Wednesday, 27 November 2019 14:24

ChicGeek Comment Christmas Past

christmas ads stuck in the pastNot to sound too much like Scrooge, though he is part of the problem, but have you noticed how all the Christmas adverts look the same this year?

Their nostalgic Dickensian approach of snow, jingle bells, street urchins and false bonhomie is strikingly similar and just doesn’t feel particularly fresh from retailers trying to smile through the pain of the current retail environment. It feels faker than a Trump press release and disappointing and safe from marketing departments crossing everything and hoping their brands make it through to the new year.

Left - More urchins? Sainsbury's 2019

What started with wise men offering up gifts was hijacked by retailers and brands over the past century to make all their year’s profits in a few short months. Today's Christmas is, arguably, an American creation of commercialisation. It was Coca-Cola after all who changed Father Christmas from green to red to suit their branding.

This isn’t about taking Christmas back to its meaning, whatever that is, it’s about reflecting contemporary times and stripping the crap out of Christmas, which sits alongside Halloween and Valentine’s as commercial ‘Festivals of Crap’ with our overindulgence reflected in the bulging brown bin the days after.

Christmas needs a reboot to take it from Victoriana fake-fest to a simpler and more sustainable pagan and friends and family focussed festival to get us through the longest nights.

“Most of Christmas ads look almost identical because agencies and brands start from the almost same brief: ‘Lets create a piece of heart-warming storytelling that people will share online, so avoid pushing a specific product. Make it pretty’. says Marcio Delgado – Influencer Marketing Campaign Manager and Producer, www.marciodelgado.com

John Lewis christmas ads stuck in the past

"On paper, for the purpose of approving production budgets months before Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ climbs back the charts – again – it seems the perfect deal. However, when customers start being bombarded by similar content, exhaustively promoted within their social media feeds and favourite TV shows, it all starts to look too much of the same.” says Delgado.

Lesley Stonier, brand storytelling and marketing strategist. Founder of We Mean Business, London - helping women and entrepreneurs find their authentic voice and share their story with confidence, says, “I think for the last 5 or so years we’ve seen John Lewis and even more recently Lidl/Aldi do very well from a certain style and format of ad. I believe the briefs the ad agencies are receiving from these companies and their competitors now will be something like, I want what they are doing, but make it ours.

Right - More snow? John Lewis 2019.

“It just all feels very same-y and therefore it becomes difficult to distinguish who the retailers actually are. There’s no stand out brand this year. The ads all blur into one Christmassy mass with no distinction. Food, kids, 18th century nostalgia, it’s difficult to tell them apart now.” says Stonier.

Stephanie Melodia, marketing specialist, founder of startup marketing agency, Bloom says, “Persuasion is at the root of successful advertising, and the mechanism to this is by appealing to people’s emotions. As a nation that has become less religious and traditional over time, Christmastime no longer bears the same connotations as before. Instead, the “Dickensian nostalgia” plays to the magic and joy one can only achieve over the holidays - whether its spending time with loved ones, exchanging gifts, enjoying good food & drink, or all of the above! It’s worth noting the generations that the Dickensian style will appeal to have quite a vast age range, from the grandparents to the millennials, (thanks to Mr. Dickens' literary genius in itself, as well as the modern remixes, like The Muppet Christmas Carol - for example). 

What can brands do to differentiate themselves more and make their marketing campaigns feel more contemporary? “Firstly, they could focus on what their unique perspective is on Christmas. Although I think that’s where the challenge ultimately lies. When it comes to retail, we now have promotions for Christmas starting 2 wks before Black Friday so it’s very hard to differentiate except via price.” says Stonier.

“John Lewis, for example, could have led the pack by taking a more sustainable approach to Christmas. Encouraging less packaging waste for example. Or a supermarket encouraging less food waste. That would be a different approach and that would have much greater stand out because you’re changing the story people expect to hear, and giving them something different to mull over, giving them a reason to choose to do something different and make that choice with you.” she says.

 Tesco christmas ads stuck in the past

“Behavioural changes, especially at a large scale, take a long time to kick in (whilst there is still lots of impactful work happening at the moment!)” says Melodia. “Hardwired social traditions like exchanging gifts at Christmastime won’t go away any time soon, but people are definitely thinking a lot more about how and what they buy than before. Retailers need to have sustainability at the heart of their businesses (if they don’t already) and beware of the PR risk in greenwashing while doing so.” she says.

Left - Tesco's 2019 Christmas table

Will this type of Christmas survive Extinction Rebellion and people rethinking over consumption?

“I think shoppers will always shop on price discounts. But it doesn’t drive loyalty so the retailers are just creating a vicious cycle that is then difficult to extract yourself from. 

“There’s a risk to a different approach, but I’m surprised no one has capitalised on the consumer demand for more sustainable approach to life, and taken Christmas, the season of excess as the time to put a stake in the ground.” says Stonier.

What will Christmas look like in the future for brands and retailers?

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can see us ironically returning to a simpler, less extravagant time, much like the Dickensian era. Where gifts are made rather than bought, and that we focus on the meaning and act of giving rather then needing, wanting and buying.” says Stonier. “The reality is there is very little we “need” now days in first world countries. We’re saturated. So what comes next? People search for meaning and purpose, and brands are doing good in the world, will be leading our hearts, minds and wallets in the future.” she says.

“We’ve already moved so far away from the religious and familial traditions from a mere century ago, the rate of change is only accelerating faster and faster. I believe people coming together and enjoying shared experiences will be the core festive factor that will remain for the foreseeable future, with the consumerist side of the holidays on the down.” says Melodia.

These Christmas ads are looking as done as the designer Christmas tree. This isn't about taking out the fun and the coming together of Christmas, it's about a fresher approach that is more reflective of where we are right now as consumers. The Christmas future looks simpler and less wasteful. ’Please, sir, no more!’.

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

Monday, 25 November 2019 15:53

Product Of The Week The Pearl Necklace

pearl necklace giambattusta valli Product of the week menswearIn the Wham Rap! it goes “Boys in leather kiss girls in pearls!” Fast forward to 2019 and it’s more likely to be girls in Bottega leather kiss boys in pearls. Thanks to Harry and his giant pearl at this year’s Met Gala - See more here - the pearl necklace is the menswear accessory of the season.

Pearls are the oldest gem on earth and have been treasured for centuries. Their appeal declined in the mid-20th century, when Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto Kōkichi invented the ‘cultured’ pearl, which rendered them no longer a symbol of wealth.

pearl necklace giambattusta valli Product of the week menswear

As part of the GIAMBATTISTA VALLI x H&M collection - See more here - this necklace is made from real freshwater pearls with an antiqued metal hook fastener and pendant.

Left & Right - GIAMBATTISTA VALLI x H&M - Pearl Necklace - £49.99

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

pearl necklace giambattusta valli Product of the week menswear harry stylesLeft - Harry Styles in Gucci at the Met Gala 2019

 

Review 
fragrance Parterre The Hour of Dusk & Gold tried testedInspired by the warmth of a Moroccan evening, the fusion of spices coming from the medina and the hues of the setting sun over the ocean viewed from the rooftops of the Essaouira, The Hour of Dusk & Gold is the latest fragrance from British brand, Parterre. Persian wild carrot seed and angelica root grown of Keyneston Mill, are embellished with orris and a swirl of nutmeg, lavender, and bay.

Left - Parterre - The Hour of Dusk & Gold - 50ml - £95

TheChicGeek says, “Parterre launched two year’s ago with the ambition of turning a corner of Dorset into Britain’s answer to Grasse - See Label To Know - Parterre from TheChicGeek archive - here I wanted to see how they were getting on. Like I said to the founders, Julia and David, when people planted vineyards in England, decades ago, people scoffed, and the same could be said for this idea. As the climate changes, this could become a leader in this field for UK grown fragrance ingredients.

While the fragrances aren’t 100% UK grown, this new scent does includes carrot seed and angelica root from their farm.

This is lightly spiced and it has that attractive warm and dry sensation from the carrot seed. The iris orris root always enhances and gives depth to the other notes, but nothing sticks its head out here as individual notes. As a fragrance is it wearable while offering something different without trying too hard, but I do think it’s important to give fragrances more simpler and memorable names."

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

Friday, 22 November 2019 14:30

Tried & Tested Waken Mouthcare

Review 
Waken mouthcare tried testedFrom the brains behind Bulldog Skincare, Waken is a new, premium mouthcare brand launching four vegan-friendly mouthwashes and a "chic" sipping cup. Presented in eco-friendly aluminium bottles and using natural mints and other botanical extracts, Waken’s recipes have been crafted with your wellbeing at their heart to give you fresh breath while being kind to your teeth and gums. The four flavours are PepperMint, SpearMint, LemonMint and Aniseed Mint.

Left - Waken 500ml / £8, Waken MouthwashCup / £4

I sent Simon Duffy, Founder of Waken Mouthcare, a few questions: 

CG: When did you leave Bulldog and why?
SD: I’m actually still involved with Bulldog and it’s going really well.
Waken is a new and completely separate brand. We thought that the existing mouthwash brands were tired and wanted to try something new!  

CG: Why the focus on mouth care?
SD: We think that the mouthwash industry has been focused on the wrong things for too long. It’s time we moved past the harsh ingredients like alcohol, synthetic mint and plastic bottles. We have a more progressive vision of mouthcare that aims to be kind and gentle while also delivering on performance.

CG: Where did the idea come from?
SD: Our vision is to promote wellness by championing mouthcare. A healthy mouth is essential to your general health and wellbeing as we believe it acts as a gateway to the rest of your body.
Many mouthwashes use harsh chemicals that can leave your mouth dry and irritated. Waken mouthcare is alcohol free and uses gentle, progressive ingredients that help protect, moisturise and condition.
We use natural mint and other fantastic botanical extracts such as Sicilian lemon and Eucalyptus to work with what’s already beautiful about your mouth.

CG: What’s different about Waken?
SD: We think there are two main areas:
Firstly, our formulas are very different from those used in conventional mouthwashes. We don’t use any artificial flavours or artificial colours to start with, and each mouthwash is completely alcohol-free. This means you won’t feel a ‘burn’ or experience a dry mouth feeling that you can sometimes get from formulas that are high in alcohol.

Instead, we use natural mint and other fantastic botanical extracts to work with what’s already beautiful about your mouth.  It was amazing to us that although the dental category relies so heavily on mint as a flavour, much of the mint we taste in dental products is unfortunately artificial. This was something we wanted to change.

Secondly, we’re using aluminium bottles and caps, rather than using plastic bottles and caps. Switching to Aluminium is a great way to reduce your plastic footprint. Aluminium has a brilliant track record in recycling and is highly likely to be recycled. The great thing about recycling aluminium is that unlike plastic it doesn’t degrade. That means that you can recycle it endlessly.  The good news is that nearly 75% of all the aluminium ever made is still in use (Source: The Aluminium Association website, accessed November 2019, ‘Facts at a glance’). If we compare this with plastic, a UC Santa Barbara study estimates that of the 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste humans have produced, only 9% was recycled (Source: Geyer et al. 2017, ‘Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made’ in Science Advances).

Overall we want to take you from a chemical world of cleaning to a fresh new world of caring. We’re focusing on beauty, wellbeing and sustainability. We often summarise this as ‘Don’t Just Clean. Care.’ 

CG: What’s the future for mouth care?

SD: With more of us increasingly aware of our environmental footprint we hope to see more eco-friendly options available in mass retailers. We also think there will be growing awareness about the role that the mouth plays as a gateway to your overall health. Recently we have been seeing more and more scientific studies looking at the potential negative side-effects of using alcoholic and anti-bacterial mouthwashes. I think we will see more research into the idea of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. If you look at “The Dental Diet” by Dr Steven Lin, he says “if you see a mouthwash that claims to kill 99.9% of germs, you should run far, far away.”

TheChicGeek says, “This has been nicely thought about and branded. Waken recommend a 20ml dose - which I found a little bit too much - which would mean your bottle of 500ml would last approximately 25 days. That’s £8 for less than a month’s worth of mouthwash. It’s going to be a tough task to get people to pay this, especially when mouthwash is often seen as a pound shop type product.

The aluminium bottles are really nice and it says not to swig straight from the bottle, so you do need another receptacle, because, unlike other brands, the cap is too small to double up for this. Waken offer a metal cup for a additional £4.

Of the four flavours, my favourites were the two standard mints; PepperMint, SpearMint. The lemon and the aniseed flavours just weren’t quite as enjoyable as the other two and had a stronger after taste.

I do think this needs to sell more teeth/health benefits because natural ingredients and recyclable packaging are probably further down the list of purchase motivators than say gum and teeth health or fresh breath."

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

Friday, 22 November 2019 13:34

Product Of The Week The Fuck Shirt

Holland Esquire Fuck Shirt Product of the week menswearWe could possibly thank Conor McGregor for the fucks in menswear or it could it be the arrival of the ‘Fashion Wanker’? - See TheChicGeek’s new book - here. Whatever it is, Nick Holland is back with his Holland Esquire label. Turning his back on wasteful seasonal collections, he is doing themed micro drops with names such as ‘Doggy Style’, ‘Allotment Lovers’ and, ‘Fuck!’ from which this dress shirt is from.

I’ve been an admirer of Nick’s eye for a long time and his dedication to the detail. This shirt comes with a matching pocket for those moments when ‘fucks given’ is another way to say you care!

Holland Esquire - The Fuck Shirt - £150 - Limited to 50 pieces

Disclosure - A shirt was gifted by Holland Esquire

Holland Esquire Fuck Shirt Product of the week menswear

boring mono luxury websitesWhen was the last time you felt truly inspired by a luxury brand’s website? Regardless of the cute little illustrations or achingly cool ad campaign flipping past, mono-luxury e-tail hasn’t really moved on over the past decade. It’s as though they still feel the brand is enough. 

People don’t dress like this, and just to replicate the physical store online is to create a glorified warehouse or catalogue, which doesn’t take into account the element of personality, pampering and leisure which makes physical shopping a pleasure for many and the reason most people desire these brands in the first place. It’s not seductive.

Left - Celine.com - Have mono-luxury sites moved on in the last decade?

During this same time period, multi-brand luxury retailers such as matchesfashion.com, Far Fetch and Net-A-Porter have grown their turnovers into the hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to their ability to tap into people’s desires for newness and vast amounts of choice. These retailers are basically online fashion department stores just minus the fridges and toasters. People like to skip between brands and cherry pick items across them in the most efficient use of their time. Going onto individual, mono-brand websites, especially if you don’t know what you want, feels like a blinkered process and like you’re not getting a full view of the fashion landscape. It also feels, on the majority of sites, as though there isn’t much on there. It is just isn’t very satisfying.

Last week, Farfetch Chief Executive, Jose Neves, predicted that brands would pull out of multi-brand retailers online and operate as e-concessions on marketplaces instead, much as they have done in bricks-and-mortar department stores. And, last year, Kering announced it would take some of its biggest e-commerce websites in house, by the first half of 2020, putting an end to a seven-year joint venture with Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP).

Kering’s online sales made up just 6% - this is against 18% of UK retail as a whole - of its 6.4 billion euro turnover in the first half of 2018, but it did grow by 80 percent in the third quarter, faster than revenue growth in department stores or its own shops. If these brands want to reflect general online retail sales they will need to double or triple the percentage of sales coming from online.

Taking back control of the Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga websites will allow Kering full access to information such as client data.While this is great for the brands and the back-end, tech side, customers will notice little difference unless they have a radical rethink of how they present their brands on the front-end. Consumers are used to scrolling and discount incentives to drive sales which many of these brands, outside of sales season, won’t offer. It can also feel very clinical.

According to a report by Deloitte “Big data may help luxury brands to provide personalized and superior customer service through consumer segmentation, behaviour and sentiment analysis, and predictive analytics. Several luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Dior and Estée Lauder, have already started to take advantage of these technologies, using AI-powered technologies, such as machine learning and analytics, to offer more personalized and timely customer services. They implemented their own AI-powered chatbots and now can sell products using targeted marketing, personalization, and timely automation.”

boring mono luxury websites saint laurent

In November 2018, Kering created a data science team at group level to improve the service and shopping experience of its clients. Kering intends to get real-time 360-degree view of its customers to deliver rich and personalised experiences and meet their specific needs. LVMH, doesn’t break out separate online sales information, but they did reveal that the group's online sales rose by more than 30 percent in 2018. Ian Rogers, the first ever chief digital officer of the LVMH group, told Wired, last year, that he doesn’t like the word "digital" and he has the very tricky job of matching the luxury online customer journey with the pampered, indulgent experience IRL.

“It’s not the case that luxury shopping becomes self-serve on the internet: if I do buy something I expect a high level of service, even if I’m remote.” he said “You can see it's definitely strategic for us to invest in remote customer support, and it's directly downstream of our Internet strategy. There's this nonsense land of digital transformation where people wave their hands and they talk in impractical terms. Keep drilling until you have something practical that works and then rinse and repeat. Lose these nonsense words like "digital", like "data", like "social media". You have to get rid of this digital umbrella because it's just too broad. When somebody says, "We're really behind on digital", my response is, "You're behind in every aspect of your business?” he said.

Right - Spot the difference - YSL.com

According to Kering’s Chief Client & Digital Officer, Grégory Boutté, “Digital can be many different things at once - a distribution channel; a platform for offering seamless omni-channel services to clients; a driver of brand image and visibility; and a tool for engaging with customers in a personalized way. Digital technology, data science and innovation provide a way of offering our customers the best possible experience – on every touchpoint” he said.

Online and off-line isn’t separate, most brands now offer services such as check availability, reserve in-store, make store appointment, pick-up in-store, return in-store, exchange in-store, and buy online in-store. Kering said it will continue to develop partnerships with third-party e-commerce platforms "when relevant", but we’re seeing the beginnings of a power struggle between brands and retailers. They both need each other.

Now these luxury groups are focusing on their websites they need to rethink the entire thing. Their rigid ‘aesthetics’ and branding doesn’t allow for personality. Mono-brand luxury sites are restricted by the volume of product and while it changes, it doesn’t change often enough to the levels today’s customers have become used to. 

Brands, such as Prada, Saint Laurent and Celine, also sell a lot of black, which doesn’t shoot well and doesn’t make the most inspiring of online images. Add in ‘collab. fatigue’ and these brands really need to develop a new idea for websites if they want to increase sales and move away from multi-brand sites.

Luxury brands have built themselves a boring digital straight-jacket and need to start thinking differently. They could offer FaceTime with sales associates in people’s local stores, or offer a live view way of browsing in-store and matching to items online. It’s going to be about making the virtual real and vice versa. There are many possibilities, but they need to unthink the “brand”.

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE


Advertisement