How To Market the C-Word

If there’s anything I love more than a salted chilli chicken snack box, it’s a good old piece of reactive marketing.

Brands use reactive marketing as a way of engaging their audience with spur of the moment content and advertisements responding to real-time events, news, topics, TV shows, hashtags and threads. It’s a way to appear relevant, relatable and humorous. Although generally successful in getting people talking and your brand noticed, it’s a tricky business in terms of having a limited time to create the content before its irrelevant, and the risk of offending the generation of snowflakes, whom I refuse to identify with. The fallout from a bad piece of reactive marketing can cause a lot of damage to a brand’s reputation and often they would have been better of just remaining silent… but that’s no craic. We all love a bit of controversy.

It’s no shock that the only real-time event that most brands are responding to right now is COVID-19. As the pandemic, unfortunately, continues to spread brands are thinking of creative ways to encourage us to partake in social distancing, stay indoors and wash our hands, MORE OFTEN! Please don’t tell me you ever ever ever need to be reminded to wash your hands, you detty pig. Here are a few of my faves.

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Netflix #YouShouldveStayedAtHome

A reactive marketing masterpiece if you ask me. I found this piece as I was scrolling through twitter a few weeks ago and it was a breath of fresh air amongst upsetting coronavirus updates, pessimistic tweets *unfollow* and reminders that there are still people who think it’s okay to bounce around households and see their friends. Did ye not hear what Boris said.

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The campaign had the aim to encourage people to stay at home by creating Billboards and Adshels with spoilers from Netflix shows including Money Heist, Love is Blind and Stranger Things with the tag line “You Should’ve Stayed at Home.” I was disappointed to see that it wasn’t actually real and was actually an idea by a duo from an advertising school in Miami who created the concept as a marketing suggestion for Netflix. I did see some comments where people were infuriated at the thought of seeing a spoiler for their favourite Netflix show when they were on their way to essential work or to get essential supplies. Which is a fair point. But how amazing if those who are not following guidelines, acting like they are above the law and are single handily decreasing the chances of us seeing our loved ones, or having pints with our mates anytime soon had their favourite binge of the moment ruined. Karma. SPOILER ALERT: if you have a life and didn’t binge Love is Blind in 3 days please look away now.

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Guinness #StayAtHome

Copywriter Luke O’Reillys created this piece of advertising as part of a One Minute brief challenge and Guinness loved it. They’ve fully credited the creator Luke and have used it as their way of encouraging people to stay at home during this time. I love the simplicity of it. Guinness also created a pretty emotional video in light of St. Patrick’s celebrations being cancelled across the world. Anyone else still pure devastated about this btw?

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The Guinness team collected clips of Guinness and St. Patricks day celebrations over the years and told us all that although we can’t celebrate together this year, we must stick together during this pretty tough time and, “Don’t worry, we’ll march again.” How emotional. I don’t even drink Guinness but I want a Guinness.

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Coke and McDonald’s response to the pandemic was spacing out their lettering to encourage social distances, whilst Burger King rejigged their tagline “home of the whopper.” to “Stay home.”

Contrary to popular belief there are other things we can talk about aside the Coronavirus. Can someone remind my Mum of this, please? So here are just a few honourable mentions I want to include from some of my favourite reactive marketing of all time.

#Sainsbey

When Beyonce dropped her latest Ivy Park collection we couldn’t help but die at the fact we could all go to a fancy dress party as a Sainsbury employee if we bought this particular piece. The memes came in almost instantly and soon went viral with the hashtag #SainsBey. Later that day Sainsbury were absolute legends in the field of reactive marketing and came out with this. Bravo Sainsbury.

It’s……….Innocent Smoothies

Coolen Rooney’s outstanding piece of cryptic literature in 2019 is the best thing I’ve read since the Great Gatsby. The suspense throughout had my heart in my mouth. I still can’t believe It’s……….Rebekah Vardy’s account. The dispute took the Twittersphere by storm and if any brand had any wits about them they would have taken every opportunity to use it for some quality reactive marketing. And Innocent Smoothie was soon to score with their newest “bolt from blue” drink saying it was “THE ONLY THING JUICIER THAN COLEEN V REBEKAH.” Must be pretty damn juicy.

“I’ve had te go te Burger King.”

Remember in 2018 when KFC ran out of Chicken and it was the WORST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN and people were literally claiming it to be a national emergency. We really didn’t know what 2020 had in store, did we? Anyway, I have the utmost respect for KFC staying cool, calm and collected and rejigging their branding to read FCK. Reassuring to know even Colonel Sanders fcks up sometimes.

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So they’re just a few of my favourite reactive marketing campaigns over the past year or so. Over the past month, I have loved seeing the biggest brands ditch their product placements and USP ploys and simply encourage us to stick together and beat this virus.

Stay safe & healthy everyone and whilst the NHS work endlessly to protect us (ye legends) please protect them by staying at home.

Catherine Maguire is a final year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Successful Way to Binge Watch Netflix

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Firstly, to binge watch Netflix successfully you must know the good series so I will let you all in on what I think is good now and what I recommend before letting you in on my trick of binge watching, I tend to binge watch some series multiple times. And I will let you all in on a few Netflix top tips… Unless you already know that is.

  • Friends

This is an all-time favourite for a lot of individuals because of the relatable characters like Joey, Rachel, Monica, Ross, Chandler and Phoebe who have real life problems. Friends fanatics tend to find it one of the most quotable shows making it very exciting to rewatch with sayings from Ross like  “Pivot” and “We were on a break” or creative songs by Phoebe “Smelly Cat” being one of many. Google have recently celebrated the anniversary of Friends with quirky reminders of the show – if you google the characters you’ll understand. Friends founded itself in the middle of the rising New York media in the ’90s. When watching Friends at some points in the last few seasons you might feel, why am I still watching this? The series finale is a near- perfect end to the show we continuously wish we had new episodes to watch. And it’s rumoured we might get to!

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  • Stranger Things

Like Friends the young, constantly growing cast can be relatable but new at the same time. New characters that have been introduced to our screens included Billy, Bob Newby, Max and numerous other characters, these new characters help to create a new but developed narrative in each season which will make us as the audience more likely to watch on and see how the new relationships develop. Stranger Things has its advantage of young characters there is a lot of humour especially in the sci-fi/ 90’s aspect to it. ‘Stranger Things’ is meant to include tension, but the constant humour creates a friendly nature, the adults present a perspective for other potential audiences. The interesting characters within the show is the best reason to binge watch this show it is based in a fictional town but tends to have distorted views of non-fiction within, it is a great watch and season 4 will hopefully be out soon to do some more binge watching.

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  • Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is one of my top picks and was released on BBC in 2013 and has been expanding to audiences since then – it is about a small family run gang in the Streets of Birmingham after the great war – it is run by the Shelby Family with they key character being Tommy Shelby who is also one of the most hated characters. (who is my personal fave). Even though the Peaky Blinders have 6 episodes in each season, it gives viewers a lot of action in a short space of time than any other period dramas, constantly keeping your heart in your hands. With the number of episodes Peaky Blinders is easy to binge watch over a weekend. As soon as you start to grow to love the characters the show wastes no time putting them in danger putting your body in full adrenaline mode keeping you on edge. With characters like Tommy and John Shelby you will be dying for more episodes, the Shelby men are easy on the eye.

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  • Gossip Girl

There are so many reasons to watch Gossip Girl, the New York fashion scene – since majority of characters are wealthy, they have a lot of high-end clothes. With the ladies wearing high heels and Blair Waldorf’s fashionable headband the men also know how to strut their stuff. The cast are also very likeable characters with relatable characters having problems in their personal lives. It takes place in New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Upper East Side – you can visit some of the places in Gossip Girl which is exciting for any fanatics. The key phrase in this show has to be *key the music* “You know you love me XO XO GOSSIP GIRL.” However, the second last episode the characters realise who Gossip Girl was the whole time, which is the penultimate moment of the drama, then finding out other characters who have known already. (I am currently rewatching so felt that this was a necessary one).

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OK, so getting into binge watching there is a lot of Netflix hacks to know – there is a latest tab which will keep you into seeing new and upcoming shows and you can click into them – you can also get reminded of when they come out on Netflix by getting notified when they arrive! Another tip is the preview section, you can watch a clip that will show you a good preview and understanding, you can add shows to your watchlist after watching the previews by pressing the plus sign or play and watch the whole thing there and then. You can get recommendations by getting ratings, so give something a thumbs up if you really love it.

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Step 1:

Clear your schedule:

  • You need to make sure that you have no priorities when starting to binge watch, when several episodes deep you’ll not want to do what you might have planned to do later on.
  • You need to review your show before starting as some shows don’t have that many episodes and may be binge watched in a few hours but some a few weeks. This may make you choose between a night out with the pals or a night in with Netflix and chocolate.
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Step 2:

Find somewhere cosy:

  • Since you’re going to be chilling in the one spot you might as well make yourself comfortable. So, try binge watching on a recliner or on your sofa, try watching on a TV and avoid watching on a computer or mobile phone because it can cause eye strain.
  • Only problem with watching TV in bed is it can lead to insomnia, this can be seen through studies that have concluded the blue light from screens trick your brains and making you feel more awake. Screen time affects sleep through its effect on pre-sleep arousal.

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Step 3:

Stock up on treats:

  • Nourish yourself so you don’t have to get up mid-season, if you like healthy snacks, don’t forget to stock up on them.
  • Try to portion out your snacks so you don’t make yourself sick by eating too much at the one time.
  • You might as well have a few treats do give you a bit of energy.

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Step 4

Use a binge-watching session as an opportunity to hydrate. (This step is optional)

  • Keep your water handy to yourself and refill between episodes.
  • Feel free to twist it up with some of your healthy snacks (berries/ orlemons) to give it a bit of flavour.

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You can sign up for free trials on Netflix if you’ve never tried it before – the 7-day free trial is one of the best inventions for binge watching because it is a free way of watching without paying and there’s a time limit so you’re more likely to binge. Make sure to cancel to avoid any charges as Netflix normally ask for credit card numbers (this is their way to catch you).

Watch with a friend it may be free for you and is also more fun watching with someone else because you can get opinions afterwards. Try to avoid watching the show with someone who has seen it as they could potentially spoil it on you.

Finally, if you are binge watching before bed turn off 30 minutes before you go so you can get a good night’s sleep, you must give your brain some time to unwind like I said earlier.

There are no real necessary steps these are just a guidance.

I tend to constantly binge-watch series both inside and outside Netflix so hopefully these steps will help you. Another few amazing shows to watch that aren’t on Netflix are “How to Get Away with Murder”, “One Tree Hill” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

For more popular reviews on TV shows go to websites like Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Caithlen Loughran is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/caithlenloughran.x , LinkedIn – Caithlen Loughran and Instagram – caithlenloughran

A ‘Whale’ Big Problem for SeaWorld.

Do you ever find yourself about 20 videos deep from what you were originally watching on YouTube and have no clue how you ended up clicking on a video about how Doc Martins are made in a factory? Because same.

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Well, that’s exactly how I came across the trailer for a documentary called Blackfish. So of course I went online and seen that the documentary was available to watch on Netflix and that is how I found myself knee deep looking for information on the topic and the PR crisis that they were facing.

Now if you haven’t seen the documentary i’ll give you a quick rundown on what it’s about. Blackfish is a highly controversial documentary about the SeaWorld company that came about after one of their trainers Dawn Brancheau was sadly killed by Tilikum an orca whale in the Orlando park. However, this same whale had previously been involved in the death of two other individuals. The documentary covers the history of killer whales who were taken into captivity up until Dawns death.

Ever since the documentary aired SeaWorld have not only been under intense scrutiny by organisations such as PETA but also a rake of other people. In fact, Joan Jett who is famous for her song ‘I love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ demanded that the song be removed from the ‘Shamu Rocks’ show which displays these killer whales.

This was only the beginning of the roller coaster for SeaWorld. Sometimes the only way to learn a lesson is to be thrown in at the deep end and swim. Not Sea-World though. Oh no. They just sunk.

SeaWorld probably did the worst thing when it came to the backlash of this documentary. The only thing they did in this situation was release a statement essentially saying that the documentary was misleading and exploits a tragedy. They attacked the documentary company rather than fix incorrect information. Now if this isn’t the beginning of a PR disaster then what is?

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As another attempt at fixing this PR crisis SeaWorld also released an ad which could be found both on the televison and online. The main purpose of the advertisement was to try an express how much of an effort SeaWorld put in to caring for their marine life, particulary the killer whales. Once again the company quickly came under fire from animal activist groups claiming that it was a direct attack on previous campaigns made against Sea World.

For 2 years (yes, they really ignored this for 2 years) SeaWorld pushed this all to the side and didn’t break breath about the situation. Sometime later they finally decided to try and be pro-active and came up with the campaign #AskSeaWorld. Brilliant idea, eh? Wrong. All this done was give ammunition to everyone who had their backs up about the company being mute for 2 years and were finally able to give their honest opinion on what they thought of SeaWorld.

Would it have been better if SeaWorld ignored the whole situation? Is it true when they say all PR is good PR? I honestly don’t think so. 

Here are a few pointers I would give to any compny that may find themselves in a bit of a PR mess:

1. Honesty really is the best policy – Had SeaWorld been open and honest about what was happening with the documentary and the company they mightn’t have got themselves in the mess they did. Nobody likes a company who is so secretive. Whether or not they thought it was better to stay quiet, 2 years is quite a while and in the long run they just did more harm than good.

2. Devise a plan – Some companies go a lifetime without having any PR issues. However, the best idea would be to have a process in place on how best to manage an issue. Don’t do the automatic reaction that SeaWorld did of jumping down someones throat and insisting that they are being misleading. What good is that going to do you?

3. Admit if you made a mistake – Some may not agree with me on this one. However, I think it’s better for a company to admit when they’ve made a mistake and are willing to learn from it. It almost makes the company look more humble.

After all this, there is one thing I hope SeaWorld actually did right and that is that whoever was in charge of their PR and marketing got the boot.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch Blackfish I strongly recommed you do. As someone who always wanted to go to SeaWorld (thankfully I never got) it gave me a real eye opener about what is actually going on in there.

You can still watch it on Netflix now. Pinch a pals password if you haven’t got an account. It’s okay though, I won’t judge. I still sponge off my sister for it but it’s allowed because we’re students, right? 

Courtney O’Neill is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @Courtneyon21 and Linkedin: @courtneyoneill

It’s Spooky Season

Autumn is easily my favorite time of the year, with the darker evenings, the crisp weather and cosy knitwear it’s the ideal environment for my introverted self to thrive.  But for me, the best part of it all is that ‘Spooky Season’ officially begins.

If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘spooky season’ a quick search on urban dictionary describes it as the fall time of year when everyone gets ‘spooky vibes’. Ground-breaking. This may be meaningless and mundane to most, but not for me.  As a fan of horror and all things twisted, I completely take advantage of the festivities that indulge my fascination of the darker things in life. I know I’m not alone in this, and after making a trip to the cinema to see Joaquinn Phoenix’s performance as ‘Joker’ it got me into the Halloween spirit, with it’s jump scare tactics and graphic scenes.

I think it can be agreed that every day experiences in real life can be grim enough without voluntarily sitting through hours’ worth of uncomfortable and intense remakes, whether it be a horror movie or a true crime show, yet there are many likeminded individuals who love to do it.

So in order to kick off the spooky season and celebrate the festivities, I have contrived a list of my favorite spooks for those cosy Halloween nights in; to spare you the hours of painful Netflix scrolling. Whether it be a gory slasher film or a psychological thriller,  these are some of my top picks:

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  1.           Get out / A quiet place

Both movies are directed by Jordan Peele, both movies equally as entertaining and clever in their own rights. Not the typical horror with demons and ghosts, but with the twisted warp on reality it makes for uncomfortable viewing. (I mean this in the best way).

  • Midsommar

Described as a ‘folk horror film’, this movie is not for the squeamish. The movie focuses on a young couple who travel to their friend’s hometown in Sweden; which just so happens to be celebrating their mid-summer festival during the time of their visit. At first the stay seems like a tranquil retreat but progresses into a series of disturbing events at the hands of a cult. A seriously bizarre watch, and some things I just won’t un-see. (I actually want to apologise to whoever watches this in advance.)

TV Series

  • The Haunting of Hill House

If you like a truly good ghost story this is the show for you. A gripping story line follows the adult lives of the Crain siblings, who are trying to deal with the ghosts from their past from their paranormal experiences in their childhood home. An ideal watch for the month of October to ease you into the Spooky Season.

  • Hannibal

Although it was cancelled after 3 seasons, it is still one of the best watches. Perfect for a rainy afternoon as it’s not overly intense but still fascinating and eery. 10/10 would recommend to a friend.

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Slasher Movies

Slasher movies may not be my go-to, but I think it is only appropriate to include these two titles. Ideal movies to watch with a group of pals, I don’t know anyone who enjoys watching slashers on their own? And if you do you shouldn’t admit to it.  Maybe throw in a bottle of Pinot and some pizza, an ideal setup to help with the scares.

  • Scream250px-Ghostface

This movie is a classic for Halloween time, it’s entertaining and witty but still will have you guessing ‘who did it’ and wincing at the blood and violence. However it can make for a frustrating viewing; apparently common sense completely goes out the window when being chased by a masked serial killer.

  • Halloween

The ‘Halloween’ film series with the infamous crazed killer Michael Myers is full of suspense, the newest addition to the franchise is my favorite so far. Halloween 2018, the ultimate showdown between Mike and Laurie Strode, a survivor of the crazed killer.       A satisfying watch.halloween-david-gordon-green

True Crime

  • Abducted in Plain Sight

Last but not least, ‘Abducted in Plain Sight’. This is a crime documentary on Netflix, probably one of the most bizarre true crime shows I’ve watched, its hard to believe that it is completely factual when watching some of the events unfold. You genuinely have to see it to believe it.

 

Bronagh Carey is a final year student  Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations  at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram bronaghcarey_ and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bronagh-carey-702626173/

How PR is Changing In Today’s Society

The big world of marketing is ever changing and for me it is changing in one-way… everything is digital.

When we would traditionally look at marketing we would think naturally of newspapers, radio, TV ads, posters around the town. However that just simply is no more, everything is digital, on your phone instant, right away. This is partly because with the advancement of technology and internet we have also adapted and changed to the point that we also want everything instant, such as SKY where we don’t even have to watch the ads now, Netflix where we can watch a whole TV show in one sitting instead of waiting weekly.

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Yes, we have watched a 13 episode series, 45 minute long episodes in one night; it happens the best of us. However this goes deeper than just wanting to watch Netflix all night and watch your favourite TV show, its more than that, its Instagram and the perfect life we al want, with our favourite TV stars advertising these products that will make us look like them and the outfits that they are wearing, its all a made up persona filtered through a filtered app which filters reality into something that it isn’t. But regardless of that fact that is the way that marketing is changing.

 

Brands are now looking at influencers instead of posters and flyers which can be backed up by this graph below that shows that there is a massive increase every year from 2015 and this is because of the way that the market is going, with TV shows such as Love Island becoming ever popular, brands are aware that this is the way to market their products.

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In the last twelve months there has been a 325% increase in searches for Influencer Marketing searches on Google, this statistic has came from the InfluencerMarketingHub.

 

Again this shows that no one really is watching TV or posters, as there is a profound increase in digital marketing. This also applies to Facebook and targeted ads as they are also leading the way in that brands are targeting people in order to get them interested in their products. This will in the future result in their being no such thing as big TV ads and newspaper ads as people wont be watching them and this is a change that I feel is definitely coming and I don’t think that there is anything that will prevent this from happening.

Personally I feel that this is a far more engaging form of advertising and a far more customer orientated experience as the business is able to build a personal relationship with the brand and therefore this increases customer’s loyalty, as customers love the idea of having that personal touch with a brand.

 

The massive release of the internet and how its changed has affected everything we used to be so familiar with when it comes to the way that companies advertise and to the way that we as people communicate and there are good and bad effects of this change. There still will always be a place in some parts of society where your local grandma will read the paper and get her local news but I feel that in years to come that will be a nostalgic practice rather than how that person generally gets their news. This shift has made a lot of people and job roles borderline useless however if news agencies and brands adapt to the new times there are massive gains to be made, however if they are trailing their feet they will no doubt go out of business and that is just the harsh reality.

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Personally at the end of the day I feel that this is only a plus the change that the Internet and social media have made in PR today, it makes us more connected and more up to date with the world, but like with anything there is a cost and that cost may be that all of your personal information may not be locked up really secure so that no one can know your DOB, but I feel that you will either accept the changes that is occurring in the world, learn to accept it and grow with society or you will be left behind.

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Netflix: Binge Responsibly

Netflix: Binge Responsibly

We have all done it. Sat down on the sofa with some crisps or a cup of tea and pressed play with the intention of watching an episode of a new series your friend recommended on Netflix. Next thing you know, it is 5am and almost an entire season later. Do you have any regrets? Absolutely not. There is something very satisfying about being able to continue watching and not having to wait until next week to see what happens. In October 2017, Netflix recorded 109.25 million subscribers, which is no doubt growing.

In theory, if you have the time (or are willing to give up a night’s sleep), there is nothing actually wrong with enjoying a Netflix binge is there? I mean, it’s fun, convenient and even legal, so why not? I think if you keep on reading you will hopefully see some of the downsides of Netflix binging…

It is highly addictive. That may sound strange as Netflix is not often associated with addiction.

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In 2013, Netflix hired the anthropologist Grant McCracken to research how people watch TV, given the rise of on-demand streaming services. McCracken found that 61% of people who stream regularly said they binge-watch. A new study from the University of Toledo calls binge-watching “a growing public health concern”. Of 408 people surveyed, 77% watched two or more hours of TV a day. Researchers also found that binge-watching had a positive correlation with poor mental and physical wellbeing.

You may think there is nothing wrong with an episode or three a night of ‘Stranger Things’, but only the most disciplined can switch off when Netflix’s auto play promises the next episode in 13 seconds.CS16

Like any addiction, the harm ultimately lies in what it’s taking you away from. A lot of these shows stop you living in the moment.

Some Netflix shows are so short, it’s easy to convince yourself that just one more episode won’t hurt. With other shows, it is the plot that tests your strength to step away. I can vividly remember the moment I finished all 6 seasons of Gossip Girl. I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself now that my relationships with Blair and Serena were officially over. No I am not a crazy person with no life…I know for a fact that there are SO many girls out there who felt the same way!

The video streaming giant Netflix even recognised these dangers and jumped on the ‘bingeing’ bandwagon by introducing a light-hearted PR campaign for April Fool’s in 2013 with the message of, ‘Binge Responsibly’. If you watched more than 2 episodes consecutively, a video suddenly appeared, and an actress or actor from one of the company’s original shows warned the watcher against the perils of binge-watching.

 

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Like many people, I can struggle to sleep at night. This can often be the reason why I sign into Netflix at 2am, with the hope that it will help me nod off. Of course, this is never really the case. Well my friends, let me introduce you to Napflix – the Netflix for people who need to sleep, and it is a genius PR strategy! Napflix is a Spanish video platform which helps people get to sleep whilst also satisfying our Netflix habits. The platform finds you ‘the most silent and sleepy content selection to relax your brain and easily fall asleep’. There’s a menu that offers you videos about anything from religion to sports to music and is believed to help you into a deep slumber.

Here is a rather alarming statement; I calculated the approximate hours I have spent watching Netflix series, (excluding movies which I couldn’t even begin to go through), since September. The combination of watching Stranger Things, Beyond Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Riverdale and Gossip Girl (2 seasons) has totalled to 76.8 hours. For the entire year, I have calculated that approximately 335.15 hours of my 2017 has been spent watching a series on Netflix. That equates to nearly 14 days. Keeping in mind, this excludes movies and series not on Netflix such as Game of Thrones. If that isn’t a wake-up call I don’t know what is. It’s so easily done, and I would not have said that I had that much spare time on my hands this year (especially with the amount of complaining I did about how busy I was).

The worst of it is, I don’t even watch that much compared to a lot of people I know. When I do watch it, it is often on in the background whilst I go about my day. However, it will still slow me down as I progressively get engrossed in an episode and its characters. If you are also an avid Netflix watcher, I recommend you sit down and use ‘Binge Clock’ to do the same, I guarantee you will be surprised at the figure and will make you view your use of time with a whole new perspective!

Wait…you mean to say… no Netflix binge? What on earth would one do with their spare time? Here are a few crazy, out-of-the-box ideas;

  • Read a book about a subject you have always been interested in, but ‘never had the time’ to start – you never know what you’ll learn.
  • Spend more time with family.
  • Get ahead on university work which will lessen the future dissertation stress.
  • Go to the gym or for a walk, you will feel better after!
  • For those midnight Netflix burners, have some will power and try not to watch the next episode. Believe it or not – sleep is important.

As 2018 dawned, my New Year’s resolution was to Netflix binge responsibly, I can definitely think of ways I can put the potential extra fortnight saved to good use in final year of university…and so can you!

Chloe Stewart is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @ChloeStewart8 or reach out on LinkedIn at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-stewart-007150a4/

Big Brother is watching you…

Towards the end of 2016 Spotify put its abundance of listener data and insights to playful use in a new Out-Of-Home ad campaign, placing billboards globally after an initial release in the UK, US, France and Germany.

The adverts were created by the company’s in-house marketing team and revealed some of the weird and wonderful habits of its users, using accumulated and even some personal data, Spotify generated headlines such as;

“Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?”

“Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year, can you get us tickets?”

Spotify then ended many of the billboards with the tagline “Thanks 2016. It’s been weird.” In ways a celebration of both a great year for music and also the continued support and listenership of its users.

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The ad campaign by Spotify was clever and engaging and was received extremely positively by consumers for the most part.  What they managed to do in a way was to humanise the technology – this worked particularly well based on the personal and emotional connection that people have to it.

 

A not so successful story for Netflix…

On December 11th 2017, Netflix tried to apply a similar approach to Spotify in customer data and insight sharing, only this time using their Twitter account as the medium.

Netflix revealed that 53 people had watched its latest Christmas movie ‘A Christmas Prince’ everyday for the past 18 days, adding to the end of the tweet – “Who hurt you?”  The tweet has gained more than 100,000 retweets and 400,000 favourites at the time of writing.

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The tweet was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, but has faced a massive backlash from consumers, with many users describing it as being “creepy”.  The tweet has also managed to kick off a debate around how closely the company is watching its customers, and raises the questions, what exactly can it do with the data generated by the viewing habits of its users, and more alarming, how many people in the company have access to the data.

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Netflix were quick to defend the tweet and certainly didn’t feel that they had anything to apologise for.  They did however, reassure their users that their privacy was not totally being invaded with an official statement saying; “The privacy of our members’ viewing is important to us.”

But the question is – how did Netflix fail at something that Spotify managed to do so well?

The Spotify campaign had an underlying positive tone to it, celebrating the weird and wonderful habits of its users.  One the other hand, Netflix took a slightly harsher tone in their tweet.  ‘A Christmas Prince’ is a movie that they produced and marketed and it follows a format not unlike the ever-popular Hallmark Christmas movies.  The tweet comes across as a little judgemental, shaming those for falling in love/becoming maybe a little obsessed with their movie.

It could also be perhaps that people hold different emotional connections to music and TV or Movies.  Therefore, to be potentially confronted by your TV viewing habits would feel a lot more intrusive than for someone to know what music you’re in to.

Up until now we thought that the scariest feature about Netflix was the ‘Are you STILL watching’ screen that may pop up while you’ve been watching the latest addictive series for 4…5…10 hours straight (no judgement here!).  Now we know they’re documenting everything we watch.

Is this a PR disaster?  Maybe, a little.  Will it have lasting impact on the company?  Probably not – people will still continue to ‘Netflix and chill’ and binge watch their favourite TV series.  Perhaps next time though…Netflix should think of all the implications before trying to be funny on Twitter.

 

Jonny Allen is a final year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University.  You can find him on LinkedIn here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonny-allen-257237112/

The strange thing about Stranger Things

The strange thing about Stranger Things

Two unheard of writers with no previous television hits, a bunch of dorky Dungeons and Dragons playing kids, and a random girl with a shaved head and some freaky powers. How did all of this turn in to the most watched Netflix series to date?

Note: For those who do not watch Stranger Things, I do apologise for the references in this post that you will not understand.

If you haven’t yet seen Stranger Things, then you must be living under a rock (or in the ‘Upside Down’, but you obviously don’t know what that is). The thrilling Netflix series is set in a small fictional town in Indiana named Hawkins and stars four young monster-obsessed boys.

The sci-fi sensation crept on to our Netflix home pages with an unanticipated effect. Fans of ET and the Goonies would be patiently waiting for the series arrival. But how did the non-monster loving fans get so hooked?

The phenomenon that is Stranger Things took the world by storm, so much so that people are wondering what they ever did without the show.  According to the shows writers, the Duffer brothers, the show was rejected 15 to 20 times by various networks before Netflix took it on (Thank you Netflix).

 So what is the strange thing about Stranger Things?

 Unfamiliarity 

Prior to watching Stranger Things, had you heard of any of the cast before? Probably not.  Most of them have had brief TV appearances before, except of course for Winona Ryder (Will’s mum) who is said to be one of the most iconic actresses of the 1990s.

The unfamiliarity of the cast is immensely successful, despite all odds. It is interesting to watch the characters and develop your own opinion on them, rather than comparing them to a previous show you’ve seen them in. Think about it, do you really see Daniel Radcliffe in any other film and not instantly think of Harry Potter?

Dustin GIF

 The kids

There is typicality about shows on Netflix nowadays with most being drug, prison or White House related. So what made Stranger Things stand out?

It’s simple – the kids! Of course, the story line itself is a very far stretch from drug mules and prison gangs but ultimately it’s the use of unheard of kid actors that make it so original. I think Stranger Things has everything that Netflix was missing – a cute adorable little dork like Dustin.

It’s difficult to grasp the challenge of a series starring teenagers, but not specifically directed towards a teenage audience and the Duffer Brothers did this perfectly! The average age of the Stranger Things fans is 18-29, a social media obsessed audience, which is evident in its media coverage online.

As well as this, there is a relatability about Stranger Things.

Dungeons and Dragons author David Ewalt says,

“You don’t have to have been a nerd in the 1980s to see yourself in one of those kids,” Ewalt continues. “We were all kids and we were all kids who faced our own monsters, whatever they were, and we’re going to relate to these characters who have a mission and troubles they have to face. Even a kid who’s that age today can look at Stranger Things and relate to it.”

Group GIF

 Nostalgia and the absence of tech

Imagine if Lucas, Will, Dustin and Mike could Snapchat each other instead of using walky-talkies? What if Will could somehow text his mum from the Upside Down instead of talking to her through the light bulbs? Or if Nancy put out a ‘Missing person! Find Barb, please like and share’ on Facebook?

Lightbulb GIF

The absence of modern technology makes it for a much more exciting series. By stripping communication lines back to that day in 1983, it has our adrenaline racing considerably more.

 What is even stranger about Stranger Things?

As I previously said, there was nothing to warn us about the arrival of the demogorgon, the shadow monster or the darkness of the upside down.

So how did this sci-fi thriller turn in to an overnight sensation?

Just plain and simple Word of Mouth marketing

It’s easy, we trust our friends! If your friend tells you with their blood shot eyes that they have shamelessly been living under a duvet and bingeing on Stranger Things for two days, you are going to believe that it really must be something worth watching.

I need Help

Sometimes, word of mouth marketing is the only option, and it is a huge risk. The Duffer Brothers had a low budget and therefore had to gamble that people would love the show, and then talk about how much they loved the show – and this is exactly what they did.

Thanks to the success of Season 1, The Duffer Brothers had extra budget to splurge out on the ultimate advertising opportunity for the Season 2 premiere – The Super bowl. It captured the most social media buzz out of the 65 ads that were showcased during the game and generated an undeniable excitement 9 months before the series even returned to Netflix.

Strange Partnerships

What could be better than Topshop AND Stranger Things? The quick-witted Topshop launched an exclusive collection in partnership with Netflix to join in on the Season 2 excitement, and obviously massively increase their sales – clever Topshop! They flaunted Stranger Things retro inspired tshirts, jumpers and bags as well as a massive in-store Hawkins experience at their Oxford Circus store.

There is no doubt about the massive buzz about the new sci-fi Stranger Things, a show you never thought you would be this obsessed with (I know I didn’t). However, if you made it to the end of this blog and still haven’t watched Stranger things…

ST Shocked

…why haven’t you?

Loren Ward is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @lorenward and LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/loren-ward-b93049a8