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…?


Innes Associates helps to mark some milestones

Innes Associates at 10It seems that 2013 is quite a good year to be celebrating an anniversary in Aberdeen.  This  year Innes Associates celebrates a decade a business and we’re not alone in reaching a significant milestone.

Also celebrating ten years in business are subsea intervention firm Bibby Offshore and Belmont Street eatery Books and Beans.  Others who are blowing out candles on the top of their tenth birthday cakes are the Press & Journal’s monthly Energy supplement and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce’s Northern Star Business Awards.

This year marks 40 years since the first Offshore Europe exhibition and conference was staged in the city.  Originally held at the University of Aberdeen and called Offshore Scotland, the event has grown into the largest oil and gas production event in the eastern hemisphere.  This year’s event is expected to attract over 1,500 exhibitors and welcome around 50,000 visitors over its four days.

Another Aberdeen business celebrating a major landmark is Roustabout Energy International, one of the leading oil and gas publications in north-east Scotland.  Its first magazine came off the printing press in September 1972 and nearly 41 years later its 500th edition has just been printed.  Thanks to modern technology you don’t have to have a printed copy to be able toread it as its digital version can be read on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone.

Charlie Innes

Charlie Innes, managing director, Innes Associates

It was this combination of advancing technology and significant milestones that led to Innes Associates managing director Charlie Innes putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to look at how technology and the way we communicate has evolved over the past 40 years.  From telex machines to touchscreens and tablets, and how jobs in the oil industry have changed, are all covered.  To read the full article and have a look at the new look Roustabout Energy International has received to mark the 500th issue visit their website.  You might also spot a dashing young Charlie Innes!

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.

A modern day scrapbook

PinterestThe way we plan our lives and communicate with each other has changed considerably over the last 20 years or so.  The internet has revolutionised the way we interact and share experiences with family, friends, work colleagues, and people we don’t know.

Social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have all become part of our daily online routine.  Even the business community has got in on the act to with LinkedIn, which now has over 200 million users.

But one site that really took off in 2012 was Pinterest.  At the start of the year it was relatively unknown, but by the summer more was being heard about it and by the autumn Pinterest had 25.3 million unique visitors.

So what is Pinterest and why is it proving so popular?

Launched in 2010, the best way to think of Pinterest is as the modern day version of the scrapbook you had as a child.  Like a virtual magpie you can seek out things on the internet that you find interesting and ‘pin’ them to your own site.  It provides us with a window into each other’s lives through image and video.

Pinterest lets users organise collections of images from across the web under different boards or categories, whether that is fashion, arts and crafts, or cooking.  These boards and pins can then be liked and shared by other users who are looking for inspiration.

At one time access to the site was restricted to invitation only, but this has been lifted and now anyone can visit the site and find inspiration.  The site is more widely used by females than males.  This is probably unsurprising when you consider that as children, boys are less likely to use scrapbooks than girls.

Pinterest - a modern scrapbook

An electronic version of your old scrapbook

What sort of inspiration can it provide?

The sky really is the limit.  If you browse through the site you’ll see that ideas range from the mundane to the zany.  If you’re planning an event or a wedding there is plenty of inspiration for invitations, decorations, gifts, cakes and much more.

Perhaps it’s ideas for work lunches you’re after, would you have thought of a salad in a jar?  Or why not give your old photographs a modern up to date twist by remaking them – simply take the people who feature in them back to the location and capture the scene again.  The site can also provide product inspiration by throwing up a wider range of ideas than a normal Google search.

Can businesses benefit?

The simple answer is yes.  Because Pinterest allows people to pin items to the site that they’ve found on other websites and these are linked back to the original source.  For example, if you saw a piece of furniture on someone’s Pinterest board that you liked, you could click on the image and it would take you to the original source, such as John Lewis, where you could then buy the piece of furniture.

Originally the site only allowed personal accounts, but recently it introduced business accounts to allow businesses to better engage with their Pinterest audience.  Pinterest has also produced a set of guidelines to help businesses provide relevant content to the site’s users and not just bombard them with product advertising.

If your business is planning an office redesign, looking to build a new website, organising an event, or just looking for some creative ideas, Pinterest can provide plenty of inspiration.

So visit Pinterest, find inspiration and get pinning; it’s much safer than scissors and glue!

Sending Christmas Cards

100_5817_1The tree may not yet be up, but the next stage of Christmas is well under way here at Innes Associates – the task of sending out Christmas cards.  As writer’s cramp has set in, we thought we’d rest the pen for a moment and give our fingers a workout on the keyboard by investigating the tradition of festive card giving.


The tradition of sending good wishes goes back many centuries.  There is evidence of printed cards being produced in Germany in the 14th century, where images were carved onto wooden blocks that were then covered in ink and used to print on paper.

Sir Henry Cole is credited with devising the concept of sending a greetings card at Christmas.  The first Christmas card was illustrated in May 1843 by John Callcott Horsley.  The picture, a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial.  Two batches of 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each, which in Victorian times wasn’t cheap.

However, the idea caught on and children – including Queen Victoria’s – were encouraged, Blue Peter style, to make their own Christmas cards.  The early Victorian era also saw industrial colour printing technology becoming more advanced, meaning the cost of producing cards dropped significantly.  Together with the introduction of the halfpenny postage rate, the Christmas card industry took off.  By the end of the 1880s sending cards had become very popular, creating an industry that in 1880 produced 11.5million cards.

The advent of postcards spelt the end of elaborate Victorian-style cards, but by the 1920s, the popularity of cards with envelopes was on the rise.  Modern technology has also had a go at killing off the Christmas card.  The internet and e-mail has led to the introduction of e-cards and many companies, and individuals, now plump for this option at Christmas.

E-cards versus real cards

Over the next few weeks your inbox will be pinging to the sound of many e-cards arriving and then entertaining you with static content or an all singing all dancing festive production featuring Santa Claus and Rudolf.  But once you’ve enjoyed it, you’ll probably hit delete and consign the sender’s yuletide wishes to the digital recycling bin.

Instead why not let the festive cheer that you send out remain around the recipient’s office for more than a few minutes?  Over the years at Innes Associates we have posted charity cards and sent e-cards, but this year we’ve gone for the custom-designed card that follows the style of our brochure.  They’ll be hitting the bottom of a post box in the next few days, before starting their journey to the offices of our clients, suppliers and contacts.  Instead of the ping of the incoming e-card, our recipients will enjoy the thud of a real card landing on their doormat or desk that will, hopefully, take pride of place for many weeks.  They might even think about us when they take their cards down in the New Year.

With more e-mails being sent by companies – some legitimate and informative, others just downright annoying – our inboxes are becoming clogged up.  Whereas if something arrives through the post personally addressed to us, we will usually take time to open it and read it – as long as it’s not a bill and doesn’t look like junk mail.

Christmas card recycling

Christmas card recycling

Although some people have concerns that printing, mailing and delivering cards is detrimental to the environment, many cards are now printed on recycled paper and several large retailers have card recycling points in their stores each January.  Another green option is to use your old cards as shopping lists.  We’ve designed our cards to have lots of white space on the back so they can be used for this purpose!

Posting cards also supports the economy and creates thousands of jobs.  Royal Mail recruits 18,000 additional staff at Christmas time to handle more than 130million items of festive mail each day, which is nearly double the amount it usually handles.

The era of the Christmas card is certainly not over, 2011 saw a 3% rise in card sales compared with 2009.  And although the cost of postage has increased, consider sending cards as an investment in maintaining relationships with clients, suppliers and other contacts.

So why not send a card, put a smile on someone’s face and support the Great British economy in the process.  After all, Christmas is about giving.

Some facts about Christmas cards

  • The tradition of sending and displaying cards is stronger in Britain than any other country.  The sending and receiving of cards is an important part of our culture.
  • The world’s most expensive Christmas card cost £22,250.  It wasn’t diamond encrusted, but an original card from 1843 sold at auction in 2001.
  • It is estimated that £50million is raised each year for good causes through the sales of charity Christmas cards.
  • If you were to purchase an 1843 one shilling Christmas card, it would cost around £3.52 in today’s money according to the Measuring Worth website.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s smallest Christmas card was created in Glasgow in 2010.  You would need a high power microscope to view the card as it measures just 200 x 290 microcentimetres, and 8,276 cards would fit on one postage stamp.
  • In the 12 years that the Woodland Trust has run its Christmas card recycling scheme, more than 600million cards have been recycled.

TECH TALK: Phones get smarter

SmartphonesIn our Jubilee newsletter we focused on smart TV, this time around it is the turn of smartphones. Although smartphones are firmly embedded in our day-to-day lives (while smart TV is an emerging technology), innovation continues in this area with the major brands scrambling to capture market share. A recent article from Business Insider about Apple’s new iPhone 5 provoked a lively debate, with many focusing on the size difference between the iPhone and the latest offering from rival Samsung, the Galaxy S3. So does size matter? And, as touched on during the debate, does Apple’s ‘ecosystem’ – its support network of stores, apps and related products – mean that many customers will remain loyal to the brand? The debate raises many interesting marketing issues in terms of new product development, branding and those intangible benefits that are often at the heart of a purchase decision.
At Innes Associates, we enjoy working with clients to ensure that their businesses make the most of all the exciting technology we now have at our fingertips. When we develop a new website, for example, we can ensure that it is ‘responsive’ – meaning it will adapt to being viewed on different platforms such as mobile ‘phones and tablets. Although the channels through which we communicate are becoming ever more sophisticated, our goal remains the same: To get our clients’ messages across in an accessible and appropriate manner.
Read the full Business Insider article here.

Tech Talk: TV’s getting Smart

The goggle box has come an awful long way since Scottish engineer John Logie Baird demonstrated the first mechanical television system in January 1926.  Today, it has moved on greatly from the set that was encased in a wooden cupboard and made to look like a piece of furniture that sat in the corner of the living room and which everyone crowded round to watch just two channels.  With hundreds of channels, multiple sets in houses, 3D capability and online streaming, television viewing has been transformed.

Smart TV is on the rise, bringing internet connectivity to your TV screen, allowing you to surf the net, chat on Skype or stream rental films directly onto your living room’s big screen.

You are able to hook your Smart TV up to the internet either through an Ethernet connection to your Broadband hub, or wirelessly, as most sets come Wi-Fi ready.  To make the most of your online viewing experience the experts recommend that you have a minimum 2Mb internet connection.

Just like anything, the cheaper models will have more limited capabilities, while top of the range sets come fully loaded with all sorts of kit and their price will reflect this.

But why do we need internet on our TVs?  Well, we’ve all done it; sat in our living room watching The Apprentice on the TV while our laptop sits on our knees plugged into Facebook and we chat to our friends about the latest escapades of those vying for Lord Sugar’s attention!  Smart TV allows all of this to happen on your TV screen without the need to have your laptop sitting making your legs get hotter and hotter as it starts to overheat.  Currently only some models are fitted with social networking functionality.

The TVs are also be able to ‘talk’ to some of the other gadgets and devices that are around your home.  For example you can wirelessly send photos and music from your mobile phone to your TV screen.

So instead of shutting away your TV set in a cupboard, it looks like your TV will continue to be your window on the world and play an even more important part in your life going forward.  A final question remains unanswered though: what will our TV be able to do next?