Where were the brand experiences at this year’s Ideal Home Show?

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 07.13.44Rather than discovering a host of creative ideas and exciting experiences at the UK’s leading lifestyle event, Rosemary McDonnell, Group Account Director at Sense, was disappointed to find that it was more like walking through the cosmetics section of a department store.

If your brand had the opportunity to engage with almost a quarter of a million people face to face, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

This is what the Ideal Home Show offers its exhibitors over 17 days – including the first week of the Easter holidays. It provides a wonderful opportunity for related brands to take themselves beyond the printed page, computer screen and mobile device to touch people in a deeper, more authentic way in the real world. And with recent research revealing that 38% of people are more cynical about brands than five years ago, this has never been more important.

Sadly the majority of exhibitors at this year’s show completely missed this opportunity to give visitors – and paying ones at that, let’s not forget – a truly engaging and immersive brand experience. That’s a captive audience eager to learn about new products and services; looking for inspiration about how to improve their home and lifestyle; keen to sample new and exciting experiences – surely a marketer’s dream.

Unless your product or service is absolutely unique, new and innovative, you have to do more to stand out, be original, be memorable. Especially, if you are sited next to or in the vicinity of your key competitors, which many brands at this year’s event were. Unfortunately, each stand looked pretty much the same. It was basically like walking through the perfume section of a department store – only worse because you had paid to get in.

Panasonic and Vitamix, for example, were neighbouring exhibitors promoting similar products: food processors. Yet their stands were almost identical, both offering similar solutions: the same functional benefit from a blender. Where was the emotional benefit and the true experience? What would visitors gain from buying Panasonic’s over Vitamix’s? Who knows? Those brands certainly weren’t giving out any hints.

You’d think that at least disruptive startups Gousto, Hello Fresh and Able and Cole, which are currently shaking up the grocery sector, would recognise the huge opportunities to sign up thousands of new members and really put on a show to differentiate themselves from each other. Well, you’d be disappointed. Each had a salesperson and a simple branded stand. And the even more bizarre thing is that taking a stand at The Ideal Home Show is far from cheap, so you’d think that every brand would be doing its upmost to maximise the return on this not insignificant investment.

It’s not a case of having to throw money at it, but rather simply communicating what your brand is about in a creative and engaging way. People buy people and rarely do brands get the chance to be this close to the people who really matter, show off their personality and get across that they’re all about. For many brands at this year’s Ideal Home Show it seemed to be more about: “We’d better have some kind of a presence” – a token gesture. Perhaps they prefer to focus on other forms of marketing like digital.

Sadly, it seems that many brands failed to understand that by creating a truly effective live brand experience – especially over nearly three weeks – provides the ideal way to bring together all their campaigns and amplify them through digital and social media. Real world marketing is increasingly becoming the hub around which many campaigns now spin. It’s a shame many of the exhibitors at this year’s Ideal Home Show missed this point.

Rosemary McDonnell is Group Account Director at Sense.

Kiss & Tell now on iTunes

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Mistress is proud to announce that our podcast, Kiss & Tell, is now available for streaming and download on iTunes!

Hosted by Mistress’s media and cultural insiders Blake Marquis, Sewa Adekoya and Todd Lombardo, Kiss & Tell is Mistress’s platform to explore the latest trends in advertising and culture in the 21st century.

Listen to the latest Podcast, Oh Snap! – Snap Inc.’s IPO, thirty days later. Kicking butt, or butt kicked? now on the iTunes Store or on Soundcloud.

French presidential election: Between Anguish and Relief for French Voters

Six Insights Before the Second Round

After a nail-biting election campaign, characterised by a series of scandals and at times a lack of in-depth policy debate, the results of the first round of the French Presidential Elections were both a source of anguish and relief for many French voters.

The independent candidate Emmanuel Macron came first with 24 percent of the vote, just ahead of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National with 21 percent. Conservative leader of the Republican party, François Fillon, and the far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, were both eliminated with 20 percent and 19.5 percent of the vote, respectively.

At 79 percent, the turnout was slightly lower than in 2012, but still one of the highest in 40 years and higher than in many elections in other European countries.

Burson-Marsteller’s key insights ahead of the second round on May 7:

• A worrying and historic breakthrough for the far-right

Although many feared even more support for Le Pen, the Front National’s presence in the second round represents a dramatic shift in French politics. The far-right party, with its anti-immigration and nationalist policies, garnered the support of 7.6 million voters – its highest ever score in a presidential election.

• The French people more divided than ever

Together, Macron and Le Pen won less than 50 percent of the total vote, casting a shadow over their respective legitimacy to implement their programmes, whatever the result of the second round. The campaign exposed fault lines in French society: Supporters of globalisation and European integration versus nationalists and sovereigntists. A clear divide also emerged between the voting trends of rural versus urban areas.

• The two traditional parties in deep crisis

For the first time in modern French history, neither of the main parties reached the second round. The right-wing Les Républicains, were beset by embarrassing personal scandals involving François Fillon and are now reflecting how they managed to lose an election which had been billed as theirs to win only a few months ago.

As for the Socialists, the party veered to the left with the candidacy of Benoit Hamon, who achieved a mere six percent of the vote. A debate is now underway on how they will put the pieces back together. Centrist voices in the party may be tempted to create a new faction, possibly under the leadership of former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, or even to defect Macron’s “En Marche” movement.

• A good night for pollsters

Many pollsters were noticeably smug on election night, having successfully forecast a Macron-Le Pen second round. This may go some way to restoring confidence in polling institutions, who had been heavily criticised after failing to foresee Brexit, the election of Donald Trump or Fillon’s victory in the right-wing primary.

• Macron is favourite to win the second round… but anything can happen

Almost all leading politicians – from left and right – immediately came out in support of Macron. The noticeable exceptions were Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Laurent Wauquiez, a well-known right leaning politician, both of whom refused to explicitly endorse Macron. This flies in the face of the longstanding tradition, whereby mainstream politicians call to vote against the Front National, irrespective of the opponent in the second round of any elections.

The polls for the second round currently have Emmanuel Macron in the lead with approximately 60-62 percent of the vote, against 38-40 percent for Marine Le Pen. But, with some Mélenchon supporters vowing to abstain and the possibility of a lower turnout – the election falls on a bank holiday weekend – the outcome on Sunday 7 May is still uncertain.

• The big question: how to secure a Parliamentary majority

If Emmanuel Macron does win the second round, his capacity to form a Parliamentary majority in June’s legislative elections is in doubt. He has no formal party structure behind him and his “En Marche” movement was created just over a year ago. To govern, he is likely to need to form a complex coalition, combining his own new deputies and those from the existing mainstream left and right parties. In the unlikely event of a Le Pen victory, she too would struggle to govern.

So, while the French – and many across Europe, for that matter – may be somewhat relieved that Le Pen did not win in the first round and that a Macron victory seems likely, the final re-configuration of the French political system remains in the balance.

This post was contributed by Arnaud Dechoux, Manager, Public Affairs & Crisis, and Jonathan Hooley, Senior Associate, Public Affairs & Crisis.

Discover LA Responds to Trump’s Travel Ban

Los Angeles tourism officials are launched an initiative this week with the message “Everyone is welcome” — a clear response to the pressure the tourism industry is facing with the negative impressions around the world of the travel ban imposed by President Trump.

The first element of the campaign features a 93-second music video uses the metaphor of paper planes to represent travelers to the city. They fly past people of various ethnic backgrounds hugging, dancing and skateboarding near iconic L.A. locations to the backdrop of Father John Misty’s Real Love Baby.

The creative was developed in-house by Discover Los Angeles and shot and edited by Mistress’s production arm, Bastard.

Read more about the campaign in the LA Times’ story here and at Creativity here and at Adweek here.

Watch the full video below:

We won two sfBIG Star Awards!

Some people say it’s an honor just to be nominated for an award. Others say people who say that are liars. We say that it’s irrelevant whether we consider it an honor to be nominated because we won in two categories at the sfBIG Star Awards. We’re thrilled to share that SF Office Coordinator Carmen Chan won the Community Service Award and that we also took home Agency of the Year.

Perhaps then we should say that the real honor is being recognized for the great work we do, both at our company and in the Bay Area.