21 Brands Capitalizing On Star Wars Mania

This week sees the much anticipated release of the next Star Wars film – The Force Awakens.

Star Wars is a ubiquitous brand. Merchandising includes everything from pets clothing to spoons. The next instalment already looks like being a guaranteed box office hit. No wonder plenty of brands are eager to associate their products with the world’s most successful movie franchise.

So, here they are. 21 brands capitalizing on Stars Wars mania. See their Twitter posts below:

5 Reasons “Spare the Act” Is My Favourite Christmas Ad Of 2015

Do you have a favourite Christmas ad of 2015?

There’s certainly been some memorable Christmas ads this year. John Lewis’ #ManOnTheMoon campaign is generating an unprecedented level of social media attention. The retailer’s festive ads are now something of a tradition. Although not yet on a par with the likes of mince pies and Christmas pudding.

The success of John Lewis’ 2015 Christmas ad campaign is unquestionable. At 21 million views on YouTube, it’s on course to exceed 26 million for the retailer’s 2014 ad #MontyThePenguin.

Given its success, the ad has been the subject of plenty of spoofs across social media. This has also extended to TV. We’ve even seen Aldi the German discount supermarket taking on John Lewis directly in the “Battle of the Man on the Moon ads”. It’s said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. But for all its attention, this year’s John Lewis ad is by no means my favourite. Why?

John Lewis ads are synonymous with emotional appeal. Exceptionally produced, we have come to accept the retailer as the “Master of the emotional ad”. A great narrative, strong on emotion and a partnership with an associated charity. This is a successful formula. However, I prefer to go for something a little different.

A few other ads made my shortlist. Including Sainsbury’s Christmas narrative “Mog’s Christmas Calamity”. Based on the character created by well-renowned author and illustrator Judith Kerr.

In the ad, Mog causes all sorts of chaos in the Thomas family household. It looks as though Mog will ruin Christmas for the entire family. But friends and neighbours pull together to save the day. The ad delivers a strong message of “Christmas is for sharing”. Coincidently, it strikes a chord given how people are currently pulling together in flood torn parts of Northern England.

So, what’s my favourite Christmas ad of 2015? It has to be Currys PC World, featuring Hollywood star Jeff Goldblum.

Here are my 5 reasons why:

# 1. There are five ads over the festive period. Ok, so my favourite ad is a series of ads. However, unlike John Lewis with the one “big hitter” Currys PC World ads work because they look at the same theme but in different ways. This helps to make sure that viewers do not become bored or lose interest in the ads in the run up to Christmas.


Ad 1: “TURKEY”

#2. Using celebrity endorsement is always a risk with any ad. Fortunately for Currys PC World, Jeff Goldblum is just perfect. In all of the five ads he dramatizes the insight that there will be times when you have to act to keep the Christmas spirit. His role delivers on humour and is what we would expect from the Hollywood A-lister.




Ad 3: “MOVIES”

#3. The ad presents a clear problem – receiving an unwanted gift. Something most of us can relate to! The solution – An electrical product from Currys PC World. The aim is to evoke an emotional response. Unlike #ManOnTheMoon it doesn’t pull on the emotional heartstrings. But the intention is to induce a different kind of emotion – reflection and some might say fear. Reflecting on receiving unwanted Christmas gifts of the past. And fear of giving an unwanted gift this Christmas.

#4. For the ad to work, customers need to have faith in the product. Quality products are named in the ads thereby delivering a message that Currys PC World has the perfect solution to the unwanted Christmas gift.


Ad 4: “JIGSAW”

#5. Lastly, the Currys PC World “Spare the Act” ad is original. It stands out from the rest of the Christmas offerings this year. These are the reasons why “Spare the Act” is my favourite Christmas ad of 2015. Do you agree? Let me know what you think in the comments.




The Brand Name That’s All About Laughter

  • What’s your favourite funny brand name? 

I have my own collection of amusing personal favourites. This hilarity is usually a result of the brand name having a different meaning in another language.

Earlier this week a new funny brand name made the news – The Indian Sportswear range called “Spunk”. Not a problematic name in markets outside the UK.  Although in British English Spunk is used as a slang word for semen. Ok, this raised more of a smile than a laugh, but funny nonetheless.

Why do we continue to see hilarious brand names in different languages?

There are two key reasons for this. First, some brands may not have international aspirations. Quite simply, there is no need to adopt a name for other languages if the focus is on the domestic market. Second, it can partly be put down to a lack of market research. A lack of research results in failure to understand the language and culture of international markets.

Choosing a brand name is certainly no easy task. Successful brand names tend to be meaningful, represent the core values of a company, are easy to pronounce and translate well into different languages.

My research into China’s leading brands hasn’t found what I would call a funny brand name. However, there is one Chinese brand name that has laughter at its core – the Hangzhou based Chinese brand “Wahaha”. The largest beverage brand in China.  To give it its full company name – Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. Ltd.

The likelihood is that you’ve never heard of Wahaha. This is because it’s still mainly focused on the Chinese domestic market. Wahaha definitely doesn’t have the same level of awareness outside China as Lenovo or Alibaba. Yet, what it does have is a great brand name that has the potential to travel well. Here are the reasons why:


1. Wahaha means “Laughing Child” in Chinese. The name combines the character for baby (Wa) with the sound of laughter. This is a meaningful name given that the company provides clothing for kids, produces dairy drinks, juices, infant food and healthcare products.

2. The name is distinctive and helps Wahaha to stand out from its competitors.

3. Wahaha uses alliteration to good effect. Alliteration is a grammatical term meaning two or more words in a row starting with the same sounds. The brand uses this alliterative effect to make sure that their name is memorable.

4. Wahaha also uses onomatopoeia. This means a word that sounds like the sound of the object it is describing. In this case, the “Wahaha” sound is like that of the object it is describing – a laughing child. Mandarin relies on onomatopoeia for laughter: 哈哈, pronounced hā hā.

5. When Wahaha decides to step up its internationalisation, fortunately it has a brand name that is likely to travel well as it’s easy to pronounce and has a “fun element”.

6. The name is unique and easily recognisable.

So, although China’s leading brands may not have a funny brand name, there is one “Laughing brand name” that works particularly well – Wahaha.


26 Interesting Facts About Chinese Brands

How much do you know about Chinese brands?

According to research conducted by Millward Brown, only 6% of US consumers and 14% of British ones can name a Chinese brand.

Millward Brown’s research took place in 2013. Some of China’s leading brands have made huge strides since then.

However, I’ve asked the “Can you name a Chinese Brand?” question many times and found that most people still struggle to name one or two. Clearly, lack of brand awareness remains an issue for Chinese brands, particularly in Western markets.

My intention with this post is to make a small contribution to increasing Chinese brand awareness. Below I’ve put together a list of 26 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Chinese brands. Some of them might surprise you!


1. The total brand value of the top 100 Chinese Brands is $464.2 billion.


2. Four out of the top 10 of China’s most valuable brands are banks – China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, ICBC and Bank of China.


3. China’s most valuable brand in 2015 is the tech brand Tencent. Achieving 95% year-on-year growth on 2014.


4. Tsingtao is the best-selling Chinese beer in the U.S.




5. The London Taxi Company (makers of the famous Black Cab) is owned by the Chinese brand Geely.    


6. Geely is also the parent company of Volvo.      


7. Chinese tech brand Tencent developed the messaging app WeChat. It’s also the most popular app in China.      


8. Jack Ma is the founder of China’s e-commerce firm Alibaba Group and has a net worth of £24 billion.   



9. China’s telecoms giant Huawei has contributed £956m to UK GDP since 2012 and supports 7,400 jobs.


10. The founder of Chinese sports brand Li-Ning is a renowned world-class gymnast with 106 medals and two World Cup championships.


11. Huawei and Lenovo are the only Chinese brands to make Interbrand’s 2015 list of the top 100 Global Brands.


12. In a survey conducted by the Center for International Communication Studies of China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration, the Charhar Institute, and Millward Brown they found that consumers in the developing countries know more about Chinese brands than those in developed countries.


13. In the same study above, Lenovo was named as the most well-known Chinese brand.


14. Lenovo is the number one in worldwide PC sales.


15. Xiaomi is the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker.



16. China Mobile has the world’s largest mobile network and the world’s largest mobile customer base.


17. On Singles Day in China this year (11/11/15), the e-commerce brand Alibaba Group’s Singles’ Day sales reached $14.3 billion.


18. Chinese brand Anta is the world’s 4th largest sportswear brand.


19. In 2012 Anta sold more than 32 million pairs of shoes.


20. Chinese sports brand Li-Ning sponsors leading Croatian tennis player Marin Cilic.


21. Sina Weibo is a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter. It is often referred to as the “Chinese Twitter” and has 212 million monthly users.


22. Haier is the world’s number one Global Major appliances brand.


23. China’s ZTE Corporation is one of the top 10 smartphone manufacturers in the world.


24. Chinese tech brand Xiaomi, means “little rice” or “millet” in English.


25. Founded in 1983, the Great Wall brand is China’s largest wine enterprise.


26. In 2012, Ren Zhengfei, Huawei CEO and founder announced a £1.3 billion investment and procurement plan for the UK.


5 Reasons for Bringing a Suggestion Box to Your Classroom

Do you really know what your students think about your teaching?

In the UK, every year nearly half a million final year undergraduate students complete the National Student Survey. The survey has 23 questions and asks students their opinions on their chosen university course. Questions focus on the learning experience and student satisfaction. Emphasis is very much on satisfaction at course level.

The National Student Survey is one of several evaluation tools used by universities to collect student opinions. Other examples include module evaluation forms, focus groups and student meetings. All of these have their merits. But being ‘evaluation tools’ they tend to take place towards the end of a course or module.

What about asking students for their suggestions earlier? This allows an educator to make changes for the benefit of an existing cohort. I’ve found that a Suggestion Box is an ideal way of doing this. Unlike large-scale surveys, it’s straightforward to implement and gives feedback that is personal to you.

I recently introduced a Suggestion Box as part of my own teaching. Students offered some excellent suggestions, particularly in terms of content and delivery. I’ve now introduced some of their ideas into future teaching sessions.

Introducing a Suggestion Box

It’s simple enough to make your own Suggestion Box. I use an old cardboard box! Place the box at the front of the classroom and invite students to drop their completed suggestion cards into the box. Inviting students to do this is a good way to check for 100% class participation.

Questions to include on your suggestion cards

The following questions capture all the information you need:

What are you enjoying about the course/module?

What would you like to see covered in the course/module?

Any other comments:

These questions are easy for students to answer. They are all you need to find out what students think about your teaching. Also, they give the qualitative feedback you want to reflect on your own teaching delivery.

Here are 5 reasons why you should bring a Suggestion Box to your classroom:

1. Time to make changes

Introducing a Suggestion Box mid-way through a course or module allows time to make changes. Typically, the suggestions you receive from students can easily be implemented during their course/module.

2. Student Anonymity

Although surveys are often anonymous, placing a card inside a box clearly reinforces that fact that the task is anonymous. If you were to collect questionnaires from students, this would not promote the same level of anonymity.

3. Control over implementation and analysis

Organising and implementing your own Suggestion Box allows greater control. The whole process is very easy to do. From the point of making the box through to reading the suggestions, time spent should take no more than half a day.

4. Focus on qualitative feedback and suggestions

The benefit of suggestion cards is that they are simple for students to understand. They take little time to complete and give qualitative feedback. Conversely, large-scale surveys tend to focus on quantitative measures of student satisfaction and take time to administer.

Qualitative feedback is great for finding out reasons ‘behind the numbers’ but doesn’t receive the same level of attention in surveys. Why? Because it’s quantitative metrics that are included in universiy league tables!

5. An important part of being a reflective teacher

A Suggestion Box is an excellent way to find out what your students really think about your teaching. It’s easy to carry out and makes a change from the traditional survey method.

Being a reflective teacher is an important part of striving to be a better teacher. Asking your students for suggestions by bringing a Suggestion Box to your classroom will allow you to reflect on your own teaching delivery. It offers valuable insights and is a refreshing change from typical large-scale surveys implemented at University level.

Undertaking a Marketing Dissertation? Consider Essentials of Business Research

The intention of this blog is to share my thoughts on marketing with marketing educators, students and practitioners. However, for this first post I thought it would be useful to provide information on my textbook: Essentials of Business Research – A Guide to Doing Your Research Project.

This second edition is the ideal companion if you are undertaking a research project. Although the main focus of the topics are written specifically for business students, marketing examples feature throughout the book.

Essentials of Business Research is jargon-free, highlights each stage of the research process, guiding the reader through actionable steps and explicitly setting out how best to meet a supervisor’s expectations.

I have intentionally made the second edition easy to navigate and full of practical advice.

Key student features include:
•’You’re the Supervisor’ sections – helps students to meet learning objectives
•’Common questions and answers’ – real-world advice on how to tackle common challenges
•Examples from different types of international businesses
•Detailed guidance on software packages such as SPSS
•Student case studies
•Annotated further reading

Essentials of Business Research is accompanied by a fully integrated companion website designed to support learning. Free to access, it includes author podcasts, guides to online tools, links to downloadable journal articles, examples of completed projects, PowerPoint slides and students’ multiple choice questions to test progress.