Engage Awards 2012: Brand Innovator shortlist showcase

Case studies from our Brand Innovator award shortlist.

Innovation is about being the first and remaining the best


Stefan Gaa
Marketing director

Reckitt Benckiser UK

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) created the Brand Innovator Award with Marketing Week four years ago to celebrate innovation in all its forms and its increasing importance in today’s commercial world. Why an award for innovation? Because in RB’s view, innovation is truly the driver of consistent success, which is why it is at the very heart of our business – from initial concept, through design and development to the successful launch and marketing of a new product or service. That’s why Brand Innovator is such an exciting award to judge and to be associated with, and I am delighted that this year it has attracted a record number of high-quality entries. Good luck to you all.


RB is a brand-led company and more than anyone else in our sector, innovation is in our DNA – but innovation always underlined by consumer understanding. Here are some short examples from our own Innovation Showcase.

Innovation in ‘Health, Hygiene and Home’

Our business is split into three areas: Health, Hygiene and Home. Our purpose, through our brands – from Durex to Dettol and Cillit Bang – is to make a difference every day by providing innovative solutions for healthier lives and happy homes.

Brands: getting there first – and staying the course

Launched in 2004, Cillit Bang was so innovative it created a new sector – ‘power cleaners’. Since then, the brand has extended this thinking to a range of products for use all over the house.

To introduce the latest addition, the Cillit Bang team took things even further with a radical look at the distribution of a mainstream cleaning product. Cillit Bang Dish and Surface was taken direct to the consumer, exclusively available online through its own Facebook ‘shop’. Not just a completely different way of thinking, but also the creation of a new business model. And to combat one of the main barriers to online shopping – the cost of delivery – new Cillit Bang is available in a variety of bundles with free delivery. The result has been warmly welcomed by Cillit Bang fans old and new.

An innovative brand doesn’t stay that way without being continually refreshed. Brands need to stay at the forefront of development – and Finish is a classic example of this. From its original launch more than 50 years ago, Finish has maintained leadership in the dishwashing detergent sector by constant, consumer-driven innovation. The first detergent tablet; the first combination tablet; and the introduction of new and improved ingredients that always deliver to the consumer – 60 years on and Finish is still number one, and delivering great results in a fresh and relevant way.

A year after its launch, Nuromol, an extension of our sector-leading Nurofen range, and the first combination ibuprofen and paracetamol tablet, has just been awarded over-the-counter (OTC) Product of the Year, demonstrating innovation even in the more specialist areas such as OTC healthcare.

Finding the right people

But innovation should go beyond products and marketing. We believe that innovation should be harnessed in everything we do.

Every organisation has its own personality and RB certainly has a reputation for being ‘different’ from some other OTC or FMCG companies – driven, entrepreneurial and challenging. This can be hard to illustrate.

This month, as part of our engagement programme, we have introduced the Insanely Driven experience – an innovative new way to profile your character.

Not the usual box-ticking exercises that most people associate with psychometric testing, Insanely Driven is in equal parts an interactive film and a character-profiling tool that is also great fun to play. This truly immersive experience aims to give individuals a chance to come to grips with who they really are and, at the same time, indicate if they have what it takes to work at RB.

Ruth Mortimer

Ruth moritmer profile

Marketing Week

Innovation is the lifeblood of any truly successful business, taking insights, trends and ideas from all around them and creating market-changing products and services. The Marketing Week Engage Brand Innovator Award, in association with Reckitt Benckiser, recognises these entrepreneurial companies and the teams or individuals within them that do such a standout job.

Innovation can come in many forms. For some, it is about developing a product that puts the business far beyond its competition. For others, it is about restructuring the aims of the entire organisation around insights from consumer research.

Such diversity can be seen in this year’s shortlist. Bulmers Cider showed great product development – harking back to the brand’s heritage to ensure its new drink was original while maintaining links with the history of the product.

Capital FM innovated in an entirely different way, finding the necessary brand story to convince listeners around the UK that something previously seen as regional was now dedicated to their needs.

For beer brands, Foster’s matched ‘tribes’ of drinkers with its new premium Gold product, while it was a digital development that helped Heineken set itself apart. Its Star Player initiative allowed people to watch football on TV while simultaneously playing games ‘alongside’ their teams on their computer and phone.

When Microsoft created its Nerdomat machines – a hybrid of an entertainment and vending machine – to promote Windows 7 to German students, it saw levels of engagement far outstrip more traditional outdoor campaigns.

Insight into customers’ frustrations at waiting to pay their bills led Pizza Express to develop an app that allows people to pay for meals from their iPhone in restaurants.

Procter & Gamble linked YouTube and Facebook to physical coupons – creating a new way to move customers towards purchases of its Febreze products.

Red Hot World Buffet differentiated itself from all the anonymous all-you-can-eat restaurants operating in the UK by developing a loyalty scheme, competitions and staff-motivation programme.

SnoozeShade tapped into the issue of the lack of a universal product for parents to cover their childrens’ prams and pushchairs regardless of brand or type.

With so much variety and quality in the entries, it proved difficult for the judges to choose a winner. So I congratulate all of those on this shortlist. Innovation is vital for brands to develop; here are nine great case studies showing how it is done.



Name of innovation: Bulmers No 17
Entering company: Heineken in the UK – Bulmers Cider
Name of Innovators: Douglas Cook, Andy Baxter, Julia McEwan, Robert Mellish, Sanjay Patel and Gareth Turner

Those 18- to 34-year-olds in the market for a LAD – or a Long Alcoholic Drink as it is known in the trade – are a fussy lot, invariably looking for something new and refreshing to tickle their taste buds.

The project team behind Bulmers No 17 cider wanted to appeal to this demographic by breaking away from the established ‘modern cider’ sector to offer something different, creating a product flavoured with crushed red berries and lime.

Describing the target audience as “consummate neophiles”, seeking new tastes to keep things exciting, the team moved quickly to keep ahead of the curve, taking less than five months to get the brand off the ground, compared with a business standard for parent Heineken of 18 months.

Avoiding a ‘me too’ approach that delivers just another berry cider, the brand has turned to its heritage for inspiration to create an authentic fruit cider using traditional techniques rather than following the sweeter brands already dominating the market.

The name of the new product has followed the numbering concept that Bulmers used for variants of its range in the early 1900s, using heritage along with modernity.

Crucially, the new range has been given massive support. The focus of all Bulmers brand marketing in 2012 is on No 17, to create a halo effect and drive trial of the new cider with an “Experimenters wanted” call to action running through all the advertising activity.

This approach was also applied to an experiential campaign, where consumers were invited to support a secret new act playing in a pub. Hidden cameras recorded their reaction when the act turned out to be chart topper Plan B.

Broadcast, outdoor and PR have all been used to raise awareness, while QR codes, mobile, experiential and social media have been used to drive consumer engagement – with the focus once again on experimentation.

When Bulmers asked for experimenters, it found many. No 17 has broken its sales volume by a significant margin, and became the UK’s number one flavoured cider brand in six months.

Capital FM


Name of innovation: Launching the Capital FM brand nationwide
Entering company: Global Radio – Capital FM
Name of Innovators: Max Buckland, Sara Holt, Gemma Parkinson and Giles Pearman

To relaunch a popular local radio station as a national player involves a process filled with paradox. For Capital FM, the key challenge has been to keep the things that had made its station popular in London, while introducing it to places such as Yorkshire and Manchester.

Global Radio has taken the proudly London-based Capital nationwide with the launch of eight new Capital stations, in Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire, Manchester, Birmingham, the East Midlands, South Wales and the South Coast. As well as extending its own reach, Capital has, for the first time, created a national competitor to the BBC’sRadio 1, breaking a monopoly on national popular radio that had gone unchallenged for decades.

The Capital FM marketing team set out to reinvigorate a heritage brand that had been intrinsically linked to London since 1973, while simultaneously launching it as a completely new brand. It has had to mitigate negative feelings toward London from many other areas of the UK that are proud of their own identities, and appeal to national advertisers while creating a local appeal for listeners around the UK. Adding in an audience of 15- to 34-year-olds, with a 20- to 29-year-old core listener group, which demands high levels of communication, connectivity and engagement, puts the challenge in context.

Appealing to those listeners at a local level formed a key element of the launch campaign.

A close relationship with recording artists has turned out to be vital, with 15 hours of exclusive footage of 10 top artists being blended using CGI into a seamless Capital environment for 20 variants of a TV campaign. This has allowed tailored messages to be created for each region, with singer Rihanna delivering nine variations of a “Listen up…” message to spark online conversations among fans.

An army of brand evangelists was recruited to further embed Capital into the cultural life of the regions, while bespoke experiential kits have driven listener engagement. An extensive promotional campaign has used partnerships to promote Capital widely in cinemas, shopping centres, gyms, universities and other key institutions.

The combination of a TV campaign using global stars with a local focus has been the key to managing this brand innovation process.



Name of innovation: Foster’s Gold
Entering company: Heineken in the UK – Foster’s Gold
Name of Innovators: Will Blackett, Nic Casby, Rod Gillies and Gayle Harrison

Moving an established lager brand upmarket by launching a new bottled premium variant to consumers used to a version sold in cans requires a deft hand to communicate changes both to consumers and within the company.

Heineken in the UK wanted Foster’s to appeal to 18- to 34-year-old male ‘tribal drinkers’ who make up the core consumers of the traditional Fosters brand, which they drink from cans, predominantly at home. For more mixed social occasions, bottled beers are seen as more upmarket and appropriate, but many of the tribal drinkers perceive continental-style lagers to be too heavy and challenging. Just as importantly, research has shown that many of them felt other bottled lagers were trying far too hard to be cool.

Packaging has been designed to reflect the concept that Foster’s Gold is an easy-drinking, premium lager that looks the part for upmarket occasions, but which would let young men stay true to themselves. Clear glass, minimal labelling and a tactile bottle have helped shelf standout and brand appeal, while the existing Foster’s ad campaign has raised awareness.

The campaign shows Brad and Dan, the advice-giving Australians familiar to TV viewers, attending a ‘swanky bash’ with their Foster’s Gold providing ‘smart’ while their attire provided the ‘casual’ specified on the invitation. The duo ends up giving fashion advice to actress and model Holly Valance. Extensive outdoor, PR and digital activity have been used to support the campaign.

The trade side of the launch is essential to the success of Foster’s Gold. Internally, sales staff have been given what they have described as the best briefing they had seen, while a significant spend on point-of-purchase and sales activation has ensured that customers can see the brand when they visit stores it is stocked in.

The brand has been a success, selling 33 million bottles within five months of launch. It has earned a place in the UK’s top 20 long alcoholic drinks sold in the off-trade, where it has established itself as the fourth best selling mainstream bottled lager.



Name of innovation: Nerdomat
Entering agency: Wildstyle Network
Name of innovators: Anne Boehme, Kathrin Hauptmann, Martin Jaehne, Anja Neufert, Steve Nitzschner and Torsten Ruelke

Describing Microsoft’s Nerdomat as “an experimental and interactive sympathy gadget” only hints at the nature of the device and its purpose. Devised for Microsoft Germany by agency Wildstyle Network, it represents a new way for the Windows 7 brand to engage with students, a key target market for technology companies.

As the chief marketing instrument of the A Heart for Nerds campaign, the Nerdomat is a hybrid entertainment and vending machine that dispenses nerdy merchandise to students who win its games. Entering a win code into the vending machine can also yield merchandise, and users can use an integrated music slot to listen to Nerd Song by German hip hop group Blumentopf. The track was composed especially for Nerd Day.

Initial trials of the Nerdomat started in November 2010, with subsequent rollouts meaning there were 19 of the machines in German universities in 2011. They were sited, for 10 week periods, in busy locations such as cafeterias or entrance halls, where they could achieve maximum visibility and footfall.

The main objective of the Nerdomat is to raise awareness and improve attitudes of non-technical students to Microsoft and the Windows 7 brand. The strategy has been to add a positive sheen to the whole issue of nerds, with a consequent change of attitude to Microsoft among target consumers.

Social media, including a Facebook app, a digital push through Wi-FI and Bluetooth, and a conventional flyer campaign have all been employed to raise awareness of the campaign and to distribute win codes for use in the Nerdomat. Participating students are said to collect the merchandise they receive from the machines, which over time has been changed in line with wider Microsoft promotions for hard- and software as part of the A Heart for Nerds campaign.

Impressive efficiency is one of the reasons for the project’s success. Installing one machine on a campus incurs costs similar to a poster campaign but reaches more students, with a lower wastage rate.

Pizza Express

pizza express

Name of innovation: Pizza Express App
Entering company: Pizza Express
Name of Innovators: Rebecca Farrer and John Sullivan

Popular marketing initiatives don’t have to be about making money. The Pizza Express App is all about changing the behaviour of customers by offering them something new and genuinely useful.

The company has achieved an industry first: a free iPhone app that lets customers pay instantly and securely for their meals, via PayPal, and in real time to avoid waiting for to pay through the restaurant staff. The app also allows diners to find and book tables, view menus and receive and store special offer codes and receipts.

The launch of the app has been accompanied by the rollout of free Wi-Fi to all Pizza Express customers, via The Cloud, and the introduction of electronic point-of-sale (PoS) systems that allow seamless integration between the app and traditional payment methods.

The chain calculated that waiting for and paying a bill in the conventional manner takes an average of 10-12 minutes, a period that can feel too long for anybody in a hurry. The purpose of the app is to transform the dining experience by speeding up the least pleasant part of it.

Spreading the word of such a modern feature has been carried out via digital marketing. By email, Pizza Express has told its 3.9 million-strong database of customers, and those of its partners, such as the 9 million people on the PayPal database. The Cloud has been used to communicate news of the app, also paying for print advertising. The 550,000 monthly visitors to the Pizza Express website have been targeted, while a further 600,000 have seen in-restaurant PoS. Online banner ads have made the message even harder to miss.

The results suggest that many people have seen the marketing activity. The target was to achieve 200,000 app downloads in the first four months, and 10,000 bookings made through it in the first month. In fact, the first 100,000 apps were downloaded within a week, and the bookings target was beaten by 50%.
Such was the novelty of the app that the BBC has run 14 items on it, and The New York Times has written about Pizza Express for the first time.



Name of innovation: Interactive video couponing in P&G Facebook
Entering Agency: HowTo.tv
Name of Innovators: Russell Goldsmith and Ben Tatlow

Using online content to drive offline purchase, as an exercise in consumer engagement, is a challenge that has been undertaken by HowTo.tv. Procter & Gamble used its LinkTo product within Facebook to provide interactive video along with an integrated couponing system for P&G products.

Developed to enable videos to be more interactive, the LinkTo player allows viewers to click on interactive hotspots to gain information on highlighted products or features, and to add them to a virtual shopping basket with a third-party retailer. The viewers can also fill in data-collection forms within the LinkTo player to register, for example, for special offers or promotions offered by a brand.

An innovative first use of the concept has been trialled with P&G air freshener brand Febreze, which offers a smaller online community than some other P&G brands, but
a large enough sample to test the new technology effectively.

The 15,000 consumers who have ‘liked’ Febreze on Facebook were offered the chance to view branded video content. As a pilot programme, the project used existing Febreze content from TV campaigns. While the viewers were watching the content – an embedded YouTube video within Facebook – on a tab in their browser, it was overlaid with an offer to print out a discount coupon – an immediate call to action while they were viewing relevant content.

Although it started with a focused group of consumers who already ‘liked’ the product, their Facebook friends were able to see the content in their own newsfeeds if the original Febreze fans shared it.

HowTo.tv had to win the support of a number of groups within P&G to make the project happen. The P&G Innovation Team; the Febreze Brand Team; external providers Couponstar, which provided coupons; and Proximity, which managed the Facebook page, have all supported the trial.

By introducing a new level of customer engagement and interaction, the trial could change how brands interact with customers.

Red Hot World Buffet


Name of innovation: Red Hot World Buffet Restaurants
Entering Agency: Smith & Smith PR
Name of innovators: Parmjit & Helen Dhaliwal

Red Hot World Buffet (RHWB) has built up a loyal customer base by offering a unique dining experience at a compelling price. But it has also become a master of customer engagement, using PR, ads, social media, discount vouchers and staff training to maximise every opportunity available to draw diners in.

The concept of RHWB was to reinvent the all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. To avoid the familiar trays of lukewarm, overcooked food the company began by recruiting chefs from the world’s best restaurants and hotels. At RHWB, these chefs jointly create up to 300 dishes, from the cuisines of seven countries, every day. They cook portions in front of customers, demonstrating the freshness and expertise in each dish and creating visual theatre.

Diners choose which cuisine to try and can return to the buffet as often as they wish for a one-off price of between £10 and £15, depending on the time of day. Children under the age of ten eat for half price, and those under two eat for free. Some 3,000 of the chain’s fans have paid £5 each for a discount booklet to ensure further price reductions as members of the RHWB Diners Club.

A constant stream of multi-level campaigns and promotions keeps RHWB at the forefront of consumer consciousness. Last July and August, for example, it ran a month-long Caribbean food and drink festival at all of its branches, each venue developing authentic dishes with the help of local Caribbean communities. Customers enjoyed live steel drum music as they ate.

Local bloggers were invited to try the food, and offered exclusive vouchers for their readers to download. Diners who uploaded pictures of themselves enjoying the festival to RHWB’s Facebook or Twitter accounts were entered in a competition to win a free family meal.

The company has also invested more than £60,000 in the Red Hot Way, a motivational programme that rewards top-performing staff with prizes including international holidays and cash.

Since launching its first restaurant in 2004, RHWB has seen its profits grow by 9,000%. Its largest restaurant, in Manchester, serves more than 11,000 customers per week.



Name of innovation: SnoozeShade
Entering agency: Really Simple Ideas
Name of Innovator: Cara Sayer

Inventor and entrepreneur Cara Sayer has followed her instincts in spending her savings to launch SnoozeShade, an innovative brand created to solve an age-old problem, and created a new retail category as a result.

At first a single product, SnoozeShade is now a range of six blackout covers for prams, pushchairs, buggies and cots. Most shades are not universal to all buggies.

The aim of the product is to keep babies in a quiet environment, away from distractions, so they can sleep happily while out and about. As well as keeping infants happy, it has the dual benefit of making life far easier for parents, who can dread coping with tired babies in public, and protecting the babies from UV rays, giving peace of mind that delicate skin is not being burned.

With a limited budget, a creative approach to raising awareness of SnoozeShade has been used. PR has been a key element, with Sayer using TV and radio appearances to highlight her profile as a ‘mumpreneur’, while a celebrity gifting strategy saw SnoozeShade products sent to famous mums.

Participation in industry awards and endorsements from sleep experts and parenting magazines has given the product a profile in the right places, while social media has been used to drive word-of-mouth promotion and to seek feedback and testimonials from parents.

Attendance at trade and consumer shows at home and abroad has raised awareness among retailers and the public, while making product training videos available on YouTube meant that retail staff were fully briefed on SnoozeShade when consumers asked about it. The SnoozeShade website allowed customers to pre-order the product before it was available, and hundreds did so.

From launch in March 2010, SnoozeShade has gone on to be stocked by retailers including John Lewis and Boots the Chemist, and has sparked a new ‘baby sleep’ category in stores. A policy of highlighting the range in English-speaking countries with warm climates – such as South Africa and New Zealand – has resulted in successful sales in 20 countries.

The brand has also recruited grateful parents as fans, keen to extol the virtues of a product that helps ensure they have happy and well-rested babies.



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