Eve shakes up agency set-up as it launches first campaign under new brand positioning

CMO Cheryl Calverley eschewed the usual agency model for a more flexible set-up in its first major campaign to bring the Eve brand to life.

Eve sleep marketing campaignEve has eschewed the usual agency model for a more flexible approach to create its first major brand campaign since its CMO Cheryl Calverley joined at the start of the year.

The set-up saw Calverley work with individuals across different agencies on an ad-hoc basis. For example, she worked with one person, an old colleague, on marketing strategy, production company Arthur and Martha, directors Outsider and media agency Goodstuff.

“We knew we would need to work with people who had done brilliant advertising before, but we also knew that it was going to be challenging to do that with our budget and in the time frame in the UK. So we took a slightly different approach,” Calverley tells Marketing Week.

“I have a colleague who I have worked with for a long time who helped us with the strategy. And when that was right, it felt good, clear and solid, and getting to a creative brief was fairly straightforward. Once we got there we had the confidence that we could probably do a different model, we didn’t need to go and do the support of a full agency model.”

The campaign, from brief to launch, took around three months to complete and also marks the start of a new positioning around sleeping well. That is key for Eve, which amid mounting competition in the mattress market is going from being a “mattress in a box to a bed, bedroom and sleep wellness business”.

The campaign features a new endline, ‘Rise. Shine’, and will make Eve feel like a “very big, public brand”, according to Calverley. The creative moves Eve away from its previous focus on product function to talk more about brand and the feeling of having a good night’s sleep, although the Eve mattress still features prominently.

It sees a sloth bursting into dance after a good night’s sleep on an Eve bed. Set to a soundtrack of Moloko’s song Pure Pleasure Seeker, it aims to show the “feel-good positivity” of sleeping well.

“I talk about becoming a sleep wellness business and the core of what that means when it comes to communication is we need to give people a feeling of being well slept when they watch our ads. When we advertise, people need to watch the advert and finish with a sense of optimism, happiness and positivity that comes with having slept well,” explains Calverley, who is the brand’s first CMO.

The ambition of the creative is matched in the media plans. While Eve has always had broadcast TV in its mix because it is part-owned by Channel 4, it has previously been a small part of the mix and focused on direct response.

For this campaign, Eve will “be properly on TV” across ITV and Channel 4, with the campaign launching during the ad break in The Voice: Kids tomorrow night (13 July). The creative will also run in outdoor media, as well as YouTube, Facebook and its own channels.

“We are hoping it will make quite a splash,” adds Calverley.

The main aim is to increase spontaneous awareness, which Calverley says needs to go north of its current level of 10% “quite quickly”.

Eve will also be measuring brand metrics such as whether Eve makes people feel good and is a brand that can help people sleep better.

On the business front, traffic to its website and ROI will be important, with that helping to determine where Eve takes its marketing next, although the plan is for the sloth to be a key part of its messaging for at least the next few years.

“He will be the brand, certainly for the foreseeable [future]. We are a small business and as you can imagine there has been a not immaterial amount of investment that has gone into an asset of that quality so this asset will have plenty of airing in the next two or three years and I hope he is the face of our brand for many years to come,” says Calverley.

Swapping big companies for small

Prior to working at Eve, Calverley spent her career at big companies including Unilever, Birds Eye and The AA. But she was deliberate in her thinking that her next career move should be to a smaller brand where she could “drink her own Kool-Aid”.

“[Marketing] is quite easy in a big company because you can’t really make any big mistakes, you can’t really damage a brand [like The AA] that is 110 years old. I wanted to see how it felt to be on a brand where if you got it wrong you would very much know, and if you got it right you would very much know,” she says.

What is really important, and what great agencies do really well, is they put the right people around the client.

Cheryl Calverley, Eve

“It is much more exciting, much more exhilarating, slightly more stomach churning but much more rewarding on a day-to-day basis. You literally have your fingers on the marketing and strategy and investment all the time. It’s been an adrenaline kick, so I like it.”

There are other challenges in working at a smaller business, not least that working with founders can at times be difficult. That was seen at BrewDog, where its first CMO left after just three months after clashing with the founder and CEO over strategy and direction.

BrewDog’s former marketing boss: It wasn’t ready for a CMO

Calverley says she was aware it could be an issue, and quickly realised that if a founder was still involved the business wouldn’t have room for her. At Eve, however, most of the founders have left and the one who remains, Kuba Wieczorek, is more of a brand guardian so doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day.

“It’s actually a really nice relationship to have someone I can lean on and talk to. He is a photographer and stylist by trade so actually in terms of keeping the look and feel of the brand on track he has huge expertise there, while I have much more expertise in marketing strategy and messaging and that line. It’s working nicely,” she says.

“And my CEO is a digital marketer by trade, although it’s a long time since he did that, and again that is one of my weak spots, so I have a set of people around me that can really complement my talents.”

Shifting the agency model

While Eve adopted a different agency model for this campaign, Calverley admits it was an “incredible battle” and one that she isn’t sure she would repeat.

“People talk about getting rid of the agency model and going non-traditional and it feels very gung-ho and easy. But as you get into it, what an agency gives you is just the immense confidence of a set of people who have done what you are doing many times before and are dealing with other clients.

“Doing it this way, if I didn’t have the set of friends I’ve got in traditional agencies who have been really useful sounding boards, it is very risky on a business that is already quite risky,” she admits.

She says if she could keep the right people around her to provide counsel and the rate of campaign launch was relatively slow, it would work again. But as Eve launches campaigns in more markets and around more products, she believes it would need “an agency to sit at the centre of that”.

However, she still believes agencies need to become more “fluid” and to focus less on the right model and more on the right people.

“In developing work it is nothing to do with the agencies and all to do with the people,” she concludes. “What is really important, and what great agencies do really well, is they put the right people around the client. That is not about the right model but about the right people who understand what the client needs and can challenge in the right way.”