Mix and match

With companies seeking synergy across all their marketing, POP is no longer an afterthought, reports Martin Croft, it is at the leading edge of many campaigns

One of the biggest marketing events of 1994 was IBM’s decision to appoint a single agency to handle its worldwide account. While most attention was concentrated on the effect the move was going to have above the line, it extended across all IBM’s marketing needs – including point-of-purchase advertising.

The computer giant appointed Ogilvy & Mather, an above-the-line agency with access to all the different facilities within the WPP Group. IBM claimed to be aiming for synergy among its marketing communications, to avoid the diffusion of its message which had been a problem during the Eighties.

Richard Ash, business development director of Oakley Young 4th Dimension, a point-of-purchase specialist owned by WPP, says that IBM has achieved its goal of “economies of scale and a clearer message” by putting all its marketing under the control of one umbrella agency.

Oakley Young worked on the POP material to support the launch of IBM’s OS2 Warp last year, alongside O&M and Ogilvy & Mather Direct. Ash says that Oakley Young produced POP material to run in the European Union, Russia and Eastern Europe, Israel and South Africa. “Although the languages were different, the artwork was the same, so people who got off a plane in a foreign country could recognise that it was for OS2 Warp even if they couldn’t understand it,” Ash says.

IBM’s attitude, he says, was very much “let’s get all our marketing experts together in one room. So we worked alongside IBM, O&M and O&MD and were able to discuss things as they came up”.

The result, he believes, was that everyone had a clearer understanding of how each method would fit together. “The reduction in the layers of communication meant that the message was much clearer. It also helped reduce costs, because every time you add in a layer, you add in costs.”

IBM is not the only major client which demands integration between its marketing services agencies. Cadbury ran an in-store promotion earlier this year which continued the theme of its above-the-line campaign, featuring Nigel Mansell. The ‘Race the Ace’ initiative gave consumers the opportunity to win various prizes, such as go-karts, and in-store material included large cardboard cut-out figures of Mansell.

Richard Hughes, Cadbury’s trade marketing controller, says: “We ensure that POP development is incorporated into every promotion from an early stage. To maximise the benefits of a theme promotion such as ‘Race the Ace’, it is essential that we combine all our marketing. This includes TV advertising, in-store POP and trade press.”

POP material is particularly important in the confectionery sector, Hughes explains, because sales grow enormously if the product can be moved off the shelf and into the shopper’s path – for example, in dump bins or special gondolas.

“Due to the impulse nature of confectionery sales, POP helps achieve off-shelf features which in turn drive incremental sales,” he says.

Cadbury is just about to launch a joint promotion with McDonald’s, which features dump bins in the shape of McDonald’s familiar yellow burger cartons, again supported by TV ads.

Richard Cutler, point-of-sale manager for Bass, agrees that POP advertising is a vital part of the mix.

“Yes, we try to keep a continuity of brand references across our communications. We try to operate through the line wherever possible.” Bass is using Carling’s sponsorship of the Football Premiership across all its different marketing efforts, from design and packaging to tie-ups with FourFourTwo magazine.

Cutler admits that it is sometimes difficult to get the timing right for POP material. He also points out that when a campaign is being planned, it is often the basic brand references – such as the packaging – which are the most relevant, not whatever the current above-the-line campaign happens to be.

Yet while many bigger clients will endorse the idea that POP should be properly integrated with all other marketing activity, others are still resistant to the idea.

Richard Ash, however, believes that the situation is changing. “Five years ago, you’d never have meetings where all a client’s agencies were brought together in one room. This year, I have been to three or four. And we’re not just sitting in the corner: we’re getting involved. We can contribute ideas which other agencies, because they’re not used to working in the POP environment, don’t tend to think about.”

He admits, though, that POP specialists are not always welcome. “Some advertising agencies will say: ‘What are these people doing here? We’re the brand strategists. Talking about point of sale is far below us…'”

If clients are more inclined to take the POP specialists’ contribution more seriously, then it could be because POP consultancies have begun to hire people with solid marketing experience. “The industry used to be run by people involved in the production process, making vacuum formed plastic or printing; not any more,” he says.

It’s not just those in the POP industry who are pleased at the new found respect the area seems to be getting from clients. Ian Ferguson, managing director of sales promotion consultancy KLP, says that many big clients are making sure that POP specialists get involved at the start of a project.

“It’s not last minute any more – indeed, for some it’s first minute. For some brands – particularly in the grocery market – it is where the purchasing decision is made,” he explains.

Ferguson refers to the needs of a KLP client, car company Peugeot. “Their environment is the car showroom. Certain messages need to be put across. It’s important that consumers get reassurance about what is a large purchase. If the message that I’ve got from the above-the-line ads is not supported in the showroom, then I might think again.”

Although how things are presented at the point of purchase may well be vital to clients, some agency people would argue that those clients do not always think of it themselves, and sometimes need to be reminded.

David Shoolheifer is creative director of The Anvil Consultancy, a through-the-line agency which does a fair amount of POP work, particularly in the Duty Free market. He says: “It should be like a funnel. The above-the-line consumer message goes in at the top, and the POP treatment comes out the bottom.” But, he adds: “I don’t think clients are necessarily asking for integration of their messages. More often than not, it’s the agency which suggests it. Though if we don’t make sure there is a common theme, we do get asked why we haven’t done it.”

He cites as an example of good integration the POP work Anvil has done for Häagen-Dazs, where a range of material was produced for use across Europe which was based on the above-the-line theme. “It’s a good creative treatment which particularly recommended itself,” he says.

Nigel Petty, chairman of retail advertising consultancy Evans Petty Associates, points out that “as the budgets for POP material increase, many retailers are finding that they are themselves their own best advertising medium”.

While many of his company’s clients are very aware of the importance of the point of purchase (“one of my clients repeatedly insists that the most important part of his advertising is the last two feet” – the width of the shop counter) he says that he seldom finds himself working alongside advertising agencies or sales promotion consultancies.

He does, though, believe that there should be “cross fertilisation between above and below-the-line advertising”, and that integration is happening. However, Petty – like others – still tends to report directly to his clients, rather than liaising with other agencies.



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