Wednesday, 4 December 2013

London Lifestyle Part 1: South of the River

I'm not usually one for doing lifestyle posts, but after April over at Beautiface invited me to take part in her London Blog Project, I've come up with a few bits and pieces about my favourite spots around the capital, my local neighbourhood, and some venue reviews, starting with the area I live in.

Elephant and Castle is probably one of London’s most misunderstood areas, dividing Londoners in a marmite-like style into those that love it, and those that shudder at the thought of going there. Living just round the corner in Borough, I fall into the love-it camp and often head there for a night out in one of my favourite clubs, Corsica Studios. In addition to being an important transport hub south of the river, the whole area has a very strong sense of local community, which is a rare thing to find in central London.

Elephant and Castle namesake
E+C is currently undergoing a huge £1.5bn regeneration project, helping it transform into
a shopping, entertainment and cultural centre and, with any luck, improving its reputation to encourage more visitors to the area.

Even with its value on the up thanks to this project, it's still a great choice for anybody on the lower end of the income scale E+C, and you can find a wide range of property from ex-council and Victorian terraces to the high-end Strata building. It offers affordable accommodation within zone one, just ten minutes on the tube to Central London, and on your doorstep you'll find a number of markets as well as a couple of lovely parks, not mention cultural hotspots like the Imperial War Museum.

Heading down from the roundabout it's famous for towards London Bridge, and you'll find yourself in Borough, an area mostly known for its market. Along the high street there are several well known chains such as the Slug and Lettuce and Belushi's, but it's in it's lesser known pubs and restaurants that Borough really shines.

The George
It is home to one of Britain's oldest pubs; The George; just round the corner from the German
beer hall Katzenjammers (complete with staff in lederhosen), and some top notch culinary delights including local eateries such as Eliot's Cafe on Stoney Street and Applebee's, one of the best seafood joints I've ever been to.

It can be very easy to overlook or dismiss a lot of the neighbourhoods south of the river, but after several years living here I believe that anyone who thinks they have to head north to find good nightlife, food, or culture are missing a trick. Areas such as Elephant or Borough have as much to offer as their counterparts in north London, only with cheaper prices and less tourists!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Bit of a Giveaway

After what has felt like a very hectic summer, things seem winding down as we creep closer to winter. This has left me with some free time over the weekend, and I decided to finally carry out the big bedroom clearout I’d been planning for months!

Several bin bags and many hours later, I found that I’d managed to amass way too many beauty bits and bobs over the past few months, more than any one person could ever need...even for an addict like me. Instead of letting them go to waste, I thought I would have a little giveaway so that someone else can benefit from them!

So here’s the deal, simply follow me on twitter, then let me know by commenting on this post. That’s it! I’ll pick a winner in a week’s time on Wednesday 30th October :)

The lucky recipient will receive a goody bag packed with the following treats, all NEW and unused:

Anatomicals Spray Misty For Me facial spritz - Bamboo Style Boho Waves styling spray (smells amazing!) - MeMeMe Cherubs Blush lip and cheek stain - Cooling gel eye mask - Katy Perry Killer Queen perfume sample - LAQA & Co. fat lip pencil - Lee Stafford Matte Fat volumising styling powder - Tresemme Platinum Strength 60 second hair treatment - Viva la Juicy Noir perfume sample - Eva Professional Mystic - Diamond Argan Oil sample - Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Gel - The Chia Co. Chia Shots sachet

Good luck!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Liebster Award


So thanks to the lovely Harley-Rose over at Lola's Patchwork, I've been nominated for a Liebster's Award; designed for bloggers who have under 200 followers. It's purpose is to help build up your network as a beginner blogger and serves as a lovely little welcome to the blog community! Here are the guidelines for the Liebster award:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the person who nominated you
3. Nominate another 11 bloggers who have under 200 followers to pass the award onto
4. Come up with 11 other questions for your nominees
5. Notify the bloggers whom you have nominated

6. Some bloggers can also include 11 random facts about themselves, but this is optional!

My answers

1. What’s the best bargain item you've ever had?
A couple of times a year my friend and I plan a shopping spree, usually at Bluewater or one of the London Westfields. It mostly involves plenty of unnecessary purchases (the best kind), sushi for lunch, and quite a bit of talking each other into buying more! Despite our splurging however we usually manage to find some good bargains; and one of my best was a pair of gorgeous leather boots cut down from £140 to £25. When I found they only had one pair left and they were my size it was a done deal!
2. Are you careful with your pennies or an impulsive shopper?
I think my first answer above ^^ gives the game away here... definitely an impulse shopper!
3. What’s your pride and joy product/clothing/accessory?
I have a huge weakness for all things Mulberry; so I'd have to pick the lovely make-up/wash bag I splashed out on a couple of years ago.
4. What’s your morning beauty regimen?
I always wash my face with some sort of cleanser, and then use a tinted moisturiser or primer as a base for my foundation. I always moisturise my body too, currently using Lush Vanilla Dee-Lite which is one of my favourite scents.
5. If you could only have 3 beauty products what would they be?
Tinted moisturiser (with spf...is that cheating if it's multi-functional?!), eyebrow pencil, and Chanel CoCo eau de parfum.
6. What’s in your hand bag?
The quicker question might be what isn't in my handbag! I'm one of those Mary Poppins-types with everything I could possibly need and lots that I probably don't. Essentials though are my oft-abused wallet, bike keys, headphones, iPhone, glasses and a bit of makeup.
7. What’s your pet peeve when it comes to beauty/fashion?
I'm a strong believer in dressing for your own body type and style rather than following the latest fads and trends for the sake of it. I've never been one to spend lots of money on something that probably doesn't suit me much and that I'll only wear a couple of months; I'd much rather invest in some premium beauty products or a new handbag!
8. What/who made you start blogging?
Starting a blog had been on my long term to-do list for quite a while, but it was my friend (over at AprilTodd.com) that finally inspired me to get started.
9. What do you have on your desk when you’re blogging?
During the day I sometimes write on my lunchbreak at work, and my desk is littered with Paperchase accessories, scrawled post-it notes and lots of coffee. In the evenings I mostly sit in bed surrounded by magazines, my ipad, camera and a glass or two of red wine with a film on in the background.
My beloved Bobbin Birdie bike
10. What’s your advice to fellow bloggers?
Don't underestimate the amount of time you have to be prepared to spend on your blog, and be sure to go for quality over quantity when it comes to social media. Choose the most relevant platforms for your site and not all of them, (whether it's Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc), and use them as often as you can.
11. What’s your day job?
I'm a Marketing Campaign Manager working in Central London, close to St Pauls.

My nominations are...
Beautiface
Not Your Average Fairytale
Fashion Galaxies XO
Bethany Worrall
Felice Mai Dopo
Fashion Etc
Pretty Little Things
MakeUp Diary
Costello Beauty Reviews
Beautiful Sophia
House of Nakashiima

And here are your questions!
1. What's your favourite cocktail?
2. What five products/accessories could you not live without?
3. What is your favourite song of all time?
4. What's the best bit of advice you've ever received?
5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
6. What's your favourite shade of lippy?
7. What's the best thing you've bought in the last six months?
8. What's your favourite beauty brand?
9. What's the biggest beauty error you've made?
10. How many hours do you spend a week on your blog?
11. Who's your favourite person from history?

Friday, 26 July 2013

My First Set of GlossyBox Goodies

After discovering them on Twitter, I have recently signed up to GlossyBox. The concept is pretty simple, for a small monthly subscription you'll receive a box of five beauty treats to test out.


GlossyBoxHalf of them are often full size, & the packaging is beautiful with the boxes themselves making lovely gifts; already making it great value in my opinion! When signing up you'll be asked to complete a beauty profile, helping them choose the right kind of products for you depending on your preferences, skin type & so on.
The brands are quite varied with both new and long-established ones and a large price range. The leaflet that comes with each box explains each product and also the cost for a full size version (if you only received a sample size, which are still fairly generous), as well as where to buy them.

So with no further ado...onto the reviews! After opening my account the July box arrived quite swiftly, which arrived in a gorgeous blue and coral summer theme. Here's what was inside...

July

Two stars1. Alterna Haircare: Bamboo Style Boho Waves Tousled Texture Mix (sample size received 25ml, full size is 125ml for £23.00)

Verdict: Smells lovely, really fresh and summery. Tried it a few times but unfortunately it didn't do much for my hair, although to be fair it my hair has been quite resistant in the past to other similar products. I did notice a slight wave to my stubbornly straight hair so I'll give it a 2 for this reason.

2. Inecto Pure Coconut Refreshing Dry Shampoo (received full size 150ml, normal price £2.49)
Verdict: I'll say straight off that dry shampoo is another of those things that doesn't get on well with my hair! I've tried a few different versions of varying prices and it never seems to end well! However if dry shampoo is a staple of yours I'd say give this stuff a go, it smells divine and much better than the Batiste stuff I think. I'll go for an even 3 for this one as it's such a bargain.

3. Ciaté Paint Pot in The Glossip (received full size 13.5ml, normal price £9.00) 
Four starsVerdict: Already a well known and quality nail brand, it's a great treat to receive a full size paint pot in such a lovely coral shade, one of my favourite colours right now. Application is nice and easy with a good consistency, and the finish is high shine and pretty chip-resistant. Only downside is you will need a good two coats to achieve a solid colour, but other than that it's a winner, 4 stars!

My two favourites from July's box; the Ciaté Paint Pot and Coola Organic Rose Essence Tint
My two favourites from July's box; the Ciaté Paint Pot and Coola Organic Rose Essence Tint

Five stars4. Coola Organic Suncare Collection: Mineral Face SPF 20 Rose Essence Tint (sample size 7ml, full size 50ml for £29.99) 
Verdict: As a member of the permanently pale crew if I find makeup products with SPF it's always a plus. The consistency of this tint is fantastic, it goes on so evenly and would blend to most skintones from Snow White to dark olive. It smells nice and also acts a very effective base for my foundation. The full size is pricey but I would definitely consider buying it, and trying the rest of their range. Love it, fully deserving of 5 stars.

Four stars5. Anatomicals Spray Misty For Me Facial Spritz (received full size 100ml, normal price £6.00) 
Verdict: Another well known brand, I've always liked Anatomicals whenever I've tried them. They have a fun image with cute designs and names, and their stuff always smells nice. This facial spritz claims to rehydrate and calm parched summer skin, and it does feel quite nice and refreshing. Probably more of a beach or travelling choice rather than for daily use unless you don't wear much makeup, else you'll be re-applying after each spray! All in all a nice little mist, if you're looking for a holiday product I'd recommend it, at a good price as well. 4 stars :)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Brands I Love: Innocent Drinks

We’ve all got our favourite brands when it comes to consumerism, it can be a preferred cereal, a trusted skincare regime, a much-loved perfume, or anything else you can imagine buying. For each of these there might be different reasons behind your favourites, you might like the company’s profile and corporate ‘personality’, you might associate a scent with someone you love, or maybe you like to relive your childhood by having Frosties each morning.

I’m no different, and I thought I would turn the spotlight on some of mine; one of many being Innocent Smoothies.

humour
I love the little quirky elements of humour they throw in
First things first: their drinks are YUM. Really, really yum! I will admit they are a bit pricey, but if I’m honest with myself this is part of the appeal they hold for me. As my Dad often likes to tell me, I tend to ‘live beyond my means’ and often opt for the more expensive brands in all areas of life!
A typical newsletter from Innocent
A typical newsletter from Innocent


I’m a big fan of their website, facebook page, and generally the online personality they have created for themselves. I signed up to their newsletter a while ago, and in an inbox inundated with newsletters and promos (I love signing up for these things as a marketing geek), theirs is one I actually make a point to open and read.

They are already quite well known for having one of the 'coolest' office spaces in London, and I'll readily admit I'd love to work there (free smoothies - who wouldn't?!). You very quickly get a real sense of the company culture at ‘fruit towers’, and by referring to each employee regularly and on a first-name basis you feel far more engaged with them, and it humanises what would otherwise be just another faceless corporation; an approach I find really refreshing and appealing.

Of course I have to mention that a huge part of their company mission is to promote environmental responsibility and sustainability, and this is something we can all relate to. They are probably one of the most ethical companies that I can think of, and it’s inspiring to think how different the world could be if other companies aspired to be more like them.
Promoting sustainability

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ethics in Advertising: The Fall and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch

“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Warren Buffet

A&F have been having a hard time of it lately, even if it is admittedly a little well-deserved. But are they just being made an example of?


timeline

It all began last month, when an interview given to Salon magazine in 2006 with their CEO Mike Jeffries resurfaced on the internet. In the space of a couple of sentences, Jeffries managed to create a PR disaster with his comments about who their products are aimed at.

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

In this interview, he’s not just publicly acknowledging the hierarchy of beauty in society, but is admitting to actively aiming A&F products at the supposed beauty elite, encouraging the exclusion of anybody who is deemed to be not attractive enough.

What makes this approach so particularly repulsive however, is that they are targeting teenagers. We would all agree from experience that your teen years can already be incredibly awkward and painful, filled with issues about your self-esteem.

It didn’t take long for his comments to go viral, sending the internet into an uproar and kick-starting a stream of reactions, from the hypocrisy of Jeffries’ statement to all-out consumer activism, led by counter-campaigns like #FitchtheHomeless.

Blogger 'The Militant Baker' addresses the CEO directly with her own ad campaign
Blogger 'The Militant Baker' addresses the CEO directly with her own ad campaign
The internet responds to Jeffries' comments... (image source: buzzfeed)
The internet responds to Jeffries' comments...


#FitchtheHomeless  (image source: evansville.com)
#FitchTheHomeless
Despite their mistakes, I don't believe A&F are any different from their competitor and numerous other retail giants. They've simply been caught off-guard and unfortunately for them, have become a scapegoat for what is an ever-present problem in the fashion industry as a whole. Other stores may not come out and say so, but if you think about the brand image associated with similar stores I'd bet you'd find the exact same target audience and exclusionary attitude.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Photography: South Africa


Zebra
These are some snaps I took whilst on holiday in South Africa last year. After saving hard for over a year my friend and I went all out and treated ourselves to two different safaris along with endless other activities, and it was well worth every penny. South Africa is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I'm already counting the days until I can return. If you ever get the chance to go there, grab it with both hands!

[Images taken at Aquila Game Reserve and Buffelsdrift Lodge]
224012_10151318719889396_3333612_n 578958_10151318725729396_1414572416_n 617054_10151318720439396_2117212593_o photo 2 485014_10151318738124396_1852680838_n 259808_10151318736254396_240619052_n 224115_10151318727449396_1230798048_n 604074_10151318741519396_693559025_n 156782_10151318732409396_200714057_n 575175_10151318722849396_1127798691_n 68442_10151318734709396_570669706_n 65334_10151318734069396_1475324184_n photo 3 Zebra

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ethics in Advertising: Twitter

Nope, that’s not intentionally an oxymoron, although it can be easily mistaken for one.

There a number of subjects that can fall under this title, none more so than social media. Marketing and advertising are often at the forefront of boundary-pushing when it comes to challenging what society deems acceptable, and this has only become more common in recent years thanks to the emergence of social media and the power of the hashtag.


#fail: When Twitter Goes Wrong

There are plenty of examples of ‘hashtags fails’, and most of the time they can end up becoming a funny spoof version of the intended response. One example of this is Waitrose, who last year launched the trend #ishopatwaitrosebecause. Instead of comments about their ethical ranges and organic meat, the majority of tweets went along the lines of this...

#ishopatwaitrosebecause nowhere else can I hear the sentence ‘Orlando, put the papaya down!'

#ishopatwaitrosebecause Clarissa’s pony simply refuses to eat ASDA value straw

#ishopatwaitrosebecause buying food amongst the commonfolk tends to ruin one’s appetite


Sometimes however, the backlash can be a little more serious. Twitter has become a very powerful source for breaking news, and incidents such as the shooting of several film-goers in Aurora, Colo., during a Batman screening begin trending within minutes. Fashion retailer CelebBoutique jumped on the bandwagon with a spectacularly inappropriate tweet:
marketing  advertising  ethics ads waitrose twitter blog tweet celebboutique
CelebBoutique's ill-advised tweet following the shootings in the USA
Their PR people quickly removed said tweet after being inundated with angry comments, and claimed that they were totally unaware of the shooting at the time of posting. There have, however, been other cases where hopping onto a trend with a bad taste tweet has been intentional, such as when President’s Choice (a Canadian supermarket) promoted their Halloween range using Hurricane Sandy:
marketing  advertising  ethics ads waitrose twitter blog tweet presidentschoice
President's Choice taking advantage of the Hurricane Sandy trend
Another more recent example is the Boston bombings, where this unwise tweeter decided to promote a golf tournament:
marketing  advertising  ethics ads waitrose twitter blog tweet golf boston bostonmarathon bostonbombing
If we look at other channels used by companies worldwide to promote their products, we would quickly discover that they have several methods in place to check and double check everything that gets sent out to ensure it stays within the brand’s guidelines. When it comes to Twitter however, and social media in general, there often doesn't seem to be much, if any, control over what is being sent out. An intern or inexperienced assistant at a huge global company can within minutes gain access to a corporate account and become responsible for that brand’s image on what is arguably the most powerful marketing channel available.

Should there be stricter controls put in place? You wouldn't see a TV ad that uses a tragedy to their advantage, so why should Twitter be any different?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Inner vs. outer (and no, I’m not referring to belly buttons)

It’s the age-old debate; inner vs. outer beauty. What matters more? We would all love to be idealistic and say inner I’m sure, but I think if we are truly honest with ourselves we would have to admit that outer is equally (if not more) important to us. Why is this?

There is a billion pound industry devoted to our appearance, and it’s going stronger than ever. In recent years there has been plenty of controversy about the impossible standards set by these companies, and it continues to drive a bigger and bigger wedge between our actual appearance and our perceptions of beauty. These companies have a lot to answer for.

There is however, at least one company who seems to be doing things differently. Dove’s ‘campaign for real beauty’ has been going for a while now, and they have already garnered plenty of praise. I don’t doubt they are reaping the benefits, but - like all truly great marketing – in these ads they are selling their products without the audience ever realising they are being sold to.
Their latest ad, courtesy of Ogilvy Brazil, is incredibly insightful and will speak to every woman who watches it. They have hired a highly-trained criminal sketch artist and asked several women to describe themselves to him. The artist then asks total strangers to describe these same women, and the differences between the two images are startling.


dove ogilvy beauty realbeauty advertising marketing brand


Watching these women’s reactions unsurprisingly forces us to examine our own self-image, and to wonder what we are basing this on.

Is this what marketing should aspire to be? Should social and moral responsibilities be just as important as the product being marketed?

They’re not just increasing their profit margins here, they are promoting positive images with a strong message about what beauty really is, and effectively they’re attempting to bring our perceptions and realities closer together. Ultimately, it’s about boosting our self-esteem. Considering the disturbing rate at which the number of reported bulimia and anorexia cases (as well as similar illnesses) has been rising, this cannot be a bad thing.

After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder – not in the pages of a glossy photoshopped magazine.

Monday, 15 April 2013

How do you market to marketers?

As marketers, we would probably all agree that after both studying and learning on the job for a few years, we each will have developed a few sure-fire tricks and techniques to help us edge up those stats, and to tailor our messages to our target audience.

But what happens when your target audience is comprised entirely of fellow marketers?

After working in marketing for a few years, you start noticing all the little trends and techniques that are emerging being used by an increasing number of companies, whether this be email personalisation/trending developments such as video, enticing keywords, how they use social media to establish a brand’s personality, a viral video etc. It’s gotten to the point that I have signed up to so many different mailing lists just to examine their email designs, that I actually ignore what they are selling to me.

It’s easy to become immune to the practices we use ourselves. So should we ‘up our game’ and try to lure and impress our peers with something shiny and new, or abandon this and go for a simple approach of sticking to the basics?

I would lean towards the latter approach personally, and think there are a few key points that would be important to stick to in order to impress a tough crowd like us...

1. Keeping it simple 
Let’s not waste time on any kind of ‘pitch’, or trying to make something appear flashy and exciting; any marketer worth their salt is going to see right through this in 3 seconds flat. This applies to any ‘buzzwords’ in the copy you’re a fan of using as well as the visual elements of the channel you are using.

2. Tailoring the message 
I think the key point here is to go straight to the core benefits of what you are selling. “You want this; here’s why and how it can help you.” Short and sweet is likely to be the most successful approach because you are probably only going to have a timeframe of up to 10 seconds to grab their attention. No gimmicks, no long intros.

3. Using testimonials 
This is probably one of the few age-old reliable tools that may be appropriate to use. Most of us would agree that testimonials can be a powerful way to enhance your message; you only need to look at the power of review sites like tripadvisor to know the clout it can have. A couple of honest and glowing reports from an industry peer I respect would certainly make me pay more attention to the product, and to explore how it could benefit me.

4. Targeting and choosing the right channel 
In this situation, you are in the unique position of genuinely knowing your target audience; because you are one of them. It will go without saying that the majority of marketers are going to be present and quite active on a range of social media sites, so take the time to think about exactly who you want to reach (assistants, CMOs, heads of marketing and so on) and pick the most appropriate channel to reach them. For example, some of these people are going to be using Twitter a lot, whereas someone more senior may have developed a following on LinkedIn and will participate regularly in group discussions there.

5. Quality over quantity is the golden rule
If any one of your potential customers catch even a whiff of spam or rambling copy, they will probably head swiftly to the ‘delete’ button followed by a short trip to the unsubscribe/unfollow; and while this is true for any audience, the key difference with marketers is that it’s going to have what I refer to as the ‘elephant effect’: they will never forget. We are trained to pay more attention and once a brand gets into our bad books, they are likely to stay there.

A great example of marketing to marketers are hubspot; a fantastic online resource for marketers. They frequently publish relevant and useful tips as well as free, downloadable guides. I signed up to them a while ago and have noticed they stick a straightforward style. An email will arrive and be titled accurately to reflect what they are sending you; ‘[category] what you can get for free’. For e.g. ‘[Tool kit] Creating Visual Content’.
hubspot marketing
A typical email from hubspot
The email itself is uncomplicated with an overtly clear call to action, usually accompanied with a couple of key highlights from the download and social media sharing options... and that’s it! It’s a great model that I believe is just as applicable to a paid product as a free one.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? I’d be interested to see if anyone has any examples, good or bad.