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


Should retailers and manufacturers be concerned about 3D printing changing the toy industry?

It is fair to say that across the past few years ‘3D Printing’ has been a hot topic amongst many in the toy industry. With the introduction of consumer 3D printers it is now easier than ever, albeit expensive, for consumers to produce their own products.

There is wide debate within the trade press on whether 3D printing will revolutionise the toy industry for the better or whether it will prove a hindrance to companies and consumers alike.

It was only last year that some toy retailers and manufactures embraced the medium.  Following Hasbro’s Super Hero month in September 2014, the toy company teamed with 3D printing company 3DPlusMe to launch its ‘Super Awesome Me’ campaign that allowed fans to use the in store 3D printers and place their own faces on Iron Man or Captain America action figures.

Toys R Us also teamed up with PieceMaker Technologies to run in-store 3D printing services in two of its US stores. The PieceMaker Factory programme allows shoppers the opportunity to create their own custom charms and key chains amongst other things, with the process taking less than 30 minutes.

Whilst this creates a novel experience for consumers and potentially reduces the cost to consumers it is proving the need for customisation and on demand toys. One UK Company MakieLab has already taken advantage with their 3D printed Makie Dolls that has already won awards including a BAFTA nomination. The brand allows ‘young fans to create their own avatar using an online ‘factory’, the user can then pay to have the creation printed and sent to them as a bespoke doll’.

Whilst this certainly benefits manufactures who are embracing the change and consumers who are striving for customisation and toys on demand, will retailers be by-passed with an increase in manufactures selling the electronic files straight to the end user?


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…