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According to Bill Gates, the future of meat is vegan. There’s no denying the surge of plant-based products entering the market, and last year the total value of the UK plant-based market reached a whopping £443m. The UK launched more vegan products in 2018 than any other nation – in fact, one in six products launched in the UK carried a vegan claim.

While this is great news for those long-term vegans who can finally enjoy being spoilt for choice at the supermarket, businesses are having to fight harder and harder to win customers and loyalty. Brands are no longer guaranteed high sales simply because they have a meat-free product on the shelves, and several ranges have been discontinued across even some of the big players in the market, including Linda McCartney’s, Nestle’s Garden Gourmet, and Flora.

So, what should businesses watch out for when launching a new vegan product? We explore how important language can be in marketing your product or service, some great examples of product messaging, and how to avoid common pit-falls.

Know your audience

There is no single category of vegan – people following a plant-based diet can’t be put into a box, and as such there’s no one correct way to advertise to them. Defining your target demographic is crucial; knowing who you’re selling to will enable you to create the right content for the right people, and better understand what your product and marketing strategy should look like. While a blanket approach may have worked in the past, followers of a vegan diet are much more discerning now (not least because of the increasingly competitive market) and will be looking for a brand that speaks to them as an individual, instead of just as a vegan. Furthermore, with the rise in flexitarianism and the growing awareness of environmental and health concerns with meat, your audience is unlikely to be 100% vegan – many of your target consumers will be meat-eaters who are choosing alternative options.

Considerations when defining your audience: Imagine your ideal customer. Pick a name for them. What’s their age, income, gender? Where do they live? What’s their newspaper of choice? Where do they shop? What are their hobbies, spending habits and values (known as psychographics)? Once you’ve got a clear understanding of who the consumer is, place yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what would make you choose one product over another.

Take Nike as an example. The company is known for its provocative and disruptive marketing, which goes to show it understands its target audience and the issues that matter to them. Drawing on Nike’s Twitter audience insights and analysis by Zoomph, we know that for a long time the company’s core customer was a 14-35 year old man, living in a big city, with an affinity to The Economist and a political lean to the left. However, this isn’t Nike’s only audience, and in recent campaigns there has been a clear shift. Brands need to adapt their marketing strategy over time, and nowadays Nike has an increasing emphasis on tweens and teens. Its gender focus has become a lot more equal, with females making up 45% of its customer base. In terms of psychographics, Nike’s target is unwavering: individuals who enjoy playing, watching, or talking about sports.

Don’t overdo the health claims

“If a product is presented as delicious, it’s more likely someone will consider it on shelf and take the time to read through health and sustainability claims.” – Erin Ransom, VP of Marketing at Tofurky.

Brands should be wary of shouting too loud about how healthy a product is – for many people, a product labelled ‘healthy’ might be seen to lack flavour. Additionally, phrases like ‘meat-free’ or ‘reduced meat’ can turn customers off, giving them the impression that they’re being short-changed. According to Daniel Vennard, who heads up the Better Buying Lab at the World Resources Institute, we need to get much better at describing sustainable food. Using the right language can make all the difference, and marketing specialists should be spending the time and money required to carefully select words that evoke emotions and shape customers’ tastes.

A winning alternative could be to dispel the widely-held myth that vegan foods lack protein. Many products in Marks & Spencer’s plant-based range, Plant Kitchen, are labelled ‘high in plant protein’. This is a great example of a brand showing off nutritional claims without turning customers off by devaluing what the product offers.

A brand’s choice of language can be critical, and a simple name change can cause product sales to soar. A Panera Bread store in Los Angeles renamed its “Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup” to “Cuban Black Bean Soup”, resulting in a 13% sales uplift. When the Sainsbury’s market café in Truro changed their ‘meat-free sausage and mash’ to ‘Cumberland-spiced veggie sausage and mash’, sales spiked a whopping 76%. Vennard summed it up perfectly when he said that “using positive, indulgent language that emphasises taste and flavour seems to be much more effective”.

Rethink ‘vegan’ messaging

Co-founder and executive director of the Good Food Institute, Bruce Friedrich, suggests that companies who sell meat-free products should, perhaps counterintuitively, avoid using the term ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ to describe them, as it can alienate people who don’t subscribe to these diets. Labelling a product as vegan or vegetarian, according to Friedrich, is taken to mean that it’s only for vegans or vegetarians, and because meat-eaters have an inherent bias against foods that are made for people on different diets to their own, they’ll be less likely to choose it. Furthermore, specialists at the John Hopkins University published research last year that showed labelling a product ‘vegan’ can cause sales to plummet by 70%.

This attitude seems to be supported by a number of brands including Gardein, Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen, M&S’s Plant Kitchen, and Beyond Meat, who all avoid the ‘v’ word and instead opt for alternatives like ‘meat-free’ and ‘plant-based’. According to Claire Hughes at M&S, labelling a product as vegan, less meat, or reduced meat is “the worst thing you can do”.

But remember, just because it’s worked for them, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will for you; after all, many companies whose consumer-facing USPs do include ‘vegan’ are boasting amazing year-on-year growth. Over 50% of shoppers at Pret A Manger’s dedicated vegetarian shop in Soho define themselves as meat-eaters, implying that Friedrich’s assertions certainly aren’t true for everyone. Be aware of what’s right for your consumers – more and more people are becoming interested in moving towards a vegan lifestyle for ethical, health or environmental reasons, and will be actively searching for products that are suitably labelled.

Avoid confusing your customer

There has been a growing backlash from the dairy industry that plant-based milk alternatives using soy, almonds, cashews, rice, hemp, and oats should not be allowed to write the word ‘milk’ on their packaging. Whilst the plea gained little traction and was officially rejected by the US Court of Appeals in December, marketers should take note. Advertising a dairy-free product with words like ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ on the packaging, with the absence of explicit vegan or vegetarian claims, could prove confusing to consumers, who may end up opting for a clearly labelled product instead to ensure they’re certain of what’s in it. And the same goes for meat-free products with ‘chicken’ or ‘meat’ on the label. As mentioned above, know who your audience is, and judge your decisions wisely.

If plant-based marketing feels like navigating through a minefield, you’re not alone. Even Erin Ransom of Tofurky admits that the issue of labelling is one that all plant-based food companies are having. Ultimately, brands will need to consider both hard-core vegans and mainstream shoppers when deciding on their marketing strategy, and they should strike a balance when talking about being vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, so as not to alienate either audience.

If you’re launching a new product or want to grow your brand’s share of voice, our consumer PR team can help take your business to the next level. With extensive experience in FMCG and food and drink industries we know how to get your brand recognised and in front of the right audience. Get in touch here.

How to market your vegan product

The Ideal Home Show is the world’s longest running exhibition. Now in its 11th year, the show will be celebrating ‘The Best of British’, with experts offering insider knowledge on everything from interior design inspiration and landscape gardening, to tech trends and advice on wellbeing.

But with so many innovations in a market already so saturated, it’s getting more and more difficult for brands to prove they’re worth a second look. In the final part of this series we take a look at how you can utilise social media to engage with new audiences, without letting your focus move away from your existing customer base.


Identify your platform: With so many different social media platforms it is important to identify which your target audience are using regularly. If your chosen demographic is over 40, Facebook is the place to be making an impression. If your sector is bridal or homeware, Pinterest users will be engaged with your offering. And finally, Instagram and Snapchat are great for brands targeting a younger consumer.

Create engaging content: The aim of your content is to encourage your target consumers to like, share, retweet, re-pin, register and download content on your brand. Engaging content can be in the form of:

  • Competitions
  • Interesting statuses
  • Eye-catching imagery
  • Humorous tweets, and much more

For more information on creating engaging content take a look at our insight on getting cut through on social media here.

Be on the ball: Remaining aware and knowledgeable of emerging social apps is key when utilising social media. When you are targeting a younger demographic it is important position your brand as current and engaged with social trends.

Social Media in action: Surrey County Cricket Club 

When Surrey County Cricket Club wanted to raise awareness of their home Twenty20 cricket matches with an aim to reach a wider audience to their core demographic we set to work. Our team deployed a multi-pronged approach using public relations techniques to engage female, youth and family audiences to create positive media narrative around Surrey’s annual family day match vs Essex.

Surrey Cricket Club The PHA Group

We engaged with press and ‘mummy’ influencers in the local area to run ticketing competitions and giveaways in the lead up to the match. As an extent we secured extensive coverage and attracted more than 20,000 spectators – double the anticipated crowd.


Keep your customers: Engaging a new audience is important, however it is equally important not to alienate your existing base. Many brands successfully manage this through keeping a clear vision of who their customer is and ensuring that the activity for one customer group does not alienate another.

Customer Retention in action: Coca-Cola

This is a great example of a brand who has kept existing customers loyal but also engaged with new audiences is Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola launched ‘Diet Coke’ as a low-calorie female friendly alternative to the original Coke. Then came ‘Coke Zero’, a similar product to ‘Diet Coke’ but targeted specifically at men who wanted an alternative low-calorie option to ‘Diet Coke’. Most recently, Coca-Cola launched ‘Coke Life’, a low-calorie version of Coke sweetened with natural sources for the health-conscious market. The variety of Coca-Cola’s products, each with their own brand identity and communication strategy, allows each product to engage with new and existing audiences effectively, ensuring that the Coca-Cola group remain the market leader in carbonated soft drinks.

The tips and advice given above provide an outline of some of the key elements a successful PR strategy will incorporate to engage a new audience, and for more tips check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the series. If you would like to speak to experts regarding a campaign you are looking to launch or ways in which you can engage with a new audience, please get in touch with our Consumer PR team.

Engaging New Audiences: Part 3

The Ideal Home Show is well and truly underway with 600 exhibitors all fighting to stand out from the rest. It’s not easy to gain trust, cut-through, and exposure to a new audience, and that’s where PR can help. In the second part of our three-part series, we explore how you can utilise celebrities and surveys to reach your ideal audience.


Where to start: Carefully research which celebrities influence your target demographic the most. When it works, having a celebrity photographed with one of your products or services can be the best form of exposure and in many cases can be much more cost effective than an expensive advertising campaign.

Choosing an ambassador: Social Media is a powerful tool to identify the most influential celebrities for your audience. These are a few key things to consider:

  • The size of their social following
  • Interaction on their feed
  • The demographic of those who are commenting on their posts

For more information and advice on celebrity endorsement take a look at our insight here.

Celebrity Brand Ambassadors in action: JML ‘Everyday Easier’

JML came to us with a clear goal in mind: to become the ‘go-to’ brand for household products to make “everyday easy”’. With a wide variety of products under their roof, they wanted to synergise their PR efforts with their in-house marketing for individual product launches.

Consumer PR JML case study

We planned and implemented a series of events to launch the Nutri Blitzer, Lotus Wok and Simply Straight Brush to a UK market. These events were a perfect opportunity to educate the media on the functionality and superiority of the products and build relationships with key journalists and influencers. We worked with celebrities such as James Cracknell, who was the face of Nutri Blitzer and Ching-He Huang, who was the face of Lotus Wok to support the launches and provide commentary to the media.

We generated 165 pieces of coverage across the 3 product launches. The events attracted 150 journalists in total and the subsequent coverage saw the products featured in publications such as Metro, Daily Express, OK, Style at Home, New!, Best and many more. With a total reach of over 700 million, our work ensured JML took prime-position as the number one household brand in the UK.


Asking the right question: Surveys and statistics are a great way of generating widespread coverage and brand awareness in different segments of the media. Not only can you tap into a wider audience, but you can also present yourself as a credible thought-leader.

Creating your survey: Think about the topics your desired audience would be interested in and appoint a reputable survey company to target your new demographic. To make headlines with a survey story take a look our top tips here.

Survey Stories in action: Purplebricks survey story

Purplebricks, the Hybrid estate agent, were looking to raise awareness of their new London Lettings service. The brand wanted to attract a younger London-based consumer looking to rent as their ideal demographic for this service.

We created a ‘Top Celebrity Housemate’ survey where we asked men and women between the ages of 20-35 which celebrities would be their ideal housemates. This survey gained Purplebricks coverage in sections of newspapers that they were not accustomed to gaining coverage in. They were also featured on celebrity sites like that had the young demographic they were looking to target which then created conversation amongst that audience about Purplebricks.

The tips and advice given above provide an outline of some of the key elements a successful PR strategy will incorporate to engage a new audience… but stay tuned for Part 3. If you would like to speak to experts regarding a campaign you are looking to launch or ways in which you can engage with a new audience, please get in touch with our Consumer PR team.

Engaging New Audiences: Part 2

Now in its eleventh year, the Ideal Home Show will be celebrating ‘The Best of British’ in 2019, taking place this week at Olympia London. The event will showcase 600 exhibitors, and their experts will offer insider knowledge on everything from interior design inspiration and landscape gardening, to tech trends and advice on wellbeing.

But with so many innovations in a market already so saturated, it’s getting more and more difficult for brands to prove they’re worth a second look. Whether you’re an established business or a smaller start up, the following consumer PR tips and advice provide an overview of how you can communicate to new audiences, whilst ensuring you don’t alienate your existing customer base.


Defining your target audience: Creating a core customer profile is invaluable in order to establish what grabs your audience’s attention. It is important to fully understand your target demographic so the more detailed this profile the better. Try to identify age, gender, habits, hobbies, influencers and motivations.

Market Research: The next step is to investigate the consumer habits of your target audience by asking a few key questions:

  • Where do they shop?
  • What do they look for in their chosen brands?
  • What influences their decision to buy?
  • What celebrities or trends do they follow?

An effective way of gaining this invaluable market research is through focus groups. Not only can you garner insight into your chosen audience, but you can also gain advice and feedback on your brand.

Once you have collated this research, make sure to keep this as your bible and refer to it throughout the branding, marketing and communication of your product.

Effective Research in action: OPRO

An example of a campaign where The PHA Group engaged a new audience successfully, by utilising research into their target audience, was with OPRO. OPRO recruited PHA Social to overhaul their social media strategy; make in-roads in the North American market by targeting US-based audiences and improving online sales of products.

Our findings from our in-house social listening platform, suggested mouthguards are used beyond combat sports such as rugby and MMA and more for everyday activities such as cycling and sleep-grinding. So, we used this research to launch a wider social media strategy that attempted to engage with both a traditional audience of athletes, sporting clubs and organisations, schools and students, as well as a new audience of cycling enthusiasts, sleep grinders and those interested in preserving oral health.

We launched with Mouthguard Day, a national day owned by OPRO that delivered significant spikes in user engagements, user-generated content and ambassador interactions. We oversaw huge spikes in performance across the individual channels, including a 6,000% increase in audience reach on Facebook which amassed over 100 individual mentions on the day from ambassadors and partners on Twitter. In total, we reached a combined total of 4.4m accounts across the social media channels, generating 5.2m impressions in total.


Identify your influencers: Journalists and bloggers are hugely influential in the consumer market and placing your product or service on their pages or site can be a great way of targeting a new audience. Research the relevant publications and sites that your target audience interact with to identify who you should be communicating with.

Get some face time: It is important you target the main influencers of your audience and there is no better way to do that than through hosting face-to-face activities such as:

  • Press days
  • Events
  • Desk-side appointments

Activities of this kind will allow you to communicate your brand message succinctly, whilst helping you to build a valuable relationship.

Interacting with Influencers in action: Ninja Coffee Bar

Leading household appliance brand SharkNinja wanted to work with relevant digital influencers to support our UK launch PR campaign for the new Ninja Coffee Bar. Importantly, their core customer is women aged 30-50 and therefore our campaign would need to be relevant for this audience to ensure that it reached the right people.

To amplify the launch of the Ninja Coffee Bar in the UK and reach the target customer demographic for the product, The PHA Group decided to recruit high profile parenting vloggers to record themselves making their ‘dream cup of coffee’ using the Ninja Coffee Bar. The video content would be captured and then posted to coincide with International Coffee Day on 1st October.

We secured partnerships with influential ‘mummy’ vloggers – Mrs Meldrum and Lived with Love – who both produced video content using the Ninja Coffee Bar to create their ‘dream cup of coffee’. These videos saw over 10,000 YouTube views after being posted on International Coffee Day. The content was then also cross promoted via each influencers blog and social media channels as well as all of Ninja’s relevant online channels. Each video provided in-depth information about the new product showcasing its innovative technology and range of features. We also worked with a variety of other influencers including Launeden, Rosie Fortescue, Certified Nosh, Liberty London Girl and Sweet Monday to deliver over 35 further pieces of influencer content for the campaign, reaching an audience of over 1.2 million.

The tips and advice given above provide an outline of some of the key elements a successful PR strategy will incorporate to engage a new audience… but stay tuned for more in the next few days. If you would like to speak to experts regarding a campaign you are looking to launch or ways in which you can engage with a new audience, please get in touch with our Consumer PR team.

Engaging New Audiences: Part 1

For many reasons, Gillette deserve some well-earned praise for this latest marketing attempt. The advert, which challenges men and boys to be better and call out sexually inappropriate behaviour, deserves both praise for bravery and for getting the go-ahead. Tackling social issues always carries an inherent risk of backfire.

Millionaire Kendall Jenner’s poorly judged peace offering involving Pepsi at a protest already served as a significant warning to the industry of what can go wrong if issues aren’t handled sensitively. Yet, more recently Nike has seen booming sales after standing with Quarterback Colin Kaepernick in their “Believe in Something” campaign.

It’s continuing a strange phenomenon where the marketing teams of the world’s biggest companies seem more capable of touching the right cord with consumers than politicians do with their voters.  A lot of these decisions are calculated. Companies like Nike know which side their bread is buttered on. As University of Michigan Business Professor Jerry Davis put it on ABC news, “it turns out Democrats buy a lot more sneakers than Republicans.”

This comment was referring to the legendary adage often attributed to Michael Jordan that “Republicans buy shoes, too.” Yet, the increasingly important divide that age is playing in politics now means many of the world’s biggest companies are quite happy to hedge their bets on the next generation. Nike know the average customer who walks through its door is a teenage male, far more likely to sympathise with the political messaging that Kaepernick “sacrificed everything” to support. That risk has for the time being paid off.

Marketers ultimately report to the bottom line. Unlike Gillette, Nike has seen year on year growth for a decade. Gillette has instead seen year-on-year falling sales in a market where men have increasingly more choice and fewer people choose shaving. Gillette will have been sitting on ideas of how to revitalise their iconic “The Best A Man Can Get” slogan for a while now and how to target it at the next generation of men. This advert, however, certainly doesn’t naturally feel like it is driven directly by sales. There are no razors. The demographic it is most likely to impress, women, aren’t even potential customers. It fits into something bigger.

Gillette wrote on their website of how they plan to include this as part of a wider campaign: “From today on, we pledge to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man everywhere you see Gillette. In the ads we run, the images we publish to social media, the words we choose, and so much more.”

The advert has so far only been paid for on digital channels in America, with no known plans to run it in the UK. So, when Piers Morgan reacted, himself fast becoming an effective medium through which all successful marketing campaigns must pass, Gillette had achieved huge global organic growth with a relatively modest budget. But you wouldn’t clap just yet…

When it comes to marketing, the opposite of bravery isn’t cowardice but conformity. Standing still isn’t so bad compared to losing ground. The launch of Gillette’s new campaign has achieved both widespread coverage and supported an excellent cause. Yet, for a company with more than half the market share in the US and far more than that in the UK (roughly 65%), we might be left asking what Gillette is set to achieve from this.

When Nike launched their campaign, they weren’t operating with anything close to a 50% share in any of the markets they compete in. When Nike isolated a certain part of America, they knew they were already experiencing declining sales due to a negative price elasticity those consumers were having with its products. They expected to recoup those sales elsewhere. It isn’t clear if this is going to be the case for Gillette.

Where Nike’s campaign was positive and inspirational, Gillette’s message feels negative. Nike told its key customers they behave better than the rest, Gillette has told its customers the opposite. At writing, Gillette’s video has received nearly 10 million views but the reaction to it has been overwhelmingly negative. The dislike to like ratio stands at 577k to 217k. On Sunday, the ratio was 10:1 with most comments saying they would abandon the brand. Make no mistake, those who found the advert first were Gillette’s actual customers.

In comparison, Nike’s campaign ran at the complete opposite. With ten positive reactions for every one negative. In the four long months of media coverage, the “Believe in Something” commercial still hadn’t amassed the number of dislikes Gillette has run up in the first 24 hours. Online sales grew for Nike by a massive 31% in the bank holiday weekend after the ad launched and the company has grown by $6 billion since. Opponents couldn’t boycott the company because they already didn’t shop there.

It’s of course too early to know how this will affect sales, but whether you agree with the message or not, it’s obvious Gillette have risked marginalising the actual people who buy their products. If they don’t end up attracting that next generation of customers, Gillette may be left wondering if their marketing strategy really is the best they can get.

Gillette: Is social posturing the best marketing you can get?

As the obesity problem grows, so too does the weight loss market. From protein shakes and snacks to fitness regimes, weight loss retreats and calorie counting, the choices are endless. The industry has seen huge changes in recent years and there is now a multitude of choice for people wanting to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Changes don’t just include the diet itself, it’s also about the way companies can advertise their products and the channels they’re using. Brands now have to take into consideration an important target market, Millennials. An audience who is far more demanding and harder to capture and it’s not just about the before/after imagery anymore.

We look at some of the digital tools that will help your brand stand out.


You might have noticed that food videos on Youtube are very popular. Take Tasty for example, Buzzfeed’s popular cooking brand, who deliver both comforting and healthy weeknight dinners for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike. The videos are short and very easy to reproduce at home, with 10 million subscribers, and an average of 1M views per video. As a brand, it’s important to use channels and influencers to make sure you are recognised by a wider audience. Why not try and create some short and easy food recipe videos as well to showcase your products and give people some meal-spiration?

If you don’t know how to produce videos yourself, you can always partner with a YouTube influencer to show how to use your products. Take for example Joe Wicks, the famous Body Coach, who works with famous chefs to create some healthy foods or showcase his healthy snacks using different brands. Partnering with influencers like Joe, will help promote your products and show that healthy Gurus trust your brand.

Thought Leadership

There are some amazing opportunities to get an opinion out there across print and online media – from long-form bylines that give you the freedom to discuss your thoughts in detail, to short and snappy letters to editors that we can turn around within hours. The key thing to remember is to offer something interesting and authentic – grounded in your experience – and it must be relevant.

Before you begin producing content ask yourself these questions: who’s your target audience? What’s your place within the market? And where does your company’s skills sit? Once you answer all of these  questions, you will be able to start your campaign. Your thought leadership content could then be hosted on your website if you have a blog section, as well as LinkedIn using their blog platform, LinkedIn Pulse.


Think about where your audience is and don’t be scared to try things that you’ve never done before. Podcasts can be a great way to approach those interested in wellness and weight loss as well as food. From creating your own podcast about wellness or diets to becoming a guest on a specialised show – the choice is all yours.

Remember this form of content is attracting a great audience. Be true to yourself. A podcast will help drive loyalty as it communicates how passionate you and the brand is. Podcasts are all about learning, it might take you a while to get it right. Don’t be scared to try new things, it isn’t a polished medium, but it is a truthful one and people really engage with that spontaneous feeling.

There are plenty of weight loss podcasts around, but a great example is “Smile there’s food” interviewed a Slimming World member called Emma. In this podcast you can hear about her reasons for joining Slimming World and how it’s helped her self-confidence. She also gives tips, recipes and how you too can become motivated to eat healthily. A great example of how brands can use podcasts to get a little bit of fame. Having some real feedback from someone could help people take the plunge and decide to join a program or start living a healthier life.


With 200 million monthly users, Pinterest may not be a social media behemoth like Facebook, but it’s an important social platform with deep penetration in valuable demographics. Half of U.S. millennials use Pinterest, for instance. Behind those snazzy pics are everything including killer healthy recipes, fitness tips, motivational quotes, and workout ideas. All you need to do is create eye-catching assets such as infographics, food photos or short videos to get people to save your pin and visit your website to learn more. Pinterest has proven very efficient in converting people. Below are some examples that we think work well:

Deli snack box - Weight loss: Surfing on the digital wave

Using attractive visuals as well as ingredients lists is a great way to show how to easily get your snack box ready in just one image.

Diet tips - Weight loss: Surfing on the digital wave

Mixing simple tips and catchy designs.

Healthy tips - Weight loss: Surfing on the digital wave

Food tips, using good looking food as well as interesting content will make you ready to click on the link to know more

An important thing to remember is to always make sure the mediums you’re using are aligned with your strategy. Make sure you create some interesting content to help promote your brand and its values

Do you need help building your PR strategy? Make sure you get in touch with our team of experts who will be happy to discuss your strategy further

Weight loss: Surfing on the digital wave

How to present your company, and your communications is crucial. Nowadays, being healthy is more than just how much you weigh. It’s a way of life, and we’re beginning to see more and more companies embracing this idea.

People are far more concerned about what they feel like, what they’re eating, where they’re exercising and what kind of exercise they’re doing than ever before. Arguably, this comes hand in hand with the rise of social media, people’s lives being more publicly accessible where we feel obliged to show everyone what we’re up to. Influencers also play a huge role in people’s desires to lead a healthy active lifestyle.

According to a survey by Havas in 2017, 75% of consumers expect brands to make more of a contribution to our wellbeing and quality of life, yet only 40% believe brands are doing so.

Subsequently, perhaps it comes as no surprise that brands are beginning to adopt this focus. Look at Weight Watchers for example, who last week, announced a massive rebrand to swap their weight loss image for a wellness image.

The brand is now called ‘WW’ with the strapline “Wellness that Works”. WW said it will now focus on a new programme called Wellness Wins which rewards members for “small, everyday behaviours” that lead to healthier habits. They’re partnering with Headspace, a mindfulness app, to provide personalised programmes for WW members. They will also start offering members more food products containing no artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or preservatives.

Another key aspect of WW’s rebrand is the incorporation of technology which is vital to broaden the audience they attract. As well as partnering with Headspace, they’re also looking to refresh their own app in the next month, which will use voice integration giving members the ability to check the nutritional value of their food and track their progress. This element of the rebrand is an excellent way to attract a new demographic to the brand, as it makes it both more manageable and accessible.

On the flip side yes, this is a good way to encourage women away from the brutal bikini diets, however, what is wrong with people just wanting to lose weight? Helen Sorrell, BBC Radio 4 journalist and former Weight Watchers member, rightly pointed out that “people don’t go to Weight Watchers because they want to feel well, they go because they want to lose weight.”

We’re becoming a society who won’t openly speak about dieting because we’re worried about the effect it’s going to have on people. Where magazine covers used to be about how to ‘lose a stone in 6 weeks’, cover lines about dwindling dress sizes are now starting to seem outdated. However, to put it bluntly, diet may have become a very negative word, but it’s one that, because of our increasing obesity levels, we can’t really afford to ignore.

The new name ‘WW’ has been mocked, with one post noticing that the title is made up of the words “double you”. Mindy Grossman (CEO) has also been criticised for not being able to explain what the letters stood for, instead they were simply a “marque” that represents their heritage, history and their future.

The bottom line is, what wellness influencers are talking about on their social media pages, means the same thing as what Weight Watchers and other slimming groups talk about; watching what you eat and exercising.

Whilst many people may take some time to adjust to WW’s rebrand, at the end of the day, they still stand for the same principles, they’re simply extending their services to enable a wider audience to get involved. Grossman wants to make it clear that “No matter what your goal is – to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a positive mindset, or all of the above – we will deliver science-based solutions that fit into people’s lives”. The rebrand is ultimately an attempt to broaden the appeal of the company beyond its traditional 35-plus female representative and present itself as a “technology experience” for millennials. A campaign focusing on their social media activity and social pages with a community feel.

If your company is looking to rebrand and would like PR or creative insight advice, please get in touch today.

From weight loss to wellness: The Weight Watchers rebrand

We have all heard about Nike using the athlete-turned-social activist Colin Kaepernick in their recent advertising campaign, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Shortly after their launch, the brand published figures of online sales increasing by 31% in just four days, media exposure to be in excess of $100 million.

Whilst their stock might have taken an initial hit of 2.7% that certainly did not stop them. Now usually for a brand that’s a big deal to take such a hit but you need to look closer at the detail to understand the outcomes achieved.

In the following week, Nike stock investment from under 35’s grew by 45%, that’s 15,000 investments. Why? Because a recent study found that 86% of consumers believe companies should take a stand for social issues. Brands including Airbnb for their campaign #weaccept, Ben & Jerry’s taking a stand against climate change and Nike standing for #BlackLivesMatter made consumers sit up and listen.

Now you may have angered a few NFL fans along the way but were they really your local customer base anyway?

Nike has created a clever opportunity to reposition themselves in the market and attract a new demographic where social responsibility is at the forefront of their purchasing mind. And if you haven’t noticed, young people buy a lot of trainers.

So, the question is: Should we, as communications experts in this world, consider a similar effort for our brands? And what are the tactics we need to consider for success?

Buying a belief
Who in the world of communications wouldn’t want to master the art of cult branding? As humans, we often have an incessant need to be a part of something. To appear to have a fundamental need to be together or ‘belong’ and to find a common ground in this world we live in.

We must understand the concept of the term ‘cult’ as simply a collection of people who are devoted, committed and worship the same thing – usually a religion or belief system.
Brands can be harder to define as a ‘cult’ with a slightly more complex structure to define. For argument sake let’s say a brand is a ‘something’ (product, service, individual) that establishes them as ‘real’, ‘authentic’ and ‘different’.

The emotive Nike advert establishes a ground where you can be part of a change, part of something that is different. A movement of people all fighting for a relatable topic. This emotive drive has resulted in their outstanding sales growth and a brand messaging strategy that everyone is talking about. And not just because they’re turning 30.

Over the past few decades, consumer behaviour has evolved. The traditional marketing methods just aren’t enough anymore. Brands are having to shift their messaging and rethink what they communicate to their customers.

It is no surprise millennials and generation Z shop differently to their predecessors. For Millennials, brand authenticity is second only to loyalty discounts in importance when choosing companies to support.

Building brand authenticity is all about giving people a reason to care and well Nike, just knocked it out of the park.

Social conscious
For a global brand like Nike to make such a bold move and hire former NFL star Kaepernick who famously took ‘the knee’ during the national anthem in support of #BlackLivesMatter was a powerful statement.

The concept that a brand believing in something and being brave enough to stand up for that belief is setting waves in the consumer world for a new generation of social-conscious customers. It isn’t enough for a brand just to claim they support something they have to demonstrate their commitment, breathe it as an organisation and display their commitment.

Brands such as Pepsi have been slaughtered for claiming their support for social-political campaigns so we all what not to do.

It is simple to say Nike has just changed the landscape of communications and we are all ready to fall in line and follow suit.

Just do it? They did it.

Disrupting the communications landscape, the Nike way

Over the past four years we have worked with Jeans for Genes and each time the brief is clear: to raise awareness and drive sign-ups for their annual fundraiser.

Jeans for Genes is a national children’s charity, which raises money for the care of children and families who are affected by genetic disorders. The charity also aims to raise awareness and understanding of genetics and what it means to live with a genetic disorder.

The brief in 2018 was no different. The campaign itself was simple: asking people to wear jeans in return for a donation to support children living with genetic disorders.

Each year we create a fresh and strategic campaign that focuses on educating the public on the health implications of genetic disorders. Our team with significant planning, support and drive delivered excellent results with a reach of over 1 billion impressions, 307 pieces of coverage and 15 broadcast interviews.

So how do we go about driving impact year after year? Learn more about our strategies below:

Case studies

Part of our strategy was to include real people in the campaign. We set out to educate people about the impact a genetic disorder can have on a family and the amazing stories of those who live a fulfilling life. We worked closely with over 30 families who were affected by genetic disorders and secured opportunities for them to share their experiences. We placed a series of emotive case studies generating 123 pieces of coverage across the national and regional print and broadcast media.

we secured 20 pieces of coverage including publications such as the Western Mail.

Educational coverage

We set out to educate the public the effects genetic disorders have on those who live with it each day. Deploying a multi-pronged educational strategy, we secured 20 pieces of coverage including publications such as the Western Mail.


Fashion and lifestyle coverage

Jeans for Genes Ambassador Montana modelling this year’s design.

A large part of the Jeans for Genes campaign is the sale of their fashion t-shirt. Each year there is a high demand for the uniquely designed garment, and this year was no different. Our team secured 97 pieces of coverage dedicated to promoting the t-shirt. Jeans for Genes have never sold out but this year due to the increase in engagement was delighted to sell out twice!

Jeans for Genes Ambassador Montana modelling this year’s design.

Celebrity influencers and endorsement

Celebrities and influencers as we know can be a very effective way of increasing engagement, building awareness and reaching your target audience. Our expert-led team has significant experience in building partnerships with brands and businesses to ensure results.

As part of the Jeans for Genes campaign, we worked with bloggers; A Model Recommends, Em Sheldon, Carl Thompson, Alice Thorpe and Chloe Pierre to name a few. As well as celebrities Becky Vardy, Danielle Lloyd, Dennis Wise, Ella Wills, Kieran Nicholls, Nicola McLean, Samira Mighty, Vicky Pattison and Love Island’s Eyal.

It was a real focus of our team to ensure we made the right partnerships to ensure the success of the campaign.

Jeans for genes influencers wearing the branded tshirt Jeans for genes influencers wearing the branded tshirtJeans for genes influencers wearing the branded tshirtJeans for genes influencers wearing the branded tshirt


To help keep our campaign and messaging at the forefront of journalists minds who may not have been able to attend our events we gifted three Sugar Tits doughnuts to make a real statement, and to promote the Jeans for Gene’s campaigns. Our focus was to target ‘What’s on’ guides to help reach a wider audience of potential fundraisers.

Hosting a celebrity event

 ‘Afternoon Tee’ party that would allowed us to garner the charities celebrity supporters and ensure widespread coverage

The final element was to host an ‘Afternoon Tee’ party that would allow us to garner the charities celebrity supporters and ensure widespread coverage of the awareness day, unique t-shirt and drive home the message that wearing jeans saves lives. Hosted by Love Island’s Montana Brown and attended by journalists from Reveal, New Magazine, TV Life, Star Magazine and S Magazine the event was a top hit!

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team and find out how we can support your organisation, please get in touch today. Or if you’d like to support this year’s Jeans for Gene’s campaigns it’s not too late, visit their donation page here.

Making it count: Jeans for Genes

The market is particularly saturated with both well established and newly emerging brands and products, especially during the festive period. To get your product and voice standing out amongst the rest it is imperative you have set in place a strong integrated communications strategy that speaks directly to your target audience.

The following tips and advice provide an overview of the ways in which you can raise your brand’s profile within the media and amongst consumers.

Tip 1 – Product placement and journalist reviews

One of the most effective ways of elevating a brand or product in the media during this busy time of year is through successful product placement and journalist reviews.

Being named in a “Ten best of” or “Five hot new products” style feature can give your brand huge credibility and exposure and can have a big impact on sales.

JML: “Everyday Easier”: cutting through the noise to make JML the number one household brand

Product placement was vital, and we achieved regular, targeted placement across the media spectrum, with several pieces featuring in specific seasonal gift guides. To further support the launches, we negotiated media partnerships to secure competitions and reader offers for the products. With a total reach of 726,824,645, our work ensured JML took prime-position as the number one household brand in the UK.

Tip 2 – Social media

Another fundamental part of making your product a must have is through engaging social media content.

A great way to engage followers is to establish regular content creation, for example ‘Christmas inspiration’ or ‘fun fact Friday’. Using new digital tools such as IGTV or Instagram stories will get your product noticed, especially if you use it in an unusual way. Make sure you use your community to promote your products and give positive reviews.

Creating a three-month calendar will also help ensure all social channels are kept up-to-date and in line with the PR plan. It is vital that the tone of voice across all platforms is in-sync, our social media team can help you ensure your content is always going out at the same time of the day as well as consistent.

Tip 3 – Celebrity or influencer endorsement

Celebrities and now influencers are an extremely powerful commodity when it comes to selling products.

When looking to work with a celebrity it is important to first think about the difference between a celebrity ambassadorial role and celebrity endorsement. A celebrity ambassador will become the face of the brand and will usually be contracted to doing several interviews, photoshoots and events. This is normally the costliest option, but it does offer a brand a lot more scope than targeted celebrity endorsement.

Example: Lapland

We approached A-list celebrities who have children between the ages of 2-12 and arranged for them to book a trip with their family to LaplandUK in exchange for a quote or social media post. We secured visits from the Beckhams, David Furnish, Emma Bunton, Simon Peg, Emilia Fox and Katie Piper to name a few. The campaign was extremely successful with the experience selling out within two-and-a-half-weeks of being open.

Tip 4 – Celebrity and influencer gifting

Targeted celebrity and influencer gifting can be a much cheaper, way of generating celebrity endorsement.

To get an influencer to talk about or endorse a product, it must be either beneficial for them or something they believe in. Therefore, brands must think about the right influencer for their product.

Examples: The British Library

We were tasked with generating widespread press coverage for The British Library to showcase their membership scheme as the Christmas gift for the imagination. To promote the new membership, we worked with a range of high-profile digital influencers, based in London, providing them with complimentary memberships in exchange for reviews across their online channels.

We partnered with a number of influencers such as Liberty London Girl, Not such a Model Mum and Boo & Maddie to produce impactful online content for The British Library Membership.

Tip 5 – Press Event

Press events allow you to interact with journalists, develop relationships and ultimately create brand ambassadors who could become hugely valuable. Press launch events for a product, allow brand representatives to discuss the idea, the ingredients and components and also gives journalists the opportunity to try the product out first hand.

There are four main components to planning an event: planning, timing, theme and follow up. For more information about how to run the perfect PR event get in touch here.

Example: positioning JD Women as a leading athleisure brand.

To educate the press on JD Women’s unique offering we created themed press events, a first for the brand. The events focused on their fitness and fashion offerings and created excitement amongst our media targets, resulting in key relationships being built between the fashion press and JD Women. Strong journalist relationships were built with over 230 attendees across two seasonal press days, resulting in a real understanding of the brand amongst the fitness and fashion media.

A PR agency can help you engage with the right audience helping you to create and implement a communications strategy for your business and brand ahead of Christmas. Get in touch now to see how we can help you.

Make your product this year’s must have