Water Cooler Conversations

Each month, we like to check in with team GRA to see what’s inspiring them, intriguing them, and generally, getting the creative juices flowing.

This month, that meant everything from Scottish classics, to major brands rethinking their visual approach on social to reviews of sticks. Safe to say it’s a good one! 

Ben

Senior Search Executive 

A highlight for me was seeing Irn Bru’s latest ad that’s gone rather viral on Scottish Facebook and Twitter.

For as long as I remember, their brand messaging has focused on Scotland and our unique humour, so it was no surprise to see them touch on the upcoming Euros 2024 football tournament: the first major competition Scotland has qualified for since 1998 (excluding the 2021 Covid Euros).

It’s safe to say that if you’re a football fan in Scotland, the ‘Doctor’s’ advert had an emotional effect on you! Featuring well-known Still Game actor, Sanjeev Kohli, the short but effective ad commented on an ‘illness’ that’s not been seen for many years, affecting Scottish football fans across the country. This illness? Optimism.

It perfectly encapsulates the feelings that hundreds of thousands of people around Scotland are experiencing, while also creating one of the funniest ads I’ve ever seen (remember their ‘Fanny’ campaign?).

Long story short… I thought it was perfect. Although you expect such perfection from the team at Irn Bru, they really hit the nail on the head with this ad.

Caitlin

Social Media & Content Marketing Assistant

I absolutely loved the McDonald’s and BBC’s Children in Need collaboration for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Both organisations teamed together to highlight the importance of children’s mental health by pushing out a powerful creative concept stating, “It’s okay not to be happy all the time”.

McDonald’s integrated this message into their Happy Meal boxes by removing the iconic smile and replacing it with a variety of stickers displaying different emotions for children to choose from. It was implemented across 1,400 restaurants in the UK, sparking conversations about emotions and feelings that are often difficult to discuss in the younger audiences. 

This is such an important topic to cover, as 1 in 6 children between the ages of 5-16 currently suffer from mental health issues across the UK. McDonalds’ “The Meal” campaign is a powerful reminder that brands with such an important stance in the industry can be a force for good.

McDonald’s innovation through this campaign has left a lasting impression and set a positive example for future brand-driven social movements.  

Overall, this was a very compelling and influential campaign, it’s not sales-driven and there is no ulterior motive, it’s thoughtful, sensitive, and all-powerful. They have hit the nail on the head on how crucial it is to chat with younger people about how they are feeling while also remaining sensitive to the topic area. 

Jemma

Director

The collaboration between Royal Mail and Pharmacy2U – the UK’s largest online pharmacy- really caught my attention this week through a series of IG story ads.

They have teamed up to help take the pain out of getting your NHS prescriptions and are now offering a prescription delivery service directly to your letterbox.  

All you need to do is register and order via the Royal Mail Health app and they will sort the rest – making life so much easier for working people across the country and hopefully helping to take the pressure off front-line workers in pharmacies. 

A great move from Pharmacy2U to help elevate their brand and steal a share of the market currently using their local pharmacy. 

In terms of creative, Royal Mail used a series of distinctly red images and strong copy to help raise awareness of this new service.   

Josh

Digital Marketing Specialist

I did have a more serious answer but I felt I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention the ‘Official Stick Reviews’ Instagram account.

For me, this taps into the unadulterated joy that I thought was lost to a long-gone childhood. But, before I knew it, it was 1.20 am, and I was poring over each upload, whispering “belter, man” under my breath.

Sticks that look like scythes. Sticks that look like guns. Sticks that look like brass knuckles, even. It’s all there. All the stuff my inner eight-year-old needs. 

At first, I wasn’t sure what lessons could be extrapolated for marketers. A signifier of a society over-reliant on nostalgia, perhaps? Maybe?

If you’ll lower that raised eyebrow for just a minute, it really did remind me of when being online wasn’t just my job, but my greatest pleasure.

When YouTube was in its relative infancy, and let’s be honest, golden age. When Ebaumsworld was still a thing. When eBay, Google, and Microsoft’s logos all had different fonts. 

The internet is many things, but it’s also somewhere where people come to find community and experience joy. I think a big reason why the internet is so full of ‘lurkers’ i.e. non-posters these days is that we’re just a little too inundated with sales content of all kinds, on all fronts.

Even newer platforms like TikTok are getting dangerously close to getting the balance wrong, which is to say, we still need the filling to make the bread tolerable.

Official Stick Reviews is all the proof you need that there’s no niche for you to occupy that’s too small or too silly. And yes, although we’re already seeing Official Stick Reviews merch begin to pop up, I’m fine with that. All I ask is that the admin of the account keeps things in that sweet spot, and doesn’t forget what we’re all here for, deep down: a bit of fun.

Louise

Digital Marketing Manager

We had a bit of a debate in the office – are brands getting simpler in their design? And then Monzo proved us right. 

With social media and phones becoming our main digital portals, brands have less time before someone swipes away, and physically less real estate on small screens. So it makes sense that brands would move towards minimalism.

Monzo have used this effectively by building brand recognition not even around a logo – but a colour. Their famous coral cards have became defining brand feature, and this ad effectively demonstrates how to add your brand stamp quickly, effectively and without even using a logo or icon. 

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