Digital Poster Paste

You and your mates are in a band, you want gigs, you book them yourself. Maybe you’re a promoter, with the thankless job of getting everyone in the same place at the same time. You book two or three bands; you get the sound guy there on time, charge a few quid at the door and split the profits. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. Let’s take into account the fact that while you’re waiting for a 6pm sound check, you find out that the night before the band were at Electric Picnic, taking drugs until 5 in the morning, and are too mashed to drive from Cookstown. Or what about the lead singer who decides to emulate Jim Morrison and give the audeince a bit more than what they paid in for, or the guitarist who was clinked up for, ominously, ‘something to do with his mother…’

Shane 2Yes, reader, I took the thankless job of vicariously being in a band. I had a Monday night slot for a local showcase. For every night where the band outnumbered the audience there were others that saw some spark of brilliance on stage, the first headlining slot for a band that went far and on one glorious occasion, a sell-out show.

These were the old days of the paste-bucket and poster, but now your band or your night relies on the internet to make your mark. You need that crowd. A good crowd hears your music and buys your merchandise and physical albums. A good take on the door pleases your booker, who should be cutting you in on that sweet action – (and if not, have a word). A good crowd buying drinks endears you to the venue, which can lead to bigger shows. So how should you go about marketing yourself online?

There’s a plethora of books and blogs on the topic, so I’ll just briefly tell you what helps me out. We all know that the video is king. Invest some time and money in one really good video. It doesn’t have to be the November Rain promo, but a good quality live video will work wonders for your Facebook. There’s been times when I’m pushing a show and the support act gets the glory, as the headliners’ YouTube presence consists of wobbly footage of an ‘illegal gig’ and some confusing poi display.

Think of your bio. We don’t need to know that your band is ‘like no other’. Some brief history, a few influences and some of the gigs that you’ve played really give us an idea of where you’re at. Photos are useful too, but make sure you’re genuine. I once saw a picture of a 20 something local musician on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh.

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Keep it brief as well. I was once handed a four page press release that had what the individual members liked for tea on it.

You have an online presence? Use it. Interact with me. Have fun. Send me any footage you want to use, let me know if the pictures are out of date and share, like and retweet as if your life depended on it. Your mate’s just done a new video? Let us show it first. The Ballyhalbert Examiner interviewed you lead singer? Link it up! Having a digital press pack, with all your social media links, the aforementioned video and a few hi-res photos can make all the difference.

 

Shane Horan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @shanehoran.

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:

 

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

Eat, Sleep, Rave, REPEAT!

If you’re a young, wild & free, hungry partier in search of paradise then look no further, Tomorrowland will have you sorted! If you’ve ever been to Tomorrowland you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it’s ‘out of this world!’ However, with 200,000 tickets up for grabs, it can be a pretty scary place for a couple of girls. To make things even scarier, we didn’t know anyone who had been before so we were really ‘wingin’ it! Nevertheless, eager to go and failing to pull together a crowd, we thought ‘frig it’- two will do.

Deciding to go only weeks before the festival was due to take place obviously meant we couldn’t get tickets from the Tomorrowland website itself so we got them on Viagogo. Before purchasing we had read many bad reviews about Viagogo and so were a bit nervous that we were about to purchase fake tickets but we were willing to take the risk. Just short of £1,200 later, we were the proud owners of two Tomorrowland tickets. Real or fake? – We didn’t know. We booked the flights to Brussels and we were good-to-go!

With very little thought put into the trip, before we knew it, we were on our way! As we sipped on our ‘Sex on the Beach’ cocktails in the airport, we had no idea what was ahead of us. So here you have it, tip 1: leave all your worries behind, they don’t belong where you’re going.

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It’s all fun and games until you find out your tent isn’t included so tip 2: find out if your camping equipment is included before you arrive, unless you want to buy an overpriced tent or run the risk of them being out of stalk. PS. ‘Full Madness Pass WITH Camping’ does not include camping equipment! I repeat, does not include camping equipment!

We arrived to the campsite, Dreamville, where we finally found out our tickets were legit, (much to our relief) got our passes and scanned through. It was like a direct pass to paradise. We made our way along the wooden boardwalk, amidst 40,000 people trying to get settled in, it was a bit overwhelming. Tip 3: get there early to allow enough time to get organised and prepare for the Gathering Party, it’s well worth it and gives you a taster of what Tomorrowland has in store.

Woken by the sound of music much too early when severely hungover, we got up and spent some time exploring Dreamville and all it’s magical creations. So tip 4: bring earplugs if you’re not a morning person. With tons to see and do we weren’t long passing a few hours. All kinds of entertainment was on offer including their own newspaper, radio station, supermarket, tattoo parlour, Mac makeup shop and a hairdressers. We honestly couldn’t get our heads around this place, surprisingly though, it took very little time to settle in and it soon felt like home.

As we made our way from Dreamville into Tomorrowland it became very clear that the incredible line up of EDM DJ’s wasn’t the only reason people travel from every country across the globe to unite together at Tomorrowland. With so much more to offer than the music and in many ways very over-the-top, it’s so incredibly unique. We wandered through what I can only describe as a ‘fantasy land,’ attempting to comprehend what exactly it was we were experiencing. Everything was so finely carved and crafted to suit the magical theme, with surprises around every corner, it was hard to take it all in. Tip 5: explore every inch.

We made our way to the main stage for the opening act, the immense crowd put us off going anywhere near the front of the stage so we opted for the hill at the back which gave the best view and room to dance – double win! The main acts that night were Tiësto, Axwell & Ingrosso and Steve Aoki. As floods of people gathered and the stage lit up, I’ll never be able to put what I was feeling and seeing into words. It’s true that the main stage gives the best atmosphere and it really is the life and soul of the party’ but, tip 6: make sure to visit all of the stages, there are 16 and they all have new experiences to offer with their own unique theme and vibe.

Tip 7, and one from your mum: stick together (and be good!) Festivals are so much fun but they can also be dangerous so it’s important to have a meeting point because with 200,000 people around it’s so easy to get separated. Managing to somehow lose my phone twice in three days meant we relied heavily on meeting points.

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Unfortunately though, all good things come to an end with Tomorrowland being no exception. Monday comes around quick and before you know it, it’s time leave the fantasy land and all the people of Tomorrowland and head back to reality! People say there’s no place like home, but really, there’s no place like Tomorrowland! It exceeded all of my expectations and I will be back. Tip 8: book a day or two off work – you’re going to need it!

‘Live today, love tomorrow, unite forever’ – Tomorrowland.

Jessica Patterson is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @JessPatterson16 / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-patterson-79a755113/

The 27 Club; Myth or Maybe?

Side note – Originally the title for this blog post was supposed to be; ‘To Blog or Not To Blog’, pretty self-explanatory but I had this idea of creating a post to just address the fact that I have recently been very conflicted with creating blogs (isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?). Writing is something that I really enjoy doing and I would never have started to write blogs (especially blogs that would be published for everyone to read), if it wasn’t a requirement for my final year PR coursework. For this PR work I had to write a series of 3 blogs, incorporating both PR and personal interest, I actually would’ve been quite happy if we had to complete 10 posts as it is work that I just thoroughly appreciate and benefit from in many ways.

Once the coursework was complete, I stopped writing. However, there have been quite a few moments where I have been reading a story or article, listening to music or just watching the news and thought; I could easily write an interesting post about this, especially if it is something that fascinates me! Of course, personal interest posts are what I revel in, I do enjoy PR related writing;  and I am still very much a beginner in that area but it is something I do hope to continue.

Soooo, my apologies if you weren’t interested in any of that, but here goes a personal interest post (which very few of you may actually find interesting in the slightest).

‘The 27 Club’; have you heard of it? if not let me tell you a little of what I know. The 27 club or the Forever 27 Club, was the collective name given to the group of iconic musicians and actors who all passed away at the young age of 27, more often that not this was due to drug and alcohol abuse or violence-related incidents. Although the causes of death are rather varied, does this mean there are no patterns? no connections?, you have to admit; it is a little coincidental. So, if you would like to know which famous names will be forever 27, keep reading; Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Richey Edwards, Ron ‘Pigpen McKernan, and more.

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Personally, when I first heard about the idea of The 27 Club I was immediately hooked and just had to find out more, a deeper meaning; it was all so strange. Is the curse of The 27 Club more than just an unsettling trend? How many more famous names will become associated with this? Are there musicians out there who fear becoming the life claiming 27? (ok that last one was a bit dramatic but shhh). Legend has it that singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse (pictured above) had actually predicted that she, too, would join The 27 Club. Has this myth been talked about so much that it has actually become… dare I say it; GLORIFIED?!

There are many different conspiracy theories that circle the internet today in relation to this coincidental series of events, all ranging from ‘illuminati’, deals with the devil, and even the curse of the white ‘Bic’ lighter (stay with me on this, it’s going somewhere I promise). It had been reported that during the autopsy of a number of these celebrities, a white Bic lighter was found in their possession, and of course immediately these lighters were then said to be unlucky. Maybe you’re even reading this thinking it’s all a load of rubbish;  but I can almost guarantee that the next time you happen to come across a white Bic lighter you will remember this post (probably not but that’s the dream, eh?).

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So, was it a case of live fast, die young? all in all there is not much evidence out there to support the fact that this is anything other than a peculiar coincidence, I mean; Bic’s disposable lighters weren’t even produced until 1973, a considerable amount of time after many of these famous deaths. Jim Morrison did famously once say; “whoever controls the media, controls the mind”, something to ponder over. (Maybe he was warning us, ok I’ll stop).

Still, quite a cool theory though! The 27 Club is something that I have known of and thought about for quite a while, maybe this is your first time hearing about it, perhaps you even know more than I do… and although this is likely to be some congregated idea of theories and fantasy – the next time you hear of a musician passing away at the age of 27, it just might send a little shiver down your spine!

 

Jayne Mullan is a 3rd year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @JayneMullan_ and LinkedIn:  http://linkedin.com/in/jayne-mullan-81457415a

Battle of the Christmas Adverts

Yes, it’s that time of year again when every major retailer in the UK battles it out to become the nation’s favourite Christmas advert. Our TVs are flooded with emotional ads guarantee to tug at your heart strings or in extreme cases make you cry.

But there’s really no point trying to avoid them because there is no let-up or escaping it. That’s just a fact of life! As soon as that last firework on Halloween night goes off we are bombarded with festive adverts being thrown at us from every direction.

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It’s not enough anymore for brands just to have a TV advert. They throw everything apart from the kitchen sink at these campaigns. Taking advantage of merchandising opportunities, charity partnerships, and spin-off digital campaigns. It is certainly an expensive business, but has terrific PR attached to it, if it’s done well.

Once an area dominated by John Lewis has quickly become fair game.

With each year we have more and more retailers spending millions on multi media campaigns to stand out from the rest – with good reason. If done well and done right retailers can reap the rewards and spin off merchandise could be the most sort after toy that Christmas.

I’m sure we all remember the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert? It told the story of Monty, a penguin who dreams of love at Christmas time. This emotional advert  was said to have ‘won Christmas’ and got the whole country talking about a fake CGI penguin. People become obsessed and when John Lewis released a £12 toy model of the penguin, which to no one’s surprise sold out super quick. People completely freaked out and bought this toy on eBay for up to £400. Its safe to say that people can get a little crazy during this time of the year.

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Whilst the TV ads are the main attraction, the ads usually go above and beyond by creating something for almost all multimedia platforms. John Lewis jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon with their own ‘Buster the Boxer’ filter in 2016, whilst Waitrose released an online interactive experience of the Robin’s journey, as well as a book available to purchase sold in-store. Brands at Christmas time are slowly creeping there way into every part of our lives.

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We can’t forget about the music that feature in these ads, because it plays a huge part in this battle as well. We are starting to see more often these songs that accompany the ads climb the music charts even hitting the number 1 spot sometimes. For example, in 2013, Lily Allen sung a cover of Somewhere Only We Know for the John Lewis Christmas advert. Her version surpassed the success of the original in the UK, topping the Singles Chart and staying at number 1 for 3 weeks whilst selling over 600,000 copies.

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Lily Allen | Somewhere Only We Know (John Lewis Christmas Advert)

The increased popularity of the Christmas advert in recent years is no doubt down to social media playing a huge role in heightening the campaign. With brands including hashtags in their videos social media users being able to take to twitter or Facebook and voice their opinion on the different Christmas ads retailers throw at them.

Whither you love them or hate them they are here to stay, and brands will no doubt have bigger, better and shinier campaigns in store for us next year.

 

Niamh McNally is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter at @Niamh_McNally or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-mcnally-7a7079120/

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

For most, the first sign of Christmas is when the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night and all advertisers know this means the deluge of Christmas adverts will begin, and with that the competition of who has the best advert of the Christmas season? Over the years there have been many ones that have resonated and stayed with you long after the Christmas decorations are taken down. All of the best have different qualities that make you pick it as your favourite.

 

Some play on the heart for example the famous John Lewis, ‘Man on the Moon’ where many tears were shed over the poor lonely man who lived on the moon and the little girl on earth who desperately wanted to say hello. This advert which was a partnership with AGE UK was used to highlight the loneliness of elderly at Christmas, as well as year round, and tugged at the heartstrings of the general public who helped to generate £1 billion of sales for John Lewis in the Christmas period of 2015. John Lewis have long held the title of being the best at Christmas advertisements, usually accompanied with a song that reaches high in the top 40 of the U.K charts, for example the now infamous Ellie Goulding version of ‘Your Song’ which was then rumoured to be the first dance song of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge at their 2011 wedding. However, many others have attempted to take this coveted crown from the department store.

In 2014 the undisputed champion of the Christmas adverts appeared to be Supermarket Sainsbury’s who used history to make the perfect advert. Their depiction of Christmas Day 1914 along the trenches when German and British Troops ceased fighting and played a football match was praised across the U.K as one of the greatest Christmas adverts and a moving tribute on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. The pairing of what happened along with the moving use of ‘Silent Night’ both in English and German saw The Independent brand the marketing strategy ‘Epic’. The advertisement went viral, within 24 hours had had 1.8 million views on YouTube. It was believed to be a risky advert as if the tone want right it would have caused outrage by the British public. The tag line of #ChristmasisMadeforSharing resonated and with the advert being partnered with the Royal British Legion the advert is highly recognised as one the most brilliant television adverts of the 21st Century. Some did object to the advert calling it disrespectful but this was far outweighed by the outpouring of love for the advert.

 

 

Then there are the classics such as the Coca-Cola advert of the lit up truck driving through cities and towns with the ‘Holiday’s are Coming’ playing the background which for many really signifies the beginning of the festive period.

So what make a great Christmas advert? Is it one that makes you cry happy or sad tears, one with a well constructed message behind it or one that just starts to bring the seasonal joy to people? Everyone has there own special advert they will always back up when the best Christmas advert comes around every year, and it nearly always changes when the next batch of advertising excellence shows the following year.

Rosa O’Farrell is a final year in BSc Public Relations. She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosa-o-farrell-2a796a23/ or on Twitter @rosaofarrell

Holiday Heartstrings

Admit it, there’s always one that gets you… 

We all know that come October time the Christmas TV advertisements begin to make their way onto our screens, perhaps a pleasant reminder that the festive season is upon us? or perhaps not in some cases.

Each year, large companies, department stores, food and drink brands, retailers, and many more launch their Christmas campaigns. But my question is; is the secret to a successful PR campaign really tapping into the emotional side of things and pulling on the heartstrings of the public? I honestly don’t think there is one answer to this question, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little chat about it here, eh?

From M&S to Guinness, John Lewis to Iceland, and Aldi to Boots; we’ve seen it all. I guess it’s a good time to insert a little disclaimer here that I, personally, love emotional Christmas advertisements, especially the tear-jerkers! Does anyone remember the Edeka 2015 ad? Of course you do (if not please see below for reminder) it was the Christmas ad that hit home with, well, just about everyone.

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Are these campaigns more effective than, say, feel-good Christmas ads? they may be more memorable that’s for sure. Of course the same factors still apply when producing a Christmas campaign; reaching the target audience, credibility, creativity, persuasion, and so on. This is where advertising and public relations become one, with the shared goal of convincing the public that they are in need of something or interested in a particular product which they would otherwise pay no attention to. It’s all about the appeal, emotional appeals automatically grab the attention of the public, as a way of ‘hooking’ them in, a very strategic way of advertising. In a way, this is a brief dissection of the makings of our favourite festive TV ads, but know it is not my intention here to ruin the magic that is Christmas advertisements, so please don’t stop scrolling. Please.

The idea behind the emotional appeal is knowing how the public will react, and what better time of the year than Christmas to do so? Each year, new advertisements are released; all with the intention of topping the last and competing with each other. For example, John Lewis are renowned for their Christmas TV ads, every year there is such anticipation circulating around what will feature in the advertisement and will it be a happy or sad one? Whatever they may be, they certainly always have us feeling warm and festive inside. Yes, they do! Just agree with me.

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We all know the ‘happier’ Christmas ads, i.e.; Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, and Guinness (personal favourite). But are these really the ones that stick with us? The ones that we remember? It’s the Christmas ads that have meaning behind them, the ones that make us stop what we are doing and look at the TV, even if we are not watching it, the ads that make us look around and appreciate our homes and our loved ones, essentially, the ads that proclaim the true meaning of Christmas. Taking the emotional approach is a smart way of sending out a message, to ensure it will be received and listened to, however, with the more light-hearted advertisements; it is the rational appeal that is implemented, this addresses the more practical side of things, for example; Iceland advertising their Christmas offers and deals on party food, or Argos promoting certain products, and even in some cases; both appeals may be used.

In my opinion, nothing is as effective and powerful as a sad advertisement let alone a Christmas one. I think it all centres on the music, adding an emotional song to an advertisement can really resonate with some people and therefore makes music a very significant feature for these types of campaigns. A great example of this is the John Lewis Christmas ad back in 2012 when the song ‘Power of Love’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was featured, there was something very haunting and moving about it, enough to bring a tear to one’s eye (yes ok, my eye). Please watch the clip below to find out for yourself, you may well remember this ad, it’s for sure one I haven’t forgotten.

So is the secret to a successful PR campaign using emotion? all in all I guess there is no right answer here, but what we have discovered is that the emotional appeal to the public has certainly been beneficial, it has proven to be extremely effective, I mean, you can see for yourself on YouTube just how many views each of these advertisements has, whether this is down to how touching they were, the music featured, how powerful they were; we will never really know. So take the time and watch the next Christmas ad that appears on your TV, can you relate it to this post? I’ll leave you with that thought.

*A sad Christmas song now plays as you’ve finished reading*

Jayne Mullan is a 3rd year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @JayneMullan_