Joseph Degand

josephdegand

Joe Degand is a communications executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency in Lincoln. Specialising in copywriting, social media, and event planning, Joe plays an integral role in Lava's public relations team. Originally from the United States, Joe has over 4 years communications experience, working with clients internationally to help them achieve marketing objectives and develop effective communications strategies.


Last weekend was a weekend women across the country had been anticipating for months. A day sure to fill them with passion and desire, while stirring up feelings sure to make any relationship feel new again. Surprisingly, I am not referring to Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’m actually talking about the cinematic debut of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Announced back in 2012, the film adaptation of the best-selling erotic novel quickly became a talking point for fans of the book series (and those interested in getting a visual education of BDSM without the taboo).

It wasn’t just film-goers who were hoping to revitalise their relationships through the film. Businesses around the globe took note of the film’s pre-release popularity and made the most of it to create a buzz about themselves.

Some obvious and some unexpected; below are a few examples of how companies made the most the Fifty Shades of Grey hype in their marketing:

Condom companies were expected to use Fifty Shades of Grey in their marketing campaigns in the run up to the film – and Durex and Trojan didn’t disappoint.


Here, Trojan went down the viral video route and treated YouTubers with a short parody reminding people that they “don’t need to go to extremes to have extremely good sex” – and, as a result, reached over 375,000 people.


Durex50Shades

Durex also jumped on the 50 Shades promotional bandwagon by launching a #50GamesToPlay hashtag on Twitter. The idea was to offer couple’s 50 ideas on how to spice up their relationship, all of which are a bit tamer than what’s offered in the book series.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utP3ROiT_DM

Here, American comedian Vanessa Bayer teamed with Audi to create another 50 Shades parody that pokes fun at the book and film’s iconic elevator scene while also referencing how, in the story, Mr. Grey purchases each of his girlfriends an Audi. A great tie-in that resulted in nearly 1 million YouTube views in less than a week.


Kudos to the marketing folks behind the next two examples because they took Fifty Shades of Grey and, despite the connection not being immediately clear, turned it into a tremendous opportunity to reach new customers, make news headlines and create a bit of buzz.

Here, Carpetright took to the web to offer 50 Shades fans a chance to take part in their Between The Sheets With Mr Grey competition, which offered a chance to win a new mattress and luxury bed linen.

Carpetright’s website description for the competition even said:

“To celebrate the launch of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, Carpetright are offering you the chance to win a brand new Sealy Ultimate Support Mattress (in grey!) delivered to your home, complete with luxury bed linen from Secret Linen Store. Bring some sensuality into your bedroom, and seduce your partner this Valentines Day. (If you need any help with the above then just have a re-watch of the movie trailer!)”


The Fifty Shades stunt that seemed to get the most publicity though, surprisingly, came from DIY hardware giant, B&Q.

Less than a week before the film’s release, an employee memo was “leaked” to The Telegraph encouraging staff to get familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey and its concepts to prepare for the customer queries about rope, cable ties and tape.

In the “memo”, B&Q staff informed that:

“Preview footage depicts a notable scene from the book where Christian Grey visits a hardware store to purchase rope, cable ties and tape. Rather than bought for home improvement purposes, these products are intended to fulfil Mr Grey’s unconventional sexual pursuits.”

And then:

“All staff are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the content of Fifty Shades of Grey by reading the novel or watching the film upon its release. Copies of the book will be delivered to each store and can be lent to staff on a one week basis. Understanding the storyline and how some products that B&Q stock feature in the film will better prepare staff for incoming queries.

“Queries may be unusual and sensitive in nature but staff are reminded of B&Q’s commitment to assist customers in a polite, helpful and respectful manner. A level of discretion is also advised.”

The story ended up receiving hundreds of placements, including stories with The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and Yahoo, among many others. And then, just a day later, B&Q made headlines again by coming forward and saying that the initial story was a hoax – which ended up garnering even more media coverage for the retailer.


The Lincoln Paperchase store display.

The Lincoln Paperchase store display.

Even during a quick walk along Lincoln’s High Street, it was easy to spot marketing centred around 50 Shades, including Paperchase’s “Fifty Shades of Earl Grey – Teas Me” campaign, which is being used to push the company’s Valentine’s Day stock this year; as well as Lush’s “Shades of Earl Grey” massage bar which fuses earl grey and citrusy scents.

Butcher's advertising.

Butcher’s advertising.

But High Street chains weren’t the only ones in Lincoln getting involved in the Fifty Shades madness. A local butcher even got involved, displaying this tenuous, but funny, tie-in to the film.

So what can Lincoln businesses learn from these creative tie-ins? It’s that staying in tune with what Britain is reading and watching is key to reaching new audiences and selling them what you want to sell with a message that they want to hear.

How did your business market itself this Valentine’s Day? Did you tie into Fifty Shades of Grey?
I’d love to know, so message me on Twitter @WeAreLava.

Joe Degand is a communications executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency in Lincoln. Specialising in copywriting, social media, and event planning, Joe plays an integral role in Lava's public relations team. Originally from the United States, Joe has over 4 years communications experience, working with clients internationally to help them achieve marketing objectives and develop effective communications strategies.

It’s been nearly a month since The Apprentice started back up on BBC One, and over the past five weeks, we’ve seen the contestants sell home fragrances, create YouTube channels and set-up/run a London coach tour. But their first, and most important, task was to pick a memorable and meaningful team name.

Past seasons of the programme have seen contestants put forward some dire options. Evolve. Endeavour. Viper. Empire. All names with little inspiration and no significant meaning behind them.

This year, the women’s team was even forced to change their name. Originally going with the name Decadence, the board said the word conjured too many negative associations (decay, decline, moral turpitude and self-indulgence), and Lord Sugar ultimately told the ladies to leave and choose a new name that had “some logical meaning.”

A lesson can be learned from this episode – and that’s that your business name is vitally important to your image. An important fact to remember when mulling over name ideas is that you’ll be sending conscious and sub-conscious messages and thoughts into the minds of your audience with whatever name you decide – so choose wisely.

Quite often, a business name describes its service – but this doesn’t have to literal. Your name should give an idea of what you represent and what your ‘flavour’ is. For example, in Lava’s case, it signifies that we’re energetic, explosive and dynamic.

The naming process can be a minefield to navigate, and it’s a decision that’s difficult to change once things start moving for your company – so here are some dos and don’ts to consider when searching for the perfect identity:

Think Ahead
Whatever name you choose is going to have a knock-on effect within all other aspects of your company. From logos and taglines to your website URLs, your name is going to be the driving force behind all of these, so it’s important to think ahead and envision how the names you’re considering will impact your overall branding.

Keep It Simple
Make sure the name you go with is short, easy to spell and easy to say. Some popular examples of mispronounced names include shoe brand Saucony (sock-a-knee) and car brand Porsche (por-sha, not porsh).

If you’re thinking of naming your business after your surname, think twice depending on what it is. Even the simplest names can give people trouble, especially when trying to type a search online; ie. Cook and Cooke, Ingalls and Engels, etc.

Be Original
Try to think of a name no one else has got, especially not within the same industry as you. Sure, you could name yourself Pinnacle, Apex or Summit – but how many other companies have that same name and how easy is it going to be to find an easy-to-remember web address and Twitter handle with one of the those? Get creative and think of something outside-the-box, and if you have to, grab a dictionary and have a browse for interesting words that relate to your company. Remember: you want to be unique and stand out, without confusing customers.

Keep Away From Numbers
Do everything you can to avoid using numbers in your name, for the simple reason that people will almost always struggle with whether or not it’s the digit or word represented in the name. Numbers can make it troublesome for customers when trying to email or search for your company on the web.

Some other quick tips to bear in mind include:

  • Don’t involve too many others in the decision. It will only make the process more arduous.
  • Avoid tacking on common prefixes and suffixes to your name, like Tech, Corp, Tron.
  • Don’t incorporate your location into the name – you never know where you’ll be in several years time.
  • Don’t make it overly complex or obscure.

As customer loyalty builds over time, your company name may start to matter less and less as it hopefully becomes synonymous with good service or high-quality products. Until that time, though, your name is your identity and it will be the most important thing for customer’s to remember about you.

Does your business’s name have an interesting backstory? Need help coming up with an unforgettable name for your new start-up? Tweet me on @LavaComms.

Joe Degand is a communications executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency in Lincoln. Specialising in copywriting, social media, and event planning, Joe plays an integral role in Lava's public relations team. Originally from the United States, Joe has over 4 years communications experience, working with clients internationally to help them achieve marketing objectives and develop effective communications strategies.

The weather’s warm and the sun is shining (as much can be expected), which can only mean one thing – summertime is here!

So what does that mean for your business and its marketing strategy?

Being a university city, Lincoln is quite special because it keeps busy year-round. During the summer months, we get visitors from all over the country; but if one had to choose the right time to concentrate on marketing and business strategy, it’d be from June to August.

Yes, things in the city are bustling, but with a large portion of one of the city’s primary consumer groups barely existent during this time, summer’s an ideal opportunity to refocus your marketing plan in time for September – when things really pick up with the return of Lincoln’s uni and college students.

With an estimated 30,000 young people in Lincoln while college and uni are in session, summer’s the ideal time to build your brand image among tourists and year-round locals, while also taking time to consider how to make the most of the city’s booming student population.

Take your business out into the sun
Thanks to the sun shining down, more people are out and about on the High Street, Brayford, Steep Hill and Cathedral / Castle Quarter – so take advantage of it!

Think about taking part in Lincoln’s market days (which take place every first Friday on City Square, every second Wednesday on the High Street and every third Saturday on Castle Hill) or host your own event with entertainment and giveaways. Not only will this help keep you at the top-of-mind of current customers, but doing this could also win you valuable new business.

Don’t forget – Fresher’s Week is fast approaching (September 14-21), so now’s the time to be thinking about how you can get involved in the planned festivities welcoming Lincoln’s new and returning students back to the city, including the fairs at Engine Shed and Square Sail.

Evaluate your student marketing strategy
If you have one, summer is an opportune time to have a look at and fine-tune your marketing approach for students. What types of mediums are you promoting in? Print, digital or a combination? If you haven’t measured the success of your strategy in some time, summer is your chance to continue on with what’s working, get rid of what’s not and add a new set of tactics to trial.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy for students, there’s no better time to build one than now. With such a large student population in Lincoln from September to May, time and, if you can afford it, money should be spent building your brand image and starting a relationship with this key audience.

One important thing to remember is that students dislike flyers (unless they offer a discount or promotion), so avoid spending money on printing leaflets that don’t include an incentive or savings offer.

Consider a website overhaul
When was the last time your website was updated? Does it need a fresh, new look in time for autumn’s student rush and winter’s holidays? A website revamp can be a long project, making summer a good time to start so that your updated site is up-and-running in time for when online shopping spikes from October to December.

Also, with the advent of smartphones, an easy-to-navigate website for
mobiles is a must as browsing on-the-go is much more common, and customers want to know that your business current and ready for business.

Also, if you’ve not checked recently, use a smartphone to see how your site appears on mobile. You might be surprised to find that it doesn’t function as well as it should – a big turnoff for visitors.

Boost your social presence
Social media is another area of marketing that you can concentrate more on during summer, as it’s the perfect time to test the latest trends and see how they fit with your business’s digital strategy – for example, testing short videos on Vine, increasing your use of hashtags and implementing a message strategy based more around lifestyle content than selling products.

Some questions to ask when considering your social media strategy are:

How do you want your business to benefit from using social media?
Who will manage your social media strategy?
What social media sites are your target audience using and how are they using them?
How are your competitors using social media to reach their target audience?

Plan a break or holiday
This may not seem like a marketing tip at first glance, but if you’re a business owner, this tip is a necessity – not only to keep you sane, but to allow time for you to get out in the world and see what else is happening in your industry. The weather outside is beautiful, so take some time and enjoy the sun before the student rush hits, followed by the winter holidays.

While you’re away, though, don’t completely forget about work. If you’re a restaurant or shop owner, visit as many eateries and shopping outlets as possible during your time away and make a point to start a list of things you could incorporate into your marketing and overall business plan to enhance what you have to offer customers. Same with other industries.

Most would agree that it’s often difficult to breakaway from the everyday hustle and bustle to see first-hand what other businesses in your sector are doing, but remember – there’s no better time to get away from it all and see what the competition are up to than during summer.

What is your business doing to increase business and enhance its marketing this summer? Need a bit of advice on how to make the most of great weather and how to best reach students? Drop me a line on Twitter.

Joe Degand is a communications executive at Lava, an award-winning marketing communications agency in Lincoln. Specialising in copywriting, social media, and event planning, Joe plays an integral role in Lava's public relations team. Originally from the United States, Joe has over 4 years communications experience, working with clients internationally to help them achieve marketing objectives and develop effective communications strategies.

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