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The Launch Lowdown: Ford puts you in Focus and Bulldog takes on plastics

By Alexis Eyre | head of marketing

August 23, 2018 | 6 min read

Football didn’t come home. Danny Dyer didn’t storm the Love Island villa, all pwopa geeza style. Stockpiling resources is completely normal now. Despite the blistering heat and charred, flaky corpses under your feet, last month was a bit of a washout.

ford focus

But wait! What’s that? A load of launches that highlighted the very best, the most forward-thinking products and marketing across a multitude of industries? Yeah. That happened.

Sacha Baron Cohen arguably one-upped Brass Eye

Chris Morris’ Brass Eye was satire perfected. It could do things without being uncovered by a simple Google search on your victim’s mobile.

But that was 21 years ago. It’s 2018. We’re one step away from microchipping our kids. But still, somehow, Sacha Baron Cohen’s slipped under the radar again. His new show, Who is America?, has him dupe the public and celebrities into exposing their true feelings. Again. Teased on Cohen’s social media, a doctored message from Donald Trump – who was tricked back in the Ali G days – arrived on Independence Day. Five days later, the show was officially announced. Six days after that, it aired.

Every day it seemed something new was revealed in these short, sharp bursts. Dick Cheney was seen autographing a ‘waterboarding kit’ – this was then auctioned on eBay. Cohen got a Republican state representative to run around screaming racist slurs – he subsequently resigned. The minimalist teasing allowed the show’s launch to focus on its subject matter, forcing everyone to take a long, hard look at those who’ll do anything for a photo opp.

Ford AI installation goes all 50 Shades of 1984

The word ‘FOCUS’. Six metres high. 30 metres long. 540 LED video titles across it. Bit Orwellian at first glance, but it’s actually just Ford promoting its latest Focus model.

Well, ‘just’ sells it a bit short. This activation popped up near Tower Bridge – and while it’s not an inflatable, bare-chested Jeff Goldblum, it was still worth seeing. Visitors went up to the AI-enabled monolith and told it their passion – the installation then displayed an image of the person alongside photos and video of that chosen subject. You could share your camera roll and socials with it for greater personalisation, otherwise it’d do its damnedest to recreate that 12-hour Warhammer battle you remember so fondly. Or, come to think of it, Jeff Goldblum…

Will it encourage people to buy the new Ford Focus? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s certainly put the brand in good stead for future launches. It’s innovative. It’s fun. It’s a brand that actually wants to engage with people. Even if that means mining the deepest, darkest recesses of their socials.

H&M Home makes it easier to spend money on stuff we probably don’t need. But we do need it… don’t we?

We’ve come a long way since Ikea's awkward AR tool, where you’d randomly place virtual objects you had no intention of buying in your house. Sure, why can’t we put that zebra-print sofa in the bathroom? In the bath?

But now, H&M Home's collaborated with Google to launch a voice app that not only visualises your dream interior designs, but also gives you an imaginary friend, in the form of a voice assistant, to convince you that yes, you do need that zebra-print sofa. Just maybe not in the bath.

In a world of cutesy interactions and novel ideas, this is a standout example of a brand using a smart speaker to actually do something useful. Something meaningful, something convenient.

Because ultimately, this launch is about connecting H&M’s digital and physical front. And it works, making the experience easier, keeping consumers hooked when they’re waiting to use the shower, when they should be sleeping. It’s filling their free time with brand time in a positive way. And you can do it from your bed.

Sustainable razor aims to save world, postman’s hands

We want to look good – we’ve got selfies to take. But we can’t look good if we keep destroying the environment. For we will be dead.

Bulldog Skincare For Men acknowledged this, launching an eco-friendly bamboo razor that’s set to fight the increase of wasteful, subscription-based shaving services. Everything from the plastic to the ink is kind to the earth – as Bulldog said itself: “Millions have been spent building a sharper razor. The reality is that most blades are now sharp enough.” Quite.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like the most radical launch, the most revolutionary. But it’s vital. More brands need to do this, not just with one product – across the entire catalogue, embedding eco-friendly values into the bones of its day-to-day operations. Only then can we hope to stop our planet turning into a giant, revolving bin-bag.

Will we reach the end of August for the next Launch Lowdown? Will we melt? Will the government ration our internet? These are uncertain times. But at least there were some good launches.

Alexis Eyre is head of marketing at launch specialist agency Five by Five

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