Daily nuggets of inspiration from the good folk
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Every year, on 9th April, Ben & Jerry’s celebrates the opening of their first business by giving away free ice-cream for the whole day. To celebrate in the Netherlands this year, the brand asked people to vote for their local heroes via a social media campaign.
Fans were asked, “Who deserves a Free Cone Day?” and answered by logging onto the Facebook app and pinpointing their local heroes on a map. These virtual pins then became real-life pins to be “potential Free Cone Day locations’ and reminders for people to vote.
In each of the Netherlands’ 12 regions, three local heroes were chosen based on their good works and popularity. Including a woman who, for the last 30 years, wakes up every three hours to feed neglected and abandoned kittens. Probably not on ice-cream though…
‘Don’t get comfortable’ might be an unusual request from a clothing company, but American Giant have other ideas. (Cheers Elliot). Unhappy with the fact that most of our clothes are made overseas, they’ve created a brand with an old American work ethic – without cutting any corners.
Check out their brand film below:
Supermarkets are convenient, but often source their products from all over the world – racking up carbon emissions and squeezing out local competition. As a reaction to this, Danish co-operative superstore SuperBrugsen are encouraging customers to suggest local products that they’d like to see on their supermarket shelves.
SuperBrugsen’s customers can visit a specially-built website to suggest local products or suppliers. The managers will then taste-test the products and, if they’re up to scratch, introduce them in-store. The company hopes to introduce 500 local products to its 230 stores as part of the scheme, creating a serious boost for the local economy.
In the last month, Asia has been a sea of red and gold as we celebrated Chinese New Year. As a newcomer to Singapore, learning about the significance of CNY has been a fascinating insight into Chinese culture, and as a designer, it’s been interesting to observe how modern brands have translated traditional stories and motifs into their products and communications.
As we enter the Year of the Snake, an animal signifying wisdom and business nouse, it’s no surprise that there have been plenty of reptiles slithering around. From the cute and cuddly to the sleek and sophisticated, brands seem to be putting their own spin on this year’s zodiac. Most popular sports retailers have released a snake inspired shoe for the season which reflects their own brand personality. Nike for example, released an ever-so-serious looking pair of black-adder pumps, while Stussy’s snake inspired collection is true to their streetwear style. In Chinese culture, colours are considered auspicious or inauspicious. Red and gold symbolize good fortune, joy, wealth and prosperity, so it’s little wonder that most limited edition packaging at CNY is a beauty parade in this colour combination. Calvin Klein, for example, produced a truly lucky pair of undies – a red and gold pair that featured a cheeky gold snake slithering up the side. While some brands sensitively integrate the colours into their palette without compromising their identity, others appear like a brand simply trying on new clothes for the sake of pleasing others.
Many brands are similarly guilty of caricaturing traditional motifs, like the beautiful Chinese paper cut illustration, with little consideration of how it relates to the brand itself. Coca-Cola on the other hand, have used this style as a reference, executing it in their own unique way to deliver their consistent story about happiness in the context of Chinese New Year. Interestingly, Rolls Royce, who last year produced the extravagant Year of the Dragon Phantom Car (which was valued at over $1.3 million and sold out within 8 weeks), decided not to produce a serpentine version this year. According to their press release, they’re very considerate of the choice of zodiac they integrate into their products and don’t see the snake as a particularly appealing animal for their market.
The most successful pieces therefore reveal a sensitivity to the underlying significance of traditional themes and interpret them according to the unique voice of the brand. Topshop for example, celebrated CNY for the first time this year by producing a fashion film called The Lanterns. Without featuring stereotypical symbols, the structure of the 58 second film communicates an honest respect for the traditions of its modern Chinese consumers. The brand currently has over 10 million followers on its Chinese Weibo site and is opening its first store in China in May. According to their Chief Marketing Officer, as a global brand, they recognise the importance of understanding what matters most to their consumers.
But perhaps the most considered campaign this year has come from Johnnie Walker. Whiskey is a popular gift for colleagues and clients at this time of year, and the brand has certainly made the most of the opportunity. Following the dragon-inspired box sets of 2012, this year, Johnnie Walker released a collection of 12 bottles, each etched with a different zodiac. In traditional Chinese culture, the number 8 is as lucky as they come, so the brand limited the edition to only 88 bottles – all of which sold out within two weeks of the launch. Going a step further, Johnnie Walker also collaborated with three bars in Singapore to design a series of bespoke cocktails that feature their Gold Label Reserve. Respecting the significance of the colour gold, the cocktails were aptly named ‘Good as Gold’ and ‘Liquid Luck’, and infused with flavours of special significance like mandarins and plums (which signify an abundance of wealth).
When approached in a thoughtful way, events like Chinese New Year offer great opportunities for brands to reflect their customs and traditions in a way that is meaningful, both to the consumer and to the brand. Strong brands don’t simply mimic traditional motifs and dress in the right colours; they use story to make a deeper connection.
McDonald is launching its latest ‘localised’ product – the McCamembert! (Thanks, Tim)
This isn’t the first time McDonalds have introduced local favourites. The Middle East enjoyed the McArabia, Japan experienced the Mega Teriyaki and Thailand chomped their way through Jasmine Rice Patties. McDonalds is set to open its first vegetarian-only restaurant this year in India, and elsewhere the restaurant doesn’t serve beef and pork out of respect for their Hindu and Muslim customers. Hopefully the Elmwood Leeds studio can look forward to the McYorkshirePudding arriving soon!