critical reading september 2022

Honest marketing, accessible OOH & the continued rise of BeReal

It’s September, which means it’s time for #005 of CriticalReading – your resource for the sharpest insights and trends across Strategy, Creative, Performance and Communications.

This month, we’re discussing Pot Noodle’s ultra-honest marketing, some big waves in the out-of-home industry, and the continued rise of 2022’s hottest social media app – BeReal. Let’s get into it.

Strategy: Honesty is distinctive 🍜

In the last few weeks Pot Noodle has been running a social and display campaign to let people know that its Lost The Pot products no longer taste ‘terrible’. Launched in 2020, Lost The Pot products are packaged in a wrapper rather than a pot, have a lower price than the standard Pot Noodle and presumably have received some negative customer feedback about how they taste!


Pot Noodle has responded with a completely honest campaign with a tone that’s exactly what you would expect from the often provocative brand. The campaign is reminiscent of Carlsberg’s 2019 reformulation when it admitted it was “Probably NOT the best beer in the world” and KFC’s chicken crisis.

So, what does this mean?

In a world where it’s so easy for customers to broadcast negative experiences, it’s crucial that brands take ownership of any slip ups. When a brand demonstrates genuine effort to make things right, people tend to be forgiving and often end up feeling more positively towards the brand.

Making a radical level of transparency the platform for a campaign is a highly distinctive approach. It’s possibly the ultimate zag to everyone else’s zig. It’s a great way to drive fame and brand reappraisal, which for Pot Noodle, as a low-priced food brand, is very well timed for the period of financial hardship we’re now in.

Creative: Things that make you go OOH 🔥

You might think it’s the season of fantastically epic TV programmes right now, what with the premieres of Rings of Power and the House of Dragons. Yet really, it’s the season of fantastically epic outdoor posters. Brands like Muller Corner, Yorkshire Tea and, yes, HBO’s House of Dragons have all unleashed some eye-catching out of home campaigns recently and had everybody pointing.

house of the dragon ooh

So, what does this mean?

Why does such an ostensibly old-fashioned medium as the outdoor poster continue to be so popular? Surely we’re all staring at our phones now. Certainly less of us are commuting. Yet thanks to 3D special builds and some digital magic, the poster’s appeal has never been stronger. The reason? What other medium makes its point so concisely in such an engaging way? No waffle, no time wasting. A poster is basically a visual espresso; it’s creativity in its purest, most impactful form.

And that strength had led to another. A poster’s brevity makes it perfect for sharing on social. Suddenly one poster on one site in one city can have a global audience. That’s why our team always enjoy working on the numerous out of home campaigns we create for Asda, Greggs and Northern. Such briefs are the perfect way to keep one’s creative muscles in shape. The outdoor poster has been around for some 150 plus years. It’s nice to know there’s life in the old dragon yet.

Performance: Google adds Digital Out of Home 🪧

Google has added digital out-of-home ads to Display and Video 360, allowing brands easy access to digital screens in the ‘real world’. It means advertisers will be able to use digital targeting, activating and optimising their campaigns in near real time. It’s a move that starts to bridge the gap between digital and traditional media, which is a positive thing.


However, it is something a lot of DSPs have the capabilities of already, our Google partner Amobee advised. It’ll be interesting to see how this new feature performs, what the CPMs look like and what the inventory availability is like compared to a direct buy with media partnerships. Our concern is, as always with new features, the quality of the inventory – most likely the ‘good’ placements will be bought up first via direct buys. But time will tell!

So, what does this mean?

The addition of digital out-of-home is definitely something to keep an eye on, and if you’ve got the budget and creative to test it, absolutely something to add into the channel mix. As with any new feature, take it slow and steady, and keep a close eye on your analytics.

Communications: BeReal just got realer 📸

Back in issue 001 we scribed about the rise of BeReal, a new social media app with a focus on authenticity. Fast forward three months, and it’s clear that BeReal is no flash in the pan. In fact, hot off the back of Instagram copying BeReal’s key USP in the form of its ‘dual’ feature, BeReal has surpassed Instagram in weekly US downloads. Just nine months ago, Insta was getting almost 100 times more downloads than BeReal. Between July and August, BeReal has had almost 2m more downloads than the out-of-vogue social media heavyweight. Ouch, that’s got to hurt.

the rise of bereal


BeReal’s rise in prominence has come at a time when Instagram is on the demise. Instagram’s relentless push of short-form video, testing of vertical feeds and plummeting reach has had creators reeling (get it?), with even the Kardashians calling to ‘make Instagram Instagram again’.

So, what does this mean?

BeReal offers savvy brand marketers a chance to give their audiences an inside scoop of company culture. Whilst BeReal hasn’t figured out how to monetise the platform, with the traction it’s getting, it’s only a matter of time. If you can make BeReal work for your own brand, stay ahead of the curve and reap the rewards.

Critical Reads 💡

🔗 CreativeBoom lists some of 2022’s biggest trends in packaging design. Lovely stuff.

🔗 Google’s begun rolling out its Helpful Content Update, as it continues its quest to de-rank sites that create content solely for SEO.

🔗 Spotify Advertising saw its best-ever year after running a hyper-personalised B2B campaign targeted at 14 CMOs.

🔗 Charity Cafe Art gives out 100 single-use cameras to people affected by homelessness. The resulting photos are turned into a calendar, sold on the streets to help people out of poverty.

Event of the moment 🌟

How to use behavioural biases and nudges to improve your marketing results

🖥 Webinar: How to use behavioural biases to improve your performance and brand marketing – 28th September. We’re teaming up with Prolific North to host a webinar on behavioural biases in marketing. We’ll be exploring nudges and cognitive biases, what they mean for marketers, and real-life examples of where they’ve been used to great effect.

CreativeRace is a a fully integrated, independent marketing agency based in Leeds. Follow & subscribe to keep up to date with the sharpest trends & insights across strategy, performance, creative and communications.