Repositioning rubbish: How a B2B brand won a Marketing Week award

The challenges of building the profile of business brands were highlighted at the 2011 Marketing Week Engage Awards.

The Business-to-Business category showcased the efforts of brands that met that challenge head-on. For its “beautiful execution” that helped change the perceptions of waste management, judges named Veolia Environmental Services as the winner.

Veolia and agency IAS B2B Marketing aimed to redefine the brand and the concept of waste management with a campaign featuring wildlife images to illustrate Veolia’s approach to corporate social responsibility. It also wanted to show how it helps local authorities and consumers re-use and recycle more effectively.

Judges commented: “This tremendous example of brand repositioning showed how the unpromising subject of waste management can transform itself. In a category not known for its creativity, it transformed awareness of all stakeholders.”

The images were then linked to Veolia’s sponsorship of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, also devised to regenerate interest in the brand.

Veolia Environmental Services marketing manager Wayne Foy explains the brand drew on an increasing awareness of recycling to give the campaign more resonance across a wider audience. “We had to address the challenge of having a marketing campaign which would give us a harmonious but flexible message across numerous important groups – local authorities, businesses, employees and the public,” he says.

Foy adds: “How the public views our service affects our client relationship and vice-versa, not least because many of the procurement team responsible for tendering processes may actually be the end-users of our service.”

Beautiful execution: Part of Veolia’s award-winning entry

While B2B and consumer marketing both aim to convince a target audience to buy a brand’s goods and services, Foy notes that B2B marketing challenges come from different purchasing drivers.

“You are more often than not dealing with professionals who are as knowledgeable about the service or product they are buying as the seller. They aren’t spending their own money, can’t always make an autonomous decision and are often rewarded for achieving the best possible deal,” he explains. “Combined with an often protracted purchasing cycle and the need to build strong relationships, all these factors make the buying decision and marketing challenges quite different.”

Perhaps the biggest difference is around rational decision-making and the customer looking to fill a need rather than a want, so emotions play a lesser role than in consumer marketing. However, as Veolia has shown, producing a more rationally focused campaign need not be dull or have a narrow angle, but can be lively, informative and entertaining.

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