2011 has been a strange year. There's been continuing economic turmoil, an Arab spring and a Euro autumn, interspersed with a fairy tale Royal Wedding and an eagerly anticipated feast of celebration with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee. We take a look back through the year and pick out 10 events, products and campaigns that have made us sit up and go wow or simply put a smile on our faces.
1. A beautiful CSR campaign
You can put your name to a star, a number plate or a stone in Wembley Way, but now, thanks to Dulux and UNICEF’s partnership, you can also own a colour. For a donation of at least £1 you get to choose a colour from a range of 16.7 million available on the average screen monitor. All proceeds go to UNICEF's campaign to bring clean water, education, medical assistance and other aid to children across the world.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sir Roger Moore is a proud new owner of Swedish Blue, the colour of the flag of his wife’s homeland Sweden, and not far off the cyan blue that represents UNICEF. “Both Kristina and UNICEF are extremely close to my heart”.
2. Leading by example – design and sustainability
D&AD Annual has gone green this year, 82% greener. The aim for the 2011 D&AD Annual from the start was to come up with a whole new - and environmentally conscious - way of mass publishing that can be echoed and improved on in future years, with the hope that creatives and design agencies will also embrace a more sustainable way of doing things with their own projects.
A lovely infographic to explain the changes they implemented is here.
3. Great ads still exist
Volkswagen's charming Passat commercial was first aired in the US during the Super Bowl and has since racked up over 45 million views on YouTube alone making it the most popular ad of 2011.
It leverages humour and the unforgettable Star Wars score to create an internationally popular commercial.
4. Beautiful, intelligent design
It has a click-wheel and it's designed by Tony Fadell, the father of iPod, but it isn't made by Apple. One might think it is another digital media device, but you couldn’t be more wrong. It's a thermostat. The most sexy, desirable thermostat ever.
Thankfully Mr Fadell turned his genius to a worthy cause in the interest of making our lives easier, cutting bills and saving the planet. The Nest is an intelligent thermostat that monitors your activities and detects changes in outside temperature and ambient lighting. Essentially it learns as it goes. In fact Nest claim the Learning Thermostat will have learned your daily routine after just one week. The idea was devleoped from the insight that most of us have an old and clunky thermostat in our homes that we haven't a clue how to use properly or effectively. The outcome is a device that's simple, smart and looks beautiful.
5. Fantasy becomes reality
The Nike MAG is no longer the “greatest shoe never made.” The mythical shoe that originally captured the imagination of audiences in Back to the Future II has actually been produced – and all for a great cause.
1500 pairs of the 2011 Nike MAG where auctioned on eBay in September with all net proceeds going directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. The aesthetic is an exact match, down to the contours of the upper, the glowing LED panel and the electroluminescent Nike in the strap. The Nike MAG illuminates with the pinch of the “ear” of the high top, glowing for five hours per charge.
6. A new breed of car
There’s always something intriguing about being an inbetweener, rather than being neither one nor the other, it’s about being the best of both worlds. At look at the automotive market and 2011 see's the emergence of an new inbetweener category. Range Rovers have shrunk whilst Minis have grown until they’ve finally met in the middle. Range Rover Evoque, dubbed as the “Baby Range Rover”, is a Compact crossover SUV from Land Rover that went into production in July 2011. At the same time, MINI has released the crossover concept, the MINI Countryman, proving that BMW not only has a sense of humour, but that it's serious about bringing an all-wheel-drive MINI to market in 2011.
Going against everything that our parents told us, The Natural Confectionery Company has created sweets that positively encourage us to play with our food. Guzzle Puzzle is a truly innovative product containing different shaped fruity jelly sweets. Using a paring of a hook and a loop, kids (or adults) can experiment with fusing together 5 different flavours. There's even a handy menu at the back to guide you through the different combinations. Simple yet fun.
Augmented reality and QR codes are both new technologies that have taken a hold this year offering brands yet more channels through which to engage their consumers.
Here's a shining example of each from this year that we think are worth mentioning.
Augmented Reality - Lynx
Angels fell to earth, in augmented reality at least, in a recent campaign for Lynx. Commuters who stepped onto the halo sign at London's Victoria railway station were treated to a truly engaging augmented reality experience on the big screen for all to see
QR Codes - Tesco Homeplus
Tesco's, in a world first, created a virtual store in the subway stations of South Korea. Poster ads featuring grocery product line ups where positioned on platforms to catch commuters as they travelled to and from work. QR codes assigned to each product allowed users to carry out their daily shop and get it delivered direct to their home simply by pointing their phone at the wall.
9. Disrupting the soft drinks market
In true 'Willy Wonka-esque' style Tango have re-interpreted soft drinks category. Cans are so last year. Why not deliver refreshment in a foam through an aerosol can? It's bonkers but it works which in part is its genius. Depending on the success of the launch, Britvic will consider rolling out the new product on a permanent basis next year.
10. Facebook as a sales channel
Commerce on Facebook or "f-commerce" as some people are labelling it is another new sales channel to emerge in 2011 and brands are lapping it up. Heinz was one of the many companies to dive in and whole heartedly embrace the channel earlier this year. They launched their limited edition Heinz Tomato Balsamic Vinegar ketchup through Facebook in March driving die-hard ketchup fans to the site to get hold of a bottle. Heinz continued their association with Facebook launching a personalisation service for their soups range to send to a friend or loved one who has been taking ill.
So as another year passes, we look forward to a year of fun and celebration in 2012. We hope you've enjoyed reading the Bloom blog as much as we've enjoyed writing it.
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year from all at Bloom.