Digital marketing trends for a more immersive 2024

Digital marketing trends for a more immersive 2024

Micro pivoting

If the 2020 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that what we consider to be ‘normal’ is constantly shifting, and can do so at an alarming rate. As the world continues to ebb and flow through a variety of economic, environmental and political catastrophes, being able to quickly switch gears has become an essential skill for digital marketers.

Businesses can no longer comfortably set their sights on a five-year plan, needing to instead focus on smaller, more achievable goals. That’s not to say that long-term planning is completely out of the picture, just that marketers need to create these strategies with as much flexibility as possible. As well as preparing for the worst-case scenario, this means giving key stakeholders realistic expectations of what can be achieved, and the very real possibility that you might need to resort to Plan B, C or even D.

Digital marketing trends for a more immersive 2024

Visual SEO

Google Search is now 25 years old, and it’s come a long way since its inception. However, many marketers still consider SEO to be a text-only practice. The modern internet user isn’t just typing a query into a search box anymore; they’re using voice search and image search to offer more natural and intuitive methods of finding answers online. Google Lens now sees 12 billion visual searches a month, and as AI tools continue to develop, visual searches are going to become even more accurate.

As well as Lens, Google’s multisearch approach allows users to combine images and text to create a search request with clear intent. For example, you can take a photo of a plant and add the text “care instructions” to search for tips on how to help it thrive, even if you don’t know the name of the plant. While these search methods are still quite new, the quicker marketers can tap into this approach by including rich, relevant imagery, the stronger their overall SEO will become.

EEAT content

While it’s not strictly classed as a ranking factor, Google’s EAT framework has been used for the last 10 years or so as part of its quality evaluation. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, which are the key elements in determining whether a page is of high enough quality to serve for a relevant search result. More recently, Google added an extra E for Experience, and this is the one digital marketers are really going to need to focus on in 2024 and beyond.

As AI continues to worm its way into all things digital, it’s important for brands to dial up everything they can do that the robots can’t. Creating a real experience is one of these more human elements where AI (at the moment, anyway) just can’t keep up. As you focus on adding Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness to your content, try to also craft a unique experience, human connection or unmissable moment into your digital presence.

EEAT content

Sustainability

In their 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, PwC found that 70% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods. Sustainability is therefore a key selling point for modern consumers, and brands that are able to make it the central focus of their digital marketing strategies in 2024 will likely see great success.

Of course, the ability to increase the sustainability of your products and services varies from business to business, and not all brands will be able to take full advantage of this consumer trend. However, with PwC reporting that 80% of respondents are happy to pay up to 5% more for sustainably produced goods, companies are able to invest more in their corporate responsibility without negatively affecting profits. Once you’ve made the changes, don’t forget to shout about it online and make sure your current and future customers know that you’re a brand that cares.

Sustainability

Talk to the digital marketing experts

Staying on top of all the latest trends and advances in digital marketing can be a full-time job in itself. As a business owner, there are plenty of other things you need to focus on, which is why you should leave your digital marketing in the hands of the experts. DWH’s digital marketing team is on hand to support you in your 2024 strategy and beyond, providing as much or as little guidance as you need.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you to plan, execute and monitor your digital marketing strategy.


Graphic design trends to explore in 2024

3D design

While last year saw 3D design focus on simplicity, with flat colours and basic shapes taking the spotlight, 2024 is looking to ramp things up in the third dimension.

As AI and other tools continue to make complex creations more accessible, we’re seeing two different strains of 3D art come into the forefront of design. For the inexperienced designer, these tools mean that custom 3D graphics aren’t the exclusive domain of brands with high budgets and huge teams of experts at their disposal. Smaller teams are now better able to showcase their creativity and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with brands that previously felt unattainable.

Of course, these technological advances are also a great boon for experienced designers that are capable of creating something incredible from the most rudimentary of tools. This allows them to test the boundaries of what’s possible and create increasingly impressive 3D graphics on a level we’ve not seen before. From mocking up photo-realistic concept art to animating complex scenes, 3D art is more innovative and exciting than ever.

Pixelation

There’s something comforting yet compelling about pixel art, evoking nostalgia for the simpler days of technology.

This stripped back aesthetic can be clean, playful or completely bonkers, depending on the direction you take it, which makes it a super versatile choice. Channel the 1970s with a monochromatic palette, or throw a whole bunch of colours and textures at it for a mind-blowing, glitchy vibe.

Pixel art is a fun way to create memorable characters and designs. The limitations of the block-based format pose a fascinating challenge that forces designers to think outside the box (no pun intended). To really embrace the aesthetic, opt for an 8-bit or 16-bit design, and try to stick to a limited colour palette. Using your main brand colours is a great way to make your mark in pixel form.

While appearing limited in its blocky form, pixelation actually offers endless possibilities for design. It’s about more than just creating images from tiny squares; pixel-based fonts, photo grids and boxy layouts all contribute to the vibe without the need to rip off kitsch video game graphics.

Serif fonts

In 2019, getting rid of serifs was all the rage. In particular, we saw a whole host of luxury brands ditch their historic logos in favour of stark, all-caps wordmarks in sans serif fonts. This year, however, serifs are back in vogue.

So much of modern design, particularly online, has become clean, stark and almost without character. By embracing the serif, brands can adopt a more playful tone, evoke sincerity and seriousness, or go all-out with something truly unique – as long as it’s still legible!

Serif fonts can evoke a sense of trust and maturity (think classic Times New Roman), or they can be exaggerated to create something more whimsical (Goudy Stout, anyone?). Whether as part of a logo, print typography or website design, the distinctiveness and visual appeal of serif fonts helps to make a brand stand out.

Surrealism

Times are tough and the world can be scary, and the internet is a great place for a little escapism and mindless distraction.

This is probably why surrealist vibes have been gaining more traction in graphic design, offering something completely new and unique that consumers can’t get in the real world. It’s hard to make waves in the oversaturated content market, but completely bonkers designs are almost guaranteed to get you noticed (though perhaps not for the right reasons).

As I see it, there are two main schools of surrealist graphic design. The first channels the 20th-century art movement, where artists like Dalí and Magritte juxtaposed the normal with the abnormal, creating brand-new contexts for familiar imagery. The second channels the bizarre memes favoured by Gen Z, where WordArt and internet humour combine to create utter nonsense that is somehow devastatingly captivating.

Whichever you choose, the freedom of combining concepts in a unique way can help to shake the cobwebs loose and unearth something truly unique.

Need some graphic design support in 2024?

DWH is a branding agency with decades of experience in graphic design, so we have the in-depth insights needed to make the most out of your brand. While we love to follow the latest trends, we also understand when and how they’re best employed. We’ll never force you to jump on the bandwagon if we don’t believe it’s in the best interest of your brand.

If you’d like to add an expert touch to your graphic design strategy, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


Branding trends to create meaningful experiences in 2024

Authenticity

While many brands have been prioritising global issues, there has also been a huge influx of shamelessly high-output brands like Shein and Temu flogging low-cost, low-quality items that will end up in landfills. Although the rise of these brands has likely been fuelled in part by the global economic situation, there are still many consumers who still value real values.

Gen-Z and millennials in particular are passionate about brand authenticity. As such a large part of the global buying market, it’s important to factor this into your branding strategy. Saying the right things isn’t enough; modern brands need to follow through with claims of quality, integrity and sustainability.

While baby boomers aren’t keen to pay more for products and services that are environmentally friendly or support a living wage, Gen-Z are. This is particularly interesting, as baby boomers are the UK’s wealthiest demographic, holding more than 50% of the nation’s wealth, leaving millennials with just 2%. And yet it’s these younger, less-well-off generations that are embracing authenticity, even with limited means.

By investing in greener and more socially responsible practices throughout your business practices, you can expect to sell more items while also creating deep and meaningful brand loyalty that could sustain your business for decades.

Interactivity and personalisation

Although the internet brings us all together on a scale that transcends both distance and time, the trivial interactions of the modern world can somehow feel quite lonely. The constant inundation of ads makes consumerism feel like a one-way relationship, which isn’t particularly satisfying for customers.

Customers are crying out for meaningful interactions, and brands that can provide them can pick up on easy wins that quickly translate into brand loyalty. From engaging with your audience on social media to developing large-scale interactive experiences through augmented reality, your branding efforts for 2024 need to focus on emotional connections and acknowledging mutual value.

Personalised branding allows brands to make deeper connections with their customers by delivering a service tailored to their needs and preferences. Consider brands like Netflix and Spotify, which use complex algorithms to learn more about what their users want, and to deliver more of it. These same processes can be expanded into a variety of different business models, including everything from online retail to live events. Instead of simply trying to sell something to someone, this approach favours quality over quantity. It shows that you’re thinking about the customer as an actual human person, and makes it easier to turn one-off transactions into lifelong brand loyalty.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been hitting headlines for both positive and negative reasons for years, offering a future that is equal parts exciting and terrifying. While AI certainly still has its problems and limitations, there’s no denying that the technology has come a long way in a short period of time, and will continue to do so.

As well as freeing up time for human staff to focus on more complex tasks, AI allows customers to benefit from 24/7 interactions, giving them a (hopefully) better experience. This in turn helps to boost sales and brand loyalty, without having to pay for the equivalent human manpower.

While small-scale applications range from online chatbots and behind-the-scenes workflow enhancements, the potential for AI is almost endless. Brands can harness the technology to offer completely bespoke solutions for their customers, creating one-of-a-kind products and experiences that would otherwise be unaffordable.

Of course, there are many concerns around the use of AI, ranging from the ethics surrounding plagiarism to the implications of biassed training inputs. As the technology continues to develop, we’ll be seeing ever more stringent laws and regulations surrounding the use of artificial intelligence. With authenticity being another key trend in 2024, brands should be very careful if and how they choose to use AI.

Looking to refresh your brand in 2023?

Partnering with an experienced branding agency like DWH can help you to develop your brand and create an identity that resonates with your audience. Whatever your products and services, we can work with you to put together a brand strategy for 2024 that will help you to achieve your business goals both now and in the future.

To find out more about how we can help your brand to thrive, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


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!


Our customer focus can’t be beaten – and we’ve got an award to prove it!

We’re once again excited to announce that DWH has been named Most Client-Focused Creative Design Agency  West Midlands in the 2023 SME Midlands Enterprise Awards. This is the second year in a row that we’ve been awarded this title

We’re once again excited to announce that DWH has been named Most Client-Focused Creative Design Agency – West Midlands in the 2023 SME Midlands Enterprise Awards. This is the second year in a row that we’ve been awarded this title

SME Awards 2023

The SME News Awards were created to celebrate the best of the best small businesses in each region. Small businesses are an important part of the economy, with 5.5 million small businesses accounting for 99.2% of total business in the UK.

SME News selects award winners based solely on merit, commending businesses for their ingenuity and hard work. The awards aim to acknowledge the most deserving and best-performing small and medium enterprises across the UK, particularly those who demonstrate real dedication to their clients and customers

The Midlands Enterprise Awards 2023

Part of the SME News Awards, the Midlands Enterprise Awards provide a platform for celebrating the unique achievements and innovations of businesses operating in the region, as well as their contributions to the Midlands’ business community.

The 2023 winners showcase local businesses and individuals who are setting the standard for innovation and customer service in a wide range of industries. Taking the award for Most Client-Focused Creative Design Agency for the second year in a row shows the dedication that the DWH team shows every day to the clients we work with, and it’s an honour to have our efforts in this area recognised.

Want to work with an award-winning creative design agency?

Fancy putting our client focus and excellent customer service to the test? Get in touch to discuss your project and experience our client focus and creative problem solving for yourself.

Whether you’re looking to modernise your website design, create a new brand identity or promote your products and services on social media, the award-winning DWH team is on hand to support every aspect of your marketing strategy.


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.