Engage Awards Brand Innovator of The Year Preview

Take an in-depth look at the brands and products that have made this year’s Engage Awards Brand Innovator of The Year shortlist, in association with Reckitt Benckiser.

Foreword: Great ideas are new and relevant


Jerome Lemaire
Marketing director Reckitt Benckiser UK

Since its creation, the Reckitt Benckiser Brand Innovator Award has showcased marketing and product innovation in all its forms. Past winners such as Dyson and Pizza Express have demonstrated the strength of British marketing and the talent of marketers who have a gift for finding ideas that resonate with the public. Big brands and small, products and services, Brand Innovator offers a platform for them all. At its best, the award proves that innovation, when driven by the end user, is central to success.

The 2013 entries have been no exception and I, alongside my fellow judges, enjoyed the task of creating the latest shortlist of finalists featured in the next few pages. We hope they will spark even more ideas. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and good luck!

Keeping it relevant

To be successful, innovation must be driven by what the consumer wants, or will want when they see it. It must both reflect and lead changes in lifestyle and aspiration, and move as fast as current trends. We need to keep this thought at the front of our minds when striving to introduce products and services that bring added value to the end user. There have been many companies with great ideas that failed because they didn’t fully understand their consumers and forgot that innovation doesn’t only have to be clever, it has to be relevant.

At Reckitt Benckiser (RB) we think of this at every step of the process. Successful innovation is a result of true understanding of the market and consumer and as such is an essential part of each stage of our product and marketing development. However, it always starts from the conviction that whatever the end product is, it has to be needed and desired by the end user.
RB has a portfolio of household brands – from Finish to Nurofen and Dettol to Gaviscon – all leaders in their sectors. Our brands have been part of this country’s life for generations. But no brand can stay at the forefront of the market without continuing to evolve and provide what every new generation of consumers want – or what they may need next year.

A good example of the way a brand can evolve and yet retain its original purpose and positioning is Dettol. It started life as a simple but effective disinfectant, and has built on its core brand equity and reputation so that Dettol products are now trusted to solve a wide range of health and hygiene problems. From the original Dettol ‘brown liquid’ to Dettol Power & Pure, the brand has used consumer intelligence and innovative NPD to consistently bring consumers Dettol products that they want and trust to do the job.

This focus on innovation is repeated across RB through ideas, product development, clever marketing and relationships with our customers and consumers, which is at the heart of our continued success.


Branwell Johnson
Acting editor Marketing Week

It takes a strong nerve and supreme belief to drive innovation in an economic downturn when every pound spent is being scrutinised for its return on investment. However, big and small brands know they cannot succeed without gaining a competitive advantage from new products, improved processes or clever use of the latest technologies.

The shortlist for the Engage Awards Brand Innovator of the Year 2013, in association with Reckitt Benckiser, demonstrates companies are willing to push forward and develop market-changing ideas. The award recognises these entrepreneurial companies and the teams or individuals that have delivered an innovation with the potential to give a brand first mover advantage and big returns.

The judges selected brands from a variety of sectors to make up the shortlist. Brands that impressed the panel included Barclaycard PayBand, for bringing contactless technology to the BarclayCard Wireless Festival – making it the first fully contactless festival.

Media brand Metro is also on the list for its Metro tablet edition, launched the same day as the latest iPad and offering consumers real-time content updates.

From The Beans Group there is Freshersfields.com – The National Online Freshers’ Fair, which gave brands a great opportunity to lay our their wares in front of students via a virtual platform.

There are plenty of tangible innovations on the list too with Allied Bakeries winning applause for its Kingsmill Fruit & Fibre range.

Swizzels Matlow also produced a new range – Squashies – by extending childhood favourite sweets such as Love Hearts into a soft gum line. The product has been popular and gained distribution in leading supermarkets.

And in retail, Game has demonstrated bold vision in rapidly reasserting itself after coming out of administration. The company built brand loyalty by rolling out free Wi-Fi across its stores, providing in-store consoles and tablets so fans could test games and revamping its website and mobile site.

Another brand that needed to change outmoded perceptions was Timex. The watch company crafted a long-term strategy to be recognised as a stylish and creative brand.

Also applauded for innovative marketing is online clothes retailer Asos for its #BestNightEver Christmas campaign in support of its womenswear collection.

The overall winner will be revealed at the Engage Awards gala evening on 21 May but you can read about the eight finalists in this supplement, so jump in without hesitation. To book a table at the awards, visit: www.marketingweekawards.co.uk


Name of innovation: Barclaycard PayBand at the Barclaycard Wireless Festival 2012
Entering company: (heart) Productions
Name of innovators: Alan Ferguson and Donna Krawcyzk


Approaching its fourth year as the headline sponsor of London’s Wireless Festival, Barclaycard wanted to use the opportunity to become “the most innovative payment technology provider in its industry”. This is no small task considering that companies are investing millions in this burgeoning space.

Targeting a group Barclaycard coined ‘Cosmopolitan Aspirers’, the brand plotted a way of using Barclaycard’s contactless technology to help make the festival a more convenient and social media-led experience for music fans.

The result was game-changing. Barclaycard Wireless Festival became the UK’s first fully contactless festival. Fulfilling the company’s aim to empower and smarten its customers, Barclaycard’s PayBand payment technology meant festival goers didn’t have to worry about losing a tenner in a muddy field, or walking around with their bank cards.

Instead, they could pay for their beers and burgers quickly with just a tap of their Barclaycard PayBand – a wristband connected to their debit or credit card. Wristbands came with extra perks such as fast-track entry to the festival, access to luxurious toilets, and entry to the Barclaycard Unwind Perk Park, where a contactless photo booth instantly uploaded pictures to Facebook.

However seamless it appears, Barclaycard had to persuade consumers to use the technology.

To sway the masses, Barclaycard promoted PayBand ahead of the festival, targeting music fans with online banner ads, emails and SMS alerts sent to Barclaycard Wireless Festival
and Unwind databases and a series of radios ads. Excitement was fuelled when music lovers received their silicone wristband in bespoke premium packaging with a limited-edition festival tote, lanyard and festival guide.

As a nation that’s not shy when it comes to letting everyone know we’re having a great time, particularly at festivals, Barclaycard was creative in combining social media with
its technology by linking Paybands to users’ Facebook accounts. The move marked the first time the company connected a payment product to its social media strategy.

An impressive 92 per cent of people used the wristbands during the festival. Crucially, most festival goers ditched their cash and instead flashed their wristbands when it came to on-site purchases. Results showed that some 87 per cent pre-loaded their PayBand ahead of the event, while 85 per cent swiped their PayBand for between 75 and 100 per cent of purchases.


Name of innovation: Metro Tablet Edition
Entering company: Metro


It takes just a sweeping glance across the train platform to realise that reading consumption on the daily commute is no longer confined to books and newspapers. Smartphones, ereaders and tablets have become just as ubiquitous, whether the mode of transport is the Tube, bus or train.

With this in mind, Metro, which with its free daily newspaper is inherently part of many a city dweller’s morning commute, wanted to take a leap into the tablet market to target the ever- growing group of tech-savvy urbanites.

Timing was key and so Metro, with high aspirations to establish itself as the best newspaper app on the market and be recognised for breaking boundaries, officially launched its tablet edition in March last year – a date that coincided with the newspaper’s 13th birthday and the launch of Apple’s latest iPad.

The publisher tapped into the consumer desire for a constant stream of information by making the Metro tablet edition available to download at 4am – ready for even the earliest commuter – and giving users access to real-time updates. The aesthetically pleasing app also hosts video clips and photo galleries alongside the news.

Being able to offer brands a strong set of advertising capabilities is crucial for any new media launch, but Metro promised innovative advertising opportunities including multiple pages within ads and response and engagement tracking. This proposition has kept the tablet edition at the forefront of media buyers’ minds. In fact, the number of advertisements in each issue increased from an average of 1.5 in June 2012 to six in December 2012.

To support the launch, Metro invested £65,000 on a cross-platform campaign, which included competitions with Spotify, and sent iPad-shaped birthday cakes to its top media agencies.
It ran outdoor digital activity on screens at mainline stations where consumers were encouraged to interact through Twitter to win iPads.

Metro emphasised its digital prowess during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Knowing that commuters would be engaging more with news sites during the Games, Metro decided to publish the tablet edition in the morning and evening, to make it more relevant to its readers.

With millions of apps on the market, it’s tough to create cut-through. But statistics show that Metro’s app has proved to be another key touchpoint in the urbanite’s day. More than 620,000 people have downloaded the Metro Tablet Edition app, with an audience of 190,000 unique users per month.

The Beans Group

Name of innovation: Freshersfields.com – The National Online Freshers’ Fair
Entering company: The Beans Group
Name of innovators: Michael Eder, Simon Eder, William Harris and Barrie Smith


Cutting through the hustle and bustle of freshers’ fairs can be difficult for companies vying to grab the attention of students starting university. Combined with the logistics of attempting to reach thousands of people at campuses up and down the country and attending freshers’ fairs, this can be a tiring and expensive event.

With this in mind, The Beans Group used its clout as a student brand – it’s the brains behind student money-saving website studentbeans.com – to provide “mass access to the hard-to-reach youth market”, primarily consisting of 18- to 24 year-old students. It turned the standard fresher’s fair on its head by catapulting it from the physical into the virtual with the launch of The National Online Freshers’ Fair.

To be in with a chance of success, Freshersfields.com needed to attract brands, which was particularly challenging because it was the first online freshers’ fair. The Beans Group hoped the online fair could slot into brands’ online marketing budgets by offering eye-catching prices for its virtual stands. Its price points from £3,000 to £10,000, were considerably cheaper than the £70,000 it estimates it costs a brand to capture the attention of 100,000 freshers by attending 35 fairs.

Freshersfields.com also offered more than a physical stand would be able to. Brands provided students with a wealth of innovative student marketing material from editorial information and video content to social media streams and competitions. Unlike its bricks-and-mortar competitors, The National Online Freshers’ Fair website offered brands access to thousands of freshers in a clutter-free environment.

For students, the benefits were clear. They could peruse the information at their own leisure rather than having to run around collecting information from a busy physical fair. Brands also gained the marketing holy grail of being able to capture data. Overall, a win-win for both sides.

A strong marketing campaign was instrumental in enlisting students and brands. Marketing spanned social media and email and its PR efforts led to editorial in The Independent, student papers and trade press. It also recruited 27 campus brand managers at universities and schools, helping the company to form a closer relationship with students.

The National Online Freshers’ Fair took the title of the UK’s largest freshers’ fair, racking up more than 215,000 visits and 1 million page views. More than 40 brands were involved in this creative first.


Name of innovation: Kingsmill Fruit & Fibre range
Entering company: Allied Bakeries


The days of sitting around a table together as a family and eating breakfast may be in decline but it continues to be considered the most important meal of the day by health experts.

The innovation team behind the Kingsmill Fruit & Fibre range wanted to create a breakfast product aimed at its target customer- base of families who lead hectic lives but want to provide a healthy and tasty breakfast. However, Allied Bakeries needed to develop a product that customers would pop in their basket alongside their usual Kingsmill bread.

There were also other issues to consider. Although the number of people eating breakfast is on the rise, eating bread for breakfast is on the decline, with other products such as cereal proving to be serious contenders for consumers’ morning meal.

Undefeated, Allied Bakeries identified a potential £18m opportunity over three years and seized the chance to make bread for breakfast exciting. So in August last year Kingsmill Fruit & Fibre – a healthy line of products, consisting of bread, bagels and muffins filled with fruit – launched in Sainsbury’s. Although the brand faced the issue of pricing itself slightly higher compared to other bakery products, it offered a lower price per breakfast with two slices of Fruit & Fibre bread costing just 26p per serving, lower than the average cost for a fruit cereal bar or sugar-free yoghurt.

Continuing with themes from previous campaigns, which focused on modern families, its marketing also played on the taste and nutritional benefits of the range.

The brand ploughed £2.5m into supporting the launch across multiple platforms, including a major TV campaign, featuring the Kingsmill family; sending products to opinion formers
on Mumsnet; sponsoring breakfast clubs for children and setting up sampling campaigns.

It whipped the promotion into action with a flurry of online activity, coupons and trade PR. Kingsmill gained 35,000 new fans on Facebook.

With its target customers shopping at grocers, Allied Bakeries knew it was crucial to gain their support. Thanks to an extensive trade PR campaign, the breakfast with a fruity twist is now sold in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons.

A hotbed of on and offline activity has led the brand to fulfil its ambition to bring “back breakfast for bakery”. The campaign continues as the brand builds the range in the long term.


Name of innovation: A new Game
Entering company: Game Retail
Name of innovators: MHP Communications, Rocket and SP Group


Surviving administration is no easy feat. It requires a strong strategy to win back support from suppliers and customers.

The management team at Game Retail faced this tough battle after going into administration last year. In addition, it also had another major issue to contend with when its extensive research found that its two brands – Game and Gamestation – weren’t strong enough to deliver the gaming community’s needs as silo brands.

It had to unify the brands under the Game Retail name, and potentially face criticism from fans.

Game Retail set out to mitigate any negative feelings the gaming community had by controlling the communication of its move to unify, focusing on the benefits of the change and continuing to engage with its customers.

Reinvigorating the brand was key to keeping its position as a leading games provider and helping it to stay ahead of the curve. The brand moved quickly by setting out five strategic pillars such as excelling in digital and providing the best community rewards.

It took just six months to shake up the company, while making sure brand advocacy remained.

Digital and omni channels played a major part in the brand overhaul. Game Retail provided a more engaging experience for its customers by rolling out free Wi-Fi across its stores, providing in-store consoles and tablets so fans could test games and revamping its website and mobile site. Game Retail deepened brand advocacy by investing heavily in the midnight launches of the biggest games of the season, helping to create a buzz around titles.

A customer loyalty programme was developed, which saw customers rewarded when they traded in games and bought pre-owned or digital games.

A carefully calculated communications plan, in which the company controlled messaging and stopped any leaks, proved to be vital in keeping its customers and suppliers on-side.
Creating a step-by-step plan for informing suppliers, media and gamers, allowed the brand to deliver tailored messages to each audience. For example, gamers were targeted with a series of display ads on key gaming sites highlighting the advantages of the amalgamation of the two brands.

The company not only turned itself around, but it also used the experience to innovate and provide a more valuable experience to customers. Popular initiatives include Swap Shop, which allows gamers to swap games in-store for as little as £1, and its ‘We won’t be beaten’ on price guarantee.


Name of innovation: Style Of The Times: the Timex journey of rediscovery
Entering company: Timex
Name of innovators: Dan Calvert, Gemma Child, Gavin Crilly-McKean and Geneviève Robillard


Changing consumers’ perceptions of a brand can be a long, hard process involving expensive marketing tools.

Timex had lofty ambitions to kickstart a change in consumers’ attitudes towards the brand to persuade them to perceive Timex as desirable. However, with its own research showing that the brand was seen as unfashionable with low awareness levels among its target audience of 18- to 35-year-olds, it faced an uphill battle. Rather than pulling out a quick and expensive stunt, the business instead carefully crafted a long-term strategy to help Timex gain recognition as a stylish and creative brand.

With a limited budget, the innovation team behind ‘Style of the times: the Timex journey of rediscovery’, chose to reinvigorate the brand with just PR – an unusual route for the company.
Timex worked on a year-long media relations campaign that involved presenting the range to fashion editors, contextualising ranges with the key seasons and packaging collections by current catwalk trends to help the brand be chosen to feature in magazine fashion spreads.

To help propel the brand as a serious fashion contender in the eyes of its target demographic, Timex recruited a set of key influencers in the form of fashion bloggers.

Alongside previewing collections and consulting on watch designs, the bloggers were photographed ‘street style’ in London with their favourite watches from the collection. These influential bloggers posted the content to their readers, helping to position the brand as being at the forefront of cool.

Timex attempted to further cement its innovative position by creating a fashion first during London Fashion Week when it enlisted dancers to create a catwalk with a twist – models showcasing its designs by dancing to a street dance routine called ‘Tutting’. Timex pushed the content through its site, Tumblr page and to bloggers and online media to showcase.

This combination of tactics, all set within a PR framework, helped create a compelling story for retailers. Previously admitting the brand had become “an afterthought for retailers”, Timex was soon stocked in Urban Outfitters and gained additional business in Selfridges.

The overall project helped the brand build almost 100 pieces of coverage, and led to a limited-edition 1972 watch selling out. It also sent website traffic rocketing by 25 per cent between August and September 2012.

With many brand firsts, Timex’s creative campaign has helped to throw the brand into the style spotlight.


Name of innovation: New Squashies range in four variants: Drumstick, New Refreshers, Love Hearts and Double Lolly
Entering company: Swizzels Matlow
Name of innovators: Jeremy Dee, Lynda Hallam, Sarah-Louise Heslop and Mark Walker


Confectionery from our youth often gives a dose of nostalgia to us all. But to freshen up such childhood favourites by adapting them into a new modern format warrants a careful execution.

Swizzels Matlow, the company behind sweets such as Love Hearts and Drumstick, saw an opportunity to play on the nostalgia factor by extending the brand into a range of gum products, which it hoped would appeal to adults who bought the brands in their youth and who would now share them with their families.

Through Squashies, a line of soft gum products from some of its bestselling lines, including Love Hearts, Drumstick, New Refreshers and Double Lollies, the team saw
an opportunity to innovate and boost its share of the gum market, which now accounts for half of children’s sugar confectionery sales.

The dream to extend into another category and creating the concept of Squashies took two years to develop. The team constantly refined the recipes to make sure they met consumers’ expectations of their favourite childhood sweets.

Packaging was created that amalgamated the new branding together with the recognisable graphics of the parent brand. Swizzels Matlow aimed to tap into confectionery nostalgia with the strapline ‘Original Favourites Squashified’ – which combined the affection for the original brands with the fun new format.

To cater for customer needs, the sweets were presented in three different sized bags for every eating occasion. To make sure Squashies would gain a mass market audience, the range was available to pick up in all trade channels from grocers and convenience stores to discounters and online.

Spreading the word of the new sub-brand was pertinent to the success of Squashies. To achieve this, new media was used with the launch of a campaign website and an app. The brand also ran competitions on Facebook and Twitter. Other tactics to drum up support included offering samples of the sweets at service stations and appointing a dedicated PR agency to focus solely on Squashies.

The results demonstrated a great return on investment and also generated very positive feedback from customers. Through its marketing activity, some 100,000 people sampled the products and 5,000 fans joined the Squashies Facebook page. The brand has achieved an impressive 90 pieces of positive PR and has gone on to be sold by major retailers such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Ocado.


Name of innovation: #BestNightEver – ASOS 2012 Womenswear Christmas Campaign ‘World First’ Innovations
Entering company: Asos


Asos customers are a fun bunch. This core target market of digitally savvy 20-something women love snapping up a new outfit for the weekend on their favourite shopping site.
Asos wanted to appeal to this demographic by creating a Christmas campaign that would deliver glowing sales and deepen brand engagement.

Asos sought to retain its position as an innovative company and create a new experience for its customers.

However, against a hotbed of constantly changing media innovations, the company wanted to give its audience the “added social currency of being a digital pioneer and sharing world-first experiences with their friends”.

It created a Christmas womenswear campaign across four of its customers’ favourite social media machines, without using paid-for media.

Using Google Hangout, Asos hosted live events where celebrities talked about their style and what makes a great night out. Viewers could ask the famous faces questions, while on another screen Asos stylists pulled out relevant products from the site to allow people to shop the range in real-time.

On Pinterest it launched three music videos to accompany the Christmas party wear collection and created a world first: a ‘Want it, Pin it’ button. This sat inside the video so customers could pin their favourite scenes to Pinterest while watching the video.

Asos also created a ‘global party feed’ where it encouraged people to use hashtag #BestNightEver when posting photos on Instagram. This pulled in images from Europe, Australia, Brazil and the US. Finally, knowing its customers love to share pictures, it created Party Photobooth – a Facebook cover photo generator that allowed users to ‘pimp their favourite party pictures’ with a filter and create a ‘unique memento’ of their big night out.

This combination of fun digital firsts led to strong engagement results for the brand. Pinterest pins-ups were pinned more than 28,000 times while its global party feed whipped up an impressive 150,000 Instagram snaps worldwide, over three weeks. This engagement also led to strong sales, with viewers of the final music video Hangout splashing out £15,000 on highlighted products.

Asos said the campaign successfully delivered on its aim to deepen brand engagement. The company received more than 5.6 million positive, meaningful engagements during the eight weeks of the campaign.



Consumer confidence grows

Seb Joseph

Marketers have been given reason to feel a little more optimistic about the future after two major studies revealed consumer confidence is growing.