Why the BBC is our brand of the year

Ruth Mortimer

Congratulations to the BBC, which scooped this year’s top prize at the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2012. The corporation won the Brand of the Year trophy, in association with YouGov, for its diverse marketing activity, ranging from promoting everything from individual TV programmes to TV channels, radio stations, websites, games and the iPlayer.

The story of why the BBC won our top prize is important, not only to the successful marketers within the organisation, but the wider industry. It is a masterclass in how to operate against a backdrop of cuts and cost savings and yet produce inspiring marketing.

Earlier this year, the BBC’s outgoing director of marketing and audiences, Helen Normoyle, told us that she had to deliver 25% savings while also improving the efficacy of her operations. This task would cause most marketers to feel despair about their job ahead but Normoyle said the department was using the situation to positive effect.

She explained how she had restructured her creative marketing teams to work across multiple brands, rather than staying siloed in certain departments. “Given the imperative to deliver even greater value for money, it was important to have more flexibility. When you have fixed teams in each area, it’s harder to get that,” she explained.

The Marketing Week Engage Awards judges felt the BBC had really made good use of this less siloed approach. They felt that the organisation had excelled at communicating so many diverse products across its multiple channels and argued/ “The BBC’s focus on the masterbrand and ability to tap into the emotional relationship it has with the nation are evident in the impressive metrics achieved.”

The BBC’s focus on the masterbrand and ability to tap into the emotional relationship it has with the nation are evident in the metrics achieved

The corporation was up against incredible contenders for Brand of the Year. To determine the winner, YouGov created a shortlist based on its BrandIndex data, showing brands that achieved a high score on the index throughout 2011. After this, the Engage Awards judges looked for evidence of how the brands had engaged their customers and delivered effective returns.

The BBC fought off strong competition from John Lewis, one of the few retailers on the high street to see financial success, which was backed up by a strong brand vision from its marketing director Craig Inglis. There were also great entries for British Airways, Cathedral City, Heinz and The Co-Operative Banking Group.

I must also congratulate all the other winners from the Engage Awards. Many of the organisations involved also happily appear in this week’s edition as part of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands (page 16). This annual list, carried in Marketing Week, shows which companies are successfully driving value from their reputations and operations.

For me, the most interesting statistic in the report is that brands which have a purpose beyond profit have increased in value by 87% over five years. So with that in mind, perhaps we should find it no great surprise that the BBC – pretty well summed up by the phrase “purpose beyond profit” – has triumphed in 2012.

Ruth Mortimer, editor

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