Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fragrance sampling, to have and to hold

Author of ‘Advertising and the Production of Commodity-signs’, R.Goldman, says the fragrance industry manufactures and markets “hopes and dreams”. I think the theoretics of this is pretty accurate.

Perfume ads stereotypically rely on slender women, beautiful clothing and dreamlike backdrops or steamy scenes to advertise their products, so what can they do to stand apart? How do you use an image to convey a scent?

There are various methods brands use to get round this. Some brands have taken to putting a sample with their advert either in the form of a sticky flap or mini piece of material soaked in the perfume. Avon even uses a ‘rub and release’ method which is clever, but like the others doesn’t even come close to recreating the methodology of selecting a fragrance.

Buying perfume is a whole experience in itself. First you admire appearance of the bottle and how it feels to hold. Then you lift it to your nose before spraying it on your wrist. Finally after a couple of hours you will have a sniff to see how the perfume has blended with your own scent and if it has worn off or not.

Flicking through ELLE magazine the other day I had got about 50 pages in and had already seen about 12 perfume ads, when one caught my eye. There was a distinctive absence of a beautiful woman, instead just the image of the perfume bottle, layered around seven times. Homing in to the middle of the page, I saw what appeared to be a 3D cardboard perfume bottle.

Peeling the little cardboard envelope from the page I wondered how it worked. Following the instructions, I pulled the tab at the top which revealed the spray nozzle. It also transformed the flat pack to a prism – effectively a mini bottle of perfume. From here you simply press on the face of the image to release the spray. To close, push the tab at the top back down which re-hides the nozzle, preserving the rest of the perfume.

The fragrance was Womanity by Thierry Mugler. Mugler’s perfumes are always very distinctive and here so too was the advertising.

Showing the sample to the girls in the office, they all quickly interacted with the product and there was spray enough for each. Having not seen anything like this before I was intrigued and impressed so decided to do a little research. One sample is said to provide “six test sprays”. This is incredibly clever as the brand could effectively penetrate their target audience six times with only one sample; maximizing cost-effectiveness.

Known as the “Flat Spray”, the new perfume sampling technology was first featured in the glossy pages of Canadian Fashion magazine in October 2010.

I really interacted with this execution and believe this method represents the next step in sample advertising. It is reusable, portable and a highly effective method of getting your target audience to engage with your product. Would I buy this perfume? Maybe. Would I go to the shop and try it there because of the sample? Yes.

2011: the Year of Product Placement

Will programmes such as Upstairs, Downstairs feature brands with heritage such as Lyle’s Golden Syrup?

The product placement legislation passed just before Christmas will bring us in line with American advertising so that embedded marketing will occur within UK TV scheduling from 28 February 2011.

Here at the Pumpkin patch we’ve been musing on how this might change British television as we’ve come to know and love it. Will the regulars at the Old Vic all find their pint is now Reassuringly Expensive? Will the cast of Coronation Street suddenly be knocking back the Coca Cola and chomping on Dunkin’ Donuts? The possibilities as to how this might change British drama are quite wide. Despite the objections many have to product placement, it didn’t affect the credibility of astronomically successful series Sopranos or The Wire. Rather, one might question which brands will feel the world of Hollyoaks, in which incest, rape and murder abound with alarming regularity, is one that they want their brand associated with?

And how will it manifest in our much beloved costume dramas? Will Upstairs, Downstairs feature vintage Lyle’s Golden Syrup? When you start to ask these (perhaps silly) questions you realise it dramatically increases the opportunities for brands to be quite clever with their marketing strategies.

The decision to display a logo for three seconds at the start of programmes as well as after ad breaks is a good reminder but realistically won’t affect anything. Surely under-funded programming will drive most producers to seek brand tie-ins. Will it bring a new revenue stream into UK TV scheduling and increase the quality? But do we want this to increase? Didn’t the wobbling sets of Crossroads warm the cockles of your heart and seem quintessentially British?

What’ll be interesting will be to watch how product placement evolves marketing, and if it will come to affect scripts and content. How far could this go? Would any channels be open to product placement leading scripts? And what are the implications for British culture on a wider scale? …She muses as she sips her Perrier.

The art of connecting

Can you remember the last time you left your mobile phone at home? You might have said it was a relief not feeling you were a slave to it for a day. You may have thought how nice it was not to be bothered all the time. But I bet you made a beeline for the dinky device as soon as you got back – to check your texts, missed calls and who had poked you on Facebook.

Mobiles have become like an extra limb. They’re portable powerhouses that deliver more and more with each upgrade you receive. It’s not so much about talking, but it is about communicating – through texts, messenger, social media. You name it, they facilitate it. They’re now an essential rather than an accessory, and I for one wouldn’t be without one.

Why, then, do I struggle to find a single mobile operator whose brand really resonates with me?

It’s difficult to find one which feels relevant and charming; more often they seem faceless and sometimes even smug. I know I’m just one small part of an incredibly wide and diverse target audience, but surely the same would be true for superbrands like Apple: yet such brands consistently appeal and are championed by consumers worldwide.

I wouldn’t include everything the brands do here – for example I like the clever O2 music partnerships and sponsorships, and admire the Orange film tie-ups. I’ve also seen some good charity initiatives. It’s more the way they come across as entities. I’d find it almost impossible to characterise each of the main companies and their differences in a couple of lines.

The reputation of mobile phone companies in general isn’t great – they’ve all been tarred with the same ‘poor customer service’ brush. I understand that competiveness on price remains the all-important factor. But the same must be true of the fickle world of supermarkets, and all of the big names in that sector deliver good, clear messaging.

Maybe the level of communication phone companies need to deliver and the speed at which they need to deliver means it’s difficult to keep the brand consistent. Or possibly they rely on international campaigns that lose some of their impact with a UK audience. But with flimsy slogans such as ‘life’s for sharing’ or ‘make the most of now’ at the heart of the brands, I feel that they’re trying to be all things to all people. And in doing that, they actually fail to do the one thing a phone brand, above all, should do: connect.