SXSW Mentor Session: Turning a Winning Start in Europe into Long Term Success

With international sales coming in from day one, thanks to the wonders of the global internet, many new consumer brands face challenges and opportunities traditionally faced by far larger companies. So how can young start ups leverage the first bloom of international success and implement a winning strategy to achieve longer term sales goals?

Europe is an exciting opportunity with over 740m people, two thirds of whom are online and 300 million who are active social media users. However, these people are spread across more than 50 countries, 28 of those in the EC, 18 in the Eurozone and with 24 official EC languages, so you mostly can’t afford to get too granular.

Distribution, languages and currencies supported, plus size and profile of local populations start to focus the mind.  Beyond this, where can a UK/European PR and digital marketing agency help?

Some likely scenarios:

  • You’ve a great product/service, off to a flying start, and you want to take things to the next level
  • You’ve got some great early news and reviews coverage but want to reach into particular target markets, e.g. young mums, sports enthusiasts, foodies, young professionals
  • You need to reach beyond your core audience to deliver the next phase of growth

Some potential solutions:

  • Hubbing – creating content and pre-packing for local implementation
  • Single point implementation – delivering a campaign, fine-tuned for each locality, across key markets
  • Deeper campaigns in 2-3 key countries tapping into local expertise, local knowledge and local networks

What can a good local agency do:

  • Help you risk assess and prioritise
  • Highlight campaign directions
  • Add local knowledge and their network of contacts
  • Create campaigns and deliver quantifiable results

If you are heading to SXSW and you’d like to talk more, please meet me, Jill Coomber, at my mentor session on Sunday, March 15 from 11:00AM – 12:00PM. You can book a slot here:


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onechocolate loves… the view from France

Our colleagues in onechocolate’s Paris office have selected this week’s round-up of inspiring PR and digital marketing campaigns, smart new apps and cool events…

#1 Go viral with Dubsmash

Chef ! Oui chef ! @adeleexarchopoulos

A video posted by Jeremie Laheurte (@jlaheurte) on

Following the worldwide success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, let us introduce you Dudsmash, the new viral phenomena. This new app, created by three German guys, allows you to record yourself dubbing a famous quote or song through a selfie video. Once the video is recorded, you can share it on your social media platforms for all your friends to enjoy too. The phenomenon began in Holland and Belgium and is currently taking France by storm. Even stars are getting in on the act! In the video above, actress Adèle Exarchopoulos and her boyfriend, Jérémie Laheurte, imitate a cult scene from Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”. Just hilarious!

#2 The eyes of a child

To mark the the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in France, the Noemi Association has produced a video to fight prejudice against those with disabilities and aims to improve their day-to-day lives. This video confronts us with the two-fold reality of disability; seen through the eyes of children and through the eyes of their parents. We love this poignant clip that may well challenge the way you see others with disabilities.

#3 Six degrees of separation

The six friends theory – or six degrees of separation – claims that only six people separate one human being from another. Mercure, the international hotel network, has created an original competition campaign based on this theory. A winner from around the world will be selected and taken to meet an Aboriginal man from the Bundjalung tribe in Australia, but on the way, will stop off to meet six friends that are between him or her and the aboriginal man. At each stage, the candidate will be hosted by the Mercure hotel and the brand will reveal where to find his/her next friend. To take part in this unique experience, Internet users will be invited to post a video on Mercure’s Facebook page, describing their personalities, passions, motivations and projects, etc. A worldwide casting will start this month and the trip is scheduled for 30 days in March 2015.

#4 Sleepover in a fashion temple


To launch the winter sales with a bang on January 7th, iconic department store Galeries Lafayette has teamed up with Airbnb  to launch a contest designed to get fashionistas in a froth. The purpose of the competition? To offer six people the chance to spend an unforgettable night within the temple of Parisian fashion and to enjoy the sales before anyone else. The guests will have unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the January sales; they will receive a tour of the department store, a first look at sale items, receive help from a personal shopper, as well as receive a 200 euro gift voucher to shop the sale. To win, participants needed to send a short text explaining why they want to spend the night in the mall. We love this original idea to revitalise retail sales, which have been running out of steam in France lately.

#5 Wearable tech combats theft

With 2014 being dubbed the ‘year of the data breach’, we’re constantly being warned that hackers will be developing new and more sophisticated ways to steal personal information. One of these ways is ‘digital pickpocketing’, which uses RFID scanners that can steal data from over 30ft away. To combat this, Symantec’s Norton and Betabrand, a retail clothing company based in San Francisco, are producing jeans and blazers which will be able to block radio waves to shield a smartphone or credit card. This innovative, futuristic clothing will probably be a real asset for the future!

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onechocolate loves… the view from Germany

Our colleagues in onechocolate’s Munich office selected this week’s round-up of inspiring PR and digital marketing campaigns, smart new apps and cool events…

#1 And so this is Christmas…

We are at that time of year again, where we can hardly breathe for Christmas campaigns. Although we love getting into the festive spirit, it’s increasingly hard for brands to stand out from the crowd. However, EDEKA, the leading German supermarket corporation, has released a brilliantly different video which shows cashiers playing Jingle Bells on their scanners, much to the delight of the unsuspecting customers. We love this feel good clip, which has also been picked up by a radio station, Antenne Bayern, to get companies to mimic the supermarket by creating their own Jingle Bells tune – with car sellers honking horns or employees from a fiscal authority stamping.

#2 Grumpy Cat

Grumpy cat

Yes it is true – the grumpiest of all cats has made it; from funny pictures on Facebook, to memes on imgur and reddit, to her own merchandising products, fan pages, two books(!) and even a TV movie. One could say grumpy cat has become too mainstream and now uses her beloved grumpiness just to make money and sell cat food. But who wouldn’t take the money? There are estimations that grumpy cat has earned 100 million dollars so far – although its owner said the number is inaccurate. We wonder if grumpy cat smiles a little when she´s thinking about out-earning Hollywood stars, including leading ladies Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz.

#3 Who says German politicians are humorless?

Environmental protection and sustainability are always hot topics in Germany. New videos to promote these vital issues have recently been released by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment – and we’re enjoying its new tongue-in-cheek approach. In one of the clips, a daughter gets home and catches her parents ‘in flagrante’ in the living room. With both parties pretty embarrassed, she turns off the light and leaves. The voiceover tells her ‘thank you’, for turning off the light and being ‘green’. In another clip, the husband gets attacked by zombies, while his wife just closes the window – and the voiceover again thanks her for protecting the environment.

#4 Zombie fever


Also on the subject of zombies, we love the branded content campaign created by two German movies students at Filmakademie. In the interactive online game, the player has to help the protagonist who has been bitten by zombies by completing various challenges. The player is able to change the plot of the story depending on how well they play. The game provides a very different brand experience and is a great example of good storytelling. Try it out!

#5 Looking back on 2014 – with Facebook


The end of the year brings the inevitable onslaught of countdowns of the most popular trends for 2014; on TV channels, radio stations and, of course, Facebook. It’s not too hard for Facebook to decide which trends and topics shaped 2014; they just have to look into their data pool, to see which topics and events had the deepest impact on the 1.3 billion Facebook users. From the ice bucket challenge to the World Cup – what was the most popular this year? Have a look for yourself and explore the trends 2014.

#6 Instagram works – even in Germany


Although Instagram passed the ‘new kid on the block’ status some time ago, there are still many brands in Germany that are skeptical about the value Instagram can bring to their communications strategy. Our suggestion is to focus on the growing number of up-and-coming young instagrammers on the site who are becoming increasingly influential and making a living through their beautiful pictures. One of our favorites is Michael Schulz, who is based in Berlin – which is also the main topic of his photos. His account is a great example of how Instagram can help build brands through influencer relations – even in Germany.

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onechocolate loves… the view from France

Our colleagues in onechocolate’s Paris office have selected this week’s round-up of inspiring PR & digital marketing campaigns, smart new apps and cool events…

#1 Movember


As November comes to an end, we had to take our hats off to the men who have been participating in Movember. In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, each year during November men are encouraged to grow their moustache to raise funds for medical research to fight prostate and testicular cancer. And it’s working; with 4 million participants having raised 409 million Euros so far to support 800 programs in 21 countries, the initiative is a huge success. Even French cats are getting in on the act! 

#2 Monoprix over the rainbow

Monoprix, a leading French retail chain, is promising to brighten up your day through the world’s first rainbow-generating billboard. The smart billboard waited for the sun’s rays to shine and then sprayed recycled water to generate the rainbow. The billboard was actually installed over three days in April 2014 on la Villette esplanade, in Paris North-East, but Monoprix waited for the grey November days to unveil the video.

#3 Paris from a bird’s-eye-view

Ever wondered what Paris looks like from a bird’s-eye-view? Well, now you can find out! Victor, a white-tailed eagle, was released from the Eiffel Town with a mini-cam strapped to his back. Check out the video to see him glide over the Trocadero and then plunge at 180 km/h to the ground. The film, shot by French falconer Jacques-Olivier Travers, is one of a series of eagle-eye views. There are also spectacular videos of Victor’s journeys in London from City Hall, St Paul’s cathedral and the Olympic park’s Orbit ‘sculpture’.

#4 #StopFryTheft

If, like us, you hate people stealing food off your plate, then you need to download McDonalds’ new app, Fry Defender. The app addresses the issue of fry theft or ‘frime’ by turning your phone into a frime fighting machine. The app takes the thief’s photo and publishes it on social networks using the hashtag #StopFryTheft. Ingenious! 

#5 Challenge VVF

The holiday resort brand, VVF, has launched an original social campaign, running until the 12th December, which allows its Facebook fans to challenge the VVF teams. Each time a Facebook fan sends a challenge to the VVF employees the flashing lights installed in the premises will light up and the first of the employees to push the buzzer wins. We love this fun campaign as its objective is not to just boost its number of Facebook fans, but also to strengthen internal cohesion.

#6 Midpic


This week, we spotted a cool new dating app, Midpic, which allows users to share half a selfie with others nearby. Once the half selfies have been exchanged, you can decide whether to accept or decline the picture. If accepted, you will then be able to see the other half of the photo. The app is available to download now in English and French for both iOs and Android.

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It should never happen to a PR pro…

Part 1: PR Stunts

Devising, implementing and successfully pulling off a stunt that turns up the wow factor to maximum is the holy grail of many PR pros. You know deep down that making the Ten O’clock News is perhaps setting the bar a little high, but what you’re gunning for is wall-to-wall coverage and a social hit.

Trouble is, the bigger, grander and more ground-breaking the idea, the higher the risk that your epic dream stunt will crash and burn. Whilst PRs know that not all stunts can work, here are a few insider tips to ensure you give yourself the best chance of getting seen in the right places for all the right reasons.

PLAYMOBIL castle job advert 2

#1 Plan, timeline, action

The nearer you get to the big day, the faster things will move so meticulous pre-planning and pre-seeding are of the essence. The bigger the stunt, the better your project management skills need to be to work your assets as hard as possible. That way, you can focus on building the biggest bang in the run up to the big S-Day.

#2 Great idea!

The visual leads. Keep it simple and relevant to the audience. Sticking with PR sure-fires is a good start. Think biggest, smallest, cutest, funniest, wackiest, most shocking…  Make it topical, let it have built-in conversation and engagement opportunities. Hats off to Paddy Power at this year’s Brits for its stunning, topical headliner.

#3 Not such a great idea

Make sure you’re being practical. Many a brainstorm idea hits the deck on the reality check. For example, yes, you may want to amass a crowd of excited consumers, but not if your campaign is hot enough to instigate a stampede. This summer, the Jet2Holidays horror show provided a sobering case in point.  Hundreds of people in Derby turned up to chase their staff, dressed in red morph suits, around the city centre for the chance to win free plane tickets. Many were injured and many more took to social media to vent their anger.

#4 Risk assess it

Do a dry run and check against a list of things that could go wrong to make sure you’ve got it covered. So what’s your plan if it rains? Need good Wi-Fi access for your stunt? Kids or animals involved? What’s your ‘money’ shot? ‘What can go wrong, will go wrong’ is a PR mantra that must be front of mind when thinking about stunts.

#5 Bake in social

Front and centre. #BandAid30 had three of our British superstar vloggers as part of the band. None of them known for singing… We don’t all have the budgets for headliners, but we can all know how we are going to activate our plans through earned, owned and paid social.

#6 Bake in your brand

Two great ways to do this – make your brand a key part of the stunt, like we did for Playmobil’s 40th anniversary or make it a fundamental part of finding out the answer to the ‘who’ or ‘why’ question like Betfair’s Octopus stunt. Omit this key agenda and you’ll risk your brand ending up, metaphorically speaking, in too many sub-editors’ bins.

#7 Cold start = hard start

You need an existing fan base that loves your brand and an active media/social following that wants to talk about your brand – they can be readily engaged as they are already familiar with it. You dramatically increase the risk of #StuntFailure if you are a relatively unknown or highly niche brand. Period.

#8 Have a budget

Stunts cost money. It’s an all too often occurrence that the ones that win awards have budgets out of reach of smaller brands. Stunts designed to win hearts and minds  for a charity or a really great cause can be an exception to the rule. For the rest of us, scale your expectations to your budget levels and then be ecstatic if you pull off the seemingly impossible. Or, be risk adverse and tee up multiple stunts – most brands known for stunts as a strategy have failures too.  You just don’t get to hear about them!

#9 Consider a paid push

PRs like to showcase their earned work, but behind the scenes many ‘viral’ stories these days start off with or run alongside a paid strategy. Don’t be too proud.

#10 Enjoy the moment

It’s too easy in our profession to work super-hard getting it all together, only for the big day to go by in a flash. So, when the moment comes, don’t forget to take a break, take in what is happening and celebrate how great all your hard work is turning out.

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