Why Cyber Essentials is essential

cyber_essentials_logoAs a small business committed to working within the Public Sector adding Cyber Essentials to our trophy cabinet of accreditations was a no-brainer. Whilst Cyber Essentials is only mandatory for working with MOD, the government backed scheme is a public demonstration of our commitment to security and information governance.  In the private sector, however, even two years on, is still relatively unknown – so if you are not familiar with the standard here’s a bit of background.

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Why We Love Agile Development (And You Should, Too!)


Whatever your business focus, whether you are a corporate or SME, following Agile methodology will help keep your development project on track. It helps project teams’ deal with many of the most common project pitfalls (such as cost, schedule predictability and scope creep) and keep far more control.

Here’s why we are committed to Agile development.

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GDPR – 12 months and counting

GDPR - 12 months and counting

If you google “GDPR” in 0.40 seconds Google can find almost 2 million results! The mounting crescendo of views and opinions on GDPR is almost deafening. And it’s not surprising, as it is the most important change to data privacy regulations in 20 years.

As we get closer to D-Day, some of the implications are becoming clearer – but one thing is for sure: email marketing has to move with the times. There is a lot of hype around the impact that GDPR will have, but if you pull it back to its bones it is really nothing more than making direct marketing best practice a legislative imperative.

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Is your legacy software a cyber security risk?

The risk that running legacy software can pose your business has now hit mainstream news. And whilst Microsoft quickly and effectively released a patch in response to the Wannacry attack that hit the NHS, among others, earlier this month – a valuable lesson has been given to the business world….

So the eyes of the media are focussing on legacy systems. Bespoke unsupported systems that are out of date and presenting their owners with significant cyber security risk as they don’t adhere to best practice or modern quality standards.

But don’t get confused about the key learning of these recent events. Whilst scaremongering stories are starting to appear suggesting it is the bespoke nature of the software which is the element that is a risk factor – fundamentally this is not the case.

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GDPR in a Nutshell for Email Marketers

GDPR in a nutshell

After almost five years of work, the GDPR is set to modernise the European Data Protection Laws that have been in place since 1995. Do you remember what the world was like in 1995? The world is a very different place today than it was just over a decade ago.

GDPR will introduce new ways citizens can control how their personal data is used, with greater responsibilities on both data controllers and data processers. The idea is that it will make the data regulations united across the EU member states, and will apply to all data subjects within the EU. And regardless of Brexit, the ICO is committed to ratifying the European standards.

So, in a nutshell GDPR requires that personally identifiable information is processed lawfully, fairly and transparently. GDPR will have implications throughout your business, but as email marketing is our speciality, below are some of the key things that we feel email marketers need to understand.  Continue reading

Super Bowl Ads 2014


After our look at some of the best Super Bowl adverts of all time recently, we thought it was only right to return to the subject again, this time documenting the successes and failures in the multi-million dollar 2014 market.

The Seattle Seahawks weren’t the only winners at the Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2nd, while some brands lost almost as badly as the Broncos.

To kick thingsoff on a Seahawks-style positive note, Radio Shack’s effort is entertaining, self-aware and packed with great references, and it made me chuckle which is a good way to start.

From all of the adverts I’ve trawled through, I’d say this T-Mobile entry is hands down the most inventive and tongue-in-cheek. Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow didn’t get a new contract this year, but in this ad he showed he has a sense of humour about it…

However, my ultimate Super Bowl advertising champion goes to Bud Light. Mainly because of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a mullet wig, playing “tiny tennis”. But also as there’s a ridiculous amount of other odd, expensive, candid-camera style gimmicks in there too.

On the other hand, it’s hard to say where Bob Dylan comes on the winner/loser scale.

He was a winner for featuring in the 2014 Super Bowl adverts twice, but it might not have done his waning musical credibility the world of good. The ex-folk singer lent his 1966 single I Want You to this advert for Chobani Yogurt, while he also appeared in, and narrated, the most American advert of all time. Seriously. It asks, “Is there anything more American than America?”

As we mentioned in our first article on Super Bowl ads, Budweiser seem to try to dominate the American Football event simply by overwhelming us with so many adverts. The beer brand tried this again in 2014 with not one, but two entries. They’re both a bit cheesy and over-earnest to be honest.

Predictably, considering how much the thirty second ad spots cost, lots of other big, universal brands all gave it a shot. Microsoft’s is touching, Coca-Cola’s strives for American patriotism as well as embracing diversity, Audi’s is plain awful and Maserati’s seems like it’s selling perfume rather than cars.

In fact, very few of the ads seem particularly entertaining, noteworthy or inventive. Chevy go for the comedy aspect but to be honest it just isn’t very good, and while the Toyota ad features The Muppets it still seems a bit phoned-in.

Of course, we won’t know for some time how successful these ads really are. Until sales figures are in plus social media shares and YouTube views slow down and can start to be totted up.

But in terms of their quality, a lot of money is thrown at the ads – on their stars, their soundtracks, their production values and their TV placement – but there’s an incredible lack of inspiration for the most part.

Certainly nothing close to Volkswagen’s The Force commercial from 2011.

Café Rouge are Going Underground



The day before London experienced two days of commuting misery while tube workers held a 48 hour strike, this email from Café Rouge popped into my inbox.

We’ve looked at brilliant reactive email marketing on the e-shot blog before. However, this great example by B&Q was reactive in the truest sense of the term; it appeared in the aftermath of extremely bad storms in the UK.

Café Rouge have gone one step further.

The tube strike was announced well in advance, so they had time to plan and arrange their topical email promotion to arrive in inboxes the day before the transport closures in England’s capital.

So when subscribers opened the message it couldn’t have been any more up-to-date and relevant.

As tempting as it is to swap my dull sandwiches for their moules marinières, my commute doesn’t involve taking the tube – so asking my boss to work from a French restaurant is probably not going to happen.

I’d imagine that’s the same for a lot of people.

Yet while people might not follow the “try working from Café Rouge this week” suggestion in their droves, the email succeeds because it puts the restaurant right into subscribers’ minds with a great offer.

When lunchtime comes around, the “delay free” set menu might be too difficult to resist. Especially if your commute took twice as long as usual (and you had to skip breakfast).

Another company trying to use the strike for their benefit is Innocent Drinks who posted this picture on their Twitter feed (twice within two hours). The problem with Innocent’s tactic is that is seems entirely motivated to gain internet attention, without offering any sort of valuable promotion like Café Rouge’s two-course discount.

Innocent’s “London Transport Options” picture is overbearingly twee and whimsical, as if the whole tube strike was some sort of childhood adventure. Nevertheless, they know their followers well as the tone of the image has definitely worked from a social media standpoint – gaining a combined total of almost 5,000 retweets at the time of writing.

Clearly, reactive marketing can be an extremely worthwhile exercise, whether by email or social media. But only if it’s carried out as expertly as in these two examples.


london transport

Best Super Bowl Adverts of all Time

 In general, I prefer my footballs round, not egg shaped. And I prefer my athletes slight and skilful, not armour-wearing beasts.

But despite my inclination for the world’s most popular sport (and its sensibly shaped sporting equipment), it’s undeniable that the annual Super Bowl is a monumental occasion, especially for advertisers.

In 2013 the average cost of a 30 second Super Bowl TV advert was a ludicrous $4 million. Yet when the average audience of 2013’s event was 108.7 MILLION viewers, you can understand why such a brief advertising opportunity is so highly prized, pricey and widely talked about. Particularly as our age of viral videos and social media sharing means an advert shown once has the potential to bounce around the internet for years to come.

So putting aside my football/soccer prejudices, we decided to curate a countdown of some of the most noteworthy Super Bowl adverts ever. Looking at social media shares and YouTube views as well as the more traditional indicators of cultural impact like longevity. We’ve missed plenty of significant examples, but these are a few of the most important and interesting.

Volkswagen: The Force (2011) You can’t argue with the figures; 5.24 million social shares and over 68 million views makes this the most popular Super Bowl advert of all time, hands down!


Apple: 1984 “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’”. It’s an absolutely brilliant tag line – and a clear indication of the bold and rebellious advertising risks Apple would use for decades to come. Not many people would try to introduce their futuristic computer using imagery of George Orwell’s terrifying, dystopian future. Yet it possibly achieved more for the brand than any Super Bowl ad, before or since. Plus, it was directed by none other than Ridley Scott.


Budweiser: 9/11 Tribute* (2002) This ad was literally aired once – so as not to be seen as making the company money (unlike some of these tribute failures). In the process Budweiser created a touching commercial that has trended every September for the past 11 years and has been shared 3.34 million times on social networks and blogs. Impressive.


READ RELATED ARTICLE: Eulogising or Exploiting? Reactive Marketing Needs to be Careful


Budweiser: Brotherhood* (2013) The watery-flavoured beverage maker hit our list once again, achieving 2.73 million social shares with this tearjerker. It’s a classic bromance tale… Of a man and his horse.


Doritos: Pug Attack (2011) & Casket (2010) These two ads from Doritos achieved a staggering level of success, even more staggering seeing as they had such huge success twice in a row! Hitting 36 million and 50 million views respectively, their slapstick approach clearly went down well with the American public.


And to top it all off, here’s an example of memorable Super Bowl marketing that didn’t require an extortionate TV spot to be hugely successful; Oreo in 2013 (via Twitter).


It’s an exemplary display of real-time marketing that took the digital world by storm.

Posted during a 34 minute power cut at Super Bowl XLVII, the cookie’s social media department jumped into action, tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” with an image of a single Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.”

The message caught on almost immediately, getting over 15,000 retweets and producing countless column inches on websites, blogs and newspapers in the immediate aftermath.

Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream advert has already been banned this year for being “too sexy”, or something ludicrous, while there’s a huge amount of teasers online for 2014’s ads. Yes, you read that right. Teasers. For adverts. What is the world coming to?!

Let us know what you think will take the marketing world by storm at this year’s event or what should have been included in our list on Twitter @e_shot or @copywritertom.


*Budweiser could have made our list over and over again. We practically could have made an entirely Budweiser countdown. I mean, nobody could escape the frogs from 1995 could they?!