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Posts from December 2010

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Product Placement: Things are about to get interesting!



With the announcement this week that product placement is to be allowed on British TV programmes for the first time from next year, PR agencies across the country are already vying for opportunities for their clients.  It means that from 28th February, paid-for references to products and services will be permitted in films, sports programmes, soaps and one-off dramas – and not forgetting reality TV - which is sure to be a massive money spinner.

 

It’s good to see that restrictions will remain on children's, religious, news and current affairs programmes – it seems the powers that be have taken a sensible approach. 

 

As the new rules state that product placement must be editorially justified, we’ve taken a look at some examples from across the pond where the laws have been relaxed for years – there are some good ones, some bad ones, and some downright ugly ones...and this by no means is an exhaustive list, just some of our high (and low) lights!

 

Twilight: New Moon – I still to this day cringe at the point in the film when Bella and Alice take off for Italy to save Edward.  In a film that I love, it’s very hard to watch a five second clip of a Virgin Atlantic plane randomly flying across my TV screen – so out of place and unnecessary in the context of the rest of the film (which was amazing!).  Thankfully there were no major plane journeys to be taken in Eclipse, so I hope Breaking Dawn doesn’t stoop to this level again when part one comes out next year!

 

Twilight Saga – Whereas Virgin Atlantic’s appearance in the film was annoying, I wonder how much Volvo has benefitted from the fact the whole world now knows that sexy vampires drive the brand's cars?  What a coup for Volvo, not known for being the trendiest car on the planet...sudden exposure to a whole new generation of teenagers undertaking their driving test as we speak: genius move!

 

James Bond: Casino Royale – For me the James Bond films are allowed to have major product placement, it just fits with the gadget story lines and adds to the credibility of this well loved franchise.  So whether its Omega watches, Sony gadgets or a whole host of fast cars, bring it on, it’s allowed and we love it.

 

Sex & The City – If what this programme (and subsequent films) did for Manolo Blahnik could ever be quantified, I’d love to see the outcome.  Built into the story lines, it’s another example of how product placement just works.  So whether it’s the storyline with Lucy Liu and the Hermes Birkin bag or it is simply the famous shoes themselves, a whole range of designers have done very, very well out of this fabulous show!

 

The Women – With far, far too many lingering close-ups of various Dove products, it seems subtlety is an art that was lost on the makers of The Women.  Apparently, the film deals with many of the issues that have been the focus of Dove’s 'Campaign for Real Beauty'.  It might just be me, but isn’t leading lady Meg Ryan a poster child for bad plastic surgery?  Not Dove’s wisest move.

 

Music Videos – The worst surely has to be Lady Gaga’s Telephone video?  In almost 10 minutes it plugs at least 10 separate brands, including Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke and Polaroid.  Although it brings in a lot of money for the star and her team, doesn’t it just really date the video? Technology is moving too quickly – don’t do it!!

 

Mission: Impossible - Apple paid a lot of money to have Macs pop up in the film and were right by his side whenever the lovely Ethan Hunt needed one – but does it do for Apple what the association for Sony does in Casino Royale...?

 

The Devil Wears Prada – A massively popular film, particularly with PRs like us, had the unforgettable connection to Starbucks.  And with the multiple mentions and sightings of the coffee giant, perhaps it was a cliché too far?  We’re on the fence with this one...mainly because of our allegiance to the film!

 

US X Factor - It has been reported this week that Simon Cowell has signed a £35 million deal with Pepsi for the US version of The X Factor.  The judges will be seen drinking Pepsi products during the programme, plus contestants and presenters will be shown with the drink on The Xtra Factor.  You have been warned!

 

So as commercial stations begin to prepare their product placement/sponsorship packages, PR agency after PR agency will be watching the outcome.  Manchester’s Coronation Street, London’s EastEnders and Yorkshire’s Emmerdale will be the ones I’m watching first – it’s going to be an interesting year!

Tagged with: Good product placement examples, PR, Product Placement, Public Relations, X Factor

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Calling all voters!



Refresh PR recently found out that our client Modern Herbals has been shortlisted for Best Product in the Natural Lifestyle Awards and naturally this has made us very proud indeed!  We’ve been working with them for a few months now and we’ve got everything crossed they will walk away with the top spot. 

 

We’ve just caught up with one Modern Herbals customer who has been using Syno-Vital Hyaluronan – here is how she’s getting on:

 

Patricia Green - “After suffering with knee pain for a fair few years and undergoing an operation to replace my left knee just over two years ago, I was naturally somewhat distressed when I started to experience some pain in my other one.   While these ailments are certainly related to the wear and tear that comes with age (sadly), I’m not keen to rush back to endure the pain and discomfort of having my right knee replaced.  Not yet anyway!

 

“I’d been doing quite a bit of research on alternative treatments and looking at ways to help ease the pain that is being caused from my bones rubbing together and the loss of movement between my joints.  I’d heard about a product called Syno-Vital Hyaluronan, certainly a mouthful to repeat, which helps to replenish the synovial joint fluid which depletes as we age, and decided to order it in the hope that it would perform miracles. 

 

“The instructions advised me to drink the contents of the sachet each morning in a glass of water for at least four weeks.  Within the first month I can certainly say that I’d started to feel the benefits of this product - the aches in my joints have drastically reduced and I’m finding it much easier to move around.   Three months on and shopping isn’t a problem anymore either, although I do need to remember that I’m not as spritely as I used to be (I’m approaching 70!).   While I now only take a sachet every second day, I’m happy with the results and my skin is looking much healthier and plumper too, certainly an added benefit when most things travel south these days!”

 

We’d like to encourage everyone out there to get behind Refresh PR’s client Modern Herbals and vote for Syno-Vital Hyaluronan by logging on to www.nat-lifestyle.com/awards.  Good luck!

Tagged with: Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, PR, Retail, Wellbeing

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Tedious links: Celebrity marketing campaigns - Refresh PR counts down the most cringe-worthy



Michael McIntyre being announced as the third judge on Britain’s Got Talent this morning got the team at the Manchester Refresh PR office thinking about other random celebrity associations with big brands. There have been some real crackers, some fantastically memorable ones, and some we’d rather forget. As, I’m sure, would the celeb involved. Join us as we count down our most cringe-worthy:

·         Jason Donovan - Iceland

I’ve got nothing against drag - I love a good bit of camp cabaret. And I’ve certainly got nothing against food. But when Jason Donovan dons fishnets and full make-up to promote frozen food it’s enough to put anyone off their vaulovants. And the songs aren’t catchy, they’re just annoying.

 ·         Jedward - Nintendo DS

Jedward. Need we say more?

·         Tim Lovejoy - Giovanni Rana. Pure cheese

This ruined Tim Lovejoy for me. I used to harbour a little crush on the Chelsea-loving southerner, but his lack of acting skill has firmly extinguished that flame. I still feel a little outraged that he was used as lazy shorthand for a typical "bloke", and as if he’d be able to seduce his sexy Italian neighbour by asking for help making easy-cook pasta. Any self-respecting Italian lady would be straight out the door. Stick to ‘Something for the Weekend,’ kid.

·         Barbara Windsor – Jackpotjoy

Come on, Babs is a legend – don’t reduce her to a pantomime Queen having to reel out the astoundingly unoriginal line "Come on boys, show us yer ball.” She deserves better than that. Shame on you.

·         Spice Girls - Walkers’ Crisps

Not really sure what the connection is here. Eating Walkers’ crisps gives you girl power? I know, I know, it’s two great British institutions joining forces, but you can’t tell me a crisp has passed the lips of Posh Spice since 1996. False advertising if you ask me.

·         Jamie and Louise Redknapp – Thomas Cook

Isn’t it enough that their domestic bliss trumps ours without even trying? Now they have to have the perfect holiday as well, when we’re stuck in chav hell with no aircon after having believed the brochure that told us it was a ‘lively, sophisticated resort – ideal for couples looking for the perfect getaway.’

·         Justin Timberlake – McDonalds

No, I’m not having it. There’s no way Justin Timberlake loves McDonalds so much that he wrote a song about it.

·         Shane Warne – AHS-FP (hair loss remedy)

Shane Warne’s appeal comes from him being a real ‘lad,’ and this partnership is so off message for the Shane Warne brand. He needs to be promoting beer (and that’s VB, not Peroni), not positioning himself (however temporarily) as a metrosexual gent concerned with such matters as hair loss.

And finally, to show we’re not all bah humbug, two brilliant ones:

·         M&S – various

M&S gets its celeb partnerships on the money every time. The current Christmas ad with Peter Kay is genius, and has our favourite aspirational yet approachable female celebs rocking out in their PJs and partygear. Add an iconic – but always classy - soundtrack, and you’re away.

·         John Lewis

More of a celeb soundtrack partnership than an in-person one, the songs carefully chosen by John Lewis’ ad team for its TV ads consistently have the nation close to tears. The clever cover versions by up and coming British artists reinforce the retailer’s image of an intelligent, thoughtful and elegant British stalwart. They don’t do the original songwriters’ album sales any harm, either!

 

 

Tagged with: Celebrity, John Lewis, Manchester, PR, Retail

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Is there such a thing as bad PR? Not if you’re on the X Factor!



We at Refresh PR can’t help being a little cynical about Louis Walsh’s criticism of Cher Lloyd this week. It is the run up to the final, after all. By branding her a ‘brat’ because she’s already acting like a star and predicting that she’ll be first to go from this week’s final, Louis has been very clever in riling the UK’s Cher fans, adding fuel to the fire of her critics, and guaranteeing headlines in the nationals and on broadcast and social media channels in the lead up to the X Factor’s biggest night of the year.

This got us thinking, is there such a thing as bad publicity? It seems that when it comes to X Factor, the answer is a definite ‘no.’ By admitting that Cher is very watchable but would be a nightmare to manage, he’s reaffirming the very reasons we either love or hate her, and ensuring the fingers of journalists and bloggers up and down the country are continuing to pound those keyboards. Which means that we keep talking about it, keep watching it, and keep downloading performances from YouTube, even if we don’t like the performer or just fancy a laugh.

The X Factor’s publicity team is certainly playing a good PR game. You can’t open a gossip mag, women’s glossy or newspaper without reading about the latest from the X Factor camp or having the mags’ stylists dissecting the contestants’ outfits, hair and make-up, and you definitely can’t listen to or watch a news broadcast without Cheryl or Dannii’s dulcet tones gracing our airwaves and screens with a prediction for who’ll be voted off next. It does seem a little sad, though, that the X Factor’s PR team does little to prevent the media from continuing to run the ‘hate’ campaigns against individual contestants like Katie Waissel, Wagner and Danyl Johnson that have sprung up in recent years. Perhaps as long as there are headlines involved, all’s fair in love and PR.

On a lighter note, the Refresh PR team cannot WAIT for the final this weekend. We’re a bit ashamed to admit it, but we want One Direction to win. Who are you supporting?

Tagged with: PR, Public Relations, X Factor

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Everyone’s talking about it...and that’s Corrie, not EastEnders



As Coronation Street pulls in massive viewing figures (14.6m for the ‘tram crash’ episode) and reports in the media suggest advertisers are paying more than £100k per advertisement during the live episode due to screen tonight (9th December) Refresh PR has been looking at the 50th Birthday celebrations and, quite frankly, admiring the PR effort that’s gone in to providing the nation with news stories that have spanned six months and are still not tiring.

 

The sheer volume of news stories generated by the Coronation Street press team is staggering – it’s been difficult to open a newspaper, supplement or glossy over the past few months without seeing news of a story line, a feature or an interview with a star of the Street. The news angles have been well thought out and placed with target audiences and readerships in mind, and the fact that the press team has been able to bring old faves like Betty Driver and Julie Goodyear out of retirement to support the media effort speaks volumes for the team atmosphere at ITV.

 

It brought a smile to my face when I heard Chelsea on Key 103’s breakfast show speaking non-stop about the 50th birthday and to see the Manchester Evening News produce a special edition of the Weatherfield Gazette shows what can be done when a PR team works carefully with the local media as well as with national journalists.  It’s fantastic that our local media in Manchester are supporting a national institution! 

 

Combined with ‘crash’ news reports on ITV Granada, a Facebook game (Corrie Nation - think Farmville but less annoying) and constant trending on twitter this week, the PR has well and truly embraced all forms of media.  It’s a great campaign with tremendous attention to detail which has kept many media contacts happy and ensured the soap has got everyone talking – none more so than the Refresh PR team!  Well done everyone!

 

Tagged with: Coronation Street, Facebook, PR, Public Relations

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Festive Hair Flair



Tuesday evening and I’m in bob, the stylish hair salon in Clapham Junction helping our client with an exclusive Christmas drinks evening.  Refresh PR has been working closely with the team to create an event to reward and thank their loyal customers for the past year and, by 6.30pm the boutique salon is abuzz with life!

Recipease, Jamie Oliver’s store on the high street, has donated the fabulous canapés and as our guests are tucking in to the mouth-watering nibbles and washing them down with a glass or two of vino, they’re certainly enjoying the evening.  The ladies take it in turns to get top tips and advice from the team of skilled hair dressers and bob’s resident makeup artist, as well as enjoying a makeover or two.  Its smoky eyes all round, eye-lash extensions and curls galore which keeps the ladies happy while the men are chatting over a beer or two.

Kenny from L’Oreal is also with us and has kindly donated some wonderful gifts and scented candles for the to-die-for goodie bags which contain lots of great products, vouchers, product information and a special 10% voucher to redeem in the salon.  I hope I get my hands on one…

After five hours, it’s time to shut up shop and say a fond goodnight to everyone, including the team, Matt from DV8, Ash the salon owner and of course our guests.  With the success of this evening’s event, we’ll be looking forward to putting on another one next year.  Well done bob team, well done Refresh PR.

 

Tagged with: Health & Beauty, Lifestyle, PR, Public Relations