Influencers Worthy of a Follow

It’s no secret that social media and PR has become inundated with influencer marketing. With YouTubers and bloggers making more money than most upcoming musicians, artists and actors, this is a sector not to be ignored. In a recent study Influencer Marketing Hub found that the market size of ‘influencer marketing’ in 2018 was said to be worth $4.6 billion and set to rise to $6.5 billion in 2019. Figures more than doubled from 2017, suggesting that this market is likely to keep growing and growing.

In a world full of “famous” people who were made rich through selling charcoal teeth whitening strips or selling their soul on Love Island it’s hard to tell who’s actually genuine and worthy of that follow. Believe me, I watch Love Island as much as the next person but do I think they are the most authentic salespeople? No, probably not. Maybe we should look at some of those influential content creators who’ve spent years of their life building their brand on YouTube, blogging or creating products and deserve a little bit more of our respect?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influencer Insights 2017-19 Studies

 

While it’s very easy to critique these so-called ‘influencers’, they are beginning to have a direct impact on our lives and if you work in this industry you’re more than likely going to be dealing with them at some point in your career. In 2017, Influencer Insights conducted a survey that found 47% of people turned to social media to research a brand. This is a huge element to consider when deciding what influencers to work with.

In Influencer Insights’ first study in 2017 they likened influencer marketing to word-of-mouth marketing with an updated twist. This is a very interesting outlook which forces us to ask if the novelty of influencers is their ability to relate to their consumer? And will we see this change as the years go on and honest opinions perhaps become less authentic? Only time will tell.

Influencer Insights

So, we should follow those people who drive important conversations, influencers and brands that are transparent with their sponsorships, people who create original content and ultimately those who are morally ethical with their posts (maybe not those promoting detox ‘skinny teas’). As when an influencer aligns their marketing methods with their own key values the brands they’re working with are introduced to a huge, yet targeted, segment of the market. Not only should we, as PR practitioners, choose carefully the people we work with, those people should too choose their brands appropriately and selectively.

Below is a list I’ve compiled of people that have stood out in a saturated but ever-growing industry, as well as their current Insta stats;

@Uhnonee- 131K followers

Oenone is a British personal trainer, influencer, activist, podcaster and blogger. With ‘The Tiny Tank’ as her original Insta handle, she is a ‘tiny’ girl with lots to say. She openly admits being brainwashed by social media in her earlier days and continuously calls out myths being marketed online. Upon listening to her podcast ‘Adulting’ I have learned so much about feminism, socialism and it’s really opened my eyes to the privileges I have in society. Oenone is unique, well-spoken and comes across really genuine, making her channels a must-listen. Glancing quickly at her Instagram page you would think she’s just a normal fitness influencer but if you click onto the posts and read the captions she actually juxtaposes standard bikini posts with lengthy, motivational and often significant captions. She opens conversations and initiates discussions, something hugely important in today’s society.

@SammiMaria- 571K followers

Sustainable fashion is a huge, important topic at the moment and many influencers are starting to raise awareness where they can. Check out Sammi’s video explaining how she is trying to cut down her fashion footprint and also naming brands that do their best to reduce their environmental impact.

I started following Sammi (formerly ‘The Beauty Crush’) about 7 years ago now. Influencers weren’t a ‘thing’ when I first started watching YouTube and from following Sammi’s channel alone I have seen just how much this market has grown. Unlike Tanya Burr, Zoella and Fleur deForce I never really grew out of Sammi’s content. She has been transitional over the years and despite her own worries of not being ‘up-to-date’ with the algorithms, I really think she has done well. Speaking out about her own battles with anxiety, domestic abuse and bulimia she has shared a lot with her millions of followers. Her energy is radiating, she seems truly authentic and her child Indie is one of the cutest on YouTube (If you needed any more reasons to follow!)

@HealthyLittleLifter- 71K followers

For the fitness fanatics out there Aisling is a must-follow.

For some people following tons of fitness influencers may not be beneficial to their mental health, and we should be wary of that. But for people who are looking for that motivation to improve their diet and adopt a healthier lifestyle- follow Dr Aisling Gough. She’s from Belfast and is also a registered doctor with a wide range of knowledge to support her ideas, so I think we can trust her opinion. She posts infograms with truly useful tips, shows you how you can track a Boojum on a ‘diet’ and continuously links new medical studies to better inform her audience. Despite competing in WBFF she hasn’t let this alter her food mentality. This is certainly refreshing and Aisling is a great role model for people who have an interest in health and fitness.

@NellyLondon- 46K followers

Nelly is by no means a ‘larger model’ but she has curves and comes across more ‘real’ than many people on Insta. She was part of Missguided’s #MakeYourMark campaign and regularly speaks out about body confidence, her struggles with eating disorders and her radiating confidence is motivational.

@DrJoshuaWolrich- 137K followers

Joshua recently changed his Insta handle from @Unfattening to his real name. Contrary to the ‘Unfattening’ brand he actually posted nothing about weight loss. He used this trap to get people to his page, conversely trying to encourage an anti-weight loss mindset and bettering people’s attitudes towards foods.

Already a registered NHS doctor and a following that’s growing massively, Joshua is one to watch out for. After being introduced to him on Oenone’s podcast I started following and found his content really refreshing. I’ve already learned so much from his posts and he makes you think about why you call certain foods ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Not only does he correct popular misbeliefs, he also makes you aware of the fake news that circulates the internet in terms of fat loss. In terms of health these myths can be extremely detrimental to young people’s mental health and sometimes even dangerous. This is why accounts like Joshua’s are so important in 2019.

@JBone89- 141K followers

Jordan (or Jordan’s Beautiful Life for blog followers) is a blogger, YouTuber and author who suffered a car accident in 2005, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. She writes about the usual beauty, lifestyle and fashion topics while proving that influencers don’t always have to fit a certain mould. She’s inspiring to read and follow, check out Jordan’s Instagram page here.

@JameelaJamil- 1M followers

I’m sure you’ve already seen the radio presenter and actress’ #IWeigh campaign which already has over 342,000 followers on Instagram in itself. The campaign aims to encourage people to not base their self-worth on the number on a scale, instead weighing up other attributes of your life. Jameela is using her celebrity status coupled with her own overcoming of an eating disorder to call out celebrities and brands which aren’t doing enough. She’s even recently started a change.org campaign to ban celebrities promoting detox teas which you can view here. Definitely worthy of a follow.

@GraceFitUK- 1M followers

If you haven’t heard of Grace you must have been hiding under a rock for the past year as her brand has completely blown up with an Instagram that has just crept over 1 million followers. She’s a seemingly ‘normal’ girl from London who goes to university at Oxford, maintains friendships and has created a hugely successful but also sustainable fitness brand. At only 21 Grace really is one to watch.

From a career perspective Grace produces some really informative content. In a recent YouTube video talking about the ‘influencer’ job role I learned so much information about the career and how brands can work with these people. Not only did she speak about her own methods of gaining sponsorships and commission, she also videoed an hour-long discussion with other female fitness and beauty influencers speaking openly about how much they get paid, how brands can reach out to them and interesting secrets about the industry. From both a consumer and marketing perspective I found these videos really informative, open, honest and definitely worthy of a watch.

So, to conclude, as the number of influencers out there continues to rise make sure that if anyone you follow on Instagram is making you feel a certain way about yourself, is producing incorrect information or even making you feel like you need to buy something… delete them. It’s not worth it. There is a world of content out there on the internet and we should be using this upsurge in social media use to our advantage- challenging our minds, speaking out about things that need to be spoken about and ensuring we lead a path for generations below us. In an industry overcome with successful females we should be supporting those influencers who are making a difference instead of criticising the career as a whole. We can use this career shift to our advantage. As marketers, advertisers and PR professionals we are in charge of who our brands work with so let’s make sure each influencer we work with is a truly worthy role model.

 Source: Influencer Marketing Hub, influencermarketinghub.com

 

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

The evolution of Barbie: The brains behind the Blonde

The evolution of Barbie: The brains behind the Blonde

Like many young girls, growing up I was a typical ‘Barbie Girl’ (it’s almost impossible not to sing the famous line by Aqua in my head when writing that!). I loved everything pink and I proudly owned an army of Barbies, as well as all necessary accompanying accessories such as: the Barbie Dream House, the Barbie horse and carriage, the Barbie Beach Hut – the list is endless.

To my surprise, I discovered that this year on 9th March, Barbie will be turning 60 years old, with a not a wrinkle in sight. She really does live up to the saying: “Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!”. 

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Ruth and Elliot Handler co-founded Mattel Creations in 1945 and 14 years later in 1959, Ruth Handler created the Barbie doll. However, it’s no surprise that more than one billion Barbie dolls have been sold since she made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York on 9th March 1959. The Economic Times commented that despite fierce competition in the toy industry, 58 million Barbie’s are sold each year in more than 150 countries. In a growing generation of children’s obsession with iPads and tablets, Barbie has cemented herself as a staple toy for children and come a long way since her first model, pictured above.

Despite her years of success, Barbie has found herself under scrutiny for negatively influencing girls and portraying negative body expectations. Since her creation, it has been debated that Barbie is an unrealistic image of what the ‘average’ girl should look like, as well as failing to represent differences in race and colour. There is no need to question whether Barbie’s body shape is unrealistic. Researchers have reminded us that her proportions would occur in less than 1 in 100,000 adult women and that her waist is 20cm smaller than a reference group of anorexic patients. Most shocking of all, research also argues that if Barbie’s measurements resembled an actual woman, she would not be able to menstruate or even hold up her head.

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Mattel claims that the proportions were created for ease of dressing and undressing the doll, not replicating an adult figure. However, there is no such rationale for the very thin representation of Barbie in her TV show, movies, books, and range of online games. In all forms, Barbie represents a completely unattainable figure for adult women; leading parent’s to debate Barbie’s credibility as a role model. Negative connotations of ‘blonde’, ‘bimbo’ and ‘air-head’ also are associated with Barbie. Teen Talk Barbie in 1992 said phrases such as “Math class is tough”, with many arguing that Barbie discouraging young girls from academic ventures.

Now ask yourself this: how can Barbie represent and be relatable to the twenty-first century girl? Since 2000, Mattel have worked to keep the Barbie brand as relevant as ever to represent woman and remain on-trend. Although the typical ‘Barbie’ style consisted of blonde hair, blue eyed dolls, the first black Barbie called Christie was created in 1969, with Mattel showing exclusivity and diversity. The Barbie franchise today represents more than 40 different nationalities.

One campaign in particular that stood out for me in the evolution of Barbie occurred back in 2010 with American PR agency Ketchum West and Mattel. Mattel, along with Ketchum West, harnessed Barbie’s brand power by having the public choose her 126th career, with her past occupations including president and princess. However, over a million people voted for Computer Engineer Barbie in a campaign mixing the public’s love for Barbie with the movement to empower girls. In an inspired touch, the Society of Women Engineers and National Academy of Engineering helped create the doll’s look.

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Michelle Chidoni, VP of global brand communications at Mattel, said the company knew giving consumers a voice and delivering a doll they requested would drive earned media and create a conversation around the lack of women in STEM. “The conversation was extremely positive and underscored the brand’s purpose,” she noted. “When a girl plays with Barbie she imagines everything she can become.”

This campaign broke down the negative stereotypes associated with Barbie, emphasising that Barbie was more than just a fashion doll, but more so a positive role model for young girls. Blonde or brunette, slender or curvy, black or white, princess or president, Barbie is a forever favourite for young girls, and this campaign has helped influence future PR campaigns for Barbie. This includes the most recent campaign, Dream Gap, in 2018 which taught young girls to believe in themselves, and not to buy into sexist gender stereotypes. It also helped to influence the unique range of dolls made for Barbie during International Woman’s Day in 2018, with the release of  15 new dolls which are “role model” dolls crafted in the likeness of real iconic women across the globe, for example Nicola Adams OBE Box Champion from the UK.

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With careers spanning from president to astronaut, Barbie can also add ‘Social Influencer’ to her long list of attributes. In the new era of social media, Barbie has remained on trend by having her voice established across a number of social platforms, allowing her to connect with her new digital fan base. The @BarbieStyle Instagram account has 1.5 million followers and looks more like an Instagram account for a celebrity than a doll. Through the success of this account, back in 2016 Barbie was photographed at an event for Dyson’s new supersonic hairdryer, and posted the picture to Instagram. This was the first sponsored post for Barbie, but with over 51,000 likes, it won’t be her last. This emphasises the dynamic nature of the Barbie brand, which refuses to be limited to the category of simply a toy.

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Barbie also stays connected with fans through her own YouTube channel, with an impressive 5.5. million followers. Her channel includes a ‘vlog’ style series, which is designed to mimic some of our favourite YouTube stars, yet tailored to provide Ted Talk style videos to young girls regarding a number of issues such as: ‘Feeling blue? You’re not alone’ to the importance of having your voice heard.

Barbie has exceeded her previous stereotype, and has paved the way for a generation of new Barbie lovers; it really is no surprise that she’s remained a universal brand for the past six decades. With talks of a live-action Barbie film starring Margot Robbie, there really is no stopping the Barbie brand.

All that’s left to say is: Come on Barbie let’s go party – here’s to the next 60 years!

 

Abigail Foran is a final year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/

 

Whats the Quack with Hastings Ducks?

If you have previously stayed in any of the chain of luxury hotels owned by Hastings Hotels Ltd, then you will undoubtedly be familiar with the little smiling rubber duck that waits patiently to greet you on your arrival to your room.

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The duck phenomena first originated in a warehouse of an organization called Bluestep Solutions. This marketing and design agency located in the english countryside of North Hampshire were the founders of this marketing goldmine.  This is where their creative team hit the drawing board to manufacture a renowned mascot for the company and the world-famous Hastings duck was born and waddled its way into the spotlight!

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Julie Hastings the Marketing Director of Hastings Hotels Ltd and daughter of CEO Sir William Hastings said: “We introduced the ducks to our hotels almost 20 years ago and they soon became a part of the family. The ducks have always been in huge demand and guests from around the world spit feathers with excitement every time we launch a new one.” Hastings Hotels continue to maximise this marketing campaign by releasing seasonal and limited edition ducks for guests and duck enthusiasts! Examples including Paddy the duck for St. Patricks day, Christmas ducks and they have even introduced a homage for local sporting star Rory McIlroy – ‘Rory Quackilroy.’

These collector items were successful in distinguishing the hotel aside from competitors specifically regarding the Irish Open Event in 2016 – this duck was very successful due to its high demand and the quirky play on words is what intrigued many guests, especially overseas guests, that found this to be a huge hit and another duck to add to the collection!

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Julie Hastings Tweet: Happy st Patrick’s day from the lucky Hastings Irish duck! (Image of Famous Irish Actor James Nesbitt) 

People love to take the ducks home with them even when they check-out and they are becoming a consistent feature in numerous home bathrooms of regular guests, who have previously posted images of their duck collections on Trip Advisor whilst recommending the hotel for its excellent services, and novelty ducks of course!

With 3 years experience behind me working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa as well as the world-famous Europa Hotel, I personally believe the rubber ducks are more than a simple complimentary gesture or memorable souvenir for each individual guest; but more so an innovative Public Relations strategy implemented by the company to set them aside from their opponents giving them a competitive edge; as well as establishing a unique selling point which in turn improves brand awareness. The ducks are a globally recognized symbol and a marketing tool used to promote advocacy within the organization.

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It is evident that the Hastings duck serves the company as their fictional mascot that personifies and represents the brand, as they resonate significantly with the hotel guests from all over the world. Even celebrities go quackers over the ducks and throughout the years they have even met hundreds and hundreds of celebrities including: Roger Moore, Lionel Ritchie, Carl Frampton, Conor McGregor, Van Morrison and many more. They have also attended lots of showbiz events; taking the ducks on tour they have even been spotted in global events such as the Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon, and Glastonbury.

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(Image of Carl Frampton and Barry McGuigan with our Famous Friend)

Mother of Quackers –  Hastings Hotels were very excited to unveil the freshly hatched Duck of Thrones that coincided with their launch of the 2018 Game of Thrones Tour series that took place at The Ballygally Castle Hotel which set along the Antrim Coast. This is another strategy the organization employs to showcase their relationship and acknowledgement of local events. The Game of Thrones duck in particular became a huge collectors item for the world-wide fan base of the show, it is no surprise that this limited edition duck became a near necessity for the dedicated supporters of the show.

Hastings Hotels have now galvanised and cemented their spot in the hotel market in being the leading hotel for overseas guests, as a result of our recognizable rubber friends!

Meet the Duck of Thrones - available to our Game of Thrones tour guests at Ballygally Castle

The ducks not only serve as a collectors item but can be viewed as an efficient  marketing tool which can be exploited in numerous of ways. I personally believe Hastings Hotels could go one step further and generate more brand exposure as well as profit maximization by selling the ducks in the hotel gifts shops, and not to mention the added perks of utilizing the ducks in future ad campaigns and social media competitions.  The duck mascot could be implemented in social media networks, and the online presence used as an effective tool for online engagement with consumers, which is a much softer means of selling the product as opposed to blatant self promotional methods with the added effect of creating a rapport with regular and future guests. Generally speaking, the Hastings duck in turn can be an innovative driving force in the Public Relations department of the organization.

 

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  https://twitter.com/celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7

 

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

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Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

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In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

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Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

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Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/

Dunkin’ Drops Donuts

Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?

My name is Gianna, and I am fully aware that we do not have Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland. But I’m pretty sure that 99% of us know what it is, and I think that’s enough to write about this piece of news.

The fast-food chain announced the news on September 25, 2018, that it would be dropping the ‘Donuts’ from the name for customers to be aware that they sell more than just donuts.

It’s not a surprise that they are dropping the ‘Donuts’. Their slogan is “America runs on Dunkin’” and their logo is a coffee cup. Both aspects of the brand image lack emphasis on the sugary treat; rather it directs the audience’s attention to coffee, which coincidentally is what the company will now focus on in the New Year. A former CFO of Dunkin’ Donuts even stated in 2013 that the company is, in fact, a “beverage company.”

Fear not to those of you who have tried Dunkin’ Donuts, the company will continue to sell those original glazed donuts and other flavours you may have tried when you went to America for your holiday. They merely want to focus on beverages such as iced coffees, cold-brews and teas; a cheaper alternative to the iced salted caramel latte macchiato with two shots of espresso and no foam at Starbucks.

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Though change is coming to the company, the font and brand image will remain the same. With its infamous clashing of colours of orange and pink. This new logo will be rolled out in all the company’s advertising, packaging, social media and website once the New Year begins.

People’s responses are not always the most positive. Everything and everyone has a doubter. Meryl Streep has at least 5 people despising her work, the Pixar movie Up is perhaps not the most loved movie of all time and the new Dunkin’ name will have people associating it with basketball, as a Twitter user suggests. This new name change could spark inspiration to other American fast food chains to change their brand to make it more catchy. The Chinese takeaway Panda Express could change to just Panda and maybe the Instagram-worthy fast-food burgers In-N-Out may drastically change to In/Out.

The social media team at Dunkin’ Donuts have been continually rolling out the new name via Instagram posts. Even though the company does not officially change its name until January 1 2019, bittersweet goodbyes have been already said by the company. Their Instagram bio cleverly states “We’re on a first-name basis with America” and a sentimental post stating “Dunkin’ means donuts. Always has, always will.” Tissue anyone?

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This name changing trend is not unusual when you want to promote more than what the name states. Recently, Weight Watchers also changed its name to “WW” because in our body-positive, love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin era, the company did not want to be associated with the notion of dieting, therefore the emphasis of watching your weight has now been dropped. The marketing stunt of IHOP changing to IHOB was smart, but that is for another story.

Change can be useful for a company and it can also be terrible. But we won’t find out if the outcome of this name change is good or bad until the New Year. I don’t mind the name change, considering that I lived in America for a year. I did notice that not a lot of people said: “Do you want to get Dunkin’ Donuts?”. So when I heard the news about Dunkin’ dropping the Donuts, I thought to myself, Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?”

Now, onto more pressing news; petition to get Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland?

Gianna Pornasdoro is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gianna-pornasdoro/ 

The PR Diaries: Part I

Fast Fashion & the ‘Material World.’

 

I cannot believe that it has been eight months since my last blog post, time really does fly!  As I embark upon my final year of studying Communication and PR an aspect of life has my creative mind ticking. Not much has changed over the last eight months, in fact I am pretty sure that I still adore Cacti as I outlined in my last blog and I am 100% certain that my love for food, coffee shops and fashion has not changed either (throwing that out there).  I will also just add that my love for Instagram and taking aesthetic photographs still consumes me- shocker.  What has changed the most over the past few months is my outlook in life.  My outlook on how we are guilty of trying to constantly pursue the latest trends, desperately wanting to live a life full of hope and false fantasies.  Now, you may be giving me major eye rolls right now and as cliché as it sounds I genuinely believe that most things happen for good reason. We do openly follow our passions and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all a little guilty of wanting more than what we already have and if you are reading this thinking, hold up.  I do enjoy following trends, then you are not alone.  However, what happens when we place all our focus on only the most attractive and aesthetic aspects? Are you that material girl, living in a material world?

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Fashioning the self

A recent trip to London Fashion Week inspired me to think about the pressures to conform to the latest trends- let’s not forget that both leopard and snake print are dominating the population of Belfast.  So much so we could to create a second Zoo (90% of my wardrobe).  We are each guilty of religiously following others who inspire us or those who we believe to be ‘role models.’  I believe that there is a negative stigma around the material items in life and rightly so.  When we think of material items our minds wonder to Gucci, Prada and investing in luxury fashion brands.  We may even think of our favourite online influencers and how they fashion the latest trends- not to mention the ‘social influencers take on cycling shorts’ wave which left us feeling a little Tour de France/ Bradley Wiggins (Sorry, I had to).

 

Behind the seams of reality

Our Instagram platforms have become a playground for flashing material items.  It almost feels like an online shop, yet we are sucked in by aesthetic travel photographs that surround these gorgeous clothing posts.  For me, this all feels a little wrong.  I am growing tired of the volume of ‘fast fashion’ brands that are so cleverly luring us in.  Only to try on the dress to discover that it works better as a boob tube/ crop top and the material is as thin and see through as clingfilm.  On another side note, I can openly admit that I am a keen consumer of fast fashion. As much as I try to avoid it the student life really does force us to swap luxury for affordable, with little thought about the materials used- here lies the problem.

In this digital era, I believe that there is a greater pressure to showcase our lives on Instagram.  We almost use it as a mirror, reflecting an articulated image of how we wish to be viewed by our followers.  This is not healthy.  When I buy a new item of clothing I appreciate how it looks and feels, not only on the hanger but how it fits my body.  This is the beauty of fashion as it enables us to appreciate colours, prints and textures as a form of visual communication.  Taking Fashion Week as an example, I was in awe of the array of designers showcasing garments that communicated their brand story- this is the value that is important.  Designers invest time and creative effort in developing a brand, which is why following ‘fast fashion’ can defeat the purpose of buying clothing to keep in the long run.  If your closet is anything like mine, I can put my hands up and admit that I am awful for hoarding clothes.   Regardless of how many times I have tried to flog my clothes on Depop- it is a vicious cycle!

 

‘Keep the snakes away, unless they’re Gucci

The truth is that nothing should be ‘fast’ about fashion.  Investing in luxury does not consist of spending all of your pay on expensive designer gear either, nor does it mean flashing these items online.  From a student’s viewpoint, I do not believe that it is realistic for us to splash out on luxury brands, or to try to prove to others that we can afford this kind of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ lifestyle- we are only kidding ourselves really.  The purpose of this blog post is to prove that life is far too short to worship designer brands and materialistic items (Ok, life is also too short not buy shoes, keep it on the down low).  Think about the long run.  These items will never truly matter to us, they may only influence how we feel at the time of purchase- that feeling is short-lived.  Think about the real bodies in our lives, the ones who invest in us and bring us joy.  People that are relentlessly by your side and will be a lot longer that a bottle of Gucci Perfume.

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Gucci Gang

 

It has become extremely difficult in society to identify the true value in people, especially with online platforms concealing our true selves.  In reality we are crying out for authenticity. All too often we are told to ‘get out there, follow your dreams and afford that fancy car alongside that high-powered job.’  Is it any wonder why students and young adults in their 20s feel obliged to conform to such ideas? The pressure is all too much to afford life’s ‘little luxuries.’  To live in a society that tells us how to ‘work fast and live fast’ is becoming a challenge and I can admit to feeling overwhelmed by how I should live my life. The bottom line is to work hard enough that success becomes your noise but equally to have the time of your life.  How does that saying go? Work hard, play harder.

 

Does my environmental impact look big in this?

Delving deeper into this topic I discovered that ‘fast fashion’ has received a lot of negative media coverage recently.  Our love for fashion is taking its toll on the environment as in the UK alone we are consuming 26.7kg of new clothing per head each year.  It is not only fast fashion brands that are to blame as it is also expected that 3,781 litres of water is used in a full lifetime of a single pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  This is just a  snapshot of how our fashion consumption is spiralling out of control.  I guess we could say that having something at our disposal only devalues that item, it is all too easy to make an online purchase without adding any genuine value- a theory that applies to a lot of aspects of life.  When something is readily available, we take it for granted.  Investing in statement items that are durable, high quality and affordable is the best method.

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As I draw my fashion ramblings to a close, I want to stress how easy it is for us to feel pressured by clothing brands.  Being lured in by marketing and influencers online has a  negative effect on our mental health.  This concludes why materialistic items will never maintain true value.  Yes, clothes are beautiful, they are powerful but they will always be around for us to purchase.  Ask yourself this, if everything you possessed was striped back, what would we be left with? We may be cold and a little naked, but we would be guaranteed to be surrounded by those we love.  So, sorry Madonna, living in the material world is not all that it would appear to be!

 

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K x

 

Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

Ronald to the Rescue

Ronald to the Rescue

When you think of the name “Ronald McDonald”, what springs to mind? A clown who is just as creepy looking as he is infamous? The “Joe Camel” of fast food? I wouldn’t say that glorious imagery sprung to mind when I used to hear the name myself, but maybe after reading this post you will have a new-found respect for it.

We’ve all been to a McDonald’s at some point in our lives, and I’m guessing that most of us would recognise this logo which is found on the charity boxes placed at every till point.

Duchess of Cambridge to visit Ronald McDonald House

This logo represents the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RHMC), which are based right here in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK, Ireland, and all over the world.

I tend to throw change into charity boxes on tills when I buy things, but as much as I do that I never really think about the charity I’ve just donated to after I walk out the door. I also always tend to think of big global and dominant brands as being somewhat selfish. For example, after finding out that Starbucks Ireland only payed 45 euros in tax last year, I tend to think twice before I invest in one of their seasonal lattes.

I’ve recently learnt that not only do McDonald’s and their franchisees allow the placement of RHMC collection boxes at each till point, the company also donates money from its own sales. In 2016, they added an extra one million pounds donation from sales to the existing three million that had been collected in the UK that year.

RHMC pride McDonald’s as an “essential, valuable and sustaining partner” and McDonald’s even provide office space to the charity in their Head Quarters around the world, along with general and administrative support, HR, payroll, organisation support and ICT and computer systems.

RHMC globally has been McDonald’s charity of choice since its founding in 1989 and provides hope and respite to families during challenging times of life. The thing that inspired me to read more into McDonald’s corporate philanthropy and the RHMC, was a tweet by an individual who was personally affected by the works of the charity and was highly praising them.

So, there you go, Ronald McDonald will continue to look creepy but hey! He’s a good guy. And McDonald’s may be swimming in profits and sitting comfortably on the Forbes’ list of “Most Valuable Global Brands”, but their philanthropic measures should not go un-noticed.

McDonald’s says its mascot Ronald McDonald is keeping a low profile as reports of creepy clown sightings sweep communities across the globe.

 

Rachel Reilly is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachelreilly98