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Posts from September 2011

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The Baby Show



Some of the Refresh PR team headed over to The Baby Show at Manchester Central this morning to drop off the press packs we’d prepared for our client Puddle Ducks, which was busy presenting its unique baby and toddler swimming programme to mums-to-be and families in Manchester.  Its stand was brilliant and attracted plenty of parents and little ones throughout the morning.  Whilst we were there, I had a stroll around and took in some of the other stands too.  Here are my highlights:

The Superdrug stand and manicure barThere was a fantastic array of stands and some really interesting information and advice being given out to new and/or expectant parents.  The Superdrug stand stood out as they had great show offers on and some pampering treats for mums-to-be too.  There was even a brow and manicure bar where it offered very reasonably priced treatments.  Not too bad for the pregnant lady looking for a little bit of me time before her big arrival. It also had discounted beauty products and a great offer of a free yummy mummy pack when you signed up to their Superdrug beauty card, free of charge.  It was the perfect stand for the mummy with all intentions of being yummy.

The next stand that caught my eye was the Mothercare area, which had fitting rooms ready for pregnant women to go and try some of their maternity clothes and underwear.  I spoke to one of the fitting room assistants who told me that it can be difficult to find the right fit and style to suit your body when pregnant, so they are there to lend a helping hand and advise women on how to dress their bump as it grows and changes throughout the nine months.  There were plenty of baby bumps being dressed by the Gok Wans of the Mothercare world this morning.  I thought this was a fantastic idea and a great help to mums-to-be.

The Puddle Ducks stand

Mothercare also has a photography service called Pixifoto, which is available in many of its larger stores.  It’s running a special offer over this weekend which lets families pay £9.99 for a photo sitting and then receive a 12 x 10 portrait as a free gift worth over £45.  It’s also holding a competition to find the new face of Pixifoto…could your baby be the new face of Mothercare’s photography service?  Get down to the baby show this weekend to find out.

A really impressive stand was Pregnacare, which had a midwife on hand to offer guidance and support to new parents and pregnant women.  It was great to see that The Baby Show was covering all areas, right through from pregnancy to the first few years of a baby’s life.

The Pregnacare stand with a midwife on hand for advice

Sky Living was also at the show, searching for a mum-to-be to feature in a new programme called The Perfect Pregnancy.  They want to film a pregnant woman all the way through her pregnancy, making sure that she is achieving the ‘perfect pregnancy’ with guidance and help from experts, doctors and midwives, covering everything from doctors’ appointments to baby showers.  If you think you could feature in the show, why not contact Simon Mcdonald and tell him about yourself on 0207299 3448 or e-mail scott.mcdonald@nutopia.com.

Of course, with this being The Baby Show there were plenty of little ones pottering around with their mums and dads checking out some of the latest baby gadgets.  There was a crèche available though, sponsored by Fisher Price, where there were mountains of toys and plenty of staff on hand to take care of the kids in case mum wanted to have a wander on her own or maybe visit the brow bar or nail bar for a mini pamper session.

The Prima baby stand

So if you’re an expectant or new parent and if you want some advice, help or just fancy having a little wander around Manchester Central this weekend to take in the stands and offers, then head over to The Baby Show which is on all weekend, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September. 

 

Have fun!

Tagged with: Leisure, Lifestyle, Manchester, PR, Puddle Ducks, The Baby Show

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Anyone for Orienteering...?



Anyone For Orienteering…?

As a girl who finds it very difficult to read a map, follow directions and gets very easily lost in Manchester despite the fact that I’ve lived here for 23 years, orienteering is something I have generally avoided.  Until now……

On Wednesday evening after work, the Refresh PR team slipped out of our heels and in to our slightly more practical trainers and headed down to Salford Watersports Centre to take part in an orienteering lesson.  We are working with Greater Sport, which has teamed up with British Orienteering to open up opportunities for local people to get involved in the sport.  I was a little apprehensive to say the least as we met up with coach Simon Khan, but as soon as the session started I couldn’t help but get involved and just a little bit competitive.Refresh PR capture Simon Khan of British Orienteering & Greater Sport's photo shoot with the MEN

I was really intrigued with the way that the session had attracted a diverse group of people, some with great experience in orienteering, and some, like me, who had never taken part in the sport before.  Simon got the group together to teach us some key map-reading skills for orienteering, and sent us off in search of small tokens he had hidden in the surrounding area.  As beginners we took our time and got a feel for using the maps, the group did brilliantly on the whole; I was impressed with how well team Refresh was doing, that was until I realised that I had my map upside down and was generally heading in the wrong direction.  But other than me, the group was turning out to be quite the bunch of orienteers!

The Greater Sport team with Simon Khan getting a lesson in map readingAfter this we moved on to another method of training called “naughty numbers” which uses some brilliant pieces of electronic equipment.   Here, a series of small electronic packs labelled from 1 – 20 are laid out on the ground in a random order in a grid shape.  With a device attached to our fingers to record our time between each electronic box, we clicked on the start ‘pack’ and then had to follow our special orienteering map to go from one box to the next, in order, as quickly as possible, clicking in each pack as we went.   The device on our fingers monitored the speed at which we move around to identify the location of each pack in the sequence until we reached the elusive 20th pack.  It got a little competitive, and was very funny to do.  This was my favourite exercise as we ran to make sure we kept our speed up – none of us wanted to go back to learn of an embarrassingly slow time!

The Hi-Tech equipment used in the orienteering lessonOrienteering is a great way to exercise as Simon incorporates some fitness training into his sessions too, whilst orienteering is still the main focus; it’s great to feel like you’ve had a workout and a lot of fun at the same time.  The Refresh PR team loved it, and we were really pleased with our map reading skills as the session progressed.  Urban Orienteering is something that is growing in popularity all the time, and it is easy to see why.  It takes the skills needed in orienteering in the countryside and puts it together with the challenges of taking part in the sport in a built up area.

I would definitely recommend orienteering to anyone who fancies getting out there and doing something a little different.  It’s a real twist on exercise, it’s a lot of fun, you can meet some great people and it’s a workout for the brain too.  What more could you ask for?  If I can do it, anybody can!

Laura and I after the lesson, very impressed!

If you fancy trying orienteering get down to Salford Watersports Centre at Salford Quays on a Wednesday evening at 6.30pm-8.00pm to meet Simon and his team and start reading those maps.  You can also call Simon on 07530 909807 or email salfordorienteeringclub@gmail.com for more information.

Good Luck!

Tagged with: MEN, Orienteering, Photo Shoot, Sport, Sports

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ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH – EXACERBATING ‘THE SITUATION’?



Following the upsetting (and enraging) scenes of the riots dominating our newspapers, programmes and bulletins this month, this Manchester agency was definitely ready for a lighter story to lift the mood. We welcomed the news that Abercrombie & Fitch has offered to pay Jersey Shore’s Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino not to wear its clothes with open arms and, once we’d finished giggling at the hilarity of it all, realised that Abercrombie & Fitch had executed a genius bit of blog-worthy PR.

 

A quarter of consumers would consider ditching a product if the celebrity endorsing it misbehaved. So it comes as no surprise that the constantly misbehaving stars of hedonistically brash MTV reality show, Jersey Shore, are not welcome brand ambassadors for the all-American clothing company. In a carefully-worded statement (good work, A&F PR people), the company referred to its association with The Situation as “contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to our fans.” Aside from being a brave – and brilliant – move that grabbed A&F some serious buzz and column inches, it raises the issue of reputation being central to brand success, highlighting how important it is to take steps to keep a marketing strategy and a brand’s perception on track.

 

In Abercrombie & Fitch’s case, it bagged the brand some impressive word-of-mouth marketing, too. Effectively banning The Situation from wearing its clothes has certainly got people talking, but it’s done wonders for reinforcing its brand values. Abercrombie & Fitch knows who it wants as its customers – attractive under 25 year olds who are set to be life’s winners. It also knows who it doesn’t want – pretty much everybody else. Ouch. It strips ‘exclusivity’ back to its original meaning, deliberately discounting huge sections of society to make itself even more desirable. Its execs have clearly worked out that appealing to the rich, athletic and good-looking elite will do more for the brand’s bottom line than welcoming Average Joe and turning said elite off.

 

And Abercrombie & Fitch’s strategy to turn off non-targeted customers is reflected in everything from its adverts to its store fit-outs. Why else are its boutiques lit with the dimmest lights possible, staffed by almost-models and pumping out obnoxiously loud music? To send a clear message to the overweight, over-25 (sob!) and generally over it shopper: this is not for you. Until now, this has remained (relatively) subliminal, but the move to publicise the ‘The Situation’ situation has thrust A&F’s narcissistic brand stance into the spotlight, making it all the more coveted. Clever. They’ve created the sartorial equivalent of the cool kids’ gang at school.

 

Abercrombie & Fitch is definitely not the first brand to attract unwanted advocates. British fashion house Burberry famously became the uniform of choice for UK chavs a decade or so ago, from which the brand is still trying to recover. It’s ethereal campaigns fronted by quintessentially English rose, Emma Watson, have gone some way to repairing the damage, but that print will continue to send a shudder down the spine of many a fashionista for years to come.

 

Said chavs have, much more recently, played a role in tarnishing the brands of Nike and Adidas, when swarms of them took to the streets during the riots. Both companies have experienced a damaging fall in brand perception as a result. I’m not sure that Nike and Adidas will be able to emulate Abercrombie & Fitch’s tactic and pull off a mass payment to the UK’s chavs, but I’m confident they’ll bounce back by reinforcing their positive association with credible sport and world-leading athletes.

 

Ultimately, the impact of Abercrombie & Fitch’s move will be clear only when the dust has settled. Its share price did take a momentary dip – upset Jersey Shore fans with their nose out of joint, perhaps? – but it’s certainly got us all talking about Abercrombie & Fitch across the pond. The story has generated an enormous amount of press on platforms as credible as BBC News 24 and as lighthearted as the celeb and gossip blogs subscribed to by A&F’s target audience: aspirational under-25s. Good work guys – this PR firm certainly approves.

 

 

Tagged with: Adidas, Burberry, Jersey Shore, Jessica Ennis, Manchester, Nike, PR, riots, The Situation