Black Isle Brewery down low.

I’m loving the explosion of ‘craft’ beers that are available in bars and shops, and one of my favourite brands is definitely Black Isle Brewery. I won’t get sucked into talking too much about what makes a craft beer a craft beer (Check out what BrewDog had to say on that subject here), but I will bore you with what I like about the brand and the product.

Black Isle Yellowhammer

The Product

The first Black Isle beer I tried was the Blonde which I loved, and since then I’ve not been shy of trying out others in the range. I won’t claim to be any kind of beer expert but I know what I like and I really like the beers that Black Isle Brewery make!

I was never really a big fan of beers and lagers previously (as a west country boy I was always much more partial to a cider!) but with the explosion in choice of beers and lagers, outside the likes of Carling and Foster’s now available, there really must be something for everyone. If you can’t find one you like, you just haven’t tried the right one yet! The Black Isle Brewery Yellowhammer and Blonde are very citrusy, crisp and refreshing. Just what you need when a soft drink simply won’t do!

I really like their packaging that uses a similar design across the range, but with a simple use of different colours to differentiate their different types of beer. It’s very distinctive on-shelf and I think it gives a strong identity across the range.

What Black Isle are up to

Black Isle Brewery are the only organic brewery in Scotland and the whole organic thing is very prominent on their packaging and website. Playing the organic card can be a risk if it’s just a positioning ploy, but I get the feeling that with Black Isle, it’s genuine. A good example of this is their ‘Highland gardens for bees’ initiative where they are putting their money where their mouth is in fighting the good fight.

Black Isle Brewery are working hard to save the planet, but by the looks of things they are also trying to have a good time whilst doing it. Jocktoberfest (weirdly not in October?) is their weekend of beer, bands and bratwurst and looks awesome. Now in its third year, it looks like just the right mix of teuchters, wannabe hipsters and beer drinkers to make for a cracking weekend.

On Facebook and Twitter they seem to keep a pretty steady flow of Tweets and Posts including competitions, promotions and engagement with their fans and followers.

Black Isle Brewery sum up

I like the beer, I like the packaging, they do some nice events work and they are genuine about being a force for good. Whats not to love? I’ll be interested to watch how this brand does over the next few years as it’s a very competitive market place and it will be fascinating to see who thrives and who falls by the way-side. The sales and distribution side of things aren’t quite so easy to comment on from the comfort of my sofa, but these factors will undoubtedly have a huge impact on any future success or failure.


Promotions everywhere!


Ever since I started my IPM Diploma in Promotional Marketing, I haven’t been able to stop seeing promotions EVERYWHERE. When I started, I didn’t even really know what promotional marketing was! Below are some that literally dropped onto my lap out of a magazine. Plenty of use of the words FREE and WIN!


PS This is me easing myself back into blogging, it’s been nearly a year. Baby steps…

The power of nostalgia. Or not.

A couple of days ago I received a tweet from a friend linking to the new Internet Explorer ad ‘Child of the 90’s’.

Child of the 90’s is a very engaging video that got me tweeting backwards and forwards about having a basin hair cut, remembering POG’s (and the fights they used to cause at school) and generally reminiscing about all the different things that pop up in the video. Looking at the amount of tweets, articles and blog posts about this ad, it seems to have generated a good bit of coverage and discussion, racking up over five million YouTube views in four days. All of this got me thinking about nostalgia and its power in advertising. According to Don Draper (yes I am using a fictional character to demonstrate a point), using nostalgia in advertising can create or highlight a deep bond between consumer and product.

The Robert Heath book ‘The hidden power of advertising’ argues that most advertising is processed at an emotional level rather than a rational level and this is obviously the effect that the Internet Explorer Child of the 90’s video was going for.

I love tripping down memory lane as much as the next person but this video isn’t going to make me ‘Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer’, and I don’t think it’s enough to make the wider internet browsing public do so either. I am, however, open to being proved wrong when Internet Explorer announces that it’s the top internet browser based on the success of this campaign… But I don’t think that will happen.

Kia: Cars which speak for themselves, Customers who speak for us.

As anyone who has bought anything on the internet recently will know, online reviews are incredibly influential in buying decisions. My biggest purchase at Christmas was made purely on the basis of research into reviews and opinions online.

This month Kia have launched a new ad campaign which promotes the brand’s use of customer feedback through review service ReeVoo, using the strapline ‘Cars which speak for themselves, Customers who speak for us’.

On the Kia website, you can see what current owners have to say about their cars, major positives and negatives, as well as scoring the cars across different features.


Using Reevoo, Kia can also show how they are dealing with customer service issues.


Potential customers can ask existing Kia owners questions.
Kia claims that using Reevoo like this makes them the first automotive brand to make itself openly accountable to customers in such a way. The car market is a difficult place to differentiate yourself, so I think that Kia have made a smart move in becoming involved in the discussions about their brand and products. On their website, Reevoo talk about social commerce as ‘any user-generated content that influences the buying process’ and they believe that these discussions give the opportunity for brands and businesses to engage on an individual basis with existing and potential consumers, listen to feedback and influence purchase decisions. I think it’s great to see a big brand really giving this a go, as too often brands give the latest fashion/thing/craze a token effort. For Kia to make social commerce (as Reevoo call it) such a central part of their marketing and advertising across channels is quite exciting. Whether this converts in to more sales for Kia, only time will tell!
Ps Check out some of Kia’s previous adverts. My favourite is the one with the time travelling, break dancing hamsters.

OMG – Burberry are like so amazing in Social Media!

ButtonsSo Burberry are an amazing brand in the social and digital arena blazing a trail where other brands should follow. Hmmm. I’m not so sure whether other brands should follow what they do as best practice.

If you check out some of the press they get, you could be forgiven for wondering how Burberry ever got by without social media in the first place, posting good growth last year whilst spending an impressive 60% of their marketing budget on digital. Their figures are impressive as well; 13 million+ likes on Facebook, 1.24 million followers on Twitter and over 16 million views of their videos on Youtube.

When you look at what they actually carry out on these channels though, they go against a lot of the advice on what best practice in social media is, especially in engaging in a two way conversation with your followers and offering value to your community and not just trying to sell your products. From what I can see, Burberry don’t engage in conversation with their followers and all they do on Facebook is post pictures of their latest products and ranges. According to a Marketing Week article they don’t link their social activities to sales either. None of these behaviours are going to help your average business or brand on-line and in social.

The main thing Burberry do have going for them is their content. Their community lap up the pictures and videos of their latest shows and products. If people want to learn anything from Burberry it should be that great content can drive engagement within your social community. Growing this community in the first place is another challenge altogether, and not every business is a world famous brand with a huge marketing budget to spend on activities.

Maybe look elsewhere for ideas on growing your community.

#savethearctic comes to my street

It’s not every day that imaginative environmental campaigning against a global oil giant, effectively employing social media as part of a wider campaign of activities happens on your own door step, but that’s exactly what happened to me today in Edinburgh.

If you weren’t aware, Greenpeace have been running their save the arctic campaign, protesting against Shell’s oil drilling activities in the Arctic. Up until now I didn’t know about the campaign, but as I cycled past the Shell petrol station in Dalry today, I couldn’t really miss it!


Emblazoned across the roof of the garage was the slogan #savethearctic and what hit me straight away was that this was a hashtag!


Hashtags have been used in countless protests and demonstrations but seeing this example on my own street really brought home to me how powerful and useful hashtags can be, allowing groups and individuals to track the spread of a story across the web. This is a great example of Greenpeace using social media as part of a wider range of activities, where today they attempted to close down Shell garages across London and Edinburgh. Check out this video of the highlights

I love the imagination and passion used throughout this campaign, with the hashtag #savethearctic and social media right at the core of the activities. From a purely marketing and advertising point of view, other organisations could learn a lot from this campaign.

What are your thoughts on this campaign and what examples of effective or disastrous hashtag usage have you seen? Love to know your thoughts!

IPA Creative Minds 9th May 2012 – From Dragons to T’s and C’s

Attended an interesting IPA event last night, which was a Q & A session with Nicola Mendelsohn, Russell Marsh, Wyndham Lewis and Nick Cohen. They covered loads of interesting topics so I thought I would post some links to articles relating to what they talked about.

Russell Marsh’s Pinterest infographics-fest can be found here –

A little bit of info. about zeebox

Prometheus ad. campaign

The Filter Bubble

Klout and job prospects

By no means is this everything, so If there is anything obvious I missed, let me know!