GM Thought of the Week: iPhone X – How’s the Reception?

For the last decade, early September has become a second Christmas for technophiles like me. The setting may have been brand new, but it was the same excited fervour as Apple launched their new products in The Steve Jobs Theatre, California on Tuesday. I’m not going to dwell on the intricacy of new features too much (check out for that), but I will say that the facial recognition and advanced augmented reality features grabbed me: what potential. I have to admit that I raised an eyebrow at the omission of the home button. It’s like removing Lionel Messi from the Barcelona team: of course there’s a functional future without it, but you’re removing an iconic piece of a legendary set up that has been around for 10 years…it will take some getting used to.


I want to focus on what this handset means for our target market: namely kids and youth. Well, I wouldn’t expect to see your average 9 year old clutching an iPhone X any time soon: the device will cost £1,000, so pay monthly contracts will likely see a steep increase. For kids, prohibitively so. But given the popularity of the X and the slightly cheaper iPhone 8, what we can expect to see is the further proliferation of handsets into the kids space as parents upgrade and “old” phones (less than 2 years old in some cases) are distributed amongst the family. This means smartphones go into the hands of progressively younger children. As a result, tech literacy, app downloads and social media activity expand. Consider for example that over a third of kids aged 3-4 now access YouTube. Advertisers in the kids space need to ensure that their marketing strategy is mobile first – or at least consider how and where their content and message is going to be consumed. How can we engage our audience through this ever more intrinsic online gateway?


Will I be investing in an iPhone X? It’s futuristic, it’s exciting, it’s stupendously expensive. Of course I will.


Martin Doyle, Head of Digital


Does mobile app advertising prove that TV is as strong as ever despite growth in digital ad spend?

We were recently once again reminded of the imposing shadow digital ad spend is casting over the media landscape. Over 50% of all UK ad spend is projected to be deployed on digital media in 2015, making the UK the first territory on the planet where this benchmark has been breached.

Surely this means that other forms of media, and in particular TV, are on the demise and therefore not as relevant in today’s media market? Not necessarily – with c.£16.2bn predicted to be spent on all forms of advertising in 2015, there remains significant scale for TV to once again prove its worth.

Somewhat ironically, it is the advertising spend of mobile based apps such as Supercell’s Clash of Clans and’s Candy Crush that are demonstrating the power of TV advertising. These two, amongst others, have been an almost constant presence on our TV screens in 2015. In fact, during the period 1st Jan-22nd Mar 2015 over 70% of the UK population (aged 4+) – that’s over 41m of us – have seen a Clash of Clans advert at least once.

This heavy-weight use of TV by companies firmly entrenched in the digital world is a clear indication that TV still has a very important part to play when planning and buying effective media campaigns. There is also an argument to be made that TV will continue to grow alongside digital media. Take Facebook for example – in order to sustain online user numbers that justify such large digital ad spend figures, Facebook has embarked on a heavy consumer marketing campaign. At the forefront of this activity – what else but TV…


Talking Toys Saturate The Toy Market

Today’s toy market exhibits an era of smart technological toys as artificial intelligence and connected tech is being used to create more interactive and stimulating plays for children. Hello Barbie has recently been announced as a talking toy developed to join My Friend Cayla in a product makeover for traditional toys. Hello Barbie and My Friend Cayla are learning dolls that allow children to speak to the toy and receive answers. Interactive smart toys are a trend taking over the industry as companies move away from pre-formed recordings to informal two-way conversations allowing children to gain unique relationships with their toys.

Vivid’s Cayla doll uses speech recognition and Google translation tools as a smart upgrade to a classic doll. Mattel’s Hello Barbie will allow children to speak to the doll in real time, ask questions and hear jokes. The doll is expected to retail at £49 and will have features allowing the doll to listen to a child’s conversation and refer to it at a later stage. For example, if a child mentions that they enjoy dancing, the doll will refer to this fact at a later stage, just as humans have conversations.

In order to interact, the Hello Barbie doll will need to be connected to Wi-Fi and the doll will listen to children through a chest mounted micand speaker. These interactive upgrades are allowing a new age take on traditional toys. Although Barbie is 56 years old to date, Hello Barbie will allow the brand a well needed update, moving from a traditional toy to a tech toy.

Traditional play is increasingly enhanced to match today’s digital advancements. The age of children being connected to technology is lowering and these talking toys can be seen as the industry’s answer to connecting traditional toys with technology, keeping the toy market fresh, innovative, evolving and adaptable. However, will these internet connected toys lead to greater risk to children accessing harmful content online? Are these technological toys taking away from imaginative traditional play?

On the whole, I believe that the growing number of talking toys are a great addition to the traditional toy market and that they allow children to play with a doll in a technologically advanced way as well as in a traditional way; allowing children to learn through technology and play in traditionally imaginative ways. I think this is a bold move in the right direction from Mattel particularly with Barbie being so iconic and having such a vast history.