Trends In Content: 10 A Stranger Things video game, e-com giants muscle onto the high street and the Internet


Image Credit: YouTube

CONTENT: Netflix makes Stranger Things into an 80s video game

Can’t quite remember what happened in season one of Stranger Things? A novel idea here from Netflix rather than simply take the existing footage and edit it into a supercut. They created a story that’s watching of its own merit that harks back to all that retro video game aesthetic.


TREND: Online businesses move into retail

The high street isn’t dead, but it won’t ever be the same again. As hailed by the Amazon buyout of Wholefoods, online businesses are moving into retail. Although it may sound counter-intuitive to open a physical retail store right now, shop closures have tripled this year – CNN Money.

Missguided, Made and Dyson all went IRL in recent years. No matter how good the online experience, it appears that nothing can quite replace being able to see and touch the products you want to buy.

Where the difference will be rather than just having a physical extension of a great online brand is in the additional value added for customers. Such as pop in and get an in-store measurement and styling advice – to ensure your clothes fit and look perfect. These are then added into your app, so future recommended products look and fit great.


CONTENT: Werner Herzog documentary isn’t all it appears

Another Netflix story, but a must-watch in its own right. Werner Herzog (who doesn’t own a phone) did a documentary about the Internet. Lo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is an insanely watchable dive into the people behind the Internet and the lives of those affected by it. What’s even more incredible is that this is a piece of branded content from Internet security provider Netscout.

WATCH: Supergirl and The Flash without effects

V-FX heavy shows are fun to watch but suffer from the same issue, take away the glitz of effects and all you are left with is a couple of actors looking silly. Peek behind the curtain and see what comic book characters Supergirl and The Flash look like pre-edit.

The Distilled Yearly Creative Roundup: 2017 Edition

It’s been a year since our last creative roundup and I wanted to share what we’ve been working on in the last 12 months. As I started to collate the our creative pieces, it’s become clear that we’ve tried our hand, and indeed had some successes, at new and exciting formats

This has partly stemmed from Google’s changing algorithm, as we can see the benefit in investing in content for brand awareness, with branded search carrying more weight than before. This creative freedom has led us to storyboard social ad series, shoot stylized photo essays and video social experiment stunts for brands too.

We’ve made pieces with regional angles, which have led to neverending press lists (a good thing), and one that focussed on the fear factor that ended up on the news. It’s silly how the TV still feels more exciting than online, but it really does.  You can read our thoughts on the disruption online will cause to TV here.

New formats have included poster quizzes, personalised graphics and making additional press assets to go alongside pieces too. Maps, interactive visualisations, long format articles, scrolling stories and quizzes have also continued to make up the core of our work. Format is just one aspect, at the heart of everything we make, the story, the insight, and the ‘wow’ factor is key.

We also feel that sadly much of the internet can be an ugly space, and with our creativity we aim to tell compelling stories that also make the world a little bit more beautiful. Whether it is adding humour, or waving our illustration wand…


Go Compare – Great British Bakes of Instagram

For Go Compare a financial services comparison website we created a UK map comparing the popularity of British bakes in different regions. Illustrations really helped to bring this piece to life, turning what could have been a rather dull map into a mouth-watering delight. Each year the hype around ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is phenomenal, so we launched our piece during the finale. The regional differences in top bakes lengthened our press list to regional publications as well as national.

As well as seeing which British bake is most popular in your region you can also see the popularity of specific bakes across the country. e.g. trifle is most popular in Yorkshire and Norfolk, tying in with people patriotic tendencies to their place of origin.

We added in animation that works well with the twee illustration style, hovering over cakes, rotates them slightly, bunting swings in at the beginning and changing the map from one bake to another makes the map filter in one region at a time, these UX additions mean interacting with the piece is just that little bit more exciting. This was the perfect piece for Vicke, our resident birthday cake baker, to produce!

GeoTab – Most Dangerous Highways in America

For GeoTab, a fleet tracking platform, we analyzed road crash data across the US to see which highways have the highest number of fatal accidents in each state. Morbid I know, but in this case, fear led to coverage.

We launched the piece during a public holiday in America when the roads would have been at their most busy, local news outlets jumped on the chance to talk about the most dangerous highway in their region. We even got some brand mentions on the news.

The piece focuses on the most dangerous highway for fatal accidents in each state but allows you explore further comparing the amount of crashes and amount of fatalities, so you can compare which states are the most dangerous by comparison.

On page load, the highway lines across the states are drawn onto the map, and below the sorting feature, transitions in a satisfying fluid way.

This piece received over 100 linking root domains (LRDs). Off the back of its success, we have gone on to look at the most dangerous days to drive in each state too.

Maps: key takeaways

Fear/danger is a story – being worried or scared gets people talking, if there is a risk or a danger it’s news.

Visual feedback is important – a movement on hover or page load engages the user and gives the piece more of a personality.

Launch dates matter – as much as a piece should try to be evergreen to gain links over time, the newsworthy nature can often come by tying in with a conversation that is already happening.

Regional differences increase coverage – regional competitiveness or comparison means regional and national press can be contacted.

Long format content

Somfy – Totally Worth It

Somfy is a company that makes blinds which operate at the touch of the button. Their target audience is high-earning people in the 50+ age bracket who appreciate a little bit of luxury in their lives. We created blog content that highlighted products for the home that are worth splurge.

Everyday level blog content can still have its place in content marketing. Not everything needs to be a larger scale interactive or higher budget piece, because it is the idea at the core of a piece that needs to capture attention. It is important now more than ever for brands to not just focus on their product or service, but the attitude and lifestyle that surrounds it.

During page scroll the stock photography that we sourced transitions to an illustrative overlay that highlights the product within the scene and highlights its motion when in use. This creative element sets the article apart from other listicles and gives it a brand style that is unique to Somfy.

Long format: key takeaways

Create a unique visual style – set your content apart from others by adding memorable visual styling.

Be consistent – so many low-level listicles have paid no attention to whether the piece is cohesive. When using illustrations or stock imagery, ensure that the styles work as a collection.

Think about your brand voice – does the tone of the content lend itself to your brand’s personality. Content that feels too tangential can do more harm than good.

Picture Quiz

Magic Freebies – Spot the Christmas Movies

Magic Freebies is the UK’s largest freebie site, they aim to delight and surprise their customers by providing them with fun free gifts, their target audience is people who have time to browse and play online.

We created a spot the Christmas Movies poster, that existed both in print and as an online game. 25 iconic Christmas films were illustrated in one wintery scene.

We have created two picture quizzes now, working with illustrator Bill McConkey: 25 Years of Top-Flight Footy Moments and the aforementioned Spot the Christmas Movies. The trick is to create a scene that works as a whole but is made up of individual elements.

Christmas is a difficult time of year for coverage, so if you are going to take a punt on it, your idea needs to be watertight. This is certainly not something that will work all year round, yet it can gain traffic each year at a similar time.

This poster quiz earned 2.6k Facebook interactions and has been visited over 27k times.

Ginny’s – I Believe I Can Fry

Ginny’s is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which gives us a lot of creative freedom when coming up with ideas. It’s an e-commerce site stocking all sorts of products for the home, and we were focusing on their fried goods gadgets. Firstly creating the 50 States of Bacon which received over 100 links, and then the humorous quiz ‘I believe I can fry’.

Taking song titles we replaced the word fry/fried/frying with something else that rhymed and drew them as image puzzles.

The majority of the time spent here was on the illustrations, the build of the quiz being quite minimal itself. I illustrated the song titles myself, ensuring each image had a similar style and colour pallet to tie the set together.

Just how ludicrous this idea is, is actually what sets it apart.

Picture quiz – key takeaways

Leverage nostalgia – both these picture quizzes hook onto nostalgia as a driving factor, old movies and classic song titles.

Make use of freelancers – Bill McConkey’s distinctive style and speed of illustration allowed us to produce these picture quizzes relatively quickly.

Interactive timeline/story

Go Compare – Food of the Famous

As part of a campaign for GoCompare we compared the daily diets of famous athletes, actors and musicians. We are inherently interested in famous people’s lifestyles, often looking to emulate them in our own lives, as though living like them might somehow move us nearer to their lofty heights.

For the execution we went lo-fi, choosing to source stock imagery to make up the plates, giving them a cutout collage effect (like you see on gossip magazines) as opposed to shooting the plates from actual food. This not only created a cost effective result but also give it a bit more design edge.

Looking at a range of celebrities, who had very different relationships with food we showed what was eaten throughout the day, from 10,000 calories consumed by The Mountain to a meagre 1316 calories from Gwyneth Paltrow. The amount of food, type and frequency is shown using a day timeline.

It was covered by Business Insider, Joe, FHM and Unilad amongst others.

Advisa – Dead Men on Dollar Bills 

For Advisa, a Swedish financial services client, we analysed the people that feature on banknotes worldwide. 100% of the people who feature on US bank notes are dead male politicians. We looked at what it takes to have your face on a note. The story walkthrough compared the gender, profession, birthplace, and whether or not they are alive, for all the people on bank notes throughout the world. As well as the findings in the piece we paired the launch with a survey and some of our own note designs for both a UK and US audience.

Our survey asked 5000+ people who they wanted to see on banknotes. For the UK, Princess Diana, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst and JK Rowling came out on top. And for the USA, Michelle Obama was top. We made concept art for each of these people to show how they would look on banknotes. The press loved these visual assets and the survey that went alongside the piece.

The launch of the piece tied in with news about Jane Austen due to be appearing on a new £10 note design in September 2017. The piece was linked to by Yahoo, Metro, Evening Standard, Daily Star, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Insider amongst others.

Interactive timeline/story: key takeaways

Comparison is important – if the data does not show enough contrast then there is no story.

Journalists want statistics – a survey can help to gather new statistics for your content.

Personalised infographic

Go To Court – How Criminal is Your Name?

For Go To Court, an Australian law firm, we looked at first names and how they are linked to criminality. We collated the names from over 25,000 crimes to see which names are most criminal and what crimes specific names most commonly commit. Leon is the most criminal name, and Leons most frequently commit assault. It turns out Leonie’s most frequently commit abductions! So watch out.

This visualisation is essentially just a table, but making it look like a police investigation board and making the list searchable with an individual expandable graph for each name makes this interactive engaging.

Scrolling allows you to understand hierarchy better. The piece received over 100k visits and 141 LRDs.

Personalised infographic – key takeaways

Can you see yourself in the story?  –  Age, name, demographic, intelligence are all ways you can rank people. Choosing one of these as a data point allows the reader to put him or herself in the story.

How have your won over an audience?

We would love to hear what you have learnt on your content marketing journey. Sometimes looking at the failures as well as the big wins can help us learn too. Are there new formats or types of ideas that you have seen work well?

The Future of Health Care Policy Is Not in Washington

The Senate’s halt of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saved the GOP from a protracted debate that threatened to expose a chasm in the party even larger than the much-ballyhooed divide between the House and Senate. The bigger split in this debate lies between the federal government and state policymakers, including governors of the same party as the president and congressional leaders, who ultimately have the responsibility of implementing these proposals.

The impasse at the federal level will shift the policy-making center of gravity away from D.C. Companies that want to have an influential voice in the health care arena should be increasing their focus on governors and state legislatures. Day-to-day policy decisions will continue to expand at the state level. As that happens, frustration by these officials, largely due to their perceived lack of impact at the federal level, will continue to motivate them to be more aggressive in setting the agenda.

Here’s what this means for state and local governments:

Devolution: The legislative package that cleared the House of Representatives included a limited block grant program for federal funding. States have long called for this and consider this aspect of the House plan to be a positive as it provides for more flexibility in program implementation, i.e. allowing local approaches to address the needs of local populations. However, most states have already gone through major adjustments required to expand Medicaid coverage and do not want to make huge changes again in such a short time frame. Nor do they welcome the notion of being saddled with expanded costs that were coupled with the new funding mechanisms. The idea of devolution – shifting accountability and costs from federal bureaucracies to state bureaucracies – became very popular with D.C. budget-cutters and fiscal conservatives interested in reducing the national outlays for health care.

Operating on a Tight Budget: Budget writers on Capitol Hill should remember that when addressing potential funding shortfalls, state legislatures have even less wiggle room than the federal government because most are required to live under a balanced budget – an idea long forgotten inside the Beltway. Expansions in state Medicaid coverage and ensuing cost increases must be offset by equal amounts of reductions in services, cuts from other parts of the state budget, or, an anathema to red state law makers, tax increases.

Governors Weigh In: The National Governors Association (NGA), through a bipartisan effort, released a set of recommendations aimed at addressing the needs of the constituents their members serve, as well as the financial constraints that come with public health care programs. The recommendations; however, begin with a general concern regarding the health of the partnership between the two governing levels

To address the troubling precedent in the decision-making framework as it currently exists, the NGA asks for a more active engagement to discuss policy changes. It also calls for a transition period to allow for adjustments to potential changes, and concluded the overarching principles on partnerships with a caution for national lawmakers:

“Supporting vulnerable populations is a shared responsibility between the federal government and states. It is critical that Congress continue to maintain a meaningful federal role in this partnership and not shift costs to states. Significant cuts to Medicaid will impact coverage for millions of low-income individuals and could impede state efforts to address the underlying factors driving health care costs, such as pharmaceuticals, long-term care and the social determinants of health.”

As a leading national grassroots firm, we appreciate the position of the governors and their attempt to expand the dialogue on critical domestic issues like health care to include the local perspective. Repeal, replace, expand or cut. The support of constituents and state policy leaders will be critical for success, no matter what direction Congress chooses.

This blog post was written by Brian Noyes, Executive Vice President, Direct Impact (a subsidiary of Burson-Marsteller).

Sharing our branding advice with the New York Stock Exchange

We are passionate about startup companies at Moving Brands and are fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs from across the globe, including Uber, Asana and Flipboard.

When the New York Stock Exchange approached us to provide a chapter for its new book ‘The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap: From Concept to IPO’, we were confident that we had valuable advice for anyone looking to set up.

We always stress to any startup we work with the importance of carving a meaningful brand space for itself within its market. Having seen the benefits of this approach first-hand, our chapter naturally goes on to explain ‘Why Startups Should Spend on Brand’.

In the book, we look at how a startup can shape its identity through its story, structure and customer experience. We have found that this approach ensures a new business develops an authentic, engaging identity that helps inform all the other practical choices for a successful brand, such as tone of voice and color palette.

It’s true, in the hectic early days of establishing a startup, it can seem more important to focus on developing your product, hiring your team, setting budgets and identifying funding, and considering when and how to scale up. It can also be hard to justify the expense and time required to develop a killer brand.

However, we firmly believe that putting time, thought and energy into branding right at the start of a business delivers direct benefits in the long term. A strong identity can attract investment, with well-thought-through brands securing higher valuations from venture capitalist firms.

Our chapter includes the advice that your brand experience should flow throughout the business, whether that is the micro-interactions in an app, the conversational exchange of a chatbot, or the motion design of a web page. This is where the magic of your brand lies, and the things that customers remember about your company. Helping you to stand out from competitors in a ‘sea of sameness’.

To read the chapter of the book in full, download it here.

The post Sharing our branding advice with the New York Stock Exchange appeared first on Moving Brands – an independent, global creative company.

Were the Prime Minister’s Eyes Too Big for Her Stomach on Executive Pay?

By Meg Powell-Chandler, Director, Public Affairs

There are two important skills in politics – the ability to identify the problem, and the ability to identify a workable and achievable solution to it. Theresa May’s Government has been very successful at the first, think back to her speech on the steps of Downing Street which was welcomed across the political divide for identifying the social and economic problems that face this country.

Where it has been less successful – and the General Election result was a consequence of this – is that the solutions to these social and economic problems have failed one or both of two tests: popularity and achievability.

Turning to the issue of Corporate Governance, the Prime Minister came into office with radical words. In the very short leadership campaign set against the context of Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley, she stated “the people who run big businesses are supposed to be accountable to outsiders” and committed to employee representatives on company boards, increased transparency around pay ratios and binding shareholder votes on corporate pay.(1)

These policies were based on the idea that it doesn’t matter how much you improve the lot of the people at the bottom and the middle, they will always compare their lot to those at the top. The approach that gave rise to her political mantra: ‘A country that works for everyone, not just for the privileged few’.

With 6 in 10 people supporting workers on boards(2) and 57% of the public agreeing with the statement “Government should encourage companies, through measures like taxes and Government contracts, to cap bosses’ salaries at a maximum of 20 times the company average”(3), it looked at least like the Prime Minister’s solutions were popular. What about the achievability test?

In the newly formed department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, corporate governance was highlighted as a No10 priority and plans were quickly drawn up to show the Prime Minister what could be achieved and quickly.

But the plans presented by BEIS fell short of the ambition of Theresa May’s rhetoric. Rather than Civil Servants trying to limit the political will, it was instead a presentation of the lessons learned from previous attempts of Corporate Government reform. These lessons, simply put, are as followed.

If you want to do anything impactful in this space you need primary legislation.
Primary legislation is a high risk strategy: the right will reject the premise of intervention in the running of a private sector company, the left will want a solution ten times more radical than you are proposing. Both sides will amend to high heaven and if you are able to get it out of the Commons in one piece (which is highly unlikely) you then have the whole battle again in the House of Lords, which is full of even more radical ideologues on both sides.
The resulting Corporate Responsibility Green Paper published in November last year, was seen by many as a U-turn on the Prime Minister’s clear commitment to put workers on company boards.

It is becoming clear that the Government’s response to the consultation on this Green Paper due to be published next week will dilute plan even further. Measures around transparency will survive, but it’s been suggested that anything requiring legislation will be dropped.

The Conservative manifesto made clear what a majority Conservative Government would do on corporate pay and governance – and, whilst is may have been slightly less radical than May’s early rhetoric would suggest, it would be far more than many Conservative MPs would have felt comfortable voting for.

With the General Election resulting in the current parliamentary arithmetic, any radical move on corporate governance is likely dead in the water, but given the importance May has attributed to this issue other avenues to effect change will no doubt be explored.

Meg Powell-Chandler is a Director in Burson-Marsteller’s UK Public Affairs practice. She previously worked as a special adviser in 10 Downing Street and to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

1. Theresa May Speech in Birmingham, 11 July 2016, link
2. TUC Press Release, 29 November 2016, link
3. ComRes, Sunday Mirror / Independent Political Poll Jan 2017, link