5 GDPR habits every marketer should adopt…now

I’ve got a lot of names for GDPR, but they’re not accurate, definitely not savoury and, more to the point, won’t prevent the clock from striking midnight on Friday 25th May. So, I’ll keep my opinions to myself. 

What I do know is that six months ago I accidentally volunteered myself to become the ‘GDPR champion’ (spoiler alert: no pom-poms are big enough to take this task on) for my charity’s Marketing and Communications department – and I’ve learnt to tolerate enjoy the difficult questions teams are asking me about the Information Commissioner’s Office‘s (ICO) changing law.

But, with its website intermittently crashing as businesses big and small attempt to untangle the subjective jargon, it’s no surprise that confusion looms around what it actually means for consumers and businesses – forcing the organisation to plan more effective awareness campaigns, starting with ‘Your Data Matters‘.

Your Data Matters poster


Robert Parker, Head of Communications for the ICO, recently admitted to PR Week that he has a challenge on his hands to land this message (that individuals are in the control of their data and the ICO is there if they’re in any doubt that an organisation is following the rules) with a limited budget. But, has enough been done to prepare businesses first and foremost?

The ICO partnered with the Federation of Small Businesses earlier this year, targeting companies with 10 or fewer employees, to encourage them to raise the bar when it comes to data protection. But, there’s little evidence to suggest they’re now feeling comfortable and confident with the upcoming changes.

The ‘Making Data Protection Your Business‘ campaign used radio adverts to drive website traffic, where employers could watch videos and download FAQs. But, surely if it were that simple, no one would have anything to worry about in the first place?

I’m by no means an expert (but then again, all the GDPR experts I seem to have worked with like to admit they’re not either, very early on into the relationship). But, here are my five quick-fire tips for all marketers (yes, that includes you) to clearly demonstrate how you’re taking personal accountability to protect personal data – handling it with care and respect at all times:

  • Don’t save personal and / or special category data on your desktop

From case studies and films to consent forms and contact details, these elements enable us to identify individuals. Always save documentation in your server folders opposed to desktop and personal drives. 

  • Don’t email attachments containing personal and / or special category data

This enables people to save, share and edit their own versions of the documentation. Instead, provide links to files from your server, so teams can work from one true copy. If you do need to send email attachments, ensure the document is password protected.

  • Check if your email content is appropriate for the recipient

Before forwarding emails, check the full content of the email (to ensure it doesn’t contain any personal and / or special category data). If it does, sense check whether the intended recipient should receive this information. If in doubt, check or omit. 

  • Ensure your data collection touch points outline how data will be used and stored 

From webforms to event brochures, if you’re asking for an individual’s details, you must use clear wording that informs them how their data will be stored, used and handled – with links to your organisation’s privacy policy for the #longread details. 

  • Only use personal data you have been given in the way that it was intended

If you’re processing data given to you by a third party (e.g. beneficiary, influencer, ambassador etc.), you can only use it in the way it was originally intended. For example, if you are given a private postal address to order a taxi, you cannot use that address to send communications unless you have explicit consent. Verbal consent is appropriate (and should be recorded), but written consent is better.

SpongeBob SquarePants runs riot
SpongeBob SquarePants runs riot

Friday 25th May is just the beginning. And, like Robert mentions, different strands of the ICO’s education campaign will be rolled out over the coming years.

We’re all on the same journey.  But, if you can make the five points above a habit now, you, your department and your Data Protection Officer will thank you in the future. 

Corona encourages consumers to take time off

The sun’s out and I’ve spent the day ‘chilling’ in an air-conditioned office looking relentlessly through my calendar for opportunities to plan my next day off (and wondering if it’s acceptable to spend at least three quarters of it catching up on sleep).

And when I do book my time off, I’ll leave absolutely no thought whatsoever to my out of office. Why? Because people who do this tend to, in my eyes, be slightly irritating with a wry sense of humour that makes me eye-roll so much that I get a headache.

But, rather than disregard the humble Microsoft Outlook auto-reply, beer brand Corona is viewing it as an ‘untapped’ opportunity to encourage the UK to relax.

The campaign – aptly and unapologetically named Wooohooo – was developed after research found that 40% of UK adults feel guilty about taking time off and almost a third take less than half of their annual holiday allowance.

Maybe because almost half said that when they were away their workplace expected them to be available at all times.

I can’t have been the only one who felt utterly grateful after reading these statistics to work for an organisation that has a positive attitude and warm culture towards time off. So, no wonder it inspired Corona to take its appreciation to the next level by creating an out of office generator and social media assets to encourage employees to switch off and relax.

By logging onto the very swish flash-based microsite, you can be served up an auto reply at random or create one of your own.

From ‘Work schmerk until D/M/Y’ and ‘On a holiday I’ll want to relive over and over again. Back at my desk D/M/Y’ to even ‘Can this wait? Got to get seawater out of my ear. Back in the office D/M/Y’ – you set your dates and are speedily shared a GIF that you can post direct to your Gmail, Outlook or direct to your inbox for use across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Corona's inspirational out of office
It’s a fun, light and breezy campaign which not only gives the brand a data capture opportunity, but produces content for a social brand that hasn’t posted on Twitter for over a month and over half a year on Facebook since launching last week. (I hope it’s not taking advice from JD Wetherspoon.)

With large social numbers but a significantly disengaged audience due to its intermittent communications, and no paid advertising that I can see of at present, it’s a shame to think that this creative idea may have belly flopped into the pool, rather than dived with grace. The issue is that the brand has some really credible research under its belt which consumers can identify with (I need a holiday), but have solely attached it to a problem which people have a desire to resolve (I will book a holiday), leaving the brand to get lost in the crossfire (what do I need to drink on holiday again?)

As a result, the campaign positions itself as one worthy of a ‘nod’ of respect, but little action. After all, it takes big incentives to encourage people to change their social profiles with third party messaging at the drop of a hat.

A free five-star holiday, round-the-world trip or a free case of beer for every day of the summer might have been a place to start to drive comments, likes and shares around these posts – rather than the brand reviving its channels with one hero video.

With another Bank Holiday around the corner, all is not lost for Corona to right its wrongs. But, if you want people to enjoy their holidays, and associate your brand as the one that put them there, it’ll take more than some shareable social assets. Start with the sangria next time. Cheers!

Brands bark for Year of the Dog

Finally a calendar date that truly speaks to me: Year of the Dog, baby!

I haven’t given my friends such a good laugh since the time I told them that my ‘plan B’ is to become a professional dog walker, groomer and hospitality entrepreneur (in that order) because it’d do wonders for my positive wellbeing. Logical, right? Our conversation went a little something like this:

 “How can you have a connection with dogs if you’ve never had your own?”

 “Well, I just smile at them when I’m running through the park and we sort of get each other.”

Cue laughter followed by short, sudden and sharp change of subject.

So, I write this blog, in celebration of Chinese New Year, in ‘plan A’ mode (digital marketing extraordinaire). So, if only to appeal to my penchant for pooches, it seems right that I share with you some of the biggest and best brand takeovers that shine a light on Year of the Dog.


Radley's Year of the Dog capsule collection

Luxury accessories brand Radley doesn’t do things by halves. So, is it really any surprise it’s creating a 10ft tall Scottie dog to celebrate the occasion this Sunday in Covent Garden, in celebration of its latest capsule collection featuring red leather and gold foil fabrics?

Handing out red envelopes containing shopping prizes, consumers are also being encouraged to share photos on social media using the #YearOfTheRadley hashtag for a chance to unlock even more goodies.

Radley’s not the only designer in town cashing in on the festivities. Almost every high-end brand (and their dog) is getting in on the action. Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton have both perfected a pooch collection too. Adorable and fun, the latter’s ‘New Year, New Tricks‘ collection is particularly classic, classy and timeless.


TWG Teas

According to the zodiac, those born this year are deemed to have serious and responsible characteristics. But, it’s not all prosperity and fortune. So, it makes sense to encourage those affected to slow down and have a nice cuppa to take it all in.

TWG Tea has launched its first Haute Couture Tea called The Breakfast Bulldog, which has sweet notes of red berries and caramel; best paired with eggs and bacon (apparently). Starting from $40, it’s definitely an investment.

Giorgio Armani

Armani Beauty Highlighter

It doesn’t hurt to step out the door feeling dog-gone good, does it? Which is why Armani Beauty has launched a limited edition Chinese New Year highlighter powder palette to mark the festive year of love and light.

Drawing upon the fact that dogs represent the best traits of human nature (steady now!) – loyalty, honesty and sociability – this dog embossed nude powder will empower you to face the day.

It’s great to see so many high-end labels take this calendar opportunity seriously, linked to a healthy and prosperous Asian market. Making bespoke collections is one thing, but choosing to invest in marketing campaigns and assets makes these examples really stand out.

What was your favourite Year of the Dog PR stunt? Leave a comment or tweet me on @dmhwhite.

Time To Talk Day: 3 brand campaigns that shout the loudest

It’s Time To Talk Day, a movement that shines a spotlight on the benefits of talking openly about mental health – and it’s never been more relevant.

It arrives just days after The Prince’s Trust launched its annual Youth Index report that revealed that young people’s happiness and confidence are at their lowest levels since the series began nine years ago, with one in four 16 to 25 year-olds feeling trapped and not in control of their lives.

Working within the youth charity’s digital marketing team, it’s a project that I’m proud to see my colleagues get behind and come up with creative ways to not only secure the headlines, but also communicate the positive success stories of how young people have found ways not to be defined by their past. But, rather, ‘owning’ their future with our support.

This year we worked with Hand Coded Studio to launch The Trust’s first ever Youth Index ‘Buzzfeed’ style quiz (it features emojis so I obviously signed it off right away) to engage young people to get beneath the statistics by answering questions about their current attitudes to their life and work. But, as this is part of our organisation’s everyday thought leadership exercise, what’s been even better is seeing multiple companies embrace this topic to inspire a culture shift in the way we approach positive wellbeing this ‘#FinallyFebruary‘ day.

Here’s a round-up of three of the best stand out #TimeToTalk campaign marketing highlights. Did you clock them?

PG tips (Cheap and cheerful, but effective)

The family tea brand has taken its iconic red and green brand colours to create an image of two mugs together (with the handles creating a heart ), while encouraging people to ‘pop the kettle on’ and ‘invite someone for a cuppa’ to start changing lives.

Simple, honest and true, it’s a credible (not to mention cost-effective) marketing opportunity for a brand synonymous with taking a step back, breathing in and talking things through. Bravo!

PG tips gets people talking

Everyman Cinema (CSR was never meant to be easy)

The Everyman brand knows how to do good cinema. It’s an experience from start to finish and not just because there’s no popcorn rolling around on the floor, sticky carpets and a talkative teenager on the back row.

So, it was a surprise to read that the Islington branch has taken the decision not to screen any films today, opting people to come into the cinema to talk instead. It’s a bold statement for any company to not do the one thing it’s known to be good at. I hope it has a positive impact across the chain (both internally and externally), motivating them to do more stunts in this space. A highly commendable effort!

Everyman Cinema bans movies

Lloyds Bank TV advert (Probably impossible without the support of Channel 4)

Featuring celebrity ambassadors (Professor Green, Alex Brooker and Rachel Riley to name a few), staff and members of the public playing ‘Who Am I?’, it’s no coincidence that this raw Diversity in Advertising award-winning advert (which complements the banking brand’s ‘By Your Side’ slogan) debuts on ‘Time to Talk’ Day, exploring the misconceptions of non-visible disabilities.

The campaign, which runs across the All 4 portfolio from this evening, is a stark reminder that everyone is affected (directly or indirectly) by mental health and that we all need to be comfortable and capable of maturely talking about these subjects if we’re going to lift others up. Well executed by Adam & Eve/DDB.

How do these tweets, adverts and stunts make you feel? Look around and see what your favourite brands are doing to put you first today.

If you spot some more examples, tweet me at @dmhwhite.

Airbnb positively invests in Trump’s outrageous remarks

If you weren’t impressed by Airbnb’s 2017 Super Bowl advertising spot, which demonstrated clear solidarity (and if not, why not?), then you should be ‘bowled over’ by its quick reactive PR and marketing stunt to further promote worldwide acceptance off the back of Trump’s recent distasteful and disgusting remarks about some American, Caribbean and African nations.


Why? Because Airbnb is investing $100,000+ on digital advertising to showcase the wonderful homes, communities and attractions El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya and Ghana have to offer – countries that have accounted for over 2.7m guests, staying in more than 75,000 rental properties, of which generated $170m in revenue last year.

It’s a beautiful piece of reactive digital marketing that shows once again why this innovative brand is not afraid to stick its stake in the ground and get political. After all, its #WeAccept Super Bowl ad spot was a direct response to the President’s travel ban – which saw tens of thousands of people affected.


So, when the s!*+ hits the fan, Airbnb felt that the only option was to go above and beyond to recognise these areas as ‘go-to destinations’.

It’s a bold approach that will not only denote these beautiful places to a global audience (via media channels such as the Washington Post and CNN), but also champion the communities that live there; empowering them to feel proud. Something everyone should have the right to experience.

“We heard there’s been some expletive-filled interest in these beautiful destinations” is the copy that will spearhead the campaign, while using glorious imagery of some properties. A few have already been cherry-picked by Airbnb’s chief executive Brian Chesky; suggesting that this is a top-down initiative which only adds to the authenticity of the project.

 A stance such as this can only blur, tarnish and weaken Trump’s (meaningless) soundbite. No, it won’t change his thoughts or impact his position. But, it will help restore the balance that the world is desperate to see.

He is one man. He does not speak for the majority. He does not speak for me. We will enjoy our world and the wonders it has to offer – by renting a unique nearby home or otherwise.

‘Even the Pope needs marketing support’ and four other digital updates

Hey, how are you doing? Done much over the past five months?

I’m afraid I wouldn’t know because, unfortunately, I’ve been hiding under my digital marketing desk (pretending to have it all together during the 9-5) and, as a result, I’ve not had / made time for my WordPress whirlpool of escapism – and, for that, I’m truly sorry.

I feel like a baby blogger all over again. So, to help shake off my stabilisers, I’m going to share the top five things I’ve learnt today as I get my head back into the likes of PR Week, The Drum, Campaign Live and JustGiving:

Even The Pope doesn’t have time to do his own comms strategy ⛪️
It’s not just me then. Although, I doubt I’d even match up to the budgets Pope Francis has, which has allowed him to hire Accenture Interactive as the Vatican’s global experience agency.

With the task of streamlining communications, by unifying its outlets to feed through a single, new portal: Vatican News, the team will also be responsible for creating a team that can carry his vision forward.

You have to hand it to Pope Francis who is having no problem paving the way for change, as he recognises that digital is not a choice, but more of a requirement in order to remain relevant. He’s moving quicker than some organisations, which are still attempting to detangle their web of red tape that prevents them from embracing new, cost- efficient processes.

Public Health England (PHE) gets young people emoji-nal with STI prevention campaign
Its first sexual health campaign in eight years, Ogilvy UK and Durex is helping PHE prevent young people from contracting STIs this Christmas – by featuring authentic case studies across Instagram and Snapchat in a unique video format with popular emojis to protect their identity.

With almost half of young people (47%) admitting that they didn’t use a condom the first time they had sex, this raw messaging aims to create a culture shift among Gen X. Take a look for yourself:

Twitter teams with Bloomberg to create TicToc, because time is running out for this platform
TicToc unites the expertise of Bloomberg’s news curation with Twitter’s distribution for a mobile, ‘on the go’ audience.

Through video, data and graphics, users will experience global and breaking news options in ‘snackable’ formats that are updated every hour.

I’ll stick to BBC News notifications for now, and continue to use Twitter for the real value it adds: comedy commentary on the news, thanks to the lists of people I’ve created to stay on track.

Facebook confirms that social media puts us in a bad mood. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it
In a blog post called Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad For Us?, researchers from the University of Michigan found that people who read the site for 10mins a day are worse off than those who use the platform to interact with friends.

What’s more, other university academics found that those who like twice as many posts than the average user had worse mental health. So, Mark Zuckerberg has pledged do more to support the billions of people who use its site to improve their positivity – including a snooze button to give people the option to avoid updates from individuals for a fixed time. Gee, thanks!

So, now I can avoid my ex’s eye-rolling cousin as she snaps her way through Christmas Day, and Facebook saves me from unfriending. Happy days.

Tony the Tiger gets lonely on the supermarket shelves, so moves onto cereal cafés instead

Tony the Tiger is on a mission.
The word on the latest sales reports is that no one is buying cereal anymore, let alone premium brands like Kellogg’s. But, this 111-year old brand won’t be beaten just yet. In fact, it’s opening a new cereal café in Manhattan, featuring an Instagram station with props to help customers get the best from their soggy cereal shots.

Getting to the heart of the cereal experience, the company aims to create a stronger emotional connection with its customer base – reminding them of why a box, bowl, cereal, spoon and some cold milk is one of the most satisfying meals you can enjoy.

So, there you have it. What’s new with you and your digital innovations?

Flag them to me and they could feature in the next blog post – coming soon. I promise.

Five ways to grow support with user-generated content

Every charity needs good content to help it stand out from the crowd. It gives you creative licence to persuade people to donate, buy or connect.

But, digital marketing teams no longer need to scramble for news to push out. Not if they have a decent advocacy plan in place which encourages supporters to do the storytelling for them.

User-generated content (UGC) is now the key to growing support and unlocking long-term loyalty. If this is new to you, here’s how you can start to unpick the lock:

Prince's Trust Uncut

1. Start with your colleagues

Are they active on social media? Are they following you? Are they shouting about how great the organisation is on their own channels? If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, perhaps they just need to be reminded.

Use your internal comms to start the conversation (particularly using colleagues who work on the front line and see lots of exciting things that you don’t) or revisit your social media policies to see how people can get involved.

2. Ask your audiences what they think

People like to be asked their opinion. So why not involve supporters by asking questions or setting them challenges to share quotes, memories, images and videos that will raise your profile?

Social media polls on Twitter and Facebook are also good tools to generate extra news hooks to give your content a twist.

3. Be our guest (blogger)

Your website is a powerful resource, but it relies on a steady flow of topical, relevant and evergreen content to keep people coming back.

Don’t put that pressure on yourself; open up your news section to involve third party ‘views’ from supporters, partners and industry experts.

This doesn’t have to involve putting pen to paper either. Experiment with podcast, video diaries and infographics.

4. Don’t post and run

In a wildly busy team, it’s tempting to post your tweet or Instagram and then walk away.

But, the job isn’t finished when you tap publish. Make sure you invest in new followers, as well as those who like, share and comment.

Remember, you own a brand that they want to know more about – which means you’ve got the power to make someone’s day by replying.

5. Give UGC an identity

From developing a hashtag to creating a unique brand concept for your UGC, you’ll remind people that it’s something you welcome and celebrate – and you’ll start to receive more in return.

It’s an approach The Prince’s Trust has recently embraced with its new ‘Uncut’ series. We’ve introduced a video and image stamp to show when a member of our community has created something really special.

Prince's Trust Uncut

We realised that although our team is epic at creating award-winning content, more frequently we were seeing great videos from our community which get to the heart of our values.

They were raw, authentic and inspiring stories told in a completely different way. So, rather than say ‘that’s not how we do things around here’, we decided to secure more of them.

Followers are great for our ego, but advocates have a far better impact.

Advocates care. They’re modern-day champions who are more willing to read emails, sign up to events and pledge donations when you really need them to take action.

So what are you waiting for? Grow your advocacy army today.

This article first appeared on JustGiving – the place where inspiring stories, insights, tips and tools are shared to help charities reach more people, inspire more action and raise more money.

What can Shazam’s charity collab teach us about marketing partnerships?

The Zoella’s, Sprinkle of Glitter’s and Thatcher Joe’s may be top the influencer scale this year. But, with technology moving at a rapid pace, how long is it until we place our interests, opinions and trust in Artificial Intelligence (AI) instead? 

Siri, Alexa and Google Home are all brilliant at telling us the time, weather forecast and nearest curry house. Yet, it’s just a matter of time until brands strategically leverage these gadgets’ profiles to influence us.    

Arguably, this has already begun to occur – and it’s great to see UK charity Alzheimer’s Research get in their early through music app Shazam.

Working with Innocean Worldwide UK, it launched ‘The Day That Shazam Forgot‘ to educate young people that Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease reserved for older generations. With 65,000 people under 40 living with the condition in the UK, it prompted people to find out more and donate to show their support. Alzheimer's Research teamed up with ShazamTaking over the app’s interface, users were made to believe Shazam had forgotten the song in question, serving up lines such as ‘I’m sure I know this one…’ and ‘I just can’t quite…’. This was then followed up with subtle advertising to drive people to a landing page on the website.

It’s a great idea that delivered a high number of impressions and click-throughs in a short space of time. But, the fact that the reports on AdWeek and Campaign fail to outline the number of donations raised as a direct result of this marketing stunt leaves me feeling deflated.

As an industry, marketers (myself included before you think I’m preaching on a sunny Sunday) need to take more responsibility for delivering tangible, impactful and business-changing results. KPIs focused on impressions, visits and cost per click distances marketing from ‘real’ objectives – and charities cannot afford to work in silos any longer

Saying ‘I only have to bring people to the donation page, whether they choose to give or not isn’t my remit’ won’t work for much longer. 

Why? Because without tangible results, PR, digital and marketing departments aren’t truly understanding their supporters’ needs and budgets simply won’t increase. It’s in everyone’s interest to take this seriously.

This might mean agencies working with third-parties like Shazam to take their brand partnership one level further and – for a short time – completely changing the dynamic of the app; giving Shazam a heart to promote the cause itself (offering authenticity and credibility) rather than offering a standard advertising package. 

Now that would really be something to talk about.

There’ll be plenty more opportunities in the future for apps to surprise us. The question, is will you be able to tell when they’re pushing a brand-led agenda?

Chuck E. Cheese needs some digital crackers to give its autism initiative some bite

Occasionally you can count on a mouse to the right thing. And, America’s Chuck E. Cheese‘s restaurant chain dedicating the first Sunday of the month to sensory play, for children with autism, is both morally and reputationally good. 

Launching in time for World Autism Awareness Day last month, the organisation took a customer’s request to heart when she asked if her local branch would be willing to open earlier for her autistic nephew. 

By dimming the lights, switching off the music and unplugging its animatronic stage show two hours before its official opening time, the restaurant was able to transform into a suitable environment for children who face sensory challenges. 
 Chuck E. Cheese introduces Sensory Sensitive Sundays 

And it worked so well, after a series of regional pilots, Chuck E. Cheese is now taking a bite out of this big initiative. 

So, not only has the brand positioned itself as an organisation that listens (willing to evolve to meet customers’ needs), but also capitalised on this mass-market opportunity by catering for the 3.5m  people in the U.S. who are on the spectrum.

Now, this may sound a little cheesy, but isn’t that the type of company you’d like to associate with? 

It’s not just having an impact on the organisation’s bottom line, but the feel-good fever is spreading to staff too, who are embracing relevant training to enhance performance and service – another good sign that Chuck E. Cheese is taking this seriously. 

So, with customers sharing positive feedback and the company generating good PR write-ups in the likes of AdWeek, Huffington Post and various disability trade titles, now’s the time to ‘turn up’ its marketing strategy while the news is fresh. 

Chuck E. Cheese has issued virtually zero content to support its Sensory Sensitive Sunday’s project – and it needs to strike while the iron’s hot. 

 Chuck E. Cheese is supporting autistic customers 
I guess its marketing agency Current is nibbling on its next steps.

While it waits, I recommend Chuck E. Cheese commissions a video to capture young people enjoying these sensory sessions which can feature on its dedicated landing page on its website and used as a promotional tool across social media. This could also be supplemented with a simple social media strategy – predominantly focused on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – for restaurants to roll out to drive sales in the run-up; sustain an element of exclusivity during the sessions; and celebrate success after each event to boost customers and loyalty. 

To extend its reach, Chuck E. Cheese should also partner with a national autism charity – preferably one with prominent regional centres so it can maximise its presence across the U.S. – to raise awareness and promote advocacy through its e-marketing channels by offering discounts.

Of course, by working with a relevant third party, Chuck E. Cheese could also benefit from data to retarget potential customers (autism community groups for example) via digital advertising to ensure the messaging is landing in the right place. 

All in all, this is an epic opportunity for the party restaurant chain which could grow and grow. 

Will UK brands take notice of the big cheese across the pond? Here’s hoping.