We caught up with Propercorn's Becky Akers — to find out more about thinking behind their brilliantly bold recent outdoor campaign and the effects its been having.
One of our very first Company Members, Propercorn has recently rolled out its first advertising campaign. For Londoners, it's a move that can hardly have gone unnoticed, with the brand's bold and enlivening popcorn pattern becoming a cheering presence across the capital.
The activation has seen billboards and buses papered and wrapped, alongside interactive installations in Brixton and Shoreditch — designed in partnership with set design supremo Rachel Thomas.
Propercorn launched in 2011. It's packets of popped kernels have since been determinedly making their way into the hands of hungry, health-conscious snackers — appearing everywhere from supermarket aisles to the front rows of London Fashion Week. The campaign heralds Propercorn's ambitious plans for growth, and we spoke to Creative Producer Becky Akers to find out more about the thinking behind the campaign, and where the team is hoping it will lead.
Rather than opting to outsource the creative, the concept was developed by Propercorn’s own team of designers. “When outsourcing, we’ve always found that there’s a disconnect,” Becky explains. “No-one knows the brand like we do — we spend every day living, breathing and eating the stuff!”
The resulting aesthetic is arresting. As Becky describes, it's “recessive branding, next-to-no messaging, just a beautifully vibrant pattern that communicates the brand's youthfulness.” A positive consequence of developing the creative in-house, the campaign effectively captures the bold personality of the young British brand, which still describes itself as a startup.
Instead of looking to other FMCG brands, the team draws inspiration from fashion labels such as Kenzo and Anya Hindmarch. “Our approach goes against a lot of marketing principles,” Becky acknowledges, “but we strive to champion design, placing it at the forefront of everything that we do.”
Featuring giant popcorn vending machines, live entertainment and a host of other social activities, the engaging installations evidence the brand’s social approach.
Created in collaboration with Rachel Thomas, the activations are also testament to the brand's committment to design. It's a partnership that has certainly contributed to the idiosyncratic nature of the campaign. As Becky explains, "Working with the brand for the first time, Rachel was able to approach the aesthetic with fresh eyes, breaking up, manipulating and playing with our 2D pattern." An illusory element was infusused into the brand's playful pattern — "By adding a 3D quality to the kernels, she really brought the Shoreditch and Brixton installations to life."
The large-scale out-of-home format is also key to the brand’s strategy, which expressly aims to encourage organic online engagement. “People go online with a purpose,” Becky says, “they are not there to be inundated with pop-up ads and advertising slogans. To us, organic user-generated content is a far more successful digital measure than the number of impressions our ad has had. We wanted to transform ordinary urban spaces into colourful hubs of social activity, where a consumer has the choice to engage with the brand or walk on.”
Londoners can still enjoy the sight of the brand around the city, and we'll be keeping an eye out for where Propercorn will pop up next.
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