October 31, 2022
Political turmoil simply isn’t a laughing matter for most of us. Market insecurity, spiralling inflation, soaring energy prices, a weakened pound, ongoing uncertainty and an ever-narrowing gap between what people take home in their pay and what they have to spend on outgoings. Not to mention the knock-on effect on every single industry that is hoping to capitalise on discretionary spend/disposable income.
But, we’ve seen time and again that restriction, limitation and tension can create the perfect conditions for bold creative work. A lot of the great music and art of the last century has been in response to strife or difficulty. Similarly, brand owners can often gain a disproportionate share of the conversation when they carefully and cleverly leverage something we’re all talking about.
The lettuce vs Liz Truss must have been the most effective campaign for The Star in recent times, if not ever. Although interestingly the commentary was first made by The Economist. The latter took a more serious tone, whilst The Star turned the insight into something with both more longevity and engagement. Many may not realise that either brand was behind the successful meme, but for those that do, there’s significant brand benefit to be reaped.
Several brands seem to have mastered the knack of jumping on what’s happening in politics. IKEA famously released their ‘Mogg’ sofa in response to Jacob Rees-Mogg disrespectfully lounging on the House of Commons benches. They also promoted the Gunde folding chair and Vardagen oven gloves in response to the viral image of Bernie Sanders hunched over at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration.
So what explains our love of gallows humour when it comes to societal tension?
Over a decade ago, Les Binet and Peter Field showed the power of fame and emotion (over information and persuasion) in advertising campaigns, by analysing 880 case studies within the IPA Effectiveness Awards winners. Dissecting the results further, they discovered that there were three primary emotions that most linked through to commercial return. These emotions were ‘amused’, ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘schadenfreude’. Only these three emotions had a strong positive effect on commercial returns.
Intuitively this would seem to make sense. Some of the best campaigns of the last few decades have inspired awe (think Sony Balls, Honda Power of Dreams etc.) or have involved us laughing at someone else’s expense (think Tango Man right through to Rhodri Giggs for Paddy Power).
The reactive campaigns above deftly combine humour and schadenfreude to brilliant effect.
So what’s the implication for brands? Well firstly, any commentary must feel natural to the brand in terms of their purpose and tone. Secondly, it’s important to stop short of actual political commentary or policy discussion, as to do so would naturally alienate up to half of your audience. Thirdly, there needs to be either no role for product/service promotion or a more loose and tongue in cheek approach to product/service promotion. The brand purpose is not going to be neatly and perfectly communicated in these kinds of ideas, so a lightness of touch is needed here.
Finally, it can also be instructive to shift from (to paraphrase Contagious Magazine) entertainment to utility. A humorous take on culture is great for a week or so. But, when the joke wears off and the world moves on, there’s a great deal of credit to be gained by doing something serious, meaningful and in stride with the shared difficulties we face. From Tesco telling you to shop at your local shop to Uber telling you not to ride to Lidl’s £1.50 fruit & veg boxes. As ever, the key is to strike the balance between being the jester and the altruist.
October saw the launch of Kimpton Fitzroy London and Here Be Dragon's first campaign, Time To Tarot. Today the occult is undergoing a modern resurgence, evident with the rise of WitchTok and the popularity of horoscope apps, with this in mind we partnered the luxury hotel with The Wellness Foundry, to host a tarot reading service for guests between the 24th and 30th of October. London-based illustrator Ari Wisner designed a bespoke tarot deck inspired by the magnificent architecture and rich history of Kimpton Fitzroy London. In addition, the hotel's cocktail bar, Fitz’s, launched a menu of cocktails inspired by 19th Century occult trends, all in time for Halloween.
The cost of living crisis has greatly impacted the people of Britain, with households across the country experiencing a fall in their standard of living. Birdies wanted to lift everyone’s spirits and therefore offered the people of London a free day of golf on the 21st of October. Yes, you heard that right, a completely free day of golf!
Aptly named Freebie Friday, London’s coolest crazy golf experience, for one day only provided Londoners with complimentary crazy golf together with half-priced cocktails, 50p chicken wings and a party to rival all parties at its Angel venue in Islington.
Forget looking at the stars… when you can own them. This month, we celebrated World Space Week by handing out stars. Yep, that’s correct. Real stars. Hundreds of beer lovers received a star after buying Neck Oil at either one of Beavertown Brewery’s venues, or via the website. Guess you could call this an interstellar purchase.
All right, excuse the pun… but who doesn’t love a good comet-y joke, right?
With certificates of ownership provided by Stellar Star Registry, all 200 of those stars are now located in Beavertown’s very own skull-shaped constellation. And, what’s more, each lucky participant got to name their star — is there anything more you could ask for than your own piece of the sky?
Here at Here Be Dragons we aren’t all roar and no bite. After sponsoring a Komodo Dragon earlier this year (Big up Khaleesi), we have now launched a merch line where all profits go to saving the endangered Komodo Dragon.
Komodo Dragons are the biggest lizards on the planet and due to rising water levels their habitat is increasingly under threat. By purchasing from our range of tees, hoodies and beanies you can not only look awesome but make a real difference.
Dust off your chokers, 2013 is back. Friday, 21st October saw the return of not one, but two iconic pop/rock bands - with both Arctic Monkeys and The 1975 releasing a new album on the same day. The memories of cigarettes, tartan shirts wrapped around waists and all black outfits were rife in our minds last week, as the sound of these nostalgic artists brought us back to what some may consider the golden era. Pre-covid, pre-brexit and pre-Kanye breakdowns, what a time to be alive.
And of course, we can’t forget to mention another album release on the SAME day by the one and only Miss Taylor Swift. It’s almost as if these artists knew we were all going through it lately, and that they were the only ones who could save us.
As for the albums, we're big fans of all three and have obviously had them on repeat (mostly Taylor) all week at the lair… But, it does pose the question - can you ever beat the classics?
Black History month is a time of reflection and to celebrate and honour the contributions made to society by people of African and Caribbean heritage.
This special time of the year is a time to educate and enrich the world of the importance of Black history and how it has impacted and shaped society today.
Senior Account Executive, Fiye Ojo has come up with some amazing suggestions of black owned businesses and organisations to check out.