Pantone Color of the Year 2024

Should you embrace Pantone’s Color of the Year, or is it all a bit gimmicky?

Looking for expert advice on all things design?

Whether you’re excited about embracing Peach Fuzz or you’d like to take your brand in a completely different direction, speak to DWH. With over 20 years of experience in creating, refreshing and perfecting brands, we know exactly how to apply 2024’s COTY to your visual identity to get the best results for your business. Of course, this also means that we know if this isn’t the right route for you, and we’ll advise you on a more suitable shade to build your brand.


Are Christmas ads still relevant in 2023?

Tis the season to be jolly. Or so we thought. This year’s crop of Christmas ads  has been met with backlash, controversy and just general mean-spiritedness, and it’s starting to feel like this is par for the course. In a continually changing world, where people are more sensitive to the needs and plights of others, is the nearly three-month-long onslaught of Christmas advertising just an out-of-date tradition?


Marks & Sparks sparks debate

The biggest uproar this year was in relation to the M&S clothing and home campaign , which was seen as being uptight and Scroogey or, depending on who you asked, anti-Palestine.

The main message of the star-studded ad is a noble one: “This Christmas, do only what you love”. In the advert, we see celebs saying no to the things they don’t want to do this festive season, like board games, Christmas cards, and the obnoxious Elf on a Shelf. It’s all meant in jest, and it’s paired with a cover of Meatloaf’s classic ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, which is both fun and extremely fitting.

However, certain members of the Great British public took umbrage with this, claiming that the ad “puts two fingers up” to traditional Christmas values and is a “shocking celebration of selfishness”. Are these people just desperate to find something to be angry about and  looking for a reaction? Most likely. However, those who claimed that the shots of red, silver and green paper crowns being burned in a fireplace that M&S shared on Instagram were sending an anti-Palestinian message… yeah, those people are certifiably bonkers. Not least because the advert was filmed in August, two months before the latest attack in the ongoing conflict made global headlines. As Tan France, one of the stars of the ad, put it: “maybe you’re reaching with your ridiculous comments.”

What happens when everyone has a voice?

Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to share your opinions with others. This has been great for activism in all its forms, helping to spread messages and raise awareness of the experiences of others. Unfortunately, this also means that anyone with an internet connection is free to post every single thought that pops into their brains, whether warranted or not.

While freedom of speech is a positive thing, social media has made it very easy for the general public to spew out vitriol in the heat of the moment without much thought. This is part of the reason why we see so many headlines these days about ‘huge backlash’ in response to certain comments or events. 20 years ago, it took a lot more time and effort to write a letter of complaint or pick up the phone to call Ofcom; these days, you can just type out a tweet (or whatever we’re calling those now) and send it in a matter of seconds. And as news outlets try everything in their power to remain relevant, they jump on the tiniest trend and report it as fact.

Is it time for woke culture to take a nap?

Over the last couple of years, it feels as though the term ‘woke’ has started to shift into the realms of insult. More specifically, it’s the sort of thing you might expect a boomer to use to refer to a meddlesome millennial with too many opinions. And I hate to side with the boomers, but it does seem like things are starting to get out of hand.

Don’t get me wrong; the wokening of the world has been long overdue, and even with the positive steps made in equality, diversity and environmentalism, there’s still a long way to go. However, we seem to be heading towards a society that isn’t allowed to have any fun; one where a difference of opinions is seen as antagonism instead of highlighting the rich and fascinating complexities of the human race; one where straying from the norm is seen as a crime.

It’s hard to draw the line of responsibility when it comes to offence. Some people are of the opinion that people choose what they are offended by; others feel that it’s a person’s responsibility not to offend others. In reality, I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There’s always room for sensitivity, and we all need to consider our words and actions, and how they might affect others. On the other hand, we also need to remember that not everything is about, or intended for, us.

Are Christmas ads the right place for activism?

Over recent years, we’ve seen more and more brands using their Christmas adverts to highlight a cause, such as Iceland’s 2018 offering, which was banned for being ‘too political’. This charmingly illustrated ad was a reworking of a Greenpeace campaign raising awareness of the impact of palm oil on the environment and the habitats of wild animals such as orangutans. Christmas is said to be a time of peace and goodwill, but apparently that sentiment doesn’t extend to other species.

This year, Iceland has once again chosen to make a point with their Christmas ad, by not making a Christmas ad at all. In a LinkedIn post, the supermarket’s Executive Chairman Richard Walker said: “As a business we were faced with a decision: Do we spend millions creating and sharing a TV advert or do we invest the money supporting our customers during the cost-of-living crisis? This was a no-brainer.”

Brands all over the world are spending millions of pounds on their Chrtistmas advertising, which is designed to encourage the general public to spend millions of pounds on their merchandise. Make it make sense. As global economies continue to spiral out of control, the consumerism of Christmas is starting to feel completely ludicrous.

So where does that leave Christmas ads?

The fun and glitz and tradition of the Christmas ad season is a compelling reason to keep things going, but one look at your local highstreet with its empty storefronts and increasing homeless population might make you think again. That’s not to say that we should outlaw Christmas and rise up against capitalism (Wait, is that a bad idea…?), but just that brands should be more responsible with the money and resources at their disposal.

Christmas is the perfect time to double down on charitable efforts, and some brands have embraced the spirit of giving during the festive season, such as Lidl’s toy bank. However, many of these campaigns tend to be sidelined to the final frames of the ad, seeming more like an afterthought than a sincere mission.

Millennials make up the largest percentage of global consumers, and some of the main reasons driving purchasing decisions for this demographic are social issues such as inequality, climate change and LGTBQ+ rights. By stepping away from the OTT Christmas ad and instead working to support causes that are close to the hearts of their key demographics, brands can foster loyalty and improve their corporate image, leading to stronger sales in the longer term.

Of course, as we’ve learned from the reaction to recent Christmas campaigns that have made a stand (or have been perceived to be making a stand), finding the right balance of festivities and altruism is harder than you might think. Brands and their chosen advertising houses have got their work cut out for them but, if they manage to pull it off, they could see an exceptional return on their investment.


Ranking 2023’s Christmas ads on the ultimate festive factors

Last year, I took a look at some of the most common Christmas ad clichés, with examples to boot. This year, I’ve created an overall rating system for some of the key elements that go into most Christmas ads. I did something a little similar back in 2018, and I categorised 5 types of Christmas ad in 2019, but now I’ve combined and refined to create the ultimate Christmas ad ranking system. Let’s dive into some of the top Christmas ads of 2023, including many of the brands that helped to turn Christmas adverts into an annual tradition.


Aldi

Kevin the Carrot is once again the star of Aldi’s Christmas ad, this time in a festive adventure inspired by Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Instead of greedy children gobbling candy, we’re treated to fruits and veggies exploring a massive Christmas dinner.

It’s cute enough, and ends with the message that ‘Christmas is a time that’s sweeter when you share’, but it’s not particularly memorable. Personally, I think it might be time for Aldi to demote Kevin the Carrot to from Christmas ad to Christmas dinner.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 3/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 2/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 1/5
Singalongability: 0/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 3/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 5/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 3/5
Memorability: 1/5

TOTAL SCORE: 18/40

Amazon

Amazon, the website that has literally everything but workers’ rights, always has a bit of a tough job on its hands at Christmas. This year’s offering focuses on three older ladies, and the beauty of lifelong friendships.

Accompanied by a plinky piano version of ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles, the overall message is that what we buy each other doesn’t really matter; it’s the memories we create together that make moments special.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 2/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 3/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 3/5
Singalongability: 1/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 1/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 0/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 3/5
Memorability: 2/5

TOTAL SCORE: 15/40

Asda

Asda’s 2023 Christmas ad features famously festive crooner Michael Bublé as the brand’s Chief Quality Officer. Essentially, his role seems to be chowing down on Asda’s Christmas food range, casting his eye over a few sparkly outfits, and being generally very positive (if not a little wooden) about everything.

What blows my mind is how little singing there is. In a 90-second spot featuring Micheal Bublé in its starring role, there’s only about 9 seconds of him singing. And most of that is a single note. It feels shoehorned in, like whoever put the ad together had no idea that Mickey Bubs was a singer and had to scrabble to find space for a song.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 1/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 1/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 0/5
Singalongability: 1/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 3/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 0/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 2/5
Memorability: 1/5

TOTAL SCORE: 9/40

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is up there with Christmas ad royalty, so it’s no surprise that this year’s advert from the global beverage giant is a warm and fuzzy hit. The majority of the ad focuses on Santas doing solids for other Santas. Helping to hail a taxis, spotting each other at the gym, giving away the last bottle of Coke… it’s all about the little things,

We then see real people in place of the Santas, helping to portray the message that ‘Anyone can be Santa’ and showing that human kindness goes a long way at Christmas. It’s quite a charming little ad. It’s not brash or in your face; it’s not beating you over the head with merchandise; it’s not shamelessly trying to solicit tears; it’s just a nice message wrapped in a festive bow.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 2/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 4/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 3/5
Singalongability: 3/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 2/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 2/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 5/5
Memorability: 3/5

TOTAL SCORE: 24/40

John Lewis

I’ve been a bit let down by John Lewis over the last few years but I was pleasantly surprised with this year’s ad featuring Snapper, a sentient venus fly trap. It’s not a plant that’s traditionally associated with Christmas, but that’s kind of the point, as it’s been grown by the family’s youngest child to serve as the perfect Christmas tree.

The John Lewis team has managed to turn a venus fly trap being put outside in the garden into a surprisingly heartbreaking moment. Snapper is eventually accepted as the family’s new Christmas tree, and proceeds to eat all of the presents. Which I genuinely found quite funny. Of course, he spits out the actual presents, and some festive wrapping paper confetti, and we end with a message about letting your traditions grow.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 2/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 3/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 3/5
Singalongability: 2/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 4/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 5/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 3/5
Memorability: 4/5

TOTAL SCORE: 26/40

Lidl

I thought this ad was pretty cute, and I’m a sucker for animals and cuddly toys. That said, the narrative is kind of bonkers, and took me a couple of watches to figure out. It goes something like this: Dog accidentally breaks monkey Christmas ornament. Small child is sad. Mum buys cute monkey toy to cheer up child. Mum accidentally drops monkey in street. Racoon finds monkey and goes on epic adventure to bring monkey home. Dog chases racoon out of house. Small child finds monkey. Dog rewards racoon with a bindle of Christmas dinner.

Of course, you can buy your very own Rodney Raccoon, which presents a sort of confusing message when combined with the ad’s final call to gift a toy to Lidl’s toy bank. By the way, the featured monkey toy is the Playtive Trumping Monkey, which “moves and laughs about its trumps”. Batteries (and trumps) included.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 5/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 4/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 3/5
Singalongability: 3/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 2/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 4/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 2/
Memorability: 3/5

TOTAL SCORE: 26/40

M&S (Clothing & Home)

Featuring a star-studded cast, the M&S Christmas ad for the clothing and home arm of M&S is full of glitz, glamour, and people doing whatever the heck they want. From chucking a board game into the fish tank to setting fire to the Christmas cards, it’s a cheeky nod to just being so over the things that are expected of us during the festive season. The message at the end of the advert: “This Christmas, do only what you love.”

Personally, I think it’s a great message. People get so wrapped up in the traditions and the ‘have tos’ of Christmas and forget that it’s supposed to be a time of merriment and being together. However, there has been significant backlash  about this ad for a number of reasons, the main one being (in my opinion) a complete lack of a sense of humour or any level of perspective on the obligations of (let’s face it) mothers at Christmas.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 1/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 1/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 2/5
Singalongability: 4/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 5/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 0/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 3/5
Memorability: 4/5

TOTAL SCORE: 20/40

McDonald’s

We’ve all been there. The awkward office Christmas party. The cringeworthy kids’ nativity. The frustratingly consistent failure of the British transport network. Why not just sack it all off and get a McDonald’s? This ad is fun and festive, and while I’m not sure why it’s soundtracked by Van Halen, it’s a catchy choice.

What I’m struggling with is why this advert didn’t meet the same vitriol as the M&S ad, considering the message is practically identical. Maybe people don’t expect much from Maccy D’s but place M&S on a higher pedestal? Or maybe the M&S clientele are just more uptight. Who knows.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 2/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 1/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 1/5
Singalongability: 3/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 4/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 1/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 2/5
Memorability: 2/5

TOTAL SCORE: 16/40

Sainsbury’s

One of the OGs for creating incredible Christmas ads, the 2023 release from Sainsbury’s is… disappointing. Which is all the more impressive considering they’ve got Rick Astley on the cast list.

In the ad, Sainsbury’s staff are debating what Santa has for Christmas dinner. Naturally, all of the suggestions are items you can purchase from Sainsbury’s. At one point, Rick Astley appears and suggests cheese, and it’s pointed out (through a very forced ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ reference) that cheese before pudding is completely unacceptable. For some inexplicable reason, this is all set to the theme tune from Ski Sunday.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 1/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 1/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 2/5
Singalongability: 1/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 1/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 0/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 1/5
Memorability: 2/5

TOTAL SCORE: 9/40

Tesco

One of the weirder adverts this year, Tesco demonstrates a very literal approach to getting into the Christmas spirit. As festive fever starts to take hold, people start turning into Christmas trees, snowmen, reindeer, Christmas puddings, and all manner of yuletide shapes.

The ad centres on a grumpy teen who is most certainly not feeling the festivities and is, understandably, quite embarrassed when his father turns into a walking Christmas tree. Of course, as is the way with these ads, an emotional reminder of Christmasses past sparks joy in the teen’s heart. Before you know it, he turns into a tree topped by the crude paper star that he made as a child. It’s equal parts heartwarming and dumb, and very original.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 2/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 3/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 3/5
Singalongability: 4/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 5/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 1/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 4/5
Memorability: 4/5

TOTAL SCORE: 26/40

Waitrose

This advert feels very un-Waitrose to me. Rather than being decadent and aspirations, it’s all a little bit kitsch and clumsy – although, as a huge Depeche Mode fan, it gets my vote for the soundtrack of the season. The concept of Christmas going a bit wrong with the guests turning up early and the power going out is fine, but it just doesn’t really pay off at any point. It either needed to be funnier or played completely straight.

Graham Norton appears for some reason, which is weird, and had me rewatching the video to see if I’d missed any other celebrity cameos, then googling to see whether I just didn’t recognise the other celebrities. Nope. It’s just Graham. And (much like Rick Astley) it feels like a total waste of a great cameo opportunity.

Seasonal Score

Cuteness Factor: 0/5
Fuzziness of Feelings: 1/5
Heartstring Tug Strength: 0/5
Singalongability: 5/5
Level of Over-The-Topness: 3/5
Merchandising Opportunities: 0/5
Remembering What It’s Really About: 1/5
Memorability: 2/5

TOTAL SCORE: 12/40

Let’s wrap up

It’s a bit of a mixed bag this year, with some ads failing to hit the mark, some being unnecessarily slammed, and some creating a warm, festive feeling that has you reaching for the mince pies. In all honesty, I don’t think it’s a particularly strong crop, and I can’t in all honesty say I’ll remember any of them this time next year.

In an increasingly cynical world, where corporate greed and consumerism aren’t exactly seen in a favourable light, it might be time for advertisers to consider packing up the Christmas ad  and locking it away in the loft with the tree and the decorations. Let’s be honest, there must be a better use for all the millions spent on these adverts – particularly when the aim is to get people to spend even more money.

At the risk of sounding unfestive, if these are the best ads that the best brands can create with the best marketing agencies at their disposal, it might be worth sending all that money straight to charity instead.


The rise (and fall) of Threads

The rise (and fall) of Threads

The rise of Threads

Threads was launched in July 2023 as part of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms.

The uptake was phenomenal, with the app being downloaded more than 30 million times in just 16 hours, surpassing the previous record set by ChatGPT and making it the fastest-growing platform in history. Threads became the fastest app ever to reach 100 million users – a feat that took Twitter over 5 years to accomplish.

A huge part of this exceptional growth rate was the seamless integration with Instagram. The 1.4 billion existing users of the photo-sharing app were able to create a connected Threads account in just a few taps. However, another reason it took off so spectacularly was because it promised to be a better alternative to Twitter.

The rise (and fall) of Threads

Why did users want a new Twitter?

Many developments within the world of social media are born from an almost compulsive need to jump on every bandwagon. We’ve seen this in the introduction of YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels after the explosion in popularity of short-form video app TikTok. However, rather than being a copycat approach, the launch of Threads came as an almost direct response to users’ growing dissatisfaction with Twitter.

A predecessor to Threads had been created as part of Instagram back in 2019, and subsequently ditched in 2021 due to poor performance. The 2023 relaunch coincided with Meta’s attempts to capitalise on long-standing issues with Twitter, such as rampant advertising, privacy concerns and an overwhelmingly toxic culture, as well as the changes made following Elon Musk’s hostile takeover of the platform.

During his tenure as CEO after buying Twitter (a multi-month shitshow that he tried to back out of), Musk introduced many controversial changes to the platform. This included reinstating banned accounts, culling the platform’s workforce, and introducing an $8 charge for the blue verification badge that was almost instantly exploited by trolls. And that’s not to mention the bizarre choice to rename the platform to X.

The huge initial success of Threads spoke volumes about user dissatisfaction with Twitter. However, its glory days didn’t last long.

The fall of Threads

Threads was launched on July 5th 2023, peaking at 49.3 million daily users on July 7th. By August 7th, just one month later, daily users had dropped to less than 11 million. Similarly, upon its launch, users spent an average of 21 minutes a day using Threads, falling to just 3 minutes by August.

So, what went wrong? How did Threads go from being the fastest-growing platform in history to a digital ghost town in just a few weeks?

By practically auto-enrolling accounts from Instagram, Threads was able to take advantage of a huge user base. However, the key differences between the demographics, intentions and functionality of the platforms caused a little friction.

Anecdotally speaking, as a millennial who has been active on Twitter since 2007 and is chronically addicted to Instagram, I noticed a big difference between how Twitter users and Instagram users were interacting with Threads. Those who were looking for a Twitter alternative were disappointed that it wasn’t exactly the same platform, just without the ads and Musk’s ego-driven shenanigans. Those who wandered in from image-heavy Instagram didn’t really know what sort of things to write about and got bored.

The success of Threads relied entirely on existing user pools and, once the hype died down, it had nothing new or unique to offer – especially as brands panicked about suddenly having yet another new social account to manage. Users found that, instead of a completely new online experience, they were being fed rehashed, lacklustre content in a suddenly wildly underpopulated platform.

During his tenure as CEO after buying Twitter (a multi-month shitshow that he tried to back out of), Musk introduced many controversial changes to the platform. This included reinstating banned accounts, culling the platform’s workforce, and introducing an $8 charge for the blue verification badge that was almost instantly exploited by trolls. And that’s not to mention the bizarre choice to rename the platform to X.

The huge initial success of Threads spoke volumes about user dissatisfaction with Twitter. However, its glory days didn’t last long.

How is Twitter – I mean, X – performing?

Twitter lost around 32 million users since Musk’s takeover but still managed to generate $4.4 billion in 2022. That’s only 10% of what he paid for it, by the way.

While this has certainly taken a toll on the platform, it still sees 237.8 million active daily users, each spending an average of 30.9 minutes in the Twittersphere. In comparison, Threads’ 11 million daily users are spending just 3 minutes a day scrolling and sharing. So we certainly can’t say that Twitter is dead (unless you count the axing of the name, of course), nor can Zuckerburg claim that Threads dealt the finishing blow.

It seems unlikely that Zuckerburg and his team will be able to breathe enough life back into the app to drum up even a tiny fraction of the public interest it initially gained and, despite what seem to be Musk’s best efforts to tank the platform, Twitter is still alive and well.

However, the exciting four-month life of Threads has given social media experts a lot to think about. It’s been a fascinating look into the psyche of the average social media user, and what a new platform needs to do (or not do) to achieve long-term success.

The rise (and fall) of Threads

Want to succeed on social media?

If the ever-changing landscape of social media has got you flustered, consider outsourcing the upkeep to an experienced social media agency. At DWH, we do all the hard work so you don’t have to, designing strategic campaigns, creating share-worthy content and boosting user engagement across all platforms.

Get in touch with us today and let’s get social!


Can AI write a good promo article for your business?

The content is generic and uninspiring

AI tools work by delving into their knowledge of similar content and trying to recreate it. AI therefore isn’t really capable of having an original thought or presenting a unique viewpoint. Instead, most of the 595 words written are tired marketing clichés. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

The phrase “proven track record of success” returns over 4 million Google search results with quotes and 66.3 million without. “Comprehensive range of services” gives you 6.5 million with quotes and 740 million without. Not exactly unique and inspiring, is it?

Aside from the rampant clichés, many of the sentences are utterly bland and don’t really say anything at all. “They are proud of their work and the results they have achieved for their clients.” What work? What results? What clients? Nothing here builds trust, inspires action or demonstrates the uniqueness of DWH.

The tone doesn’t match DWH’s brand

Perhaps worse than this is the cold, unfriendly tone created by writing vague statements in the third person. It’s interesting that the tool made this choice after JB gave it DWH’s first-person-centric website as reference. This makes the article feel very impersonal, like we farmed it out to someone (or something) with zero connection to the brand.

By invoking the anonymous “they”, the article takes away the human connection. Phrases like “they work hard” and “they work closely with their clients” put too much distance between the reader and the brand. We want readers to feel a connection with the content and to feel genuine excitement behind every project.

The AI-generated article also includes a few phrases that would sound absolutely bonkers if a real person said them. My favourite of these is: “In conclusion, DWH Creative is a top-notch digital marketing agency…” Dave, can we adopt a new company tagline, please?

Rebranding a brand agency: Creating DWH’s new identity

It doesn’t score well on readability

The Hemingway Editor gives the ChatGPT-generated article a fairly poor readability score. It uses the US school grade level to estimate the level of education needed to read and understand the text. Hemingway suggests aiming for a tenth-grade level (ages 15–16), but it’s important to write for your audience. For example, GOV.UK recommends that its contributors write for a nine-year-old reading age (Grade 3–4) for clarity. Hemingway estimates the AI-generated article at a twelfth-grade level (ages 17–18), so it’s likely too complex for the average reader.

Here’s some good news. The article meets the goals of 6 or fewer adverbs and 7 or fewer uses of the passive voice. Hemingway also only identified one phrase with a simpler alternative. The bad news is that 6 of 36 sentences are ‘hard to read’ and 17 of them are ‘very hard to read’. This means that more than half of the article is a little too complex.

Hemingway uses reliable yet inflexible algorithms to determine readability. Not being able to take the full context into account means they aren’t suitable for all use cases. After all, aiming for Grade 9 readability on your doctoral dissertation might be unwise. It’s always important to write for the human audience who will be reading your words.

While you should take these recommendations with a pinch of salt, remember that another big fan of readability is Google. Sites that are easy to read and understand often rank better. Google might not look upon ChatGPT’s article too favourably, and that could hurt your SEO.

For reference, Hemingway scores this article at grade 8 readability. It thinks 24 out of 74 sentences are ‘hard to read’ and only 1 is ‘very hard to read’. Can you spot it?

February 2023 News Roundup

It uses US spelling and terminology

It might not be instantly obvious to all readers, but ChatGPT used American English to write the article. This means that it uses ‘optimization’ and ‘customized’ instead of ‘optimisation’ and ‘customised’. This is a minor difference, but it’s exactly this level of attention to detail that our clients are looking for.

Using UK or US spelling shouldn’t affect your SEO, but using the wrong one could be off putting to visitors. If you rely on local customers, accurately representing yourself as a British brand could make or break conversions. For topics where vocab varies between countries, however, an American focus might hurt your SEO. Think bonnet versus hood, or trousers versus pants. These keywords will bring up very different results depending on your location.

In conclusion…

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. This AI-generated article isn’t up to scratch, and we wouldn’t be happy to put our names on this work and deliver it to our clients. However, there are more sophisticated AI tools out there, and the technology is advancing all the time.

In its current form, AI can be a useful tool for gathering information and creating a decent starting point for a human to refine. For now, it looks like the robots will be collaborating with us rather than taking our jobs, though there’s a very real possibility that machine learning will be able to create unique, complex copy that fits seamlessly alongside a brand’s existing content.

If you prefer less digital in your digital marketing, chat to DWH. Our team is backed by years of lived experience in online and offline marketing. We offer a human touch that robots have yet to successfully reproduce – and we’re good at it.


The rise of AI in the creative and digital marketing sectors

The rise of AI in the creative and digital marketing sectors

Everyone’s chatting about ChatGPT

The current household name in the world of all things AI is ChatGPT. Developed by OpenAI, this conversation-style artificial intelligence tool has been all over social media and news channels over the last few months. Google Trends shows that, just 6 months ago, absolutely nobody was talking about ChatGPT.

The moment “ChatGPT” jumped into the everyday lexicon lines up with the increased interest in AI tools, which had been simmering in the public consciousness over the last 5 or 6 years but never really boiled over. The easy-to-use chat format and the API capabilities of this tool are some of the reasons why ChatGPT has become the breakout tool.

However, even these more advanced tools don’t always deliver, and trying to get them to understand what you’re looking for can sometimes be more time consuming than its worth. While 2016’s chatbots were only really suitable for repetitive tasks within limited applications, they were pretty much perfect at doing it. ChatGPT is much more advanced, which means there is more expectation and more that can go wrong. To a degree, these more advanced AI tools are capable of ‘creating’ – and that’s an issue in itself.

The rise of AI in the creative and digital marketing sectors

When artificial intelligence isn’t so intelligent

AI is still in its infancy and, as such, there are quite a few issues to be ironed out. For example, ChatGPT has started to share completely made-up information as facts, including inventing sources. This is a huge problem for a wide variety of industries, particularly those that rely on reliable research, such as science and journalism. Of course, it also means that the general public is being exposed to even more ‘fake news’ on a daily basis – fake news that can be generated from a prompt in just a few seconds.

Tools like ChatGPT work by being fed huge amounts of information and using a model of machine learning to ‘understand’ and reproduce text as if written by a human. So this system relies heavily on ‘what you put in is what you get out’. Only feeding an AI tool information from very right-wing sources is going to provide biassed responses. Similarly, AI tools are surprisingly easy to manipulate by using leading questions, and (unless programmed otherwise) can be encouraged to create harmful content.

The rise of AI in the creative and digital marketing sectors

Putting the ‘art’ in ‘artificial intelligence’

One of the big issues using AI for creative applications is the fact that everything that comes out of the tool has to have been fed in from somewhere else. So while the words or images made with tools like Deep Dream Generator are technically unique, they use existing images, photographs, articles and more as the ingredients. This is of course a nightmare in terms of copyright and intellectual property.

Artists have been particularly vocal about the legal and moral complications of AI-generated images. Artificial intelligence doesn’t ask for permission to use copyrighted media, or reference its source material. This is all aside from the argument that the creation of art is an intrinsically human endeavour, combining years of lived and shared experiences with complex stories and emotions. AI tools aren’t able to create unique concepts; they can only remix existing material, often resulting in images that feel just slightly wrong or uncanny.

AI image creation offers an exciting starting point for reference material, ideation and experimentation, but it can’t replace the true experience of creating and enjoying art. While the technology will likely continue to evolve to be able to generate even more realistic images, the issues surrounding copyright and morals will still exist. Unless they can be addressed, AI-generated art will continue to be a complicated matter with no clear solution.

The rise of AI in the creative and digital marketing sectors

Rather work with a human?

As a digital agency, it’s important that we keep up to date with the latest developments in the wider marketing sector. However, AI certainly isn’t a trend that we’re planning to jump on. We only offer services that we stand behind 100% and are happy to put our name to. Having experimented with AI-generated articles, we’re confident that our human-led services are still above and beyond the capabilities offered by artificial intelligence.

If you’d like to benefit from our expertise with all things design, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today and let’s have a chat about your project.


Midlands' Digital Brand Development Agency

Midlands’ Digital Brand Development Agency of the Year 2023

MarTech Awards 2023

Now in their second year, the Innovation in Business MarTech Awards were created to showcase expertise and innovation in digital marketing.

This modern, fast-paced industry is constantly being reshaped by exciting developments in technology, and only those who move with the times are able to provide the services that their clients need to grow and thrive. By highlighting the dedication and commitment of the individuals and companies who go above and beyond, MarTech hopes to improve and inspire the digital marketing landscape for clients and businesses alike.

What is MarTech?

MarTech is one of those fun portmanteau names that have been all the rage since Bennifer and Brangelina hit the tabloids back in the early 2000s.

Short for marketing technology, it refers to the technology that marketers use for … marketing. Naturally. Integrating the right tools into an innovative, goals-driven marketing campaign is the secret behind creating success in the digital space, and that’s exactly what Innovation in Business Magazine aims to reward with its MarTech awards.

MarTech Awards 2023

For the second year in a row, DWH picked up the award for Digital Brand Development Agency – Midlands. So that’s two out of two – which, as Meatloaf said, is pretty darn good. Or something.

And it’s a pretty perfect award to have won (again) because developing brands is our bread and butter here at DWH. We love everything about creating a personality for our clients, helping them to uncover their unique story, and turning it all into a recognisable brand identity that customers can engage with.

We’ve worked with brands in a wide variety of industries, tackling both brand refresh projects and complete brand identity creation for startups. Once the branding is right, our team of digital marketing enthusiasts gets to work on developing a suitable digital marketing strategy to grow the business and help it to achieve its goals.

Want DWH to develop your brand?

You don’t need to be based in the Midlands to take advantage of our award-winning expertise in brand development – we’ve got that part covered! Thanks to the wonders of MarTech and remote working solutions, we can support brands all over the world.

If you fancy having a chat with us (preferably about branding, marketing or design, but we’re happy to discuss the footie results, too), get in touch online. We’re always excited to get stuck into a new project, and yours could be the next one to benefit from our award-winning expertise.


Ad World Masters’ Agency of the Year 2022

Agency of the Year 2022

Now in its 4th year, Ad World Masters Agency of the Year 2022 is designed to recognise the most outstanding and accomplished agencies in the industry. The results of the competition are categorised by country, identifying businesses with exceptional creativity, innovation and excellence in each region.

Any agency can enter this year-long competition to find the best in the industry. Throughout the year, Ad World Masters gather data on the entrants to assess their performance.

Calculating the best of the best

Over the year, Ad World Masters ranked 12,322 across 81 countries, using a combination of crowdsourced, raw and verified data to create a holistic picture of each agency. Their state-of-the-art AI scoring algorithm uses more than 160 data points for its calculation, with parameters being checked as often as up to every 12 hours.

The result of the calculation is an Agency Score between 0 and 10. This number represents both the current performance and future potential of the agency, and allows for a fair comparison of boutique companies alongside huge international agencies. Only Elite Agencies scoring 8.5 or higher in their rankings are awarded the title of Agency of the Year.

The results are in…

This year, only 1,132 agencies worldwide received an award. That’s less than 10% of all agencies reviewed. DWH was one of the lucky few to be awarded Silver status, with an overall Agency Score of 8.9 out of 10.

Here’s how the three award categories are broken down:

  • Gold: Agency Scores ≥ 9.2
  • Silver: Agency Scores ≥ 8.7
  • Bronze: Agency Scores ≥ 8.5

The 2022 results for the UK saw 20 Gold, 83 Silver and 36 Bronze awards for agencies representing the very best in the industry.

Looking for an award-winning marketing agency?

The DWH team prides itself on being small but mighty, and receiving this accolade yet again goes to show that we can hang with the biggest names in the industry.

If you’d like to benefit from the experienced touch of an agency that complex AI calculations has deemed to be Elite, get in touch with DWH. We can help you with everything from creating a new brand identity to turning that new brand into an effective social media presence.


Video and animation trends for 2023

Animated logos

If you’ve still got a static logo, 2023 is the time to shake things up. Possibly literally. We’ve delved into animation in branding before, but it’s really taking off this year.

If a picture paints a thousand words, you might be able to fit War & Peace into an animated logo. This is ideal for brand storytelling, capturing attention, evoking emotion and all the other methods of engaging with an audience your marketing team is always banging on about. Connecting a human response with something as intrinsic to your brand can yield amazing results in brand recognition and loyalty.

Go simple by adding a little movement like WWF’s  adorable panda. Try something edgy like TikTok’s  glitchy, twitchy music note. Or create an animated opus like this great offering from Mastercard . Whatever you do, don’t get left behind in a gallery of oil paintings when your competitors are stepping onto the silver screen.

Vertical video

Sorry. The war against vertical video has officially been lost.

There are currently over 6 billion smartphone users worldwide, and forecasts expect this number to rise by more than a billion by 2027. With such a huge number of people viewing the internet on a mobile, we’ve got no choice but to embrace vertical video.

Whether filming video footage or creating animated shorts, a mobile-first approach is going to be the way forward from now on. This makes shooting candid or behind-the-scenes videos super easy, as anyone in your team can simply get out their phone and hit record. These types of casual, relatable content can be a great way to connect with your audience, and you can make them for approximately zero pounds. Which means they’re always within budget.

Scroll animations

Creating more engaging online experiences is another big trend in the design world, and scroll animations are a big part of that.

Strictly from a mental health point of view, we should really be trying to stop the scroll. However, as a marketer, it’s your job to encourage as much scrolling as possible. Get those fingers working! As well as creating excitement and intrigue as they appear before your eyes, they also help your website to load faster, as they only appear if and when a user scrolls to them.

Load times are a key Google metric, because they don’t want to serve a poor user experience. Scroll animations are a great way to boost engagement and keep eyes on your content for longer without tanking your rankings. If your website features lots of videos and animations, check your PageSpeed score and see whether you can control the scroll.

2D/3D mashups

Both big and small brands are embracing a quirky mix of 2D and 3D elements, creating an exciting and unusual visual experience for your audience. 2D3D does sound a bit like 2023, so this is definitely the year to give it a go.

Mashing up two different design styles is a great way to create an instantly recognisable brand identity. Whether you’re combining real objects with a flat design like this beautiful ad by product innovation tastemakers Grommet , or digitally animating 3-dimensional characters in a hand-drawn scene, the juxtaposition of formats means there are literally infinite options.

Maybe you’re the brand with all those paper cutouts in videos of forests and waterfalls. Maybe you’ve got a weird pink-on-pink theme going, layering 3D objects on a 2D backdrop for a bit of texture. Maybe you capture a cute claymation character running around your office at night on CCTV. Get weird with it. Why not?

Starting to feel a little animated?

Then I’ve got great news. DWH is excited to offer video and animation services to help our clients get their marketing in motion. Whether you’re looking to create a cinematic masterpiece that makes Titanic look like an episode of Tom & Jerry, or you’d like to add a little pizazz to your logo, we’re already waiting for you at the drawing board.

Get in touch with us to discuss your ideas and let’s create something amazing in 2023!


Web design and development trends for 2023

Web design and development trends for 2023

Sharing and collaboration

As open-source software continues to grow and become more readily available, collaboration between creators and sharing resources with the community is getting easier every day. Many designers are creating shareable web templates that allow smaller or less skilled developers to offer their users an attractive, easy-to-use and accessible web experience.

Webflow offers a place to share cloneable and customisable website templates that anyone can use, created by the web community for the web community. Similarly, sites like Noun Project allow creators to share and use icons, photographs and illustrations to improve the accessibility of the resources that make websites look great.

This type of resource sharing helps to further the education and development of web designers, resulting in a better, more immersive web for everyone. It’s also a great way for coders and creatives to spread their work and build a reputation.

Web design and development trends for 2023

Fun for the sake of it

Let’s be honest. Shit’s a bit depressing at the moment and it’s nice to just have a little bit of fun sometimes. In 2023, website aficionados are helping to soothe the sting of existing in the modern world with digital interactions that turn simple browsing into a more enjoyable experience.

One example of this is creative reference collection Fuse’s completely superfluous webpage titled Ball Pit, featuring nothing but a bunch of balls and 3D icons that you can interact with. From simply tossing them one at a time to thrashing up a frankly migraine-inducing flurry of bright green balls, there’s absolutely no purpose to this page other than adding a little bit of simple joy to your day.

Another bit of fun comes from healthy living advocates Squadeasy, whose website features a part-adorable part-creepy floating dog head that interacts with your cursor. Move it around and his eyes will follow, but if you get too close, he’ll eat it. He also spins as you scroll up and down the page, and you can make him dizzy if you do it too fast. Which is reasonable payback for having your cursor eaten, I think.

Web design and development trends for 2023

Gated content

Content is still, and always will be, king. Brands have begun to appreciate the value of content more, both in terms of attracting an audience and differentiating themselves from their competitors. While this ties in to digital marketing, the structure and functionality of password-protected portals is very much in the design and development wheelhouse.

Hiding your best content away from prying public eyes is a great way to demonstrate your value. After all, nobody gives away something truly great for free. It’s also a pretty low-stakes way to diversify your income stream and boost your profits with a handy backup plan – which is a huge benefit for brands struggling with the cozzie livs and all that.

Remember that premium content should be just that. Whatever you place behind your paywall needs to be genuinely worth the investment or you risk ruining your reputation. Gated content doesn’t even have to be paid to make a difference; you can still benefit from customer loyalty and an uptick in sales by producing free, members-only content. This gives your audience something valuable in return for a juicy email address that you can fill with exclusive deals and discounts.

Web design and development trends for 2023

Need some help developing your ideas?

Whether you’re feeling inspired by 2023’s web design and website development trends or you’re looking for something completely different, the team at DWH would be delighted to help. Give us a call, drop us an email or contact us online and let’s get started on an exciting new site.