October Culture Report


We’re excited to be working with Tony’s Chocolonely, the colourful Dutch chocolate brand that turns purpose on its head. Now the Netherland’s most popular chocolate bar, Tony’s is expanding globally with a campaign led by Idris Elba. While many a brand has belatedly found meaning by taking up a social cause, Tony’s was created explicitly for a purpose – ending slavery in the cocoa industry. After documentary maker Teun van de Keuken saw how the artificially low market price of cocoa pressures farms into using child and forced labour, he created a chocolate company to shame the multinationals who let this slavery continue. Tony’s exists to spread the story and showcase the alternative. It costs a bit more because a living wage actually reaches the farmers. Basically, if you pay less for chocolate you’re encouraging slavery.


Miller Lite lured NFL fans to a fake pirate streaming site filled with their own four-minute spoof.
>> Miller Lite – Cantenna

Squarespace plays it square but gets it right with cleverly observed skater insights.
>> Squarespace – Cult skate brand

Levis’s, Queer Britain and the Post Office try to make a social campaign work without social media – through letter-writing.
>> Levi’s x Post Office x Queer Britain


The beauty industry has enjoyed a make-over during the pandemic, revealing striking features and surprisingly few flaws. Prior to covid, it was retail’s fastest growing sector, with UK spending on beauty and cosmetics an estimated £28bn and forecasted to grow 16.5% by 2023. It resisted a covid downturn thanks to the ‘Lipstick Effect’ – people finding solace in small affordable luxuries. Thanks to beauty sales during quarantine, fashion retailer ASOS even enjoyed a spike, influencing them to increase their beauty offering.

The pandemic accelerated consumers towards digital and away from physical ‘try before you buy’ experiences. AR was quickly essential. After Chanel, Maybelline and Sephora set the pace, MAC joined the AR club in style with Virtual Try On, and then took make-up into the gaming space with Sims 4.

Staying at home, for many, meant more me-time. Candles and bath essentials were winners, and this self-indulgence encouraged plenty of experimentation, driven in no small part by TikTok, and trending TV shows like Euphoria. “Beauty has become a hobby,” declared UK cosmetics site Cult Beauty, which reported a 527% increase on wellbeing products. “Rather like baking, many are taking it up for the first time in lockdown.”

Celebs including Kanye West and Hailey Bieber used the lockdown to announce their own lines, with many more in the pipeline. More interesting perhaps is the expanding cottage industry of make-up influencers launching direct-to-consumer microbrands to monetise their online fame.

Unsurprisingly, mask culture has made an impact. L’Oreal Paris reported a boost in eye make-up as a result, and make-up influencers have queued up to offer mask-based tutorials. Our favourite new trend is matching your mask to your manicure.


With #OscarsSoWhite not quite laid to rest the Academy has announced some serious moves to help improve the industry. Future filmmakers hoping for an Oscar will have to meet new eligibility guidelines covering diversity and accessibility in cast, crew and content, or risk exclusion for the coveted Best Picture award. But thanks to covid you’ll have to wait until April for the next ceremony.


Conspiracy nutters and covid may have thrown spanners into the 5G rollout, but the tech allows great experiences and the demos continue regardless. EE kickstarted the year with Bastille’s 5G powered AR performance, then Three partnered with model Adwoa Aboah and Central St Martins for an immersive catwalk. In the latest stunt to show off real-time connectivity, F1 champion Lewis Hamilton plays an impressive synchronised piano duet with musician Jay Keys


Cultural miss of the month goes to Fred Perry. Seeing their best-selling black and yellow polo shirt adopted by fascist pro-Trump gun-loons the Proud Boys, FP conceded defeat and announced they were discontinuing it. Not only does this cement their shirt as a far-right collectible, it was a massive missed opportunity to take a stand, make some noise and reclaim their narrative (and their shirt). Days later, gay Twitter hilariously showed Fred Perry how they could have done it, by hijacking the hashtag #PROUDBOYS to give the nazis a (largely unshirted) fuck you.


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