Why use digital jiggerypokery in your high street shop?

If you read our last blog on retail trends you'll know what we're getting at - digital experiences done well can give physical shops a unique pull, setting them apart from their neighbours and even the rest of their online presence.

We're still getting over the statistic in that last blog - 50% of people who bought a car from Audi City didn't take a test drive. Who buys a car from a showroom without taking a test drive? Half of Audi City buyers, that's who.

This is down to the digital tools in the showroom providing a detailed experience that you can't get online. The stats suggest the technology used at Audi City was involving enough to replace the traditional showroom experience and convince people to buy.


Who else is doing it right?


Following a trial run in Seattle, Starbucks has opened a Reserve bar in London. The new concept stores put the focus on exclusive small-batch coffees, and also offer digital services including digital ordering, click and collect, free Wi-Fi and wireless phone charging.

Starbucks' adoption of digital tech in its concept stores is a sure sign that innovation is on its way into mainstream retail.

Neiman Marcus

Going upmarket slightly (and across the Atlantic), let's have a look at US department store Neiman Marcus - specifically its mirrors and tables. As you might have guessed, these are not your average mirrors and tables.

After its smart mirrors allowed shoppers to try on virtual outfits in January 2015, interactive tables followed in February to enhance the browsing experience and act as a sales tool for staff.

This is a double bonus for the store - customers can browse at their leisure and see much more on the 4K, 32" touchscreens than their phones can show them, and sales assistants can pick things out to help them answer awkward shopper questions.

Pizza Hut

We all know eyes are the window to the soul, but are they also the window to the stomach? Pizza Hut tried to second guess what customers wanted to eat by tracking their eye movements while they looked at the menu. 

Pizza Hut reported a 98% success rate when it came to recommending pizzas that customers enjoyed. But is this app really about helping diners decide? Or is it about creating a sense of theatre (and press coverage) for the chain? It has certainly been effective at the latter, and many more people have heard about the subconscious menu than actually tried it. 


What are the opportunities?

In-store digital innovation is poised to fill a big gap in retail. On one hand are the brands with good websites but failing stores (such as Argos), and on the other are those with strong pull on the high street but low online profiles (like Primark). Brands that use digital tech to explore the limits of retail will be able to make their high street stores into destinations that we will go out of our way for. 

Keep an eye out for our next retail blog which will focus on showrooms - we'll let you know on Facebook and Twitter when it's out.


Sources: Econsultancy, Neiman Marcus, Retail Innovation



Do you work for a retail brand? What's your next move?

Part one of our new blog series on the world of retail looks at how retail is changing as a whole, and how you can plan for your business to stay on the right side of these trends.

Retail has transformed itself over the past few years - it has had to.

The financial crash of 2008 rocked shopper confidence. Ecommerce has drawn people off the streets and on to websites. And social media has shifted the balance of power in the conversation between shops and their customers.

There's been plenty of speculation about the state of retail thanks to its high public profile - we interact with shops every day. But what are the facts about retail now and how are they likely to change in the near future?

Let's start by examining three of the forces affecting a retail business - space, communications and customer behaviour.


1. Your space

However you feel about pop-ups, it's no secret that they've changed the way many people shop. They're small, temporary and exciting - but rather than let that threaten you, why not borrow some of that appeal for yourself?

Pop-ups cash in on FOMO - because they're not around forever, people feel more urgency to go. In this way they become events as much as locations.

Another part of their appeal is their apparent authenticity. A recent report by The Great British High Street tells us:

"consumers historically have preferred uniquely local features and experiences rather than those that are contrived or formula-driven".

Instead of creating the same impression at multiple locations like a chain does, each pop-up has its own appeal. They remind us of our surroundings instead of imposing surroundings upon us, and give us the satisfaction of buying from a dedicated small-businessperson (regardless of how big the business actually is).

Traditional spaces also have the potential to fight back against high-street decline and draw people in with unique experiences. Digital innovation has allowed many retailers to make their physical spaces into destinations again by offering the kind of interaction that their websites can't. Audi City used digital experiences to create a showroom in a small inner-city space - the showroom improved on Audi's traditional sales by 60%, and half of buyers didn't even have a real test drive.

These trends show us how important it is to adapt your space to suit consumer preferences - and big names like Audi have shown that you can do this without selling out your brand promise.


2. The way you communicate

Social media has made consumers much more sceptical about what retailers tell them. But it has also presented another opportunity for shops to help their customers, by being available to answer questions and point them towards relevant information. This helps shoppers do their research and gain the confidence they need in order to buy from you.

This also shifts the focus in-store - customers who already know about your products don't need to be sold to. This frees in-store staff to introduce shoppers to those new experiences you're offering.

Relevance is more important than ever. While we appreciate convenience when we shop, we're also willing to go out of our way to a shop that understands us better. The Great British High Street report reminds us:

"it has been a long time since lack of transportation constrained citizens to a specific market town and its limited traders".

Keeping your communications relevant to your audience will enable you to draw shoppers in from miles around.

For online shoppers, lack of the personal touch is no longer an issue thanks to big data. What you know about your customers can give you a huge headstart on making them feel at home - not just calling them by their name but knowing when they're most likely to read emails, when they prefer to shop, and what they like to buy. It's no replacement for your friendly local shopkeeper but it's a pretty good online substitute.

Not only does technology make your communications more effective, it makes your staff's jobs easier too.


3. Your customers

We're bored by formula and seek out unique experiences - this explains the success of pop-ups and our willingness to travel for the right kind of shop.

This doesn't mean we don't appreciate convenience - but this must be translated into online shopping as well. It will come as no surprise that online spending is increasing and is expected to hit £221bn in the UK in 2016, but there are still retailers who neglect their online shopping experience. Shoppers list an easy-to-use website as the most significant attraction to a retailer after the products themselves. Bad UX is like a bad shop layout - it ruins any convenience you might have offered in the first place.

Attitudes to shopping change as we get older, from learning what we like and what we can afford in our early twenties to enjoying the browsing experience with our increased leisure time and disposable income in middle age.

These trends show that consumer behaviour is constantly changing, and small-scale experiments are likely to give you vital information on your customers as well as opportunities to innovate on a larger scale.


What's next?

In the face of changing financial situations and consumer attitudes, business as usual only works for a short amount of time. By looking ahead and shaking things up - in your physical shops, communications and customer relations - you give yourself a good chance of success whatever the weather.

Our next post in the series, which will look at digital innovation in physical retail environments, is coming soon. Follow us on Twitter for updates.


Sources: The Great British High Street, IPA Insights



How to make your brand famous

On Monday evening the IPA let us in on some different approaches to making a brand famous. You can watch the full video on their website soon, but for now here are our favourite points made by the panel.

 1. Look out for creatives stumbling upon big ideas

Matthew Philip of Manning Gottlieb OMD shared a lesser known fact about the famous Specsavers slogan. ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ was originally a line of dialogue in an early TV ad – it didn’t become the endline until later in the campaign.

Now it’s the bedrock of everything the brand does, most notably its responsive social campaigns such as last year’s Canneloni/Chiellini mix-up.

Sometimes ‘big ideas’ don’t come in a flash of inspiration – they’re planted quietly and nurtured over time.

2. Talk to groups

Copywriters are often told to write with one person in mind. While this is a good technique for powerful writing, it’s not enough to create long-term brand fame.

Famous brands make themselves useful within communities, as pointed out by Sunshine’s Jenny Howard who worked on the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. This project is a great example of a brand ingratiating itself within a group.

3. Do work you’re proud of

The less said about Protein World the better at this stage. But that campaign was brought up on the night as an example of brand fame gone wrong.

Sure, the ads have become famous and even boosted sales – but they’ve also alienated swathes of potential customers with their insensitive approach.

Are the people behind that campaign truly proud of it?

4. Stick to brand values

Cat Wiles of AMV BBDO emphasised the importance of values in making a brand famous, giving the Christmas in a Day campaign for Sainsbury’s as an example.

By focusing on sharing as a core brand value, Sainsbury’s has created a string of memorable Christmas campaigns with a strong cumulative effect.

5. Add to the culture

Matthew Gladstone of Grey reminded us that advertisers create culture as well as reflecting it – to be famous you have to add new experiences rather than recycling what’s gone before.

The Vinnie Jones campaign for the British Heart Foundation reversed a cultural assumption (that CPR is for experts), introduced disco into emergency situations all over the country and saved 30 lives in the process.

6. Play the long game

It’s not enough to apply these rules to one campaign – you have to do it again and again to get properly famous (in a good way).

Which brings us back to Specsavers. The brand has followed all these rules over the last 30 years and enjoyed £1.1bn incremental profit during that time.

That kind of success doesn’t happen overnight.



bmore joins RAR after client praise

We're very happy to have joined the Recommended Agency Register. We're now part of a select group of agencies that have been highly rated by their clients. It's nice to know our clients also praise us when we're out of earshot. 

This creates a lot of opportunities that we're really excited about, including the RAR Awards (also decided by clients rather than an industry panel).

Here's our profile page, along with case studies and testimonials if you're interested in reading more about us. 



bmore golf day in aid of Anna's Challenges

bmore golf society day

18 June 2015

8am start

Basingstoke Golf Club

If you like golf and bacon, this is the event for you. bmore's charity golf day will start with bacon sandwiches and finish with a three-course carvery dinner, all in aid of one of our favourite local charities, Anna's Challenges. 

Anna's Challenges raises funds and awareness for children with cystic fibrosis in Basingstoke and we're proud to have supported them over the last few years. 

With 18 holes of stableford in the morning and an 18 hole Texas scramble after lunch, this is shaping up to be a big day - come and join us.

Fancy your chances?

Email to find out more.



What’s cultural intelligence and why should the ad industry care?

Which qualities do we desire most in our leaders? Intelligence is a good one. But ‘intelligence’ is also a very broad term that’s prone to misappropriation.

The most common way to measure intelligence is through IQ. A high IQ is advantageous for most leaders, but is it any good in isolation?

Other forms of cleverness, such as emotional intelligence, have also been lauded as qualities for our leaders to aspire to. The latest of these is cultural intelligence – the ability to negotiate across different cultural values.

Julia Middleton is one of the main proponents of this idea, and works to promote it with her charitable trust Common Purpose.

The crux of this concept is core and flex – the idea that we all have core values that don’t change, and flex values that do. When two people meet, the differences in their core and flex can influence the course of their interaction.

If this interaction is buying a coffee, then core and flex doesn’t have much impact. But if it’s high-stakes political negotiation, an understanding of your associate’s values could be vital to success.

Image from Common Purpose.

So cultural intelligence is useful for leadership, but what’s it got to do with advertising?

When we’re communicating with people from different cultures, we need to know the core values that we must respect, and also the flex values that we can have fun with.

And ‘different culture’ doesn’t just refer to global advertising – it’s important whenever we advertise to people of a different race, age, gender, region or even people with a particular interest or hobby.

Sometimes this creates a lot of time-consuming research – hard work, but also a potential free holiday.

Sometimes the task is a little easier. Whoever translated the KFC slogan for China didn’t need to get on a plane – they just needed a dictionary.

Image from Language Reach.

If you’re ever baffled by agency speak, our terminology guide might help you cut through the jargon.

Download PDF




Bringing characters to life with CGI

When you ask somebody their favourite character from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, they will most likely say either Groot the tree or Rocket the raccoon. However, it’s easy to overlook the complex process required when bringing these characters to life on the big screen.

Laurie Brugger works as a rigger for a visual effects company called Framestore. This is a company who have won numerous awards for their work on Gravity, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight and The Golden Compass, just to name a few. Brugger’s role is to provide the physiological make-up of a character by adding joints and muscles digitally, enabling the animators to control them.

However, there is more to this process than simply sitting behind a screen.

The amount of work required depends on the scale of the project. During her talk at the recent TEDxEastEnd event, Brugger discussed just how much work went into creating both Groot and Rocket even before the animation itself could begin.

For both of these characters, it was important to understand their scientific backgrounds. In the case of Groot, the walking, talking tree that relies on his ability to grow roots very quickly, the Framestore team turned to horticultural science to understand the mechanisms needed when recreating this digitally.

In the case of Rocket, the designers analysed real-life raccoons to understand their markings, movements and mannerisms. The team also relied upon veterinary science for information on bone size and structure, which gave them an understanding of the raccoon’s skeletal make-up.

In the meantime, concept painters provided a number of visual ideas for how the characters could look. This inspires the digital designers to transform them into free-moving, animated portrayals.

CGI animation is an integral part of the creative industries. It is a process that requires a lot of work by a number of people to appear effortless on screen. As with many other creative processes, thorough research is vital to understanding the overall objective of the work. But all this hard work pays off by making the impossible a reality on screen.

If we in the advertising industry are to compete for people’s attention with these visual feasts, wouldn’t it be a good idea to take the same amount of care over our work as the team at Framestore do?

Click here to see how our augmented reality app turned tired old print into an exciting experience.



Painting a Portrait of London

How do you define a city? This is the question Mark Currie asked himself when he first set out to produce a film that offers a true perspective of London.

From the outset, it became clear to Mark and his team at Chocolate Films that each Londoner had their own personal perspective of what London represented to them individually. Mark consulted a statistician who told him that a survey of 1,000 people is a good sample size to give an accurate picture of London.

With this in mind, Mark and his team went out and started filming the perspectives and back stories of 1000 completely random people within London.

Each film is kept short at roughly three minutes long, with Mark anticipating that the overall length of all 1000 Londoners will be roughly the same as four seasons of Breaking Bad.

The project is only on its 64th Londoner, so there is still a long way to go. However, due to the hype that the documentary is beginning to get, a number of amateur filmmakers and other interested people are getting involved. Workshops have now been set up on a regular basis to enable people to learn the filmmaking skills needed to get across their own perspective.

The team at Chocolate Films follows three simple criteria when selecting their subjects:

1)    You have to be a Londoner – if you don’t claim to be a Londoner, then you aren’t one

2)    Everybody is as important as each other – there is no inequality in terms of title or celebrity status

3)    Everybody is interesting – nobody has a boring backstory

One key feature of this project is the ability of video to engage and inspire people’s imaginations around subjects that had not previously interested them. Video has become a major format in artistic projects and marketing strategies due to its ability to condense complex messages into an interesting and informative experience. It also stimulates multiple senses with minimal effort from the viewer.

Video will only get bigger as the emergence of 4G connectivity and more advanced devices makes it more accessible.

Once the documentary has been completed, it will offer a unique insight into London and the different lives of people there. Although it’s going to be a very long process, it is definitely one worth keeping an eye out for.

Click here to see how bmore used video to tell a human story behind a useful but somewhat humdrum insurance product.



Happy Pancake Day!

A pointless thing to say, in my opinion. I challenge anyone not to be happy when they have woken up to a breakfast of pancakes. Or, are returning home after work to a pancake-full evening. Pancake Day is known as ‘Mardi Gras’ in some areas of the world. Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French – if this isn’t permission to eat as many pancakes as you can I don’t know what is! However, it is worth remembering why we eat pancakes on Pancake Day/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. The idea is to use up all our fatty foods before lent. So if you are indulging on Pancake Day, what are you giving up for lent?

Anyway lent doesn't start until tomorrow so here are some of our favourite pancakes designs for inspiration. I think anyone that manages an Olaf as good as this will be very popular... (for those of you who need a hand, YouTube is full of helpful pancake tutorials)



Behind Photographs

Tim Mantoani, a US photographer has taken pictures of the photographers behind their infamous photos. The end result was a book called “Behind Photographs.” Here are a few on these photos.





Look At Me

Children with autism struggle with the subtleties of communication we rely on for everyday life. For example, recognising different faces and the emotions they are showing. The ‘Look At Me’ app attempts to tackle these problems head-on. However, the beauty of the app is that to the child using it, it comes across as a fun game! The app highlights how communication difficulties as a consequence of autism not only affects the child but also their parents and close family. A feeling of disconnect from their child must be one of the worst things a parent can feel.

Look At Me aims to strengthen the parent-child connection through improving the communication skills of the child. The child should then be in a better position to communicate outside their family, with classmates and teachers.

All of the ‘lessons’ are in the form of a games, or missions as they are referred to. This helps the child relax and enjoy the experience. One of the games involves an image of a face being placed over the eye of a larger image of a face. The player must pick whose face is contained within the eye out of a series of options! Not only does this improve facial recognition it also teaches the child to look at a person’s eye. We as human beings are very expressive through our eyes and autistic children often miss out on these signs. A second game requires the player to identify happy and sad faces from a line-up. This is designed to help them recognise and identify the emotions a real person is showing when talking to them.

Let’s hope this app can make a real difference to the lives of children with autism and their families, and pave the way for more apps of its kind.



Success at the PM Awards

We are delighted to announce our ‘Hard to See, But Easy to Find’ campaign for Shire Pharmaceuticals has won four bronze awards and one silver at Friday’s PM Awards! ‘Hard to See, But Easy to Find’ is a disease awareness campaign for Gaucher disease. Being a very rare lysosomal disorder, Gaucher is hard for healthcare professionals to recognise and, as a consequence, is chronically under diagnosed. Shire strives to ensure all patients are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, with their ethos being ‘to be as brave as the people they help’.

The resulting campaign stands out because of it aesthetic appeal and artistry. It combines photography with a number of sophisticated editing techniques to create the final illustration, capturing the sentiment of the problem perfectly.

The idea is based on the phrase ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’. Healthcare professionals struggle to diagnose Gaucher amongst other possible diseases that associated symptoms may point to. However once the disease is suspected, it is easy to diagnose with simple tests.

Our concept mirrors this idea. Initially it is hard to see the person within the picture but once you notice they are there, they are much easier to find.

The result is a beautiful campaign with a beautiful sentiment.

For more information on Gaucher disease please visit



Derby the Dog and his 3D printed legs

Never put a good dog down.

When Derby the dog was born in August 2013 with deformities in both of his front legs, he was almost sent to be euthanised. However, he has now been given a new lease of life thanks to the wonderful process known as 3D printing.

Instead of being put down, Derby was taken to a non-profit dog shelter called Peace and Paws Dog Rescue. From here, Tara Anderson, an employee at a 3D printing company in New Hampshire, fostered Derby and set about offering him a second chance in life using her 3D background.

To begin with, Derby was fitted with a cart that offered a little extra mobility but not enough to allow him to play and run freely with other dogs.

With the help of her colleagues at 3D systems, Tara set about designing and testing prosthetic legs for Derby to use. During the summer of 2014 though, another couple in Pennsylvania adopted Derby. This didn’t stop Tara seeing him though, and she would regularly visit, testing out different designs for Derby’s new legs.

After many trial-and-error attempts, the 3D printed prosthetics that Derby now uses are called ‘elbow cups’. These were designed in such a way that they were comfortable for Derby to wear, whilst also being durable enough to withstand his weight.

Derby can now run up to 3 miles a day wearing these new prosthetics and, in the video below, you can see how visibly happy he is when he is out and able to run around in them.

Tara is now hoping that this technology can be used to help other dogs with similar deformities.




Polar bear in London

Early morning commuters and joggers where accompanied this morning by a polar bear. This 8ft long, fully animated ‘adult male polar bear’ was seen casually strolling through the capital to mark the launch of Sky Atlantic’s hotly anticipated arctic crime drama ‘Fortitude’.

The highly sophisticated prop uses internal monitors linked to hidden cameras, allowing the two performers (The puppeteers of ‘Joey’ in West End production of War Horse)  to see making it possible to react to a passerby.



Beautifully detailed blood clots provide benchmarks for scientific understanding

This award-winning photo portrays the fantastic landscape within a blood clot, the major trigger behind heart attacks and strokes.

Using a scanning electron microscope, a team at the University of Leeds were able to produce the photo exposing the unusual structures developed during blood clotting.

The grey background is used to reveal the clot itself, whereas the coloured blobs emphasise the significant structural details. These include: red representing red blood cells, turquoise representing platelets, and purple, blue, green and yellow representing different types of white blood cell.

Despite providing a beautiful representation, the photo also proves very useful in supporting scientists’ understanding of the way in which blood clots form. This could potentially lead to novel drug production in the future.



Sorry, I can’t hear you, my signal's not great, I’m in space!

Check out these amazing pictures of an iPhone 6 being sent to the edge of space, and landing again in one piece!

Urban Armor Gear, the company that produced the case that secured the safe return of the iPhone, undertook the stunt.

The phone (within the UAG case) was attached to a weather balloon and sent up to heights of over 30,000 m. It experienced temperatures as low as -56 °C which caused it to shut down during the flight. On the edge of space the phone was released from the balloon and fell back to earth. It landed fully intact despite the cold temperatures and heavy landing.

Urban Armor Gear can now officially say their products are tested from space! I wonder if this will become a regular occurrence for products in the future.



Insulin might not be so great after all…

...well, for fish anyway. Insulin is widely known as the hormone used to treat diabetic sufferers. It is responsible for countering the effects of another hormone, called glucagon, to restore blood sugar levels within a number of animal species.

Until recently, insulin’s affiliation with murder was only seen through fiction. However, a team in Salt Lake City has now proved that this might not be as fictional as first thought.

Certain types of mollusc, known as cone snails, have been found to use insulin as one of their many weapons to capture fish. The snails that use this technique – Conus geographus and Conus tulipa ­– release a cocktail of toxins, including insulin, into the water to confuse and weaken the fish. This then causes the fish to go into hypoglycaemic shock and allow the snail to ingest the fish whole.

The insulin used by the snails differs in structure to the insulin inside our bodies. In fact, it is the smallest insulin molecule ever found by scientists before. However, this small size is thought to explain why it it’s so fast and effective in deactivating the fish’s movement.

The team behind the work were very shocked by the findings. Safavi-Hemami, the leading researcher, said, "It was very surprising to us since it had never been shown before and people have worked on animal venoms for decades."

They now plan on investigating the genetic make up of the insulin produced by the snails. This would determine whether they developed the weaponised insulin from scratch or evolved it from their own insulin.

Safavi-Hemami stated, "It's believed that vertebrate insulins have evolved from ancestral invertebrate genes. Whether this is also true for the insulin we found cannot be answered yet."

To see the snail in action, click here.



The best app ever?

Well only if you live in Washington DC. The AB InBev app delivers Bud Light to your door within an hour, meaning a good night is only an hour away (for those of us who like Bud Light that is).

It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the sales of Bud Light. Convenience is everything for consumers and you can't get much more convenient than this!