Brands wage wooly wars to tap into rise of UK knitters

Brands such as McDonald’s, Bulmers and 7up are among the many tapping into the rise of knitting in the UK with campaigns focused on crocheted creations. However, these are not just efforts to target the festive season, but also the increasing popularity of “urban knitting” and “yarn bombing”, graffiti-style street art using wool.

McDonald’s is the latest in a line of brands to launch a knitting-related campaign with “Knitmas Greetings”, which allows visitors to design their own knitted stocking digitally to be shared via social media. The brand then plans to send custom-made stockings using these designs to a select number of winning customers.

A McDonald’s spokesperson told Marketing Week, “Stockings are knitted with fun and festive cheer to help warm up winter, and Knitmas Greetings is designed to give customers a chance to share festive warmth with family and friends.”

However, there’s more to the knitting trend than its ties to the holiday season.

Last month saw Bulmers cider team up with street artist group Knit the City for its #LiveColorful campaign, which encouraged Instagram, Twitter and Facebook users to share their own colourful yarn creations, while urban knitter Magda Sayeg covered a double-decker London bus inside and out with colourful wool as part of the 7up Free #FeelsGoodToBeYou brand refresh.

Both were attempts to push originality and creativity in order to tap into the “yarn bombing” and “urban knitting” movements, street art projects using yarn that have given knitting a cool factor.

While knitting may not be a new advertising tactic, the latest wave of woolly wars coincide with a consistent rise of knitters in the UK.

According to the UK Hand Knitting Association, craft skills contribute 3.4bn to the economy in Britain. In 2013 the organisation says there were 7.2 million knitters and crocheters in Britain, though it estimates this number may now be closer to 7.5 million.

The London Knitting and Stitching Show, the world’s biggest gathering of knitters and crocheters, saw its most visitors ever in 2014 with 22,238 people attending the event from 20 to 23 November, an increase of 6% from last year.

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