.  Each year the big names roll out festive advertising campaigns in order to capture our attention to ensure we visit their stores or buy their products.  This year is no exception, with brands rolling out all manner of festive-themed campaigns.

2012 adverts

Asda launched an amusing advert for its 2012 festive campaign that depicted a mother preparing for Christmas.  However, the minute-long advert has angered some people who claim it is sexist and its strapline of ‘Behind every great Christmas there’s mum’ could reinforce negative gender stereotypes.  Others say it accurately reflects the division of labour in a household.  Perhaps we should just view it in the way it is intended; an amusing look at all the work that goes into making Christmas a memorable family day.  Watch it below and make up your own mind.

Asda hasn’t been alone in irking TV viewers with its advert, Boots and Morrisons have both received objections to their yuletide adverts.  It seems not everyone is enjoying the light-hearted theme that is running through this year’s Christmas ads.

In the Boots advert, dog lovers have objected about a girl blow drying her dog’s hair in order to make it look like a unicorn – claiming it could harm the dog.  Others have raised concerns about children using electrical appliances.  While Morrisons’ advert follows a similar theme to Asda’s and has also been criticised for being sexist, it is arguably more comic than its larger rival.  Perhaps all these complaints are being generated just because as a nation we like to complain!

Last year’s soar away Christmas advert success came from John Lewis.  It was an inspired piece of storytelling that left much of the nation reaching for their hankies to wipe away tears when they realised that the wee boy didn’t want Christmas to hurry up and arrive so he could get his presents from Santa, but instead it was so he could give his gifts to others.

So how would John Lewis follow it up this year?  With a budget of £6million it would turn out to be another great piece of storytelling that conveys the message of it being better to give than to receive.  The journey is the 90-second story of a snowman walking across the countryside, wading through rivers, crossing motorways and dodging snowball fights in pursuit of getting the perfect gift for his snow-lady.  Going by the online response it would seem John Lewis has another winner on its hands and is again helping sales of Kleenex!

 

Christmas crackers

What of yuletides past, what adverts have stuck in our minds?  Marketing Week has had a look back at some of the most memorable of recent years and there are a few classics.  Who can forget that magical place with toys in their millions that was Toy R Us’ 1990s advert.  It was so popular that the toy store remade it for Christmas 2009.  Irn Bru’s fun parody of the 1980’s film The Snowman was a winner with viewers and critics alike when it launched in 2007.

Another that makes it onto the Marketing Week list is Coca Cola’s holidays are coming campaign.  The main theme of the advert hasn’t changed over the years; it always proves popular and is now a Christmas mainstay.  Perhaps it works so well because it has run for so long and taps into our nostalgic memories, taking us back to a time in our lives that seemed so much better.  But, in 1993 Coca Cola dispensed with tradition and went with polar bears settling down to watch the Northern Lights with a bottle of ‘the real thing’.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without chocolates and Quality Street makes it onto the Marketing Week list with its 30-second magic moments lollipop lady advert.  It’s heart warming and amusing, not least because of the way the wee lad nonchalantly shrugs his shoulders and says: “It’s OK”.  At what other time of the year apart from Christmas would you eat Ferrero Rocher?  Whether it is at a diplomat’s party or just round at your friends, Ferrero Rocher’s adverts always at least raise a smile.  Back in 1985 Cadbury’s said thank you very much very simply with this 10-second Roses advert.  A short and simple advert with a memorable jingle!

One brand whose Christmas adverts didn’t rely on a memorable jingle, but instead used a cracking Christmas hit, was Andrex.  The toilet roll manufacturer used Slade’s ‘So here it is merry Christmas’ as the backing track to its festive campaign while a Labrador puppy darted about in the snow chasing toilet paper and a duck skidded on ice.  Cuddly and amusing, but it also reinforced the age old message that a puppy is for life and not just for Christmas.

Staying on a canine theme; whatever you do don’t forget a present for your four-legged friend.  Pedigree ran a very clever campaign about a dog getting revenge on its owner when they forgot about it at Christmas.  So be warned, don’t miss your pooch off the Christmas list or this could happen!

Just as we publish this story news is reaching us of HMV’s 2012 campaign.  Nipper the dog is coming to life alongside his best friend Gramophone in a series of 11 animated spots.  The humorous Christmas Tales campaign is a departure from HMV’s previously product and price focussed advertising.  From those we’ve seen online the short ads have made us chuckle.

An extra stocking filler

Still in need of more Christmas adverts?  There are more on the Thinkbox website and if you search for UK Christmas adverts on YouTube, this selection box appears.  And, if you’re now singing ‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ to yourself, here’s Bing Crosby’s version.

Happy shopping and remember, just like John Lewis’ snowman, it is always better to give than to receive!

The ultimate advertising campaign

Advertising is an important part of the communications mix. And nowhere is it presence more greatly felt right now than in the United States of America.  As President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney continue to battle it out in the lead up to the November presidential elections, research groups estimate the overall price tag for the elections may be in the region of $5.8bn, with up to $1.1bn of this being spent on political advertising.

US flagSpending is most prolific in the handful of competitive states that are most likely to determine the contest outcome; Florida tops this list with spending in excess of $150m by both sides so far.

This picture is in stark contrast to the situation here in the United Kingdom, where our total spending in the last general election two years ago was £31m ($49m)  and airtime for party political broadcasts is free – it cannot be bought – and tightly restricted.

With many Americans already disillusioned with the relentless campaigning, is this really money well spent?  Some political scientists believe that voters make their choice not on ad campaigns or electioneering but instead on a small number of key “fundamentals” such as the economy.  Furthermore, it is rare for people to change their party affiliation, so the small pool of persuadable voters can be as little as 2-3%.

And this, in essence, is why these billions of dollars are being spent.  The 2012 race is set to be extremely close and tiny margins can be the difference between winning and losing.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and author of ‘Packaging the Presidency’ sums the situation up.

“Money matters,” she says starkly.  “You would be giving up the election if you decided to stop advertising.”