Legend has it that Eurostar marketing director Greg Nugent was in a unisex sauna in Sydney, Australia, when he heard two women discussing their travel plans, with one of them saying she was heading for Paris after reading The Da Vinci Code.
Nugent got straight on the phone to Eurostar’s promotional agency Space and suggested they look into the idea of doing a promotion based on the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s book, then in production.
The resulting campaign, “Join the Quest”, used puzzles and codes in the style of the book and offered a grand prize of luxury shopping sprees in London and Paris as well as free Eurostar travel for life. It was hugely successful, with 1.3 million people registering on the website, and generating a return on investment that Eurostar estimates to be between £3.5m and £9m as well as winning the campaign a raft of awards including the Grand Prix at the 2007 ISP Awards.
So, if you are looking for ideas for your next promotional campaign, is the sauna the best place to go?”
I certainly have all my best ideas on holiday or at the weekend,” says Phil Pawsey, executive creative director at marketing agency Dynamo. “Because that’s when you’re thinking like a consumer.”
In 2004, Pawsey had been working with Sainsbury’s for some time and was constantly on the hunt for the big idea to rival Tesco’s Computers for Schools, when he was in the pub with a friend who was a teacher. “We were talking about the new government directive requiring schools to provide an extra hour of physical activity for pupils,” says Pawsey, “and he was explaining that his school only had £200 a year to buy sports equipment.”
The conversation, coupled with increasing press coverage on the rise in childhood obesity, gave Pawsey the idea for Sainsbury’s Active Kids, a highly successful promotion that has been widely imitated and is about to enter its fourth year. The promotion has also garnered a shelf-load of awards, including two ISP Golds and Marketing Week‘s Corporate Social Responsibility Award.
The customer is key
As Pawsey says, thinking like a consumer is key to generating appropriate and winning campaigns. Guillaume Tardy, Procter & Gamble brand manager for baby and toiletcare in the UK and Ireland, agrees/ “You have to start by identifying what the consumer is thinking and feeling,” he says. “You have to integrate consumer insight into your ideas to take the brand to the next level.”
As brand manager for Pampers, Tardy spends a great deal of his time talking to parents. Pampers’ brand mission is about more than nappies, he says, “It’s about caring for babies’ development.”
In 2005, Tardy and Pampers’ roster agencies, including BEcause Experiential Marketing, came up with the award-winning World of Babies, a roadshow that helped parents to see the world through a baby’s eyes, by creating a giant caterpillar that parents could walk through and learn about the stages of a baby’s development, with information on how babies can recognise night and day and differentiate language.
“Consumer research and insight play a pivotal role in the thinking behind big ideas,” says BEcause managing director Sharon Richey. “You need the right message at the right time going to the right person, but you also need to think about how to bring the idea to life in the field. An idea can look great creatively in the boardroom, but you need a huge level of discipline for delivering operational excellence. And you need a system in place to measure and analyse the campaign, to work out what went right and can be built on and evolved for next time.”
These experiential campaigns helped to cement Pampers in consumers’ minds as a trustworthy childcare expert and a brand that cares about babies’ development.
The strength of this proposition allowed the brand to run a different style of promotion in the run-up to Christmas last year, says Tardy. While mums in the West were spoiling their families rotten, a partnership between Pampers and Unicef allowed them to fund tetanus vaccinations for children in the developing world by buying Pampers. It was a resounding success, says Tardy, with 7.5 million children vaccinated as a result.
Consumer insight also played a big part in the development of skincare brand Nivea’s “Sunkissed and Tell” promotion in spring 2006.
“We looked at the market of 18to 30-year-old women and worked out what they had in common,” says Vicki Walsh, board director at Space. “They like to talk and they like to be in the know.”
Space built a marketing initiative around auditioning potential brand ambassadors and getting them to create their own campaigns for the brand. The four finalists explored viral video, banners on cars, press and radio.
Nivea then developed this idea with its Cleverlips campaign for its Lip Care range, inviting consumers to submit their ideas for a radio ad, which generated 30,000 registrations for the competition (MW July 12).
Consumers were also at the heart of a promotion for Skinny Cow ice cream, which ran in January, not a traditional month for peak ice cream sales. “We looked into how consumers think about January,” explains Megan Butler, strategist at Rise, the agency that created the campaign. “They think it’s a rubbish month with crap © weather and no money to go out.”
Skinny Cow wanted to show that it understood women and was on their side, so Rise came up with a campaign to brighten up the awful month with daily giveaways of a series of indulgent treats, including facials, handbags and jewellery. As a result 34,000 people entered the competitions and 9,000 registered on the website. Skinny Cow can now use these people as a sounding board for future campaigns.
If a brand has strong enough equity to begin with, half the work of thinking up the great campaign idea will have been done. The word “Probably” has been a core element of Carlsberg’s consumer proposition for more than three decades. The beer brand is an official sponsor of the England team, but not of the FIFA World Cup, so any promotional material around the 2006 competition was restricted from mentioning the tournament directly.
When promotional agency Billington Cartmell noticed the structural resemblance of the new Carlsberg glass to the World Cup trophy, it created a simple but striking idea – give away a Carlsberg glass embossed with the Three Lions. This tied in with visuals of hands holding the glass aloft as if it were the trophy and the words “2006 Probably”.
“We didn’t want to be arrogant, but we wanted to tune into the passion and belief of fans that England could win,” says Carlsberg marketing manager Ian Hannaford.
He acknowledges that there is always a danger with promotions around football that the team will go out early, so it’s a good idea to start early and capitalise on the national hysteria in the run-up to the competition. Carlsberg achieved its highest sales lift despite England’s ignominious defeat by Portugal.
The Marketing Store is the agency that changed Lucozade to Larazade for a Tomb Raider tie-up and was also responsible for kicking off the cause-related trend with Walkers’ Free Books for Schools in 1999.
Despite criticism of the morality of encouraging children to scoff more than 50 packets of high-fat snacks to qualify for one “free” book, the campaign was a big hit.
“The key to a big brand campaign is cut-through,” says Owen Catto, creative director of promotional marketing at The Marketing Store. “This can come from being first to market with an idea – like Books for Schools, which was the first big cause-related campaign that set the template for all that have followed.
“Promotionally speaking, I don’t think there is one strategy that can be said to be a sure-fire winner,” he adds. “The strategy must fit the brand, audience and occasion. Word of mouth is also vital for a good campaign to become a great campaign. Generally speaking, big ideas don’t need to be complicated, as layers of complexity will put people off.
“Big ideas come from keeping an ear to the ground and eye on cultural trends/ knowing what’s happening in the world and specifically the world of your target market really helps you see the spaces in their lives for a campaign to be different.”