Blog : Digital

Halloween brand watch

Halloween brand watch

Whether you’re the person that puts on a pair of mouse ears and calls it a costume, or goes all out to hand-make a 3D cupcake costume that looks great but means you can’t sit down all night (yes, I am the latter), we can all appreciate good Halloween jesting.

It’s the one night a year when every brand, no matter what they’re selling, can show their creative and personable side by giving a nod to All Hallows Eve. Social media is the perfect platform for pushing these out and driving traffic, and Twitter in particular has been rife with spooky videos, pictures and hashtags.

These are some of my favourite contenders from this year.

Google
Google Halloween 2015
Always a fan of a Google Doodle, in the name of research this morning I spent a solid five minutes playing their Halloween flying game. Aimed at either children or bored office workers, it’s an interactive winner. I racked up a high score of 350. Beat that.


Cadbury Chocolate
Cadbury Halloween 2015
For excellent use of a hashtag and for uniting the nation over some of our favourite fallen (confectionery) heroes, Cadbury have made the list for #CadburyCraveyard. This social competition features cute stop-motion and animated videos and gives people the chance to win a limited edition rerun bar of Fuse or Marble. But what about Creme Egg Twisted, Cadbury?! When will it be making comeback? That’s the real question.


Tesco
Tesco Halloween 2015
Up next it’s Tesco’s social campaign – ‘Introducing Spookermarket’. Torn between wanted to see this in my local branch and knowing that I would definitely be the person who loses the plot, mows down fellow shoppers with my trolley and bolts after even the tamest of scares. It’s a great, family friendly one and the hidden cameras capture the hilarity.


Chipotle
Chipotle Halloween 2015
Americans generally put us to shame when it comes to all things Halloween and this is no different. Purveyors of fine Mexican food, Chipotle have expanded on their usual #Boorito costume competition to create the Endless Line video. This is tongue-in-cheek, Halloween with a heart. Poking fun at tasteless, processed fast food, it’s dry, hilarious and well worth a watch.


Adobe
Adobe Halloween 2015
Hands down winner of Halloween from now and until the end of time is Adobe for their #ScaredSheetless campaign. As a company that I get weekly updates from on my laptop, but aren’t entirely sure what they do, I am so impressed by this camp and hilarious video. It’s a great take on their mission to rid the work-place of paper. Love!

Just for good measure here’s a video of a pug dressed as a ghost. You’re welcome.

Happy Halloween!

Instagram launches new mini moments video app Boomerang

It’s gidday from Instagram as it unveils its newly launched app Boomerang.

The new, stand-alone app allows users to create low effort, mini videos of moments that play forward and backward, providing a GIF-like feel. Although Instagram is trying to steer us away from viewing the content format in the same light, suggesting “a boomerang” provides something a bit more “special and unexpected”.

In this new format, Instagram is encouraging users to capture a moment and let it come alive again and again on loop. Instagram want you to “transform an ordinary selfie with your friends into a funny video. Get that exact moment your friend blows out his birthday candles, then watch them come back to life again and again”. The experimental videos will be enabled for direct upload to Instagram and Facebook via the Boomerang app but the videos will also be saved to your own camera roll.

In today’s digital age, Instagram, one of the fastest growing social media networks of all time, knows only too well its need to compete with other social media platforms in bringing users new ways in which to publish content. Providing users with new ways of portraying and publishing their lives more creatively is one of the challenges given to all of the big players in social today.

Boomerang’s attempt to facilitate fun, mini moments will no doubt be a hit with users due to the minimal effort required from users to capture a moment in time. The only possible downside being that the functionality of Boomerang video comes from a separate app rather than living in the current Instagram app itself. Maybe something Instagram will merge over time.

To see how the app works, you can watch Instagram video on it in the blog post.

Stripe expands digital skill set

Stripe expands digital skill set

To strengthen our integrated communications offering we’re excited to announce some new players that have joined the team.

Stripe has appointed a Digital Strategist, Designer and Digital Account Manager to further enhance the digital experience for our clients across all sectors and specialisms. Reporting into Digital Director, Darcie Tanner, the new roles are a strong mix of adding both new digital expertise to the mix, as well as increasing the skill set within the current team.

Emily Puddephatt joins Stripe as our Digital Strategist. Emily was previously at DigitasLBi/Lost Boys, bringing five years’ experience working on award-winning cross-digital projects, ranging from community management, influencer outreach and social operations through to full social and integrated strategy for clients such as Nissan, Interactive Investor, SAB Miller, BBC Worldwide and UGG Australia.

Hannah Murray joins Stripe as a Digital Account Manager, also from DigitasLBi where she spent three years working across the search (SEO) side of the business, with a focus on social search campaigns for UK and international clients such as Danone, Europcar and award-winning work for Premier Inn.

Rachel Patrick, designer (with digital design expertise), joins the team after working in the Digital Directorate of The Scottish Government, prior to which she worked agency side and has experience working with IRN-BRU, The Royal Mail, Glasgow 2014 and Nandos.

Our digitally integrated accounts have more than doubled in the last 12 months and there is no doubt in what direction the market is going. These new appointments allow us to continue to exceed client expectations and deliver a strong, creatively driven approach that builds upon and broadens our capabilities in today’s increasingly competitive and connected world.

Stripe’s expertise in digital has been recognised most recently with shortlistings in the Social Buzz Awards and UK Social Media Communications Awards and our addition to The Drum’s Digital Census.

You can see a full list of the Stripe crew on our Stripe People page.

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

My Digital Day take-outs: Tackle the big questions first

By 11am last Thursday there was some pretty big questions being asked of the delegates at the Marketing Society Scotland’s Digital Day 2015. Namely, how do you want to change the world? We’re talking in the context of brands here so not me personally, but even still. My exact thoughts in response were: Coffee. First. Please.

The speaker was Andre Campbell, Global Manager of Integrated Digital Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Microsoft and despite the enormity of that specific question he was doing a pretty slick job of convincing us that really, if you can’t answer that question then your brand is going to lack purpose. And these days it’s ALL about the purpose (Note: purpose, not proposition).

Andre is a really passionate speaker and got me thinking about how important it is to tackle these tricky questions up front and put them at the heart of how we, as marketers, build brands. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive world then you need to be so much more that ‘just another great product’. That helps of course, but it’s not everything – in fact, far from it. Brands need to show heart. Lots of heart.

I had a discussion with a colleague a couple of days before where her words echoed a similar sentiment – ‘start with the heart and the rest will follow’ and she’s right. Create a purposeful brand that stands for something. Evoke emotion. Take action. Win hearts and minds. Sounds good, right?

So how does this translate to content – today people want more from their brand and therefore more from their content. Andre states quite simply ‘build stories that matter’. This sounds like common sense to me but this stuff needs to be said out loud, because, well, sometimes common sense isn’t that common. And you only have to look at your own social media feeds to see the brands guilty of churning out content that does not matter.

Having said that there’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty awesome – Andre cited the Nike ‘We Own the Night’ campaign. I love this. They totally nailed it. Nike created a meaningful space for its female fans – it invested time and energy in them and the result was gold for everyone. I’m just gutted I wasn’t there.

For me, what this comes back to is thinking about the quality of content – Nathalie Nahi touched on this in her workshop around the science of online persuasion – and Tom Ollerton of WeAreSocial discussed it more detail asking another big question of the day, ‘if you stopped doing social now – why would anyone miss you?’. Yikes. So you can be timely, relevant, informative and entertaining but to really succeed you need to give your fans a reason to miss you – give them the content that they can’t get anywhere else. While exclusives are nothing new, we need to think hard about the audiences and channels we apply them on.

Digital Day 2015 definitely threw-up lots to think about relating to the role of content in building a really strong brand led-business. But for me it was all about the big questions. I was so intrigued that evening I asked my six year old how he wanted to change the world. His answer: make a donut robot. When I asked why, he simply said, can you imagine how happy everyone would be. Start with the heart and the rest will follow, maybe it is that simple.

Stripe secures Midori UK digital & PR brief

Stripe secures Midori UK digital & PR brief

We’re raising a glass here at Stripe after being appointed by Maxxium UK to handle digital and PR services for its melon liqueur brand Midori.

Fact: the distinctive green liqueur was first launched in 1978 at the legendary Studio 54 – arguably the world’s most famous nightclub in its day.

We’ll be shaking up a cocktail of digital and social strategy development, community management, CRM and influencer outreach as well as traditional consumer and trade PR and communications.

It’s all aimed at building awareness among the core consumer targets to strengthen the brand’s emotional connection with fans.

Maxxium’s Nick Barker, who is Brand Manager – liqueurs, had this to say about us: “Stripe’s pitch demonstrated a thorough understanding of the Midori brand and target audience. They have created a compelling digital and comms strategy to help us deliver, and it’s great to have them on board”.

It’s an exciting brief – cheers!

Magfest 2015 – Create Inspire Evolve

Magfest 2015 – Create Inspire Evolve

On Friday 18th September we headed to Edinburgh’s Surgeon’s Hall for the fourth PPA Scotland Magfest. A day of presentations, discussions and celebrations of all things magazine. In 2015, this means not just chatting print, but addressing the various communications channels and challenges that modern publishing is presented with.

Create

Magfest 2015 kicked off with Cannes Lions CEO Phil Thomas tackling the topic of creativity head on. ‘Any brand can be creative’ he said, and the award winners at Cannes Lions illustrate this as well as anything else. Just consider the now infamous Volvo trucks spot featuring Jean Claude Van Damme – the biggest winner the festival has seen yet, despite the distinctly ‘unsexy’ product. Creativity matters not just because it can be a force for change and for good, but because it directly drives higher ROI for businesses. This is important for brands to get their heads around, and for the agencies that work with them to reiterate. Not their capacity to be creative – all know this, though not all apply it – but the evidence that great creative work itself delivers higher share value and drives long term business impact. Bravery pays off.

This sentiment was echoed by several other speakers. For BBC Worldwide, creativity is part of how they do business, not something they apply from time to time. Marcus Arthur explained that the BBC Worldwide team know that if they’re creative and build the reputation of the BBC then financial success will take care of itself. This focus on being creative and getting the best ideas to come to fruition delivers better results than focussing on the finances as the sole end in themselves.

Driving Online revenue Panel Discussion at Magfest 2015

Throughout the day the spectre of ‘disruption’ was present: disruption of the publishing industry, of TV, culture, advertising models, customer loyalty and news discovery. For the BBC, as for many of the other businesses in attendance, creativity has been what has allowed them to overcome some of the challenges that disruption has created and led to new and exciting outcomes they perhaps had not anticipated.

Inspire

Disruption need not be seen as a negative force, but an opportunity that should inspire change. For example, the last few years have seen ever more conversations about the ‘death’ of newspapers and the decline of print, but to paraphrase Francesco Franchi of IL magazine, “it’s not that newspapers are dying, it’s that one way of making newspapers is coming to an end”. This is by no means unique to the newspaper business, and how individual companies react and adapt is helping to inspire others and shape the long term future of a swathe of industries.

Evolve

To mitigate some of the risk that goes hand in hand with treading new ground, more and more publishers and brands are looking at how they can intelligently apply data. Our own Darcie Tanner spoke about how organisations of any size can make sense of ‘big data’ and draw useful insights from the mass of information out there and data got called out as a priority consideration in a number of talks throughout the day.

Darcie Tanner, Stripe Communications at Magfest 2015

Kerin O’Connor revealed some of the ways they’ve used data at The Week to inform their evolved print and digital model and consistently grown both strands by ensuring they really understand their audience. With staggering renewal figures and a progressive test and learn approach to new activity, they’re continuing to see returns and have sidestepped the issues that have affected many peer publications.

Kerin O'Connor, The Week at Magfest 2015

Understanding your audience was also at the core of Mimi Turner‘s session, where she discussed how The LAD Bible has come to know more about the tricky to reach 18-24 males group in the UK than perhaps any other organisation. With a reflective, community led proposition they are committed to going where their audience directs them and making it easy for them to find what they want. She advocated a shift for publishers from being ‘doers’ (which is a role now belonging to the audience) to being listeners. This is a tricky notion for some brands and publishing businesses to apply, having kept customers and audiences at a distance from the inner workings of their business , but if they’re to succeed in a modern, integrated communications landscape then it’s something that can’t be ignored.

What was clear from all of the speakers and the discussions amongst attendees was that the sector isn’t sitting still and there’s a lot of positivity about what the future might hold. With so much changing and so much interesting work happening to meet the challenges this brings, it’s an exciting time to be involved in publishing.

A Round Up of 360D: Insights from the Digital Community

A Round Up of 360D: Insights from the Digital Community

On Thursday 3rd September, a few of the Stripes journeyed to the 36OD digital conference at the SECC in Glasgow. Hosted by some of the biggest thought leaders in the digital and tech landscape, the all-day event promised to make our heads hurt with information overload. From learning about the BBC’s commitment to facilitating a coding education for the next generation to the insights and advice from some of Scotland’s newest and most ambitious digital start-ups, the day did not disappoint.

Kicking off with a Buzz

The morning started with the Director for Brand Strategy Europe at Buzzfeed, David Pugh-Jones talking about what great content looks like and what it should achieve. Given that 75% of Buzzfeed’s content is found via social media, it’s clear that while great content is paramount for the content publishers, distribution is also at the forefront of the business success. One of the key differentiations David made was the distinction between creating content that is to be consumed versus content that they want to communicate and start a conversation with. Does this fit in to his approach of content being optimised for the share rather than the like? Well, it’s certainly demonstrating where he feels his priorities are which is in getting people talking and engaging with their content, not just resonating with it and hitting “like”.

One key aspect Buzzfeed is building upon is the move to talking about and creating content on a more serious tone e.g. breaking news. We have probably begun to see content from Buzzfeed in the wake of tragedies such as the recent Virginia journalist shootings. The question was asked, can Buzzfeed really have an authoritative voice on serious breaking news when its rise to fame is associated with posts about the 10 cutest cats? Interestingly, David claimed that it is easier for someone like Buzzfeed to go from funny to serious than it is for other well established news publications to do it the other way round.

Making it digital with the BBC

Jessica Cecil from the BBC gave an insight into the changes in digital behaviour for the next generation. The BBC is working to ensure children in the UK are receiving the support they need to take on a digital role in future employment. One way they’re hoping to achieve this is by gifting first year pupils across the country with a micro:bit – which is in short, a pocket-sized code-able computer. More children are not just playing games but they are also creating them, showcasing the intuitive learning behaviours young people are demonstrating today. The hope is to create a lasting impact on the future of digital in the UK and really ensure that we are at the forefront of the industry worldwide. With the BBC committed to helping children become efficient in coding, I would anticipate the future digital talent pool to get bigger and better – something all organisations should be excited about.

Money on the mind with Visa Europe Collab

On to the world of finance, Steve Perry, founder of Visa Europe Collab, spoke about the new international innovation hub that he is leading. Visa Europe Collab has been built in order to find the most promising ideas in financial technology and to make them a reality. Steve is passionate about working with promising start ups who offer valuable and innovative payment solutions. The way he sees it, making a payment should be as easy as breathing, so if don’t notice payment technology or a solution from Visa in the checkout process, Perry doesn’t care that you don’t notice it’s Visa that made your life easier. In his view, Visa are doing their job well if you don’t know you are using one of their solutions or technology.

But that’s not all…

The afternoon saw us treated to a pitch/advice session from some of Scotland’s emerging digital entrepreneurs, including Cally Russell, the 27 year old founder of “tinder for fashion” app Mallzee who also featured on Dragon’s Den. What all these innovators have in common, is an opportunity to disrupt the current digital landscape, dictate the direction and lead from their point of view. Whether it be changing the way people shop or utilising online returns data to provide actionable insights for businesses, the panel provided great insight into their individual journeys’ towards success.

The conference demonstrated just how ambitious Scotland is in shaping and disrupting the digital landscape. One key comment from the Jon Bradford of Techstars was his belief that it is companies and start-ups who look to “what’s next” that will flourish ahead of copying what’s trending in the digital world. With well-established digital powerhouses such as Sky Scanner and Fan Duel headquartered here in Edinburgh, and the entrepreneurial spirit coming to fruition in the form of emerging and innovative tech start-ups, Scotland’s role in defining what’s next in digital looks promising.

Turing Festival 2015: full stack marketing

Turing Festival 2015: full stack marketing

“As a general rule, everyone wants to be liked. Brands are no different because they’re created, represented and employed by people.” That was my Friday night take-away from the Turing Festival 2015, Edinburgh’s international technology festival.

For one weekend in Edinburgh, big hitters from across the technology industry share their inspirations, pet hates and hot tips on a range of topics. Friday was ‘full stack marketing’ day – from SEO to audience analysis and online behaviours. Headliners included Cyrus Shepard from Moz, Oli Gardner from Unbounce and Phil Nottingham from Wistia. The audience went wild when Rand Fishkin presented a ‘Whiteboard Friday’ especially for the festival.

With hundreds of tech-heads in one room, my expectation was impenetrable jargon and hours of discussion about algorithms and the merits of SEO. I was right – there was jargon, algorithm chat and SEO celebration, but dominating it all was the idea that the biggest challenge facing the communications industry is the need to ‘humanise’ brands and their digital presence. Sound familiar? “We humanise brands” has been Cello Signal’s tagline since 2014.

It’s not a new topic. Since computers started infiltrating customer services in the 1960s there’s been theorising that faceless industry puts off consumers. With every brand now competing for their piece of ‘digital space’, it’s never been more important to come across as honest, trustworthy and ‘real’ to customers.

The problem (and opportunity) for the comms industry is that so many businesses are doing it badly. Atrociously. Abominably. Unforgivably boringly. How often do you pointedly ignore Facebook posts from a sponsored brand that does nothing but switch you off?

Mark Johnstone from Distilled summed it up when he questioned “why will anyone care?” As communications consultants, it’s our job to take a step back, stop, play devil’s advocate and assess the psychology behind consumers’ experiences and perceptions of a brand and its messages. Without that research and assessment, there’s nothing to base a strategy on.

The inconvenience is that there isn’t a silver bullet. It takes time, effort and (usually) money to understand your customers; their likes, dislikes, behaviour, mood swings, passions, schedule and tolerance. It’s like they’re real people… because they are real people. To get a real person on your side takes time, effort and (usually) a bit of money.

It’s heart-warming to think that even in the most advanced technological age, we can still say the easiest way to build trust in a brand is by making people feel special and understood.

As a complete aside… thanks to the speakers at Turing Fest for an inspiring event. And to the guys at Codebase and Stipso for organising it.

Say hello to a new look Stripe

Say hello to a new look Stripe

When you first start up a business, it’s amazing how much time you spend agonising over the name, creating the perfect identity and defining your brand. And whilst your external image is hugely important, you very quickly realise that it’s the people you employ and the work you do that defines you. Because brands are lived from the inside out, not the outside in.

In the nine years since we started up Stripe a huge amount has changed, not just for us as a business but to the market in which we’re operating. We’ve not only survived, but thrived during a recession, we’ve experienced phenomenal growth, won countless awards and have supported our people to grow and develop.

It’s not always been easy, but despite all the change we’ve always had a very strong sense of what it means to be Stripey both for our people and for our clients. This has been our constant and I believe it’s what’s kept us on track.

As we look towards the future, Stripe is undeniably evolving. With the worlds of traditional PR and digital blurring, we’ve made a huge investment upskilling the entire agency to become digitally equipped – providing clients with one team to deliver compelling content and engagement across their PR and digital channels. We are no longer a team of PR professionals, we are a team of digitally savvy communicators.

So now feels like the perfect time to unveil a new Stripe brand. It’s been shaped by our values, our culture and heroes what we believe sets us apart – our people. And whilst on the outside the way we look is very different, the essence of what it means to be Stripey remains the same.

As we look towards the future there’s no doubt that there’s even more change to come but we’re absolutely ready for it.

A toast: Stripe to deliver digital & PR services for Burn Stewart malts

A toast: Stripe to deliver digital & PR services for Burn Stewart malts

We’ve a hugely exciting brief here at Stripe after securing the account to deliver digital and PR services for Burn Stewart Distillers’ malt whisky brands.

Burn Stewart Distillers is part of the Distell Group Limited, Africa’s leading producer and marketer of spirits, fine wines, ciders and ready to drinks. The company owns and operates three malt distilleries: Bunnahabhain (Islay), Tobermory & Ledaig (Mull) and Deanston (Doune, near Stirling). It has a blending and maturation facility in Airdrie, a bottling hall and dry and finished goods storage site in East Kilbride, and operates a sales and marketing branch in Taiwan.

We’ll be working with the team at Burn Stewart to deliver global digital and PR activity across its Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory (including Ledaig) brands.

Our remit will cover: digital and social strategy development, web optimisation, design and e-commerce, community engagement, CRM and influencer outreach and management of traditional PR and events.

Activity across the three brands will centre on showcasing each malt’s personality and optimising owned channels to create a compelling user experience for domestic and international markets.

As our Digital Director Darcie Tanner put it: “Each Burn Stewart brand is rich in storytelling potential, making this a really exciting brief.”