The panel (l-r above)
Ruth Mortimer, chair and editor of Marketing Week
Matthew Hunt, brand director, Hovis at Premier Foods
James King, marketing director, Bel UK
Sarah Leach, media director, Coca-Cola GB and Ireland
Matt McKie, former marketing manager, Maximuscle & Maxifuel, GSK (now at Fifa)
Tony Mooney, managing director, Sky IQ
Jenelle Tilling, vice-president of marketing, KFC UK & Ireland
Paul Troy, director of consumer marketing, Moneysupermarket.com
Tom Valentine, managing director, Secret Escapes
Sam Viollet, business manager, marketing agencies lead, Microsoft
Marketing Week (MW): How important is television advertising for your brand?
Paul Troy (PT): There are two things driving our business: digital and TV. The good news is TV works and it’s why everybody is driven nuts by our category. We spend around £120m between four players [channels] and it is reassuring to see website traffic to Moneysupermarket.com dramatically increase when you get TV right.
Sarah Leach (SL): At Coca-Cola, we spend more than 50 per cent of our budget on TV and I think it is only going to go up.
Jennelle Tilling (JT): There is nothing like the power of TV to sell chicken. We spend around 60 per cent of our budget on TV along with posters and digital. What is interesting is how we buy: it used to be the TV budget but now it’s the ‘screen’ budget – how it’s changing is interesting and that keeps me excited.
Sam Viollet (SV): We are introducing new products at the moment as a result of Windows 8 and Xbox. We are really seeing the benefit of TV advertising and particularly the correlation between that and what is happening in retail.
Hannah Graham (HG): We are part of Sky so we are obviously big spenders. As part of the marketing mix, TV is crucial.
Matt McKie (MM): At Maximuscle, we are big spenders in our category on TV advertising and it is important for us right now. We have moved into TV to broaden the products’ reach. We need to do that in order to get space with the retailers.
Matthew Hunt (MH): We have a reputation based on two ads in the past 40 years [including the 1973 ad showing a boy pushing a bike up Gold Hill in Shaftesbury] and that would suggest TV is important to us. It works to establish attitudes and beliefs around the brand.
James King (JK): We are not among the biggest advertisers but we punch above our weight relative to the size of our brand. One of the big questions is how much to invest in digital within video-on-demand. We are clear what TV does: it is the only media choice where we go on air and see an immediate shift in sales; understandably, we are reluctant to move money away from that and into other media.
Tony Mooney (TM): I’m interested in people’s views on where this is all going in the future. It feels to me that we are on the cusp of significant change.
MW: How are you combining TV with different marketing channels and what effect does it have?
Tom Valentine (TV): Secret Escapes is only two years old and has a simple business metric for our marketing: how much does it cost to get someone to join the website? Broadly speaking, it’s easy for us to see that through digital. We came into this year not fully confident that we could get that from TV advertising. But we’ve been delighted and can confidently say which people have signed up from which TV spot.
PT: For us, television works. Outside of that it is digital or radio. We are finding it interesting that press is not that effective. The perfect harmony is TV and then engagement in digital.
SL: We use TV as the rock in a metaphorical pool that makes a ripple. So if we are going to run two minutes in The Brits or sponsor Celebrity Juice, we have to think how we are going to make the ripple work. We haven’t changed the mix but we are better focused at linking it and using TV to drive it.
JT: It comes down to what you want to do for which audience. If I want to talk to ‘mum’ about KFC bargain buckets on Saturday night, I’m going to advertise in The X Factor. If I want to talk to a young adult about [the new] Rancher burger, it requires a bit of a back story. Therefore, we created a one-minute online film about times when calories don’t count [to generate interest in the product].
SV: When we have a big launch, TV is a good platform for us to get our message across. We are also interested in multi-screening; I’m keen to know what people are doing when they’re watching TV and how they’re using their tablets. A lot of research shows the younger generation are multi-taskers. They probably have three devices on at the same time.
SL: Thinkbox research says that people are more likely to stay in the room during an ad break if they are multi-tasking. Multi-screening viewers stayed in the room for 81 per cent of ad breaks.
TV: If there was no multi-screening, I don’t think our direct response campaign would work. Direct response is a different beast in a world where people have a web-enabled device in their hand while they are watching TV.
MW: Measuring accountability has changed. In the past, people would talk about eyeballs and now it’s direct sales. How do you measure the effect of a TV campaign?
JT: We try to do both. The panacea is a brand advert that sells chicken and changes the perception about freshness or quality. We are lucky that we can do it through sales because of the model we use.
PT: I think people expect some action whether that is buying or friending on Facebook. A few years ago, I didn’t think like this: I worked for an established bigger brand – Barclaycard – comfortable with just shifting perception, but the small players were eating up the market. I’ve seen a great progression in Coke. For the first time, I’ve noticed an online spoof bouncing off the online TV ad. If you didn’t have the views on TV, you wouldn’t have had that happen online.
SL: Because we test and invest and try, this free earned media is unpredictable. The unpredictability pushes you back to TV, your rock and your certainty.
TM: I’m getting a lot of feedback from big brands saying there’s increased pressure on accountability. The bigger issue though is the path to purchase: how this all works together and particularly how television and online work together.
MW: Within your organisations, what is the biggest challenge to using TV?
PT: It is the efficiency against the core audience. The creative agencies are struggling with the basics of a big idea that can travel across digital and TV.
JT: The biggest challenge I have from my chief executive is how we keep up with the consumer moving more [towards] digital but not lose impact in the sales generation from traditional media like television. I’m interested to know how many brands have separate digital versus creative agencies. We tried to combine them but went back to separate ones.
My digital agency is more nimble and can work faster at different budget levels. It starts with content rather than an ad so it’s a different mindset.
MM: The only metric that matters in this climate is the bottom line. If it has grown, we can talk about TV and it will be hailed but if we fail to grow sales and share, the business does not care about the marketing stuff.
MH: In the short term, TV buys you retailer confidence to give you space on the shop floor. Where it gets difficult to justify is in that consideration area with chief financial officers and that’s where it comes back to eyeballs. TV is the big consideration vehicle and other channels are where you convert [people to buy].
SL: So much of what we do as a brand is around feelings and emotion and the next generation, and 125 years of adverts [Coca-Cola was 125 years old in 2011]. We are very cautious about over-targeting. When it comes to our TV ads and what is driving what, we are more comfortable with some of those shades of grey.
TV: The only reason we would pull away from TV is if digital suddenly became much cheaper.
PT: I bet my kids are going to look at TV and increasingly see a big tablet. How we talk about digital is changing. Is it the same story? The bad news is that when all the devices come together and the story doesn’t join up, it’s going to crash.
MW: Do you see a situation in the future where you end up with a screen strategy as opposed to a television or digital strategy?
JT: Yes, because great ideas travel. I used to spend all my energy on TV ads and now I spend as much energy on digital.
TM: Yes, it is a really challenging area. I see a lot of our businesses creating applications that go with things that are on the screen. I saw one company spending close to a six-figure sum on a companion application.
PT: Technology is coming thick and fast. We will look at TV shows differently in terms of sponsorship and connecting devices. Think about a TV show like I’m a Celebrity, set in a hot, sunny location and the fact that nobody is pushing holidays to Australia off the back of that.
JK: You will need to look for opportunities to weave your message into what people are naturally demanding from tablets. Apart from being difficult budget-wise, the other question is content and where you can add value to consumers in a way that is credible and is going to encourage consumers to spend time engaging with you.
SL: Aren’t consumers just tired? Do they really want to click here, join there and buy the t-shirt? I need to be careful how much of their time I am asking for versus what I am giving them.
MH: I think what is interesting is what’s happening as a result of innovation and where you want to present something new. There is a way of getting a convenient call to action and getting the product into people’s hands. Here, second screen can be very useful because ‘free’ [things] are very compelling for consumers.
SV: Microsoft is looking at the ability to join all that technology up and develop a connected experience. It is changing so fast and I don’t necessarily think the agencies are keeping up. Like everybody else, we are not quite there yet.
TM: Sky is entrepreneurial and we will try everything. The Sky experience is increasingly joined up and there are a variety of ways that you can consume it.
MW: What about the new technology that is emerging in the television market – are you experimenting with it?
SL: I try bits and pieces. The problem with a brand like Coke is that you need scale. The trouble with any of the econometric models is that sales are driven by price, distribution and the weather. We try it because we think we should but quite often we don’t do it again.
PT: That comes back to what we discussed right at the beginning: that it’s so often not joined up. The idea needs to be absolutely integral to it and feed it. I got this right only once in my career when I was at Barclaycard with the water slide [campaign for contactless payment, featuring a man leaving his office on a water slide]. In addition to the TV ad, we got some developers to build a game and it became the most downloaded branded app on iTunes.
TV: I have found that they are often expensive. The one that surprises me is the ads in video-on-demand, which are in order of magnitude more expensive than linear TV.
MM: In general, the senior people in marketing know digital is important and want you to be working with it but as a footnote to what you are doing in relation to TV or in-store.
MW: Who do you think is getting it right in terms of joining everything up?
SV: At Microsoft we’re all talking about the John Lewis ad, a powerful idea with lots of emotion behind it. When you get it right on TV, it is more powerful than anything.
PT: I agree with that but I wouldn’t take comfort from it because it reinforces what we want to feel like. We will have to be agile. There is no line anymore and we will have to float across to wherever people are consuming content. Remember the Virgin Atlantic ad – the 1980s retro one? It was a great TV ad but there was no content opportunity, in terms of using it anywhere else and I think that is wasteful now.
MH: Mercedes made an interactive ad where the consumer could tweet what they wanted the next part of the ad to do. For big-ticket items like cars, cameras or fridges it can get very exciting. You can begin to understand where people are researching and start to target them.
MM: The movie Prometheus took a very interesting route, by buying the tail ends of ad breaks. First, it bought one during Homeland to show the film trailer and then bought the next ad break to air Twitter users’ views of the first. This goes to show that the best ideas have ‘talkability’.
JK: I enjoyed the British Airways London Calling ad with a jumbo jet moving through the streets of London and then, through an interactive version of the ad, the ability to go online and see the Jumbo passing your house on Google Street View. The ability to take a big corporate brand and make it very personal online is great.
MM: These ideas demonstrate the value of social currency. People want to share and talk about things, which explains the success of T-Mobile getting behind the Royal Wedding [with a spoof advertisement] and British Airways behind the Olympics. It is very difficult during a year’s planning cycle to do that kind of stuff, but if you can, then you are onto something.
MW: How do you work with agencies? Do you also have in-house media specialists?
JT: If you have trust and confidence in an agency, then there isn’t a benefit of having a media specialist within KFC. It depends how you want to manage your expenditure. For me, using the agency in that way allows me to be much more nimble.
TV: If we were just getting the numbers back and I didn’t understand what they meant, I wouldn’t be able to sleep through the night. Our big question is TV versus Google and so you wouldn’t want a TV company or Google to do that analysis.
MH: We have had a media specialist in the business but haven’t got one at the moment. The benefit is that they understand the mechanics of media agencies and where they make their money and where you are potentially overpaying for things. However, if you have high trust in the agency relationship, you don’t really need one.
SL: We have a completely different model: we have a media person in each market. The model is designed to maximise value from an agency. However, there are new challenges. Media agencies have grown up from a paid model and if we are trying to a shift to an owned and shared model, it is quite difficult to move that.