Tag: Christmas

‘WORKING’ IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

It’s not quite how the Christmas classic is remembered, however here at Open Comms we are less walking and more working in a Winter Wonderland!

Unique workspaces

Companies up and down the country seem obsessed with trying to come up with the latest innovative ideas to create the most unique workspaces.

Whether it’s a ping pong table, bean bags, themed break-out areas or the brightest and boldest colour schemes; the latest office trends are certainly a far cry from the more traditional desk, chair and computer.

But is designing a weird and wacky office space, which can often be unnecessary and costly, really the best way to create a positive company culture?

Productivity through place

No matter the layout or features, an office is still an office with one main function; a place where we come to work every day.

Also, could it be argued that these ‘unique’ workspaces are a distraction to employees and only likely to get in the way of their daily tasks? Can companies guarantee productivity will improve or at least remain the same?

There has never been such emphasis on the health and wellbeing of the workforce, irrelevant of the company or sector you work in, so it is understandable that these trends will start to top the to-do list for business owners.

With many organisations having undergone such drastic and expensive changes in recent years, it begs the question – are there much simpler ways to create a positive company culture that encourages people to have fun whilst also working?

Deck the halls!

This is something Open Communications does very well!

I walked into the office on Tuesday morning and was starting the day with a smile on my face. Our headquarters in Wakefield had been transformed into a festive winter wonderland.

The impact was immediate as we all embraced the Christmas spirit, gazing at the tinsel, baubles and trees that had brought the office to life and added some festive sparkle and a touch of magic in each room.

With a client list operating across a wide range of industries, daily life at Open Comms can often be fast paced and no two days are the same, so it is fair to say we are a busy bunch. But ever since our office has been immersed by Christmas decorations, there has been a renewed sense of unity and excitement among the team as we are set to finish what has been an extremely productive year.

I really do believe that celebrating occasions such as this can prove to be hugely benefit, not only to individual employees, but also to a company as a whole.

Keeping a good morale among the workplace will mean people enjoy coming to the office every morning and it adds even more anticipation to the Christmas holidays! The happier the employee, the more productive they’ll be.

We will be working hard as ever but enjoying the run up to the Christmas and New Year break surrounded by our decorations and perhaps just a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two!

Merry Christmas from all at Open Communications

THE HUMBLE CATALOGUE AND CHRISTMAS

Argos Christmas Advert

There are few things that say Christmas past like the humble catalogue. Like many families, when we were deciding on our list for Santa Claus, we would reach for the Argos catalogue. It was an annual ritual that signalled the countdown to the arrival of a stocking full of presents.

Pages of toys lay before us as we chose one thing only to replace it by another. We never got bored and would crease the pages to mark the gifts that we finally decided upon.

I hadn’t thought about our Christmas routine for years. Then, out of the blue, I read an article which announced that Argos would be putting the catalogue centre stage. It was to become the focus of their festive advert.

Capturing the magic of Christmas

Thoughts filled my head about how the brand would capture the magic and have us all regressing back to our childhoods. Memories flooded back and I got a warm and fuzzy feeling that made me smile and remember how excited we used to get.

When the advert was posted online, I eagerly clicked and waited for the story to appear before me.

Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived. The advert shows a man looking through the catalogue and finding that his daughter had circled a drum kit. The toy kit comes to life and he is seen playing it before his child joins in.

Missing the mark

The advert isn’t bad per se, but I just feel it has missed the mark. Rather than capturing the feeling that many of us had when we were looking through the catalogue as children, it focuses on the drum kit, and a bear. I’ve since found out the bear is a favourite this year.

The concept for this advert is a stroke of genius and really simple – but the execution just doesn’t do it justice.

Hearing that Amazon has brought out a catalogue makes it clear that Argos has competition. It puts further spotlight on the importance of printed materials. People like to flick through and see pictures. They like to open a humble catalogue and make notes or fold over the corner of pages to mark content of interest.

Owning an experience

Argos has owned this experience for years and could have used this creative as an opportunity to reiterate that it belongs to the brand. Instead it has tried to be all things to all people.

The message should have been simple: the Argos catalogue creates an experience that all children, of all ages can access and enjoy. It’s such a shame that this doesn’t come across in the final piece. Without the narrative, I’m not sure that people would see the significance of the humble catalogue in this advert.

A festive silver lining

While the final piece didn’t blow me away, it has encouraged conversation in the office and perhaps this is all the attention that Argos needs.

I suspect that those that do make the link between the countdown to Christmas and the Argos catalogue will go and pick one up. The truth is that only time will tell if the creative is strong enough to translate into sales.

If you would like to see the advert, then click on the YouTube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNPINhJuJo

AGENCY TURNS DOSH TO DINNERS WITH DONATION TO DISTRICT FOOD BANK

Christmas v2

In the countdown to Christmas, we decided that this year we would literally turn the dosh that we would typically invest in gifts for our clients into dinners for the Districts most needy.

With pleas from food banks in the local area increasing in the run up to the festive season (a shocking reality for most of us), we decided that the money which would traditionally be spent on treats for clients would be better invested in ensuring that local people have something tasty to eat during the winter months.

The combined average cost of presents that we purchase year on year has meant that we have been able to donate a pile of delicious food including filling soups, pasta, sauces, chocolate, sugar, tea, potatoes and canned vegetables, along with some every day necessities such as soap and toothpaste.

We decided to support St Catherine’s Church and Centre in Belle Vue, Wakefield as it is the food bank closest to our offices at Nostell Priory Estate Yard. You can find out more about what they are doing by following them on twitter @StCathsChurch or visiting their Facebook page www.facebook.com/StCaths.

The team at the Centre work so hard to make sure that food parcels are put together for those who need them and although it is nothing short of devastating to think that there is an increasing demand for their services these people are a real inspiration.

St Catherine's

It wasn’t until visiting the food bank that we learnt that some businesses, like us, has chosen to support the cause but they had donated gifts rather than food. This means that when adults come to collect their parcels they will also get a small present for their children this Christmas. What a wonderful gesture.

It was during the visit that we also found out that the Community Centre works with a further organisation, Community Awareness Programme, or CAP for short. This organisation provides hot meals for people who are unable to provide for themselves. I was absolutely stunned to hear that in ONE single day the charity had served no fewer than 80 hot meals!

Here at Open Communications we are calling on other local businesses large and small to speak to their clients and think about the real meaning of Christmas; to give back to the community and help those most in need who will otherwise go without.

I can’t believe that we are living in a society where food banks are becoming increasingly common. We have to do something to make sure that people are at the very least fed and watered, not just because it’s Christmas but because it’s the right thing to do.

We are very fortunate that our clients will think none the less of us for choosing to do this and we know that they will support our decision to give a large trolley of produce to the food bank. Many businesses are unable to accept gifts from third party suppliers anyway and often hampers and expensive treats simply go into a raffle. I would urge other agencies and businesses to consider spending the money or a proportion of it on produce that will give a family a decent meal this Christmas time.

I don’t mind admitting that I had a little cry on the way back from the food bank – why are we living in a society where we can’t provide enough food for those who need it most? We are not a third world country and while we all spend far too much on things we don’t need this Christmas, and eat so much we are fit to burst, let’s all share a thought for those who have nothing and will go hungry.

I’m pleased that we have been in a position to donate the food that we did to the bank and although this is not going to have the impact that we would like – it will be used to support some of the people from the local community who are unable to feed themselves and their families. Better still if more businesses do the same then we know that we can have an even greater impact.

I am very proud that the team came together to give something back and would like to personally thank those working at St Catherine’s for doing what they do each and every day. The ladies at the Centre were getting particularly excited by a Christmas party that they are arranging for the young children in the area and it was great to see something so positive coming out of a situation that is so devastating.  They are a real example of the true value and meaning of Christmas, which in the most part revolves around sharing, caring and most importantly of all, a smile!

Merry Christmas from all at Open Comms.

Christmas v1

 

Seasonality leads to sales

It seems to me that brand success and the sustainability of a business can often be determined by seasonality. You don’t have to go far at the moment to see that most brands are launching their Christmas campaigns, with many competing for the title of best festive TV advertisement.

Seasonality is just as important when it comes to PR. Some of the best stories take into account the changing seasons, occasions or events that allow us to engage with our customers and prospects, using topical themes to entice interest. Quite often the campaigns that work best are those that rely on keeping it simple; building on messaging people will expect but adding a creative twist.

What surprises me is when brands haven’t considered seasonal activity or the opportunities that these planned events can deliver. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as Christmas advertising or January sales but what about Valentine’s Day, the Rugby Union World Cup and Easter or the Tour de France? Will you be doing something to capitalise upon one of the biggest sporting events in the country next year? I was recently sent a link to a video that has been commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park and as well as being very well edited and put together, it made me smile and reminded me of what we have to offer in the region:

It’s obvious that this video has been commissioned to raise a smile and to support the fact that the Tour de France will pass through many of the Dales villages. What it also does very well is showcase the friendly nature of the people, the amazing scenery and some of the quirky businesses that trade in the Dales.

Using this as just one example, is there something quirky that you could do which perhaps wouldn’t be expected but would build on seasonal sales? As an example, if you are a watch manufacturer and the clocks are going forward, is there an option for you to stay open an hour later or to provide discounts during the ‘lost hour’ in that day.

There are lots of things you can do around annual occasions whatever your business and if there isn’t a day, week or month that you think you can capitalise upon, then I would suggest that you take just half an hour out of your day to sit down with your team and put together a planning session. All you need to do is grab a piece of paper, or a pad of post-it notes and a pen and think of all the seasonal occasions or events that are taking place throughout 2014. You can then dismiss those that you don’t feel can add any value, while working on those that you believe could be used to market your business.

This is often a great way to find out what team members are interested in, as they will come up with suggestions you perhaps hadn’t even thought about.

There have been some great PR campaigns in recent years which have focused on a strong events calendar including the Royal wedding, Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics and although we are unlikely to have a similar run of activities in the years to come, we can plan for those things that we know will happen.

To get people started why don’t you share your favourite seasonal or event specific campaigns with us, we’re sure that there is something that has not only caught your eye but also your attention over recent months and that is what good PR and strong creative ideas are all about – building a brand and reinforcing the importance of a positive reputation, which in turn drives sales all year round.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s that time of year again, the countdown is now a daily update as opposed to a monthly or weekly ‘warning’, smug looks are exchanged by those who are organised and panic stricken wide eyes respond from those (like me) who are not. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I’m not one for celebrating the countdown from August, or even thinking about anything festive until late October, early November. I don’t think it’s fair on people who have children to be making comments about Santa Claus or present lists, unless a naughty moment calls for the odd ‘seasonal warning’ here and there – you know the one’s, Santa Claus is watching and I’ll be putting a call in later if you don’t behave…

I am certainly no Scrooge, I love Christmas and coming from a large extended family, I enjoy meeting with people and taking the time to share in some festive cheer (or cheers as tends to be the case with my family and friends).

Getting excited about Christmas is fun and everyone I know seems to have their own sign that the countdown for them has truly begun; for me it’s the launch of the Christmas adverts. Perhaps it’s because of the industry that we work in but I always get a warm feeling inside when large retailers and household brands showcase their seasonal TV adverts.

What really interest’s me is the story boards that each brand, or more deservedly their agencies, comes up with and the creative concept behind the piece, along with the call to action. Last year ASDA hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons with their ‘Behind every great Christmas there’s Mum’ campaign, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it made a valid point, certainly in our household, and the messaging was clear. Still you can’t please everyone.

Last night, whilst catching some evening TV, I stumbled across the Marks and Spencer Christmas advert. My first thought was, phew, I bet that cost a pretty penny but then watching the creative and following the story I was drawn into a land of make believe, with subtle product placements throughout.

The concept was certainly well thought through; a digital collage of fairy-tale moments packaged with a great big festive bow, sprinkled with celebrity faces, topped off with a clear marketing message; ‘Believe in Magic & Sparkle’. The whole piece was beautifully executed.

It’s only fair that I admit to not liking last year’s festive advert from John Lewis, I didn’t ‘get it’ and was never entirely sure of what all the fuss was about, other than the fact that a major retailer had put significant budgets into above the line (no real shock there!).

However… the advert from John Lewis this year is really impressive. I won’t go as far as to say that it brought a tear to my eye, but I did think about it. I love the animation (as it reminds me of a cross between Watership Down and Guess How Much I Love You) and the soundtrack from Lily Allen is to be nothing short of applauded. The story is Christmassy, without being sickening, and the call to action is subtly dropped in at the end to complete the piece. A gift wrapped story that is fit for the whole family, no matter what your age.

I’m really looking forward to watching more of the Christmas adverts as they hit our screens and will also be interested to see how many of the brands have thought to extend their creative into print, in order to engage further with consumers at a time of such high spend and competition.

People seem to have their favourite adverts during the festive season and I’m really interested to hear what your preferred options are. I do have an all-time favourite, which still gives me butterflies years on and I don’t believe that any brand has quite mastered or captured the spirit that this particular creative is able to deliver…

I give you, ‘Holidays are coming…’

Not only do I feel that this advert is synonymous with Christmas because the brand has chosen to build on it each year, as opposed to come up with something completely different, but the team have also built on it with competitions, digital activity and charitable donations.

An integrated campaign that can deliver year on year deserves a real festive thumbs up so well done Coca Cola, you get my vote every time.