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The Launch Lowdown checks out Virgin Active's CPR class & personalised Johnnie Walker

By James Roles | Columnist

June 15, 2018 | 6 min read

GDPR. That wasn’t quite as bad as we thought, was it? You can crawl out of your bunker now.

virgin active

And, if your bunker was particularly well padded, so deep underground you couldn’t get any Wi-Fi, then you might have missed some of May’s more interesting launches. To quote Ferris Bueller, in an alternate universe where he works in marketing and doesn’t pull a sickie: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t opt in, you might miss some very important stuff.”

Or something to that effect.

Rihanna continues quest for world domination

While no man, woman, child or anyone else will come close to Gene Simmons’ branding lunacy – he signed off the KISS coffin, he won – Rihanna’s giving him a run for his money. Because, well, her output actually seems a little more relevant. Designed for real people.

Fresh from launching her all-inclusive, critically lauded Fenty Beauty range in September, the Barbadian hit machine partnered with cosmetics chain Sephora to offer Italian customers an immersive in-store experience. Coinciding with Fenty’s Summer Body Essentials launch, the experience boasted a ball pit full of pom-poms, a lippy-shaped megaphone through which visitors could broadcast their ‘confessions’ (take from that what you will); and, most importantly, it featured an interactive, sculptural wall covered in all of Fenty’s infinite shades.

Rihanna has tapped into something special here. Her product is genuinely diverse, and this launch delved further into that, offering something fun, something beyond the brand’s initial purpose and mission statement. But is it as revolutionary as the KISS/Hello Kitty co-branded toilet paper? Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Virgin Active shows gym bunnies how to revive friends who go too hard

Virgin Active is a fitness club. Pretty obvious. But in Thailand, it’s launched an initiative that serves a purpose far beyond the usual zeitgeist-ish, portmanteau-heavy (Yogasize, anyone?) stuff this sector is accustomed to. Because, it transpires, most Thais have little-to-no CPR practice. So CPROBIC has qualified trainers come down to the class, integrating CPR moves into balance training. Clocking in at just 45 minutes, the class manages to blast 400 calories. And the accompanying campaign video, its music synchronised with the beating of a figurative heart, almost makes me want to down tools and head for the gym. Almost.

Personalise whisky all you like, but not to the point where you put an ‘e’ before the ‘y’. That’s not allowed

It’s easy to capitalise on whisky. It’s a luxury, but not so much that it’s unattainable. Slap any old logo onto it and you’ll get people through the door – I’m sure Motorhead’s whisky is lovely, but it’s undoubtedly shifted more units due to the fact that it’s already launching to a captive audience.

So it’s nice to see some genuine innovation, something properly different launching in this sector. Johnnie Walker’s new concept, My Edition, is essentially the whisky world’s ‘Which Harry Potter character?’ quiz. And it’s great. Coaxing you in through an online portal, you answer a series of questions. Based on your answers, you’re subsequently directed to one of six malt profiles – maybe you’re Vibrant & Spicy, or a little bit of Fresh & Delicate. The glass bottle is then personalised and engraved before being sent to you – you’d almost expect it to include a photo of your face on the bottle cap.

Johnnie Walker could’ve just released six new malts. That would’ve been event enough. Instead, this launch hooks people in, allowing them to discover what their preferred tones might be. It gives seasoned drinkers the chance to explore, and newbies an opportunity to get it right the first time. And all right – £75 per bottle isn’t exactly cheap. But good whisky isn’t.

Channel 4 puts its money where its mouth is, for the 4374845534728th time

Sometimes, Channel 4 has a habit of making everyone else look dreadful. Its Diversity In Advertising Award is one such occasion. Every year, it focuses on an underrepresented demographic in advertising. The first year’s iteration focused on physical disability, whereas last year’s edition shone a light on non-visible disabilities. Now, launching a new drive in 2018, the initiative concentrates on the portrayal of women.

Because, as the #MeToo movement has grimly highlighted to anyone under this illusion, of course women need representation. Not just more representation. Equal representation. The chance to be shown in a fairer light, beyond the usual ad stereotypes and tired tropes. So Channel 4 wants to redress the balance. And yes, the prize of £1m commercial airtime might be a nice incentive. But that winning ad gets published, launched into the public domain, backed by big money and a big broadcaster.

Channel 4 shouldn’t have to do this. But the fact that it is speaks volumes.

James Roles is sales and marketing director at launch specialist agency Five by Five

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