The impact of Christmas TV adverts

Christmas Lights Nov 2017

Summer has been and gone, Halloween is over for another year and the sound of fireworks have vanished. Now the sign of Christmas is everywhere you look.

I’m not the most festive person (I’m a Grinch) but surely everyone else agrees that Christmas adverts filling our ad breaks as early as the 7th of November is too much, too early?

This year brands will be spending a record £6bn on Christmas advertising with John Lewis spending a huge £7m on #MozTheMonster.

As a PR executive, I am intrigued how the 2011 John Lewis advert named – the long wait – has paved the way for brands to go above and beyond, turning Christmas TV ads in to big-budget campaigns across different platforms.

Social media plays a huge role leading up to the release of a Christmas TV advert. Engagement and impressions are the goal of this new generation of advertising and success is measured by views and shares online. It’s no surprise that for another year, John Lewis had the highest number of public social media mentions and most positive mentions.

Impact of Christmas TV adverts
Image from Brandwatch

Not only have John Lewis created the Moz the Monster advert for 2017 they have continued to sell ad-focused merchandise including cuddly toy, branded mugs, a storybook of the film, and pyjamas and slippers. The flagship store on Oxford Street, claims it has the first farting and snoring window display and a number of stores have ‘Monster Maker’ stations, where customers can create their own Moz selfies.

It’s not just John Lewis, department store Marks & Spencer has teamed up with Paddington Bear and echoes the tactics used by John Lewis. This year M&S will provide up to 90 products including a soft toy version of Paddington and an adult duffel coat. M&S will host children’s book readings in store and encourage staff to carry out ‘random acts of kindness’ such as free marmalade sandwiches in the cafe´.

These campaigns generate millions of YouTube views and endless amounts of coverage that dominates the UK media. Its been six years since John Lewis hijacked Christmas, and I don’t think this phenomenon shows any sign of disappearing.

The survey of over 1,000 adults by the Advertising Association, showed that a third of Brits are more excited for the launch of Christmas adverts than the festive movie slate that includes Star Wars: The Last Jedi. With One in six said that they had in the past changed plans to watch the premiere of their favourite Christmas advert.

Karen Fraser, director of Credo, says: 2Christmas is a key time for advertisers large and small. Businesses delivering advertising with emotional resonance can be rewarded with powerful, long-term effects into the new year and beyond.”

Research from vlogging community Channel Mum does put into doubt whether the millions of pounds spent on Christmas TV adverts have any impact when it comes to where people, especially mums, choose to shop at this time of year.

Five in six mothers (84%) reported the ads do not change where they shop, even though they like to watch the commercials. Only one in 20 said it would change where they shop if they like a store’s ad, while the same number said the same about a brand’s advertising all-year round.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of, said: “Despite some ads taking a year to plan and costing a rumoured £7m each, this year’s festive crop have left families feeling rather flat. None have the seasonal ‘wow factor’ or special festive feeling that is always so eagerly anticipated.

It was also suggested that this may signal a turning point for retailers and after realising the film-style epics aren’t guaranteed to get the till jingling we may see a shift to spread spend more deep and evenly throughout the year.

Christmas TV adverts are still wholly enjoyed by the Shorthose team and here’s a roundup of SRL’s favourite festive ads:

John Lewis – #UnderTheBed

Aldi – #KevinAndKatie

Debenhams – #YouShall

Sainsburys – #EveryBitOfChristmas

M&S – #LoveTheBear

Tesco – #EveryonesWelcome

Driving brand awareness with influencer marketing

Alex Wing Blogger

Influencer marketing is the most effective way to reengage and motivate consumers because it harnesses the power of authentic, meaningful content, created by consumers, for consumers. It’s trusted and valuable, rather than interruptive and contrived.

With consumers craving genuine and authentic content about you and your brand, there’s no better time to harness the most effective and powerful PR tool – word of mouth.

A buzzword for the marketing industry in 2017 has been ‘influencer marketing’ which is the practice of partnering with those who have influence online, often bloggers via their blog or social media channels to drive awareness for your brand.

Many brands know that they should be including an influencer strategy into their marketing objectives but what are the reasons why you should be doing this?

It is an opportunity to create awareness for your brand

The main business objective of any brand is to create awareness of your product to your audience. It may be to create a buzz to your existing audience or it may be to spark interest in a new market, working with an influencer is the ideal way to do this. Often called the modern journalist, bloggers have a platform to feature your brand to thousands and even millions of people in a very personable and genuine way.

Influencers are a trusted voice

According to research, 60% of YouTube subscribers would take advice on what to purchase from their favourite YouTube creator. It is the authenticity between a brand and influencer partnership which aids this decision making for their audience, that’s why you should always work with someone who naturally resonates with your brand and message.

They bring creativity and new ideas to the table

Farewell to the humble press release! Content creators are fantastic at bringing their very own ‘out of the box’ ideas to any campaign. Since influencers are working on their own platform they are free to push the creative boundaries. As a blog, YouTube channel and social media are such interactive digital spaces, unlike a product review in a magazine, there are so many different ways to bring content to life.

It is channeling this creativity which brings me to how Shorthose Russell have embarked on our own influencer journey. Most recently we have worked with Mini Travellers, one of the Top 10 Family Travel Blogs in the UK, and our client Kelling Heath.

We invited Norfolk-based Mini Traveller contributor, Alex Wing, and his young family to enjoy a stay at Kelling Heath. Kelling has most recently been awarded Dark Sky Discovery Status and is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty which offers up plenty of opportunities for families to embark on holiday adventures. We tapped into this family travel market by inviting Alex and family to stay during October half-term, to show that North Norfolk can be enjoyed at any time of year!

You can read the full review of Kelling Heath over on the Mini Travellers blog, here.
Not only did Alex write a really exciting and engaging review of Kelling Heath he also created a short film of the family’s stay which we are sure would inspire anyone to enjoy an autumnal trip to Norfolk.

All images courtesy of Alex Wing and Mini Travellers

Find out more about influencer marketing for your business – contact us.

Like what you’ve read? Take a read of our blog post about transparent advertising.

Telling stories for the country’s biggest two day show

Royal Norfolk Show Stories - lady holding lamb

Show time never stops at Shorthose Russell. As one Royal Norfolk Show ends, we’re already planning creative campaigns for the next. Whether through PR and media coverage, digital marketing or traditional display advertising on the buses of Norwich, it is our job to bring the UK’s largest two-day county show to life. A big part of this year’s campaign was our #ShowStories video project – here’s what we got up to.

The brief
The Royal Norfolk Show encapsulates everything that is great about our county and the agricultural community, not only in Norfolk but across the UK. We proposed to produce a video series to be advertised on social media telling the stories of The Show through its people. From competing young farmers to networking businesses, we sought to cover the full range of people who treasure the event and take part year after year.

Our approach
We identified three key themes of The Show which would form the basis of our campaign:
1. Food, Farming and The Countryside
2. Celebrating the Arts
3. Innovation and Enterprise

Fundamentally, we wanted to celebrate the human element of the Royal Norfolk Show and give viewers a behind-the-scenes insight into why and how different people get involved. The videos were to be short, creative and easily sharable across social media. Facebook campaigns were also planned, aiming to reach very targeted demographics of people based on the content of each of the videos.

The campaign
Once our video themes had been identified, we paired up local businesses and participants who we thought fitted the individual briefs. We then discussed with the video stars our objectives and finalised scripts, locations and dates for filming. All of the videos were edited in house and promoted on Facebook in the weeks leading up to the event. The campaign reached well over 100,000 people, generating 70,000 video plays.

Red Poll Cattle Farmer, Megan Jenkins
Theme: agriculture and farming

Show Stories – Megan Jenkins from Shorthose Russell on Vimeo.

Co-Founder of Crush Foods, Stephen Newham
Theme: artisan producer

Show Stories – Crush Foods from Shorthose Russell on Vimeo.

Wherry Yacht Charter Trustee, John Ash
Theme: tourism and charity

Show Stories – John Ash from The Wherry Yacht Charter from Shorthose Russell on Vimeo.

Founder of Crop Angel LTD, Chris Eglington
Theme: technology

Show Stories – Crop Angel from Shorthose Russell on Vimeo.

Partner at Brown & Co, Andrew Fundell
Theme: business

Show Stories – Brown & Co from Shorthose Russell on Vimeo.


5 Reasons Why Clickbait Articles Are Irresistible (You Won’t Believe Number 4!)

outbrain clickbait

Since the dawn of social media and the rise of digital sharing, we’ve been bombarded by clickbait titles but why do they get us reading things we never usually would?

Where Do You Find Clickbait?

Usually comes from people who reaaally need the traffic. Or for topics that are, frankly, pretty boring.

Most major news institutions don’t delve to the depths of clickbait we see below, mainly because they have 000,000’s of followers and users who navigate to the site naturally/directly and want to engage with the news.

For the time being, titles like The Independent, Guardian, Sun & Daily Mail etc are all swimming above the tide of clickbait (not that they don’t use many of the techniques – see loaded language).

Expectation Management

From the moment you see the headline, you know EXACTLY what to expect from the article. The answer is promised in the title. These are “Value-Laden statements”.

Hubspot Clickbait

In the Hubspot example above, I know i’ll find 18 knowledge nuggets on SEO.

This titular expectation management is like changing Inception’s name to “A Dream Within A Dream, Within A Dream, But You’re Not Sure If It’s Definitely A Dream”.

Value comes not only what you will learn from the article, but the amount of emotion added into it.
More on the significance of this later…(loaded language)

Clear Communications

Closely related to managing what a user expects to see, is clear communication.

Communicating clearly is a fundamental principle of UX.

The Godfather of UX, Steve Krug called his UX guide “Don’t Make Me Think: The Common Sense Approach To UX”.

Let’s break the title (Don’t Make Me Think) down; not having to think about something means you understand it.
If you understand something you’re more likely to engage, compared to exerting the mental effort to understand and then engage.

If you get your message to the user in the simplest way possible, you’ll probably win, as most users will understand and see the value in it, rather than ignoring it. Convenience is King. This goes for language too.

UX is a key ranking factor for SEO, so is creating content for outreach/link building programmes. It’s no surprise that clickbait articles and outreach go hand in hand – take a topic that is generally seen as boring, give them a reason to read, tell the user exactly what to expect, then deliver it simply.

Clear, But Vague Enough To Make You Click

Whatever a website does (selling or offering advice), it needs visitors.

If there’s a cash machine outside the bank, why would you go inside to withdraw the money?

Because they need your presence on their site, you need to be tempted in rather than giving it away.

Clickbait example

Looking at these ‘Top Stories’ from News Now (a content aggregation site).

Only the Mirror, Daily Mail and Mirror actually tell you the subject of their headlines.
The others (including regional outlets like Manchester Evening News and free paper Metro) all hope to tempt the user by ensuring they visit the site to get the information.
Any of the ‘potential signings’ discussed above are not named, but they give just enough information to narrow it down.

Knowing Your Audience

The key to a good clickbait headline is in the author’s knowledge of the audience they’re writing to.

When you intimately understand your audience, you know what will captivate them as opposed to ‘hitting and hoping’.

Authors know Man Utd fans want the latest info on potential new signings as it’s exciting and might mean they can get knowledge ahead of others and spread it around, either chatting to mates or sharing it on social media.

Emotive/Loaded language

Clickbait titles often include:

  • Touching your insecurities ‘you can’t afford to ignore…’ ,
  • Induce some FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) with ‘You Won’t Believe What’,
  • Your likes and dislikes
  • Your aspirations

You’re bombarded on an emotional level.
Some clickbait articles can be swatted away like flies, but others are hard to ignore.

An example of ‘Loaded Language’ is this clip from American sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Frank (Danny Devito) appears on local news, describing how he was attacked and would’ve been killed had he not had a gun, which he bought from Gunther’s Guns.
This prompts ‘The Gang’ to get emotionally involved in opposing sides of the gun debate, at the end you learn Frank did it because he just bought shares in the Gun Shop and because of the uproar has made loads of money.

Sound familiar?

Danny Devito clickbait

Politics often uses loaded language, most recent political campaigns have been shaped by loaded language Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ and Theresa May’s ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s Coalition of Chaos’ barbs shaped the way the information is shared and reacted to online.

Why do this? Because once you’re emotionally involved you’re more likely to make impulse actions/purchases/decisions.

Footnote: Everybody does it.

Even the BBC has started to do it.

BBC Clickbait

Because they know their audience and they have to compete for the attention of their audience who don’t get their information through traditional means (TV, Newspapers etc).

In Summary

There’s nothing bad about clickbait headlines, but the tendency to click because of the title, to find the content doesn’t deliver, really annoys users.

Clickbait titles/articles work because they:

1. Tell you exactly what to expect. (Expectation Management)
2. Give you easy to understand information (Clear Communication)
3. Vague enough to make you visit (Clear, But Vague)
4. Know what their audience will respond to (Know Your Audience)
5. Make sure you can’t ignore them (Emotive/Loaded Language)

Co-creating content with bloggers and vloggers

Co-creating content with bloggers and vloggers

Working with influencers, whether they be bloggers, YouTubers, instagrammers or snapchatters, is an important part of modern day public relations. PR is evolving and with audiences engaging in new ways we all need to be ahead of the curve with how we communicate to them.

The opportunity to create content with influencers is really exciting for PR’s and our clients. It gives us the chance to be creative, personable and engaging. When PR Moment announced their latest event ‘Co-creating partnership content with bloggers and vloggers’ we knew we had to head to London to hear from leading influencers and agencies on how they have co-created content that works.

Carry on reading below to see what our main takeaways from the event were…

1. Go where your audience is

It’s not all about ‘the blog’ there are influencers over all social media channels who your audience are following and engaging with, giving you a platform to project your message.

Do your research!

What are your audience’s favourite channels? If you haven’t used it for a campaign before, don’t be afraid to try something new, you could be a trendsetter. Who are your audience going to for information? There is no quick and easy way to identify this so browse keywords, hashtags and even check out what the competition is doing.

Remember that working with influencers will mean the way you receive ‘coverage’ will evolve. It definitely won’t be the traditional two page spread in a national newspaper, which leads us on to the next piece of advice…

2. What does success look like?

Does success of your campaign mean going viral, 1000 likes on Instagram, an increase in sales or more visits to your website? Decide on your objectives and communicate these to the influencer you are working with. They know their audience best and they know the ways in which to present content to encourage sales, retweets or video views. There is no written rule for measuring influencer campaigns as it all depends on your brief and your objectives, the top tip is to clarify these before getting started.

3. Authenticity and harmony

We read a blog, watch a YouTube vlog or scroll a particular Instagram feed because we like the content and what that influencer is doing, of course It is important to portray your brand messaging in the correct way but you won’t find success if this doesn’t fit well with an influencers existing content. If you are working with the right people and provide a clear brief your client/brand will be a natural fit targeting your desired audience.

4. The finer details

It is important to remember that bloggers are not traditional journalists and that they do not work for a newspaper or magazine, they work for themselves. The expectation amongst bloggers and influencers that they should be paid for their work is increasing year on year. Flesh out the details and allocation of your budget with clients beforehand. It is no secret that influencers are becoming celebrities in their own right and there may well be a price tag reflecting this.

5. Quality not quantity

When working with influencers the one piece of advice we hear over again is to not forget the micro-influencer! Those with a smaller following but with a really engaged audience can only mean success for a campaign done right. Working with a micro-influencer will also give your client/brand opportunities to grow with them and create a solid working relationship and advocacy for your client.

If you want to find out about how influencer marketing and blogger outreach could work for your brand please get in touch!

6 Reasons why *everyone should adopt the PPC approach to content

Google Analytics

For every campaign started, there must be information.

The page/pages you direct traffic to all have one thing in common. Driving the user towards an end goal whether it’s delivering information or to sell a product or service.

With PPC campaigns, there is an express need to communicate maximum value to the user as quickly as possible – because you’ve just paid for them to be on your website.

  1. Give them what they want – now!
  2. Clear calls to action & formatting
  3. Familiarity – it’s uncharted territory
  4. Evidence-based testing
  5. Show me the value
  6. Conversion machine

1) Give them what they want – now!

The reason we all use Google is because it gives us what we want, really quickly. When was the last time you clicked onto page 2 of Google?

Whilst Google may err in their evaluations of what things they look for to decide what should make a page rank better, the central concept they put front and centre of all of their products/services is providing the user with the best, most relevant information for their requirements as quickly as possible.

How do you find what they want? This information can be discerned from competitors, keyword analysis, industry trends and some A/B testing.

2) Clear calls to action & formatting

It may seem obvious what you want to do, but to the user, the next steps could be unclear.

Steve Krug’s invaluable UX work ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ highlights that the majority of users do not read, most scan for information using formatting and colourful calls to action to direct them towards the info they want, or to be told where to go next.

3) Familiarity – it’s uncharted territory

On your website, you know what comes next in the process. Your customers don’t.

Visitors of all ages, experiences and understandings will use your site – so signposting is essential.

If we highlight an aspect of a business/product/service within a PPC ad, we want it to be on the page you’re taken to.

If you use an image as a link in a web page, it needs to be featured on the page you’re linking to. This is vital if you have a visually busy or information heavy page structure.

Ultimately, whatever was in your image was what enticed the user to click it – this means they want to see it or find out more, so give it to them!

4) Evidence-based testing

Digital marketers have a wealth of tools at their disposal in 2017.

Google Analytics for hard and fast information to back your decisions.

If there’s a problem, session tracking is widely available from the likes of Inspectlet and Hotjar being 2 of many available – being able to monitor how users ACTUALLY will often reveal many nuances that could not be anticipated during build.

Using the data from Analytical tools, should drive your content, not personal preference.

A/B testing can also end the umming and ahhing over the best solution for your pages – as long as you are clear and focussed on your aims for the page.

5) Show me the value

The point made in #2 – people don’t read – is key to explicitly pointing out WHY your product/service/information is the best. If users can’t easily see the value, you’re relying on them to have the time and patience to find it.

Even if your value proposition is more brand-based the days of pages of self-indulgent waffle are becoming a thing of the past.

Simple formatting like bullet points and numbered lists instantly stand out to users and deliver the information

6) Conversion machine

Even if your site exists to inform the masses rather than sell directly to them, you should look to be ‘converting’ your users as efficiently as possible.

Classically a conversion will be a sale or enquiry, but if you exist to spread information – your conversion point is delivering that information to the user.

Using the evidence-based approach, you can find what your most effective methods are and adjust your site to ‘convert’ as many users as possible.


Not all content can be treated in such a malleable way.

From an SEO perspective, if you’re looking to maintain rankings within a competitive environment, more consideration needs to be attributed to the changes you make.

However you can still use the over-arching themes to create new content to ensure efficient conversions.

Crafting the perfect Facebook post

Social Media

It’s a dream all social media marketers share – creating a Facebook post so spectacular it blows all other content out of the water. Thousands of likes, shares and comments, made even better by the fact not a single penny was spent on advertising. What could be better..?

As Simon Sinek is once again circulating the internet, this time with his theories on millennials and their relationship with social media, dopamine (the chemical release we get when receiving a like, comment or form of engagement) and careers, we take a look at eight quick steps you can follow to help craft the perfect Facebook post.

Whilst I’m not guaranteeing your next Facebook post will turn into a viral sensation, certain headway and improvements can easily be made to your overall social performance by taking just a few of these on board.

Who knows, in time, you may have a plenty of dopamine-inducing posts of your own.

Quality not quantity
Facebook is rammed, quite literally. There are around 55 million business pages, 1.7 billion active users and coupled with Facebook’s drive towards advertising (63% growth in 2016), organic reach has reduced by up to 58% in the past year. Cut through is as difficult as ever before.

Instead of focusing on hitting your daily post targets, really think about the quality of what you are communicating and the value of it. Facebook rewards unique, creative and engaging content – you are far better off posting one fantastic post than you are four dull updates. Remember, Facebook posts have longevity, particularly if they are great.

Think content
Shorter posts are proven to have higher rates of engagement with those under 250 characters up to 60% more successful. Likewise posting visual stimulus is an absolute must. Video, even better. Posts with images on average receive 53% more likes and 104% more comments than those without.

However, before you go blasting the world with stock imagery try to, where possible, use original photos and video. Facebook checks the .EXIF data on your photos and rewards posts with original content.

Limit hashtags
Some will argue that hashtagging on Facebook is a complete no-no, others will argue to limit use. Either way, hashtagging on Facebook needs considerably more thought than on Twitter or Instagram. Only tag what is relevant and necessary as Facebook will penalise you for what is considered ‘spam hashtags’.

If you’re scheduling on Hootsuite, be sure to craft separate posts for your different platforms if you are serious about great engagement. Facebook doesn’t want you to cross promote other networks.

On the day after Paul Pogba’s rather embarrassing post-emoji-launch-performance, it seems quite apt to be talking about their effective use. Amex Open have revealed that posts containing emojis are 33% more likely to pick up engagements, with a 55% increased chance of generating likes.

Who knew that emojis would eventually turn out to be fairly useful marketing gems?

Audience optimisation
As with paid adverts, you can also tailor who your posts go out to. Add tags to describe the interests of people who are most likely to enjoy your post. For example, a sports brand page will likely benefit from targeting users with an active interest in sport.

Use Facebook Insights to establish your existing audience and who is engaging with your activity – this can strategically shape who you target with future posts.

When to post
Engagement is apparently 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays. Again, use Facebook Insights to establish what posts are working, but also when. It goes without saying that if engagement is relatively low at 9:30am every single Tuesday, don’t post at that time. It’s important to understand when your followers are online and at their most receptive.

Engagement adverts
Although you could argue this next point is against the principals of this blog post, it still applies. Paid social can in fact be very effective in kick starting the organic reach of a post. Allocate low budget burst campaigns to drive engagements and turn off paid activity once the post picks up. Spending as little as £5-10 can make real inroads into how many people you reach and engage with.

Invite users
Requesting likes from those who engage with your posts is a quick way to try and pick up already engaged users. After all, these people have already indicated that they like what you are saying. Chances are they will consider liking your page too. It’s better to have an audience of genuine fans than empty followers.

Working with bloggers, sponsorship, advertising and ASA guidelines – What you need to know

Vlogging ASA Guidelines Blog

The media atmosphere has adapted to many changes that have come its way in recent years. Print media is in decline and relationships with bloggers, vloggers and influencers are on the up.

As with anything new, there are uncertainties and grey areas that need to be worked on from the start and the guidelines around advertising, sponsorship and working with influencers is one of them. The Advertising Standards Agency and Committees of Advertising Practice have produced a number of guidelines to demonstrate when advertising rules apply to blogs and vlogs which we have outlined below.

Content needs to be transparent

A blogger, vlogger or brand should never be afraid to declare that there is a commercial agreement in place when working together. The golden rule the ASA has outlined is that all content generated needs to be transparent so that the audience is not misled in any way.

Do you want control of the content?

If as a marketer you have control over the vlogger or bloggers content and it has been produced in exchange for payment, then it is an advertorial. Payment may not necessarily be monetary, free items count too. An advertorial is often produced in the usual style of the vlogger/blogger so from the outset it may not be clear to the audience that this is a paid for feature. In this case the content needs to be labelled appropriately and viewers need to be aware it is an advertorial before engaging.

Sponsoring content that is created by a vlogger or blogger

If you are happy to relinquish control with a piece of sponsored content then this doesn’t have to be labelled as an advertisement. This is because as a brand you have not had any input in the final product, although it will be expected that the vlogger discloses the nature of their relationship with you/your client so that the audience are aware who sponsored the video.

Where do free items come into this?

As with sponsorship if you send an influencer something for free without any conditions or content control then this also doesn’t have to be labelled as an advertisement. This is because the blogger or vlogger is not under any agreement to include the item at all. If an influencer does accept something on the condition that it is to be reviewed, in a positive or negative way, it would be expected that the vlogger discloses the nature of the relationship.

Labelling is the responsibility for both parties

It is the responsibility for both Marketers and the content creators to make clear that something is an advert. Both parties should be open with each other and discuss in what way it will be made clear to the audience that a piece of content has been paid for. Labelling a piece of content can be done in a number of ASA approved ways, a video blog should include ‘AD, Advertorial, Advertising feature’ or something similar within the main title and a disclaimer in the description box for good measure.

Useful links:

This video produced by the Commitees of Advertising Practice is well worth a watch to clarify further:

Vlogging advertising guidance by the Advertising Standards Agency
Committees of Advertising Practice: Potential vlogging scenarios

If you have any questions about working with bloggers and vloggers or want to discuss how blogger outreach could work for you, get in touch with me, Sophie, at