Touch-a, touch-a, touch me

If Susan Sarandon singing in white negligee to be touched doesn’t inspire you to touch someone then you’re a lost cause and we can’t help you. Not that Sarandon is the point here, we just liked the idea of slipping in a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference because why the hell not, but rather the universal desire to be touched is the point here. Whether it’s physically, emotionally or mentally, as humans we crave to touch and connect with one another. To feel like we’ve had an impact or someone has had an impact on us. And while it’s so true for every personal relationship, it’s even more true for brands and the behaviors they employ with their consumers. Because the things brands have mostly cottoned on to over the years is this; if they mimic human behavior and human wants and needs, they will convert prospects to sales and their revenue will go up. It’s quite literally that simple. And what is more human than the desire to be touched?

And so we have touchpoints. The aim of them is to touch the consumer both mentally and emotionally, guiding them through the journey to a point of sale. It seems glaringly obvious and we all subscribe to the idea, but here’s the thing, brands are mostly talking about touchpoints but every retailer does not interrogate each touchpoint and live up to it. There might be a few poorly defined touchpoints at the beginning and then a sudden rush calling them to buy something, do this, type an email address in or give away their first born. Well, the latter doesn’t actually happen but it feels like that when brands ask for so much of your time, attention and money, and give so little in return.

Brands, especially retail brands need to start giving more back. They need to look at those touchpoints as not just a fancy extra, but an integral part of their content marketing strategies. Because the idea of content is to inform, surprise, entertain and delight the would-be consumers and touchpoints have always been some of the best ways to do this.

For example, a brand that does this really well are Wyevele Garden Centres. Throughout their branding they’ve developed integrated consistency and rolled out a project that amplified their brand throughout the entire line, from press ads to digital and all the way to in-store touchpoints. That dedication to making sure your brand is saying the same thing, every step of the way, is what sets apart brands today and the reason your customers will or won’t engage with you.

Another retail brand who gets this right is the sock company Quiet Rebellion. Their content is brilliant, clever and perfectly matches their audience, but more importantly, once you’ve bought some socks they don’t leave you high and dry. Once your box of socks arrives it comes with three postcards with illustrations of rebellious people across history that you might not know about. The cards tell an entertaining story about these people and by the end, you’ve been informed, surprised and delighted. And when you’re dealing with socks as a product, that’s a tough ask and yet they’re a brand who does it flawlessly.

The product or service can vary but it never changes a brands ability to create meaningful touchpoints that resonate and connect with their audience. Often, it’s as simple as inserting a card into the package with a personal note. People want to be touched damnit, and it’s time brands started doing it, they can’t afford not to.

The end of the line; railway stations and retail

Do you remember the last time you sat at a station waiting for your train with nothing to do? You were probably ten and living in a time when stations were sacred for trains and fond memories of the Railway Children. Because once upon a time there was nothing else to do in those stations but stare at the pigeon pecking at a crusty sandwich while the station master walked up and down blowing his whistle. If you were lucky, you might manage to get a Greggs pasty from the corner of the station, or if you were down south, you could treat yourself to The Cornish Pasty Co. But only if you were hungry enough and desperate enough because after all, they was the only options you had.

But oh how times have changed! The train station has been lost among a sea of retail brands and they’ve become shopping destinations that trains just happen to leave from. The railway station as we know it is gone, and instead we’re left with multi-complex food and shopping experiences that have just about everything we could ever need. You no longer need to stare at dirty pigeons and other passengers, as you can pop to Wasabi for some sushi, hit up Le Pain Quotidien for a coffee and some desert and then feed your Harry Potter obsession by pretending to walk through a stone wall. If wizardry doesn’t do it for you, there’s numerous book shops and champagne bars to whittle away the hours in.

And because they’ve transformed so much, they’ve in turn transformed brands. Human behavior will always inform brand decisions, and as we grew more impatient over the years, and as we wanted more and more, brands understood the opportunity and capitalized on it. Retail space in major London stations are now rented at similar prices to Oxford Circus rents. It’s a prime location and brands want to get a foot in the door.

Of course, the experience they provide to customers is different because people are busy and are rushing to platforms. The kinds of things they need are different and they want it in different ways.

And whether you like it or not, it is the end of the line for traditional railways and the nostalgic idea they were merely for transport. Now they transport our gluttony and thirst for pleasure, as well as taking us to physical destinations. And brands that want to keep up with their consumers need to start thinking about which station corner they’re going to set up in, and how they alter their messaging and product to fit the busy consumer rushing through the Waterloo crowds to get to either a platform, or the nearest bar as they wait the rush out.

Because ultimately, the station slice of the market isn’t one you can afford to miss out on. The Boots in Liverpool street station is reported to be the second busiest in the entire Group, and who can afford to miss out on that many customers?

Brands should alter their messaging to fit the busy consumer and see which parts of their lives they can fit in, and then how they get noticed in a sea of commuters who are irritated because there’s delays on the South West trains, again.

Let’s get physical!

You’re humming it already aren’t you? Because it’s actually impossible to see those words written anywhere and not start thinking about Olivia Newton John in spandex. But this isn’t about her or her tight lycra, it’s about getting physical and that she was probably right all along.

Because in this age of digital marketing, social media and online retail giants, we’ve forgotten all about the importance of the physical retail experience. The significance of store journeys and the delight of immersing yourself in something. Of sight, sound and feel. We’ve become so overtaken with our obsession with the internet and mobile, that we forgot to take ourselves out of people’s pockets.

Which is not to say that those things aren’t important, OF COURSE they are and they mustn’t be neglected. Omnichannel, website design, apps and social strategies will forever play a huge part in the marketing experience for brands, but in-store experience is timeless and is often the difference between good brands, and global superstar brands.

Talking about why Apple retail has become so successful, exec Ron Johnson pointed out that Apple ‘built an experience where 90 percent of the people who walk in don’t buy anything right away. People listen to music, kids play on iPads.’ Their experience has come first, before rushing consumers to a point of sale. They built an experience that was second to none, and then the sales came afterwards. And by sales we basically mean world domination.

Because the best brands out there aren’t just offering friendly sales people and good lighting, they’re giving their customers a feeling. A real, tangible emotion that often evokes happiness, joy, nostalgia or love. And in a highly emotional world that is looking for connection, being able to offer feelings transcends anything the best website could ever give you.

Physical stores also make sales. Of course, the notion of online businesses making more money because of low overheads has been peddled for some time, and yes, it’s a fair argument. Physical spaces account for a large part of your budget and the rent is generally enough to make you gasp, let alone the bills and the staff you need to pay, but they also make a lot of money. They do what online often fails to do, and that’s introducing new concepts and products to the customer. With the click of a button customers can disregard online popups and suggestions, and habit often has us clicking that button before we’ve even read the pop up. But physical spaces nurture consumers and in the flesh when they really get to see the advantages of other products, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

This doesn’t mean that agencies need to start advising brands to cut their marketing budget, but instead should be looking at how they create an in-store experience that is exceptional. What marketing do you put in store to convince customers to buy and how can you create meaningful relationships with those customers. That’s what agencies need to be looking at.

The digital stuff is always great, but it needs to be supporting other sales channels instead of shouldering all the sales responsibility. Because physical spaces cultivate relationships, increase brand loyalty and offer an ultimate experience that can bring brands to life and that will always trump any social media campaign or well-designed website.


Fear is controlling creativity

The ad agency/marketing world has built themselves into Gods. We’ve promised brands that we can help them grow, scale and win hearts. We’ve promised silver bullet solutions, and monumental increases in sales. A lot of the time, we’ve delivered. But those heady promises and impressive track record at some point will catch up, and that’s when the fear begins to creep in.

Because currently, fear is ever present in agencies. It’s at every creative brief and client feedback session. It’s hovering over the ideas board and lurking in corners. The fear of not delivering or upsetting clients is monumental, and remember, we now live in a world where any mistakes will be documented, tweeted, recorded, made into memes and forever etched into our digital footprint. There is quite literally no getting away from it. And social media platforms have given every single person the ability to point and laugh. Pepsi’s recent campaign fiasco is enough to make agencies crawl under the table and hide behind mundane, ‘play it safe’ solutions for the next century. There are also too many necks on the line and losing your job is very real when there are so many hungry creatives ready to step into your shoes and take your place.

But here’s the thing, our world won’t survive that. We can’t afford to hide behind the safe bet and easy wins. That’s not our purpose our what we’re about. Surely the ad agencies of this world were put here, and initially built, to disrupt and shake people up a bit. To offer different points of view and to push boundaries, and in turn, consumers. For example, Nandos adverts in South Africa are truly outrageous with their political commentary and satire, however, they’re lauded as progressive and their fans love them for it.

What we really need, is clients to give permission for agencies to fail. It has to be okay to mess up, stumble and make mistakes, otherwise how do we grow and learn? There has to be an understanding from clients when working with agencies that those briefs can only be delivered if they’re willing to allow for those risks and failure. If they’re willing to have a little courage. The household cleaning product Cillit Bang is a prime example of this. Originally failing every single consumer test prior to its launch, their marketing director stuck his neck out because of his adamant belief that it would work. Lo and behold it’s one of the most popular cleaning products currently. Because process and rules only take us so far, and sometimes, having the courage to stick with your intuition is just what’s needed.

And the failing is going to happen at times, OF COURSE it is. But as ever, it’s how we get back up again after the falls that will demonstrate just how great the agency is. For example, Lynx was mentioned in a channel 4 documentary as the favourite fragrance for people pursuing sexual fetishes. Lynx turned the unfortunate association into a spoof twitter campaign and used it to engage with their audience.

Marketing and ad nightmares are going to come because we live in a digital arena and those risks will always be there, but there has to be courage and bravery, and more importantly, the unwavering support of the clients. Nervous clients make for tense project leads which makes for a frazzled creative teams and ditched ideas.

There has to be space for failure. No one likes to admit it, but it’s a solid fact of our world. We’re not saying that every single campaign you create should be outlandish and sensational just for the sake of it. No, that’s terrible advice and if anyone gives it to you, tell them to go away. This is about taking calculated risks, doing the right research and trusting the creative process. Creativity and art is designed, in its purest form, to spark conversations, shift feelings and a lot of the time, make people slightly uncomfortable. And we agencies are nothing but artists, whatever medium we choose to paint on. It’s time to unleash all our creativity and stop worrying about the backlash, it’s only limiting our possibilities, and we owe it to ourselves to give it everything we’ve got. We owe it to our clients to give them what they need, not what they think they want, and clients owe it to themselves to trust and accept those suggestions.


War of the ages: online vs offline

We call this the war of the ages because it has literally been going on for AGES. Technology rose, so did online shopping naturally, and suddenly every blogger on the internet became a fortune teller and predicted the death of the high street. As time went on and we all continued to stroll down our high streets every weekend visiting both the butcher and the baker (forget the candlestick maker, he’s well gone), a new spate of articles hit the internet declaring that the high street was absolutely not dead. It’s been a long and terribly dull ordeal. So let this be the article to end the war. Consider it a white flag. An armistice. A final settlement.

Because the truth is, the high street isn’t going anywhere and neither is online shopping. We’ve all be been so busy trying to pick a side that we forgot we don’t actually have to.

Online shopping will always have a place in the digital world, and we can tell you, the tech and the digital lives we’ve created aren’t going anywhere. They’re here to stay, so naturally online shopping will fit into that. In a demanding night and day economy, consumers want access to shopping at all times. They want to use price comparison sites, they want infinite choice in styles and sizes and they want to do it all from the comfort of their own home without the pressure of three different sales assistants hanging around waiting to bag some commission.

Similarly, physical brick and mortar stores will continue to have a place in a world that still requires, and desires, human connection. The current statistic is that 90% of purchases in the UK are still made in store, while 60% of Generation Z consumers value the store experience. Millennials even want to shop in places they can touch, feel and see their product. Not to mention for some, shopping is an experience and they appreciate input and care from the staff and in store experiences.

The conversation should have never been around which one would supersede the other, but rather, how we can get the two working seamlessly together. That’s the discussion ad agencies should be having with their clients and it’s why omnichannel is so damn important. Even though consumers are shopping in physical spaces, that’s not to say they haven’t already interacted with brands online first. The challenge here is ensuring that consumers have an integrated, seamless journey and what they see and do online must absolutely match the experience they have in store.

For example, Argos are a retailer who have always done this exceptionally well. They were one of the first businesses to introduce a click and collect service, promising to be served within ten minutes, as well as endless options with how a consumer can pick up and interact with their product. That’s where they’ve managed to strike a balance and probably the reason they’re still going strong today despite negative predictions.

Because the truth is, no one brand is going to encapsulate the needs and wants of an entire audience. You can’t decide how people shop or assume the ways they like to based on their age. Some swear by online shopping and refuse to move off their sofa, while others refuse to even look at a website. And then there’s everyone in between. We’re past guessing games and dramatic predictions. Retailers will do well when they manage to bring online and offline shopping under one roof, and ad agencies will do even better if they manage to figure out how to do this for their clients. Maybe then the war will finally be put to rest.

The integrated myth

We’ve all been throwing around the idea of ‘integrated agencies’ for the last few years now. And by throwing, I mean seriously lobbing it at every potential client and brand to make sure we close the deal and nab the sale. There isn’t an ad agency worth their salt now who would dream of being anything but integrated, and so the natural thing to do is put it in some beautiful copy on the website, integrate it into our pitches (pun absolutely indented) and pat ourselves on the back for staying ‘current and relevant’, or whatever other wanky term the industry is using at this particular moment to communicate just how hip and trendy they truly are.

But the problem with throwing around terms like this is that they start to lose their meaning, and because everyone is using them, they often take on new meanings or they evolve and become something completely different from their original purpose. They basically become a sort of myth. Something passed along by many people that slowly changes over the years.

Which is exactly what’s happened to the idea of an integrated agency. Today it means an agency with huge capabilities across various different channels. For example, a mass retail campaign can require the creative team to brainstorm concepts, researchers to gather information on current spending habits of consumers, an UX designer to lay out the email templates, a social strategist to put together how it will be distributed across social platforms, a writer to create the copy, a videographer to edit the visual elements, a designer to make the copy look compelling and a project manager to bring it all together. That’s a lot of hands on deck and something integrated agencies can provide, and yeah, it all sounds pretty seamless and great.

Except the vital ingredient that we’re all missing is that integrated marketing agencies are a way of working together to fulfil the needs of the client, rather than how many creatives you have on your payroll under one roof. There’s no point in advertising to brands that you can do everything if it doesn’t join up along the way.

We are an agency that has an integrated output, but by that we mean we offer the right solutions for brands, even when they don’t know what that looks like. We try to avoid brands coming to us telling us they want a TV add or a social campaign. There’s no point in that and it’s a waste of our experience. Instead, we want brands to come to us with their problem, that’s all. Tell us your aches and pains and where it hurts, and it’s our job to use an integrated methodology to find the answers. Agencies today will lose their foothold in the industry if they can’t fix problems, because no matter how great the ad was, or how many retweets it got, if it doesn’t convert to basket sales there’s an issue there. It’s our job to run through a creative process, across every damn platform and channel that we can, to find answers and increase revenue, as opposed to blindly accepting what clients want. Naturally, that is not us saying go to war with your clients, definitely don’t do that, but we should be questioning, prodding, poking and peeling apart what they think they want, to find out what they really need. That’s our job. It’s why we exist.

Overstepping brand boundaries

Business is not, as usual. In a post-Brexit, post-election world, everything has changed and it’s consequently changed the game for brands. Instead of remaining nonchalant about political and sociological issues, businesses are now expected to have an opinion, pick a side and make a stand. Long gone is the heyday of advertising when groups of laughing friends having a good time could sell a product. Maybe it’s gone because no one is actually having a good time anymore. Our cultural landscape has changed and everyone is sitting around wondering if they’ll be either allowed in the county, or wondering if they can still visit relatives across Europe, and that shit isn’t funny, by anyone’s standards.

But the deafening cry for brands to stand for something can lead to marketing catastrophes such as the recent Pepsi saga, which might have been a disaster for them, but actually made for some hilarious tweets. It’s times like these when the internet truly does come through for us all.

But that’s beside the point, the point actually is that taking a stand is difficult. It’s hard to get your message right and the risks of pissing off your core customers are very real, and consequently very big.

Which begs the question, should brands even take a stand? Or should they actually just stay in their lane and stick to what they’re good at? We all know a can of Pepsi isn’t going to undo centuries of racism. And a bunch of people drinking Heineken and building IKEA furniture together isn’t going to change the reality for transgender people. And really, how responsible are you actually being? Throwing social issues into your TV ad isn’t helping anyone. Black people still get shot, women are still underpaid and refugees still flee their homes. Advertisements and marketing campaigns that try to pay lip service to social ills are succeeding only in pissing everyone off.

And that comes down to a lack of thought from agencies behind these campaigns at a time when they so desperately needed to step up and fulfill their role in steering businesses into a profitable future, as opposed to slapping a scarlet letter on their backs.

And it can be done. Brands can make a stand without crumbling under crushing public backlash. Starbucks, Lyft and Airbnb all responded to Trump’s executive orders by offering to hire, house or donate to the refugee cause. Naturally, not every brand has one million to give, even to the best of causes, and this is where with the right agency and the right insights, brands can declare their support in a way that doesn’t alienate their own supporters.

For example, Diesel’s recent #MakeLoveNotWalls campaign succeeded in promoting a positive message within the political climate, effectively telling the world where they stood regarding the current American administration. But the difference is they did it artistically and tactfully in a way that did not put capitalism and consumer products at the forefront, and above all they’re promoting a message of love. Not even the most Grinch-like consumer is going to complain about promoting love.

There is a balance to be struck, and the message you’re trying to promote has to come first, rather than selling your product. We all know you want to sell and create revenue, everyone knows that, but we’re living in a time when shoving it down the throats of your consumers doesn’t work anymore. We’re all that little bit more aware of capitalist tricks and although we might buy into them, we want to do it in a way that also nurtures our social conscious because today that’s what we care about. Basically, brands have to actually care, rather than claim to, and if they don’t, they should leave the social and political commentary well alone. As in, avoid it like the plague and stick to the laughing friends instead.

‘I want it all, and I want it now’

When Freddie Mercury stood there in his tight, leaving nothing to the imagination trousers and feathered jacket screaming about wanting it all, he was basically predicting the future. He knew. We always knew the man was revolutionary, but he knew that the generation that was about to come out of the drunken mistakes of the 70s would want everything, day or night.

Which leads us to the screaming demands of today’s consumers who want to access entertainment, food and drink around the clock. The world is changing dramatically and the way we live, operate, eat and consume has changed dramatically. No one is going home at seven o’clock to sit around one television set and go to bed by ten. Realistically, we’re still in the office at seven and we’re meeting our friends at nine, to grab a table at ten to go for after dinner drinks at twelve and this is just a Wednesday. Add in the night tube, Deliveroo and Uber, and it’s easy to get around and access late night venues.

So naturally because the world changes, it’s up to brands to change and adapt with the world, except traditionally they haven’t been very good at that.

Brands like to cling to the past

Not all brands are guilty of this, but many are. Logos are associated with tradition and change is scary. But in a world that has changed so dramatically from even five years ago, it’s obvious that brands can’t afford to stay the same. They’re fighting for survival here and it’s up to the agencies that work with them to guide them through those changes.

Understand the world

Connecting a brand with an audience comes down to understanding your audience. It’s advertising 101. Something Pepsi widely misjudged, but let’s not even go down that rabbit hole. The point is, if you want to talk to a group of individuals, learn how they operate and where they get their kicks. Once upon a time the only options for the majority were getting pissed down the local pub and then hitting the nightclubs before grabbing some cheesy chips and a dirty donor on your way home. Which is not to say there’s anything wrong with a dirty donor, there absolutely isn’t, but that scene isn’t for everyone. Now we have tea houses open until 1am so you can sit around drinking battenberg flavour rooibos while playing scrabble. Or people prefer to do their drinking during the day at festivals or in the park. And food has become way more important and we’re all busy finding popups and food markets and good restaurants, because a donor and chips no longer cuts it.

Have no fear

While it seems like a scary time for brands, it’s actually a wonderful opportunity. The world is opening up which means capitalism is doing its thing, but it also means we’re spending more time drinking and eating and engaging with brands. The statistics show that the melding of day and night economies is only set to rise massively and it’s now a case of losing your business and becoming a dinosaur, or evolving with the world.

It’s time for brands to start thinking about how they make themselves available around the clock, and how they fit into the lives of consumers today, and any agency working with brands should be leading this charge, day or night.

The revolution will not be televised

If there’s anything we’ve learned from history, it’s that it eventually all comes back around. Which incidentally is also something you can learn from karma, but that’s a conversation for another time.

The point is, trends, patterns, fashions, fascist leaders and attitudes circulate. We’re a fickle race and so we drag back what we think we didn’t need, and if that is the case, the heyday of television advertising should be making a comeback any day now.

With the rise of all things digital it’s no surprise that television took a hit. Gone are the days we all huddled around the TV set as a family to watch one of the five channels available. Mobile came along and revolutionised our world that meant we didn’t have to find a space on the floor while your mum, dad, nan and Aunt Betty from across the road came over to watch Corrie. Which honestly was a relief for everyone involved because your Aunty Betty moans that the cuppa you made her isn’t good enough, your nan is constantly asking questions, your mum is nagging your dad about his socks and your dad is hitting you with the remote for hitting your younger sibling. It was a mess.

But we began to consume content in different ways. We changed, we grew, we evolved, and businesses and brands naturally capitalised on that. The revolution really wasn’t televised; it was in on our pockets on social media. Quite literally as the Arab Spring proved that you only need a Facebook account to topple a dictator.

But if history is repeating itself, it’s not doing it on TV as the future of advertising has, and is, changing as we know it. Brands continue to allocate budgets to online efforts, lead by Adidas who have assigned $4.3 billion in sales solely through online channels in 2020. They understand that their audience is online on their mobiles, not on the sofa with their mum and dad. They also understand an entire generation that have known nothing but having a mobile in their hand and unlimited access to whatever the hell they want.

That’s not to say that television adverts are obsolete, they still remain necessary and important. But it’s how brands decide to play with their budgets that will make a difference. We’re in the middle of a careful chess game and one wrong move could have you eaten up by bigger and smarter businesses.

Smaller broadcast budgets inevitably mean smaller, integrated agencies being brought on as the big global players can no longer produce high quality television campaigns with shrinking pay checks. Downsizing isn’t always a bad thing though. It gives your brand a fresh perspective and puts it in the hands of specialists who understand their audience and can create quality content on smaller budgets. In the meantime, you’re free to pour the rest of your pennies into the world of mobile, tablet and laptop to capture the next generation of consumers.

Not everyone is convinced however, and Marc Pritchard CMO of P&G, Rob Norman CDO at Group M and Tom Denford CSO at ID Comms have all been heard criticising the darker side of digital advertising and the slippery slope it can be for some brands who can ‘target themselves into oblivion.’ While anyone can mess up targeted advertising, it still doesn’t detract from the way we behave as consumers today. Our habits have inherently changed and it’s going to take more than a few misguided targeting examples to change that.

Not to mention, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality are all hovering just within grasp and they’ll take us further into the world of digital ad growth than we’ve ever been before. It’s time to spend wisely and remember that the revolution is indeed happening, only it’s in our pockets. (Unless you have an iPhone 7 of course and then it’s in your suitcase because that thing is too big for any pocket).

Growing up & getting responsible

The idea of growing up is one that fills most of us with dread, especially the responsibility that comes with age. Because let’s be honest, lying in bed until noon, not having to work for a living and lazing uni days away with your biggest concern being which pub you’re going to go that evening is far more appealing than joining the rat race every day, standing in someone’s armpit on the tube and working until 9pm. We don’t care how much you love your job, those carefree days were still better.

However, when it comes to brands growing up and accepting responsibility, surely that has to be a good thing. The New West End Company has recently revealed that they will be launching the first ‘smart street’ on Bird Street. A traffic-free hub of sustainable technology, it’s the first of its kind and designed to, well basically, help the world. Using PaveGen technology, electricity will be generated from pedestrian movement, while Airlite’s revolutionary air purifying paint will essentially clean the air around you. The street will have pioneering pop-ups, fashion, technology and dining establishments so you can shop until you drop and do it all responsibly.

We’re excited about it because A) it’s just downright cool, and B) because after all, we have a collective responsibility to sustain this whirling blue ball that we all call home, however, is this just the beginning of a new age of responsible retail brands?

We’re currently in the year of the movement and everyone is standing for something. Literally standing up and marching for every kind of rights and if you’re not shouting slogans you’ve been living under some kind of rock. So if public sentiment is anything to go by, brands know that they can no longer operate as huge conglomerates that eat up energy, rainforests and unethical habits. We’re in a time of inclusion, religious tolerance and the women’s rights movements is blazing as strongly as it was when Emily Davison fell under that horse and brands can’t afford to ignore that. And not all brands have been ignoring their responsibility.

H&M has championed a responsible brand by launching their Conscious Exclusive collection which features clothes made from hemp, organic linen and organic leather. They were also the first fashion brand to use a Muslim model who wore a headscarf and modest clothing, meaning they’re one of the most environmentally conscious and religiously diverse brands currently out there.

TOMs have built their entire brand on the idea of helping the world and being responsible with the money they earn by giving it back to those most in need. They fund projects from fresh water across regions with sever lack of access, as well as providing healthcare and shoes to those most in need.

The list goes on with brands such as ASOS, Made and People Tree all sourcing materials in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. They literally make you feel good about yourself while you spend your money and carry on living a consumerist dream. Because the truth is we’re not going to stop spending, but we are in a time in which consumers are more selective about who they do give their money to. It’s yet to determine how successful the new smart street will be, but if current sentiment is an indicator, it’s bound to be a huge talking point that raises a host of other questions. And even if it doesn’t take off, it’s taking a step in the right direction and we can only hope that other brands follow suit and start standing for something, and hopefully, not in the catastrophic way Pepsi just did. We’re now living in a time where brands can’t afford to shun responsibility any longer. It’s long past time to grow up.