There are few more vivid examples of a corporate brand affecting the well-being of a product brand than the heat generated by Marketing Week’s disclosure of the bonuses paid to Camelot directors.
It has become a national issue as press, politicians and the public have subjected the brands to severe scrutiny, accusing the company’s executives of putting up their own remuneration at precisely the time that sales revenue, and awards to good causes, have dropped. The 4.5m drop in ticket sales last Saturday was an indication of public anger.
Camelot’s history has formed a superb marketing and media case study, and one that, once all the dust has settled, will be studied by future generations of marketers.
Camelot established itself from scratch, met its launch date and gained a huge consumer response on day one. As far as logistics, efficiency, speed of response and creating a market for the brand was concerned, the company could hardly have done better. The critics should remember the launch performances of other similarly huge brands in the UK before casually declaring that the Camelot team were onto a gilt-edged one-way bet.
The marketing strategy was spot-on in all its aspects: from creating new distribution channels and effective advertising, to its sensitive PR handling of the winners.
However, the PR for its corporate brand has proved to be its Achilles heel.
There are countless examples of companies with strong media plans which execute them well but are subject to intense negative press coverage. These include British Gas, all of the banks and water companies and, of course, Shell. No matter how successful a company is in supporting and sustaining its brand image to consumers, the activities of the corporate brand can no longer be separated.
It is a fact of life for many companies that when media strategies are devised, some kind of contingency plan has to be in place for potential PR disasters.
However, it was wrong-footed by Marketing Week’s publication of the leaked results.
Its critics were able to hark back to the bad old days of questioning the profit motive and the principle of performance-related pay.
Talking about a non-profit-making lottery is disingenuous: we’ve all seen the creative use that can be made of management fees. We should remember that the Camelot directors’ bonuses were earned by their success in previous years in generating over 1bn a year for good causes and healthy slices of income for retailers and the Government.
The bonuses in no way affect the good causes fund as they came from the one per cent profit margin retained by the company. Indeed, if these directors had been less good at their jobs the charities, arts and sports institutions and all other beneficiaries would have received significantly less money.
Though Camelot needs to work on its corporate brand image, it has a tremendous resource to draw from in rebuilding trust. It has built one of the biggest and most successful lotteries in the world in a short period of time, and it should be allowed to contribute to Great Britain plc in the form of exporting its expertise and generating revenues. For our part, the marketing and advertising community should be praising Camelot’s contribution, not knocking it.