What is the best way to revive an ailing brand? IPA Effectiveness Editor Carlos Grande looks at the lessons we can learn from this year's IPA Effectiveness Awards.
The brand is under pressure, and your brief is to revive its growth.
Do you recommend a blockbuster ad to make the brand seem relevant again?
Or would a continuous programme of lower-profile engagement be more effective at transforming shoppers’ perceptions and behaviour?
The 2018 IPA Effectiveness Awards include winning examples of both the ‘blockbuster’ and ‘always-on’ approaches.
They were joined on a panel by Sue Unerman, Chief Transformation Officer, MediaCom, and Neil Godber, Head of Planning, J. Walter Thompson to explore wider lessons to be drawn.
Although each implementation occupied a different part of the blockbuster/always-on spectrum, all were shaped by an understanding of the role their brands played in their market and in the lives of consumers.
We kicked off with Clare Phayer, Strategy Director, Havas giving us some background on their Ella’s kitchen campaign
From campaign driven to always-on
Targeting 10% annual growth in a category forecast to decline, Ella’s Kitchen, the baby foods provider, needed a strategy that would promote expansion whilst protecting its brand values.
The brand could not increase marketing spend against better-funded rivals, Heinz and Cow & Gate, and had grown all it could by adding distribution.
Conventional FMCG responses, such as inventing new consumption occasions, increasing price or new product development, had either been tried and failed, or were ruled out as alien to the brand or unrealistic in a competitive market.
Instead, the solution adopted by Ella’s Kitchen was to behave more like a service brand.
It created an eCRM and content platform that would recruit and retain parents of weaning babies, sending them a welcome pack and emails tailored to support parents at different stages in the stressful weaning cycle of their child rather than to a marketing calendar.
Phayer said the catalyst towards always-on was the realisation that since its previous campaign ended, 130,000 parents had entered the weaning phase without being engaged by Ella’s Kitchen.
Its new strategy put the emphasis on parents receiving relevant and useable advice above the creation of new content. Parents were also encouraged to recommend and share the platform with friends and peers dealing with weaning.
The result might be fewer response spikes (compared to traditional advertising), Phayer acknowledged. But the brand received a consistent flow of 13,000 new parents to the service every month.
In the period between late 2015 and 2017, this equated to signing up an impressive 40% of all UK parents with weaning babies. The programme has driven £12.5m in new sales and growth of 28.3% in under three years. The 2018 Effectiveness Awards Judges awarded the paper a Silver and Best Small Budget prize.
Although Phayer said the team didn’t rule out sponsoring other trusted parties in this space – it already works with influencers - it has benefited from its one-to-one interaction with parents, and would not want to undermine the trust it has gained.
Second up came Kieran Bradshaw, Strategy Director, Mother on Everyday ‘Blockbusters’
The homewares giant, IKEA, offered a different version of ‘always-on’.
The brand needed to restore growth across multiple product lines amid a slowdown in housing transactions which have traditionally driven people into IKEA stores to furnish their new homes.
In retail, marketing bursts tends to be scheduled for key seasons (e.g. Christmas) or events, such as major sales.
By contrast, IKEA opted to put “the everyday at the heart of its marketing” by showing how the brand could enhance daily activities such as sleeping, cooking and playing.
Creative had two roles. It had to inspire by celebrating products in surreal and magical style, and to demonstrate how the brand could solve specific problems in people’s home lives.
Having identified 31 different audiences, more than 100 different pieces of copy ran in a hybrid of the always-on and blockbuster approaches.
Working with Vizeum, media spend was phased to avoid competitor noise and take advantage of cheaper media. A mix of channels was selected to match moments when people were likely to thinking of their homes, and promotional spend was cut back to fund brand communications.
After the ‘Wonderful Everyday’ work began, brand consideration rose across all age groups, and also among renters.
Over the four years covered by the Silver-winning case, sales increased – with growth in all product categories – and the brand’s market leadership widened.
Finally, we heard from Craig Mawdsley, Joint Chief Strategy Officer, AMV BBDO on Guinness’ Great brand ideas come to those who wait
With its record of emotional and effective TV ads, such as ‘The Sapeurs’ and ‘Wheelchair’, Guinness may be as synonymous with the blockbuster ad as any advertiser.
Guinness marketing aims to drive brand fame through highly creative communications that influence culture and resonate with drinkers – so not a model obviously conducive to an always-on approach.
Its 2018 Gold-winning paper traces the development over six years of the ‘Made of More’ brand idea behind advertising which aligns the Guinness brand with examples of people making difficult choices in challenging circumstances.
The paper does include some examples of smaller-scale reactive work for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. But at its heart is some characteristic Guinness storytelling about mould-breaking Rugby players, the anti-segregationist music manager John Hammond and the urban cowboys of Compton.
Mawdsley said the brand’s history had created an expectation that it would “produce something exciting” – and consumers voiced these high expectations in research groups.
Mawdsley continued to address the panel - This success is not without its own issues, in that creatives can become paralysed by fear of not living up to the brand’s legacy He advised them to “listen to the brief, not history… don’t overthink it”.
Mawdsley said the paper demonstrated the value of building on an idea rather than shifting strategy too early and reflected “an exceptionally brave client” with a culture of committing to creativity and effectiveness.
The earliest ‘Made of More’ iterations didn’t produce stellar results, but subsequent executions have continually improved on payback.
The brand’s on-trade UK market share, price inelasticity and ROI have all improved in the most recent year of ‘Made of More’.
In general, the panellists agreed that creatives were still more likely to be excited at the prospect of responding to a brief with a TV ad than with multiple pieces of always-on content.
But Bradshaw challenged the idea that creating and deploying a series of six-second Instagram videos was less compelling than developing a TV spot, arguing that marketers had to take advantage of a palette of tools available to provide a breadth of solutions.
Phayer added that although Ella’s Kitchen did not plan to reinvent its weaning programme, it was looking at revamping its email format – and “creatives want to work on it”.
Unerman, the Deputy Convenor of the 2018 Awards who will be Convenor of Judges in 2020, said that overall the 2018 cases demonstrated there had been “a step change” in the good work in the industry, combining strong creative with media strategy based on consumer insight.
However, there were still “Get real!” conversations between creative and media agencies about what could be achieved with available media budgets.
Asked to identify a single “killer metric”, respondents chose brand consideration (Mother/IKEA), market share (AMV BBDO/Guinness), and penetration, expressed in terms of percentage of parents with weaning babies signed up (Havas/Ella’s Kitchen). Unerman chose ‘consideration’ and Godber went for ‘purchase intent’.
So although the event demonstrated the variety of ways agencies can respond to client briefs, it also underlined the value of prioritising a single way to evaluate the effectiveness of that response.