CALLING ALL COLLABORATORS: HEM News Agency launches new media packs today


In this exclusive report, Ilford-based news blog and website HEM News Agency has announced it will launch its first ever media packs today to help promote the blog to public relations professionals and companies looking to reach out to new audiences.

Media packs, also known as ‘media kits’, are promotional documents traditionally used in the printed and online media industries to attract advertisers to work with the publications. In an increasingly online world where many bloggers have become influencers, guiding their readers’ tastes in everything from fashion to parenting, brands are waking up to the potential of working with bloggers to advertise and promote. 


In fact the past five years has seen an explosion in both brand-blogging partnerships and bloggers producing their own media packs to bring in advertising revenue. Both of these factors have gone hand-in-hand with the emergence of blogging as an activity that can bring in money. Many well-established blogging personalities have sung the praises of the media pack, providing handy advice, tips and even ready-made templates to guide their peers in what was once something solely associated with the ‘mainstream media’.

A media pack is essentially a blog’s CV (resumé) which will often display short bios of the site and its blogger, as well as statistics such as reader demographics, pageviews and traffic figures drawn in via systems such as Google Analytics. They are made available to brands or their PR representatives who are looking for blogs targeted at particular audiences, for example dog owners might be sought out by a company that markets canine toys and chews.

HEM News Agency has had several successful tie-ins producing reviews and promotional features for a variety of companies across the globe. In 2018 alone, the blog has teamed up with the New Yorker online invitation firm Paperless Post, London-based cycling safety equipment startup CYCL, and just this month, an email management service, Campaign Monitor. The blog’s owner/editor/writer, Vijay Shah, had recently decided to develop promotional tools to distribute to current and future partners to help present a professional, business side to the blog. While the blog is mainly focused on disseminating news without commercial consideration, it also produces feature posts, which provide good opportunities for interested brands.

The media packs released today were designed in-house with online designing software and are branded with the blog’s name and livery. There are two versions, a short one-page document which summarises the blog and its achievements, and a longer multi-page version which explores the blog deeper from a commercial angle. The packs will be made available in PDF format as downloads via a dedicated page on HEM News Agency’s site.

The new packs can be downloaded from the Media Pack tab in the menu just above the header of the blog.


“A4 papers” – Tech&All, Vijay Shah and HEM News Agency, Smartmockups (28 October 2018)





Today’s special feature is brought to you in collaboration with Campaign Monitor, a global niche agency offering email marketing services to over 250,000 businesses including big names like HuffPost, UNICEF and Zumba. They specialise in building memorable and fun email campaigns to promote company products and engage and retain customer bases. This year alone, Campaign Monitor’s customers have sent over four million emails with the help of the company’s customisable services.

As email marketing becomes more nuanced and creative, marketers looking to build their organisation’s revenue know that they have to master the science behind successful campaigns. It takes just seconds for a potential customer to read an email in an inbox heaving with missives, and milliseconds to press delete. So an email that makes that customer stop and click the link has to make an impact. While you can now generate emails with all kinds of eye-catching headlines, banners and cool graphics, including embedded videos and GIFs, for a superlative visual and technological experience, behind the ‘bells and whistles’ you have got to take care of the basics. Today’s customer wants to be valued and understood by the companies they interface with, with dedicated and personalised experiences, and email marketing is the perfect opportunity to show them they matter.

As any marketer worth their salt can tell you, email market campaigns have long been a proven method of driving forward results and increasing company revenues. Sending out emails themselves is easy-peasy, but the groundwork to set up the foundations of a successful campaign is where the real hustle begins.

Alongside Campaign Monitor, we bring you a handy infographic covering the top 10 dos and don’ts of putting together a great email campaign, with that all-important need for customer engagement and retention. Print it out, frame it and mount it on your office wall, because it has all the secrets you need to know to make your campaign deliver after you hit the Send key.

10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts - Infographic by Campaign Monitor

Source: 10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts by Campaign Monitor

DISCLAIMER: This was a paid piece written as a commission on behalf of Campaign Monitor.


Helen Chuchak/Anagram Interactive.

“Infographics – 10 Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts” – Campaign Monitor

“Three products. One family.” – Campaign Monitor

GOOGLE SEO: What are the SEO trends in 2017?

MEHFUZ HUSSAIN (writer) with VIJAY SHAH (editor)


This article was written by Mehfuz Hussain, a digital marketing specialist based in London with expertise in online marketing concepts and Google Analytics.

Search Engine Optimisation has seen many changes in 2016 thanks to Google. From the launch of its ambitious AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project in February 2016, Google has shaken up the way traditional SEO worked. Understandably, Google knows well that the best way to dominate the industry is to be aware of how search engines are changing, and strategising SEO and content techniques accordingly. The world of SEO continues to evolve at high speed. While some SEO techniques have been a staple for several years, there will be many new ones that you will have to pay attention to. Here are some of the game-changing trends to help you stay ahead this year.


Photo credit:


1. Mobile-first Approach by Businesses

With ongoing improvements in the mobile computing field, browsing on mobiles has become equivalent to desktop browsing if not more In many countries, mobile browsing is more popular and dominant than via traditional desktops and laptops. In the last few years, the plethora of new smartphones with internet capabilities has changed the way search engine look at them. Remember Mobilegeddon?

A few months ago, Google said, “To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” This influenced their latest search algorithm which prioritised ‘responsive’ websites at the cost of older, mobile-unfriendly sites.

So, in 2017, your top priority is to separate your desktop and mobile measurement plans to account for the fundamental differences between mobile and desktop behaviour.


2. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Google Rank Brain

There is no doubt, Google’s main focus in 2017 is on Artificial Intelligence. If you followed the Google I/O event 2016, most announcements were related to AI. Google also said that the speech recognition errors have reduced from 25 to 8 percent. It’s been officially named Google’s third-most important ranking factor. Voice search will grow even more in 2017, with better voice recognition and understanding.


3. Infographics

Infographics make complex information eye-catching, shareable and easily digestible. An image coupled with information tends to stay in the minds of readers. Such content generates more social shares and also generates leads. Of course, your content should also be suitable enough to add Infographics to it, and they can really make it pop.


4. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) takes centre stage

A great way to ensure better user experience is switching over to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). More brands are using this option as Google also has begun to favour the use of AMP. It contains three sections – AMP HTML, AMP JS, and Google AMP Cache. Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) allows websites to make pages equipped for loading right away onto mobile screens. Interestingly, sites that have switched over to AMP are given more visibility with a special icon in Google searches.



5. Branding gets personal

There is no denying the power of personal branding. If used strategically, it can be a powerful tool in ensuring the success of SEO campaigns. Even social media platforms like Facebook refine their algorithms to favour individual posts over branded posts. Also, once you have a personal brand in place, it gets much easier to boost user trust and engagement. This, in turn, will up the traffic to your site.


6. HTTPS Everywhere

Google has inducted https as a ranking factor in its algorithm. Since then many companies hurriedly made the transition from HTTP to HTTPS in order to protect their own and their users’ privacy. It helps even more if there is money transactions happening on the website (e-commerce) and gives consumers extra confidence about their privacy. Let’s expect more websites switching to HTTPS than ever before in the history of the Web.


7. Focus on Content Curation

Though many people do not realise it, content marketing and SEO needs to work together for better results and visibility. Include all types of content in the mix: press releases and newsletters as well as articles and blog posts. A good content mix will help you increase backlinks on authority websites and establish you as an expert in your field. This strategy will help you boost your business to the top of Google’s SERPs.


2017 will see a massive hike in Internet usage. People are more concerned about the content they read. Now is the right time to prepare a well-developed strategy to survive in the market and beat the competition. As an SEO marketer, you have to be prepared for changes. Keep an close eye on SEO trends in 2017. All the best everyone!


“Google SEO Magnifying Glass” – BigOakFlickr, Flickr (1 July 2016)
“Free illustration: Seo, Web Page, Responsive – Free Image on Pixabay – 2016484” – Templune, pixabay

INSTAGRAM: 18 facts and statistics you probably never knew

Instagram is currently one of the world’s most popular social networks by usage and membership. Owned by Facebook, and lovingly known by its fans as simply ‘Insta’, the site is a valuable treasure trove of pictures and memories and offers a glimpse into the lives of its 600 million or so active users. While Instagram has developed a reputation as a bit of a narcissist’s heaven with many users flooding it with selfies, posing like there is no tomorrow, it also has become a valuable resource for creatives such as photographers and graphic designers to showcase their work, and many celebrities use it to give their fanbase a way of keeping up to date with their daily goings-on. And of course, if you ever feel hungry or have no idea what’s for supper tonight, then Instagram’s impressive collection of food photos is the ideal place for culinary inspiration. Not to mention those awesome filters.



With the help of content, social media and online marketing blog The Social Ms, here are twenty facts and statistics about the photo-sharing network you probably had no idea about.

  1. By the end of 2016, Instagram reported it had 600 million active users, that is, people who use their accounts and upload photos or images. This is an additional 100 million shutterbugs joining the service since September 2015
  2. Instagram has a rapidly increasingly ‘growth base’ with rises of 15 per cent, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In the United States alone (its biggest market), the number of users is expected to hit 116.3 million (34.8 per cent of the then population) and become the second-most popular social network, overtaking Twitter, fellow photo social network Pinterest and micro-blog Tumblr, according to recent figures by eMarketer.
  3. Not surprisingly, just like all social networks, Insta is a hit with the young ‘uns. For all age groups of Internet users, 28 per cent use it, 55 per cent of people between the ages of 18-29 are Insta-fanatics, forming its largest demographic, according to the Pew Research Center in the US. The centre also reported that 52 per cent of teens aged between 13 and 17 were also fans of Instagram.
  4. Instagram has good product loyalty. Fifty-nine per cent of its users post daily, and another 17 per cent use it at least once weekly, according to the Pew Research Center.
  5. The site has enjoyed massive growth rates in some subjects, according to MediaPost. Beauty (74% growth rate), ‘big box’ (128%) and household goods (149%) have been some of the most popular topics, at least for businesses using their Instagram accounts to promote their goods to private users. For the rest of us, I assume selfies probably have a growth rate of 100,000 per cent (I kid).
  6. Instagram is big money for marketers. In 2015, it netted advertising revenue of USD $500 million (GBP £407 million). It is expected that this year, Insta will make more money from its advertising platform on American mobile handsets than Google and Twitter, claims eMarketer.
  7. Although Instagram is US-founded and run by a big American tech company, most of its success has been from outside. Eighty per cent of its users are non-American.
  8. Over 80 million photos are uploaded per day. There is believed to be more than 40 billion images crammed into Insta’s servers and users generate an astonishing 3.5 billion likes per day, says ClickZ.
  9. The most prestigious account, going by popularity and celebrity anyway, is the one owned by U.S. singer Selena Gomez. She has 99.5 million followers allegedly.
  10. The most liked photo over all of Insta was one by reality show star Kendall Jenner. The picture of her lying on her back, eyes closed with her hair spread out and arranged into hearts got 3.5 million likes.
  11. If you post a photo, fifty per cent of comments will appear within six hours, meaning a good post will stick around and not get lost in the noise.
  12. Instagram is quite secure, with only eight per cent of its accounts said to be fake, according to an unnamed Italian security firm.
  13. Like any social network, people sometimes do get bored of posting or other things happen in their life that pull them away. The same Italian firm discovered that nearly 30 per cent of account are rarely used or inactive, usually posting one post per month or less, according to Business Insider.
  14. For businesses, Insta is marketing gold. Forrester published stats that suggest people engage with brands ten times more on Insta than they do on Facebook. Facebook ads are annoying, I grant you that.
  15. One-third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online.
  16. Fifty-three per cent of Instagrammers, as fans are sometimes called, are following brands.
  17. As humans love seeing faces, this fact is probably not surprising, but selfies and group photos on average are 38 per cent more likely to get liked, than other kinds of pictures, such as inanimate objects.
  18. The most Instagrammed food is… pizza.


HEM Bloggers List, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Susanna Gebauer‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“20 Instagram Facts And Statistics You Should Know” – Susanna Gebauer, The Social Ms/Friendly Fellows UG (haftungsbeschränkt) (23 September 2016)
IMAGE CREDIT: via Pexels (13 January 2016)



If you have ever been curious of the benefits and uses of search engine optimisation (and enjoy nibbling the occasional pizza slice along the way) then a special workshop being held by journalism news site and trainer alongside lecturer Adam Tinworth may help give you a taster.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the technique of using selected keywords and tags to help make your article, website or blog more visible in search results in places like Google and Bing. While some blogging sites like WordPress provide SEO as standard, for many other providers, you are left on your own to figure out how to maximise your presence on search results and get a foot in on that coveted first page.

The vast majority of traffic to news sites and blogs still arrives via search engines, therefore maintaining good knowledge of the principles of SEO is extremely important for anyone with an online presence, whether writing news or running a business.

Google is by far the most popular vehicle for searches and has recently undergone some mammoth changes,  with the Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates shifting the search landscape beyond recognition. This has meant journalists and other having to adapt and move with the shift. The SEO knowledge of years gone by is now actually harmful to websites’ position in search results as Google now places emphasis on ‘high quality’ content and fresh information rather than simply keywords, to close the door on keyword spammers and link farms. Sadly many web publishers are still stuck behind in the times, suing models from 2008 that are doing them more harm than good.

To combat this problem, have launched a intensive and informative three-hour course at their offices in Brighton, where lecturer and visiting City University Journalism department professor Adam Tinworth will explain and guide attendees through the current principles of SEO, as well as techniques on improving the SEO value of already published content and sites. Prof. Tinworth has experience in digital journalism, blogging, training and publishing strategy. He has worked as a journalist for 20 years, and now as a consultant, has worked with several big names in media, including the Financial Times and the Telegraph, as well as smaller publishers and businesses. He has also been a blogger for a decade, writing at One Man & His Blog.

The workshop is ideal for media professionals such as employed journalists, freelancers, media students and others working in PR, marketing and communications. It will be held in an informal way in a relaxed setting. You will get free complimentary pizza as well as tea and coffee to keep your mind sharp, as well as opportunities to meet fellow professionals.

What will the course cover?

  • How to write for search
  • How to write great SEO headlines (that aren’t dull)
  • How to identify, analyse and use keywords – without overusing them
  • How to help search engines understand the meaning of your page
  • The role of linking in good SEO
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • How to keep up with SEO changes

Tutor(s): Adam Tinworth
Starts: 18:00 1 February 2016
Finishes: 21:00 1 February 2016
Location: Shaftesbury Court, 95 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 4ST
Price: £80 (inc. VAT)

You can book a place on the Brighton SEO workshop by visiting the third article in the ‘Sources’ below and clicking the small dark pink button marked ‘Book Now’ when you reach the site.

HEM Journalism Portal, Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc., Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“SEO essentials” – – Courses/Mousetrap Media Ltd
Adam Tinworth, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Getty Images via Zemanta.


BOOKSGOSOCIAL: Writers conference in Dublin this June

New and upcoming authors and writers hoping to make it big in the literary world will soon have the chance to reach for the stars thanks to a special conference to be held in Ireland this June.

The BooksGoSocial Writer’s Conference is being held at the Irish Writers Centre in the heart of the Irish capital Dublin from the 26-28 June 2014. The two-day event will see a team of experts and writing instructors guide authors in how to be discovered and to help them achieve their potential as a writer in the 21st century, according to the conference’s organiser, a book promotion service which helps authors spread the word on their latest books and e-books. Marketing advice will also be on hand for writers of fiction and non-fiction works to promote themselves via social media and advertising. There are numerous trainers who will be passing on their skills and advice, originating from not only Ireland, but also the United Kingdom and the States.

Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland
Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the writing and marketing experts expected to be keynote speakers at the event are Laurence O’Bryan, an Irish diploma teacher of digital marketing for authors. A keen blogger and published author, O’Bryan‘s work has been published all over Europe and major Anglophone countries by Harper Collins and is said to have spent a decade trying to break into the publishing industry, before making it in with the help of a blog and Twitter account. Also featuring is Margaret Murphy, who has published nine critically acclaimed psychological thrillers and teaches creative writing at several UK universities. She has won numerous awards from her crime fiction and previously worked as an educator for thirty years before her writing career took off.

Other participants getting involved at BooksGoSocial include the writers Jean Gill and Catherine Ryan Howard, journalist and public relations professional Debbie Young and editor  Jessica Page Morrell. They will be hosting special themed events and workshops on subjects such as penning emotive fiction and gripping dialogue; as well as developing valuable knowledge of areas like digital marketing, self-publication and other useful skills necessary for budding wordsmiths in the technology age. The conference will end in a prestigious awards ceremony where writers will be invited to submit examples of their work. The ceremony will take place on the Saturday. Writers will also have opportunities, within and outside the event’s schedule to read their work and receive feedback from the panel of writing experts.

Dublin has proved to be an ideal location for the BooksGoSocial conference due to its prestigious and renowned history of writing prodigies who have become literary personalities both within Ireland and beyond its shores. The capital of the Emerald Isle, fabled for its legends of Celtic warriors, giants, mysterious fairies and leprechauns, is a UNESCO City of Literature, cradle of the classical Irish writers Swift, Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, Wilde, Synge & Shaw as well as the modern masters Edna O’Brien, Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann and a dozen others.

Discounted and early bird tickets for all or part of the conference can be obtained from the BooksGoSocial website for the event:

Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
Laurence O’Bryan, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“BooksGoSocial Writers’ Conference June 26-28th 2015” –
Ggggg “File:Dublin Castle.jpg” – Mike Peel, Wikimedia Commons (11 August 2005)

ARCS: A way for indie authors to self-promote and get great reviews

For writers and poets looking to escape the cycle of a million rejections by mainstream publishers and who would prefer to go it alone, self-publishing can be a daunting task. Without the publicity machine offered by the big-name book publishers, it can be hard to find time, energy and money to get your work out there into bookshops and people’s shelves. Plus marketing skills do not naturally come to everyone. Thankfully the internet has made things much easier. Self promotion on ‘indie author’ websites, as well as social networks, has increasingly helped self-driven authors to bypass the suits and agents and reach their potential audience directly. Sites like Amazon are also incredibly friendly towards independent writers, with many niche categories such as vampire fiction, self-help and young adult (YA) being catered for with a sympathetic understanding of what makes their readers tick.

(c) Tsgreer/Wikimedia Commons

The portability and capacity of ebook readers gives authors another means of sending copies out to potential reviewers.

As the World Wide Web has revolutionised the marketing and distribution of prose and poetry, there is a small risk of authors and writers losing sight of the basic, well-weathered means of getting a book ‘out there’. The old-fashioned traditional means of getting one’s book in front of the noses of decision makers and supporters have not suddenly become obsolete several years into the digital age. Thankfully a website offering services to authors has published in plain English a useful and traditional means of enabling potential customers and agents a chance to really see, feel and read your book, as opposed to a quick bio on an online bookstore.

Advance Reader Copies (known in the publishing industry by their acronym ‘ARCs’ for convenience) are preview copies of an author’s work made available by a publisher, or even the author themselves. For publishers, they are routine means of field-testing a book and are made available to journalists and reviewers in order for them to promote and critique a work. ARCs are usually books at their rawest state of presentation – bound, uncorrected, plain-covered proofs. This is partly industry tradition, partly a means of reviewers appreciating and critiquing the book deeply without subconsciously judging it by its cover.

The article encourages authors to turn themselves into one-man or one-woman publishers and have an ARC of their work ready and running to show to friends, family, or anyone who can give them good advice on improving and fine-turning their project. Further afield, an author’s ARC can be useful for passing on to opinion makers and experts in the publishing and media industries. Aim for delivering ARCs to reviewers, media contacts and other influencers, preferably before the official launch of your book, as this will help you gauge response and opinion-based perception, which might give hints to how well the book will be received in public.

Authors who are self-publishing for the first time, at the beginning of a paid writing career, or with limited funds would do best to create an e-book rather than churning out physical copies at great expense. The advantage of e-books are two-fold. You can reel off as many copies as you feel like, and the recipient is not lumbered with a large tome to leaf through. Naturally, you will also save a fortune in printing, binding and postage costs too. Media contacts, and in some cases, bloggers are a good go-to source. If you do have a list of media contacts, the article advises you to send the e-book with a covering letter, just as you would if applying for a job. Remember you are trying to promote your book and get noticed by the journalists/reviewers in question. Always when contacting a news outlet to make sure your brief is addressed to a named individual, rather than addressing it to some faceless and anonymous ‘Book Reviewer’. If you do not have that trusty black book of contacts, then build one up. Search on Twitter for media persons and bloggers on Twitter and follow them. Find useful contacts for journalists in specialist author’s/writing magazine and local/national newspaper outlets and write up an email to gauge their likely interest. Speak with fellow independent authors and exchange contacts. Like in many careers, it is often who you know that gets the job done as much as, if not more, than having the knowhow to get said job done.

Another point worth mentioning that just like applying for a job, you need to make your covering letter stand out from the others in the journalist’s postbag or email inbox. Especially for those authors writing in popular genres like romance and sci-fi, you may well not be the only jobbing writer pitching to a busy journalist and there is only so many reviews they are able to pen in a day in addition to a busy schedule decided by their editor.

(c) Josip Vranjkovic & Tomislav Hengl/Wikimedia Commons

The cover letter should of course introduce the book, but also offer a brief one-page pitch explaining why the person you are targetting should read the book and review it, or even better, give you an interview about your new publication. The more reviews you can get the better. The article advises indie authors to collect reviews from readers on Amazon, and of course they should be strong positive ones. Contacting book bloggers who specialise in your genre is also a great help and it means that their blogs’ visitors will pick up on your book, read it and lend their viewpoint too.

Furthermore, you can discover potential reviewers on a site named NetGalley. This site will happily host authors’ ARCs (in electronic form) and ‘early reads’ (previews) for bloggers, librarians and media people. Alternatively be a bit more direct and approach reviewers on Facebook, Twitter, Google + as well as specialist book sites like Goodreads.

If you write in a particular genre or with a niche audience in mind, soliciting the opinions of experts in that field can also have the advantage of acquiring useful feedback and quotes that you can incorporate into the blurb or introduction of your final published piece. Effective use of ARCs can pay dividends to authors. You create a buzz around your book and more people will sit up and take notice. The end result: your book will have a launch to remember and you can very well make writing and self-publishing a viable and exciting career – which it should be.

For more information and useful links on ARCs, how to make them work for your writing career and further advice, you can find the article cited here by clicking on the link in this blogpost’s ‘Sources’ section below.


Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK
Katherine L. Logan on Twitter LINK
“Use ARCs to Create a Buzz Before You Launch Your Book” – Biff Barnes, Stories to Tell (26 October 2013) LINK
“File:AmazonKindleUser2.jpg” – ‘tsgreer’/Wikimedia Commons (3 March 2008) LINK
“File:The Unofficial Guide for Authors (book cover).png” – Josip Vranjkovic & Tomislav Hengl/Wikimedia Commons (22 August 2011) LINK

COKE Vs. PEPSI: Coca-Cola drinkers do better in life

Vijay Shah

English: A Coke pin
English: A Coke pin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cola brands Coca-Cola and Pepsi have long battled it out to be the soft drink of choice, with millions of US dollars spent annually on advertising campaigns including lucrative tie-ins with celebrities as well as their never-ending domination of the international drinks market. Despised by health campaigners for their high sugar content and loved by thirsty people everywhere, the two kings of cola have become an inescapable part of modern consumerist culture. 

Dating from the 19th century and originally developed as a medicinal product, Coca-Cola has historically usually retained the dominant market share over Pepsi, although Pepsi has long challenged this with a flurry of highly successful marketing campaigns, including the infamous ‘Pepsi Challenge’ of the 1980s, in which members of the public were invited to sample Pepsi and other colas in a blind taste test in the hope that they would inevitably find Pepsico‘s flagship product the better-tasting. The televised taste tests involving random strangers in shopping malls lead to a very tough skirmish in the Great War of Fizzy Pop fought between the company and arch-rival Coca-Cola-Schweppes Inc, which did earnestly helped Pepsi capitalise on the lift it got from its promotions involving the late pop singer Michael Jackson.

pepsi (Photo credit: *Sally M*)

The fact that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are now positioned as an integral cause-and-effect on our lives now has not gone unnoticed. Apart from being blamed for adding fuel to the fire in the obesity crisis affecting developed countries, a report by mercantile magazine Business Insider claims that consumption of cola can even affect, or at least make a statement on, how successful you are in life, from your academic and employment prospects, to the kind of friends you keep.

Now doing the rounds on Twitter, the Business Insider article (published in 2011) quotes from a study that claims with near-scientific precision that drinkers of Coca-Cola are more likely to have graduated from university (college) than Pepsi drinkers.  They are more likely to be multilingual, which might explain why Coca-Cola is very popular in multi-ethnic localities and in countries where several languages are spoken.

The report, by a technological research company named and sent out from their HQ in New York City, also claims Coke drinkers have more varied and ‘middle-class’ tastes in food. They are more likely to plump for exotic munches like sushi and caviar, while at least in my experience, any east Londoner can tell you that Pepsi works wonders with a side of chicken burger and chips. Not surprisingly  the report claims that Pepsi drinkers are more insular in their snack choices, at least in America, where their meal of the day is overwhelmingly American cuisine. You can appreciate the international mindset of Coke drinkers further, as the report further claims that they are six more times likely to own a passport than the less well-travelled consumer of Pepsi. In fact, the average Pepsi drinker may have not seen the inside of a plane or coach in at least six months.

Not only are Coke drinkers more likely to be educated to tertiary level on average but they are more likely to be popular with their future boss as well. The average Coke drinker will have a marked tendency to show up early for interviews or the start of the working shift, whereas Pepsi drinkers will either breeze in at the exact time or even show up late, which might not do their employment chances much a load of good.

In the US again, the discerning Coke fan chooses more intricate reading material for leisure and news, preferring to read the New York Times on their lunch breaks at the sushi bar, while Pepsi pickers will leaf through something tabloidy like USA Today.

Soft Drink Crates, Bangkok
Soft Drink Crates, Bangkok (Photo credit: Austronesian Expeditions)

It’s not just what they eat or read that is vastly different. Coke and Pepsi drinkers  have very different attitudes towards entertainment too. A Coke consumer will more likely be hanging out at the art gallery, theatre or some other cultural venue appreciating the intellectual and informative, while Pepsi drinkers are more inclined to stay at home, drape over the sofa and watch the flicker of a plasma screen, with a cold glass of the blue-labelled cola-nut infused stuff in hand no doubt. Ironically many places of interest will not allow any soft drinks to be consumed on their premises.

Speaking of television, the report also shows a differences in the viewing habits of American coke lovers. The average Coke drinker will watch more mentally-involving shows like CSI and David Sedaris, while Pepsi drinkers prefer light entertainment and chat shows like Everybody Loves Raymond and Ellen DeGeneres.

The research certainly has thrown up some interesting facts about these two very different classes of soft drinks consumers, but it is also a snapshot of how brand affinity is welded to socio-economic group in the north American continent, even though Coke and Pepsi are more or less the same product in different coloured packaging. What it also reminds us as well is that how people have now defined themselves, their personalities and their outlooks using brands as the pegs to construct popularity and societal acceptance. Consumers are now using brands as markers of self-definition, as advertising becomes more inescapable in the ‘Internet age’.

For those who are curious as to whether this article’s author prefers Coca-Cola or Pepsi… normally I prefer Coke, but when I am eating a fiery curry or sweltering in 30*C-plus heat, I honestly do not care.

RELATED NEWS from Zemanta

Vijay Shah { विजय } on Twitter LINK
OMG Facts on Twitter LINK
“Coke drinkers are more likely to have graduated college than Pepsi drinkers!” – OMG Facts LINK
“The REAL Differences Between Coke And Pepsi People” – Alana Horowitz, Business Insider/Business Insider, Inc. (13 May 2011) LINK
“About Hunch” – Hunch Inc. LINK

WE WILL FIND YOU!!: Nestlé’s GPS chocolate bar promotion

It is a cool summer’s morning. A random person enters a newsagents to buy a quick chocolate-based snack to quieten his/her growling stomach. He or she is no different to any other random person milling around the high street. He/she buys a Kit-Kat, tears through its wrapper and begins extracting the crunchy chocolate and wafer fingers. Suddenly the sky turns black as a dark military helicopter appears overhead. In amongst the sudden strong winds and flying crisp packets, streams of commandos rappel down and surround the random person. All hell seems to be breaking loose. A  commando kneels in front of the bemused chocaholic and opens a suitcase.

Is our hungry friend on Interpol’s most wanted list? Are they about to be enlisted into a top-secret government project to arrest a notorious cocoa bean smuggling kingpin in Ghana?  No, our friend has just won the princely sum of £10,000 (about US$16,200), thanks to Nestlé’s newest innovative cash giveaway promotion.

(c) Tegato

The manufacturer behind the well-known KitKat and KitKat Chunky chocolate bars has put out special products which have a GPS chip embedded in them. As soon as someone purchases and opens one of the limited-edition confectionary, the trackers at Nestle HQ are notified. Within 24 hours, the prize team will locate the winner and present them with a cheque for £10,000. The company’s UK communications manager, Graham Walker announced “Nestlé Confectionery is delighted to be first to market with this highly innovative GPS based promotion. We believe this promotion will particularly appeal…and thus driving incremental sales.” Six lucky bars will soon find themselves on the shelves of stores at undisclosed locations in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. Six lucky winners may soon find themselves with a second pay cheque. Or wondering if they are been stalked by an over-enthusiastic and rich The Bill fan.

In addition to the money giveaway, Nestle UK are also running a two week long billboard campaign and a series of specially-branded products. With some help from publicity agency JWT London, 3,000 posters which come with QR & NFC codes are being erected at bus stops. Scan these with a smartphone and you will be taken to a website where you can enter another competition via Facebook to win one of 2,000 £10 prizes. Treasure seekers can also find out if any GPS-enabled treats are still waiting to be found.

A prospective customer tries out the special QR codes on Nestle’s new GPS comp posters (c) Mashable

While it is a clever marketing strategy by Nestle, consumers must find it very creepy to simply open up a chocolate bar and then several hours later, find a bunch of strangers with eerily dodgy smiles knocking on their door , telling them that they have won a healthy amount of cash. In a country where there are estimated to be around 2 million CCTV cameras which catch individuals on their lenses 300 times a day in London alone, this approach by Nestle does feel like Big Brother gone mad.

Advertising agencies are watching Nestlé’s development with interest. Agency PSFK described the GPS giveaway as being a real-life Willy Wonka competition. In the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl, the reclusive chocolate entrepreneur Willy Wonka places golden tickets inside his chocolate bars offering their finders a tour of his magical factory.

Other branding managers are more doubting. Danie Gomez-Ortigoza of the blog Branding Worth Spreading comments that “There’s money, there’s chocolate, but there is no story behind the promotion. There is no magic.  Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory made us dream, while Nestle is simply doing an average promotion using GPS technology that aims to build short term sales, but doesn’t do much for the brand long term.” Perhaps from a marketing point of view, Nestle have a ‘one-trick pony’ that may eventually buck and leave them back where they started, with no real impact on their sales. As it is, already a sizeable amount of companies do cash prizes/giveaways of varying degrees, and it is a tried-and-trusted form of product marketing in developed countries, appealing to consumers’ base desires for wealth and prosperity.

Nestlé’s GPS money giveaway certainly can make someone’s dream come true, especially in these days of austerity. That amount of money could mean a fun family holiday, or some badly-needed home improvements. Most people would just love the chance to acquire a lump sum of useful cash, as the popularity of the National Lottery can testify.  However this could well be a corporate invasion of people’s privacy, and publicity they do not want. When you have pensioners being swindled or robbed by cold-callers and a government that has nothing seemingly better to do than know every detail about you and track your every move, would the fact that now a private profit making organisation can do that with relative ease assuage worries that Orwell’s dystopian world is rapidly becoming reality…?. It is probably advisable to watch for flashing lights and antennae the next time you pick up a Hovis loaf…

The Nestle ‘We Will Find You” prize giveaway will run on selected and marked KitKat, KitKat Chunky, Yorkie and Aero bars only in the British Isles.

CLICK picture below to view Nestlé’s advert that appeared recently on British television:

(c) PocketGPSWorld





CCTV User Group – March 2011 from LINK

“Investigation: A sharp focus on CCTV” – Heather Brooke ( Nast Digital) LINK

“We will find you – Nestle” – Danie Gomez-Ortigoza (Branding Worth Spreading) LINK

“We will find you’ marketing gone wild: Candy bars that guarantee stalkers” – Ms Smith (Network World) LINK

“Nestlé runs GPS-fitted chocolate bars competition” – Nick Batten (Campaign/Haymarket Business Media) LINK

“Nestle Embeds GPS In Chocolate Bars For Real-Life ‘Golden Ticket’ Contest” – Emma Hutchings (PSFK) LINK

“Kit Kat’s ‘We Will Find You’ campaign – GPS-tracked chocolate bars (Chocolate & Anxiety)” Autodespair LINK