Roll up for brand bundling

Big business buys into brand bundling: a new strategy of collectively marketing products in the same category is allowing brands to both make their advertising budgets stretch further and leverage their competitive egde.


Collective marketing is offering companies a new way to gain a competitive edge. A range of sectors, including consumer goods, car manufacturers, arts venues and charities are using ’brand bundling’ strategies for the first time to save money and find cross-selling opportunities at a time when marketing budgets are under pressure.

Brand bundling is the practice of marketing multiple items at once or companies bundling their wares together. Not only can it be cheaper to show a variety of products in one advert, this style of promotion also encourages cross-selling.

The technique has long been used by the retail sector. Tesco, for example, has used the same TV ad to promote multiple products in a range, while the likes of River Island might use its ads to encourage cross-selling by showing which jacket matches a certain pair of jeans.

Procter & Gamble, too, has been making the most of this type of collective marketing by buying all the advertising spots in particular programmes and showing “makeover breaks”, where a woman is made over using multiple P&G products such as Max Factor make-up, Olay face cream and Aussie hair products (see Q&A, below).

P&G has also bundled other brands together with its Science Behind the Beauty spots, where entire ad breaks are dedicated to explaining how Head & Shoulders, Oral B toothbrushes and Olay work, using white-coated technicians to give credibility to the message.

Brand bundling is the practice of marketing multiple items at once or companies bundling their wares together

Roisin Donnelly, P&G’s corporate marketing director and head of marketing in the UK, says the brand worked with Channel 4 to find the right advertising spots for the “makeover breaks” and put together its bundled content.

“Makeovers are a ’story’ and people can see the benefits. We put our makeovers on air during shows that have a high involvement, such as Ugly Betty, because viewers watch these shows from beginning to end. Viewers watched the ad story and then went to our website to find out more,” she explains.

P&G may be the biggest-spending advertiser in Britain – £189m in 2010, according to Nielsen estimates – but Donnelly says that bundling brands still makes sense for the company because it provides a “great return on investment”.

However, a senior marketing source from another consumer goods manufacturer warns: “You should only do brand bundling if it works for your consumers. Saving money is not the right reason. I’m not sure people know or care that our products are made by the same company. If a brand does this, it is either because it is trying to save money or it thinks the corporate brand is more important to people than individual product brands.”

The three types of brand bundling

Liz Tinlin, consultant and chief marketing officer of sustainability charity Start, says there are three ways that brands can market products collectively for competitive gain.

Execution bundling

“Ten years ago, the furthest brand bundling got was execution bundling, where a brand manager might have bought a couple of 30-second ads and a few 10-second spots and put them together so it was cheaper to buy. Bundling for the sake of economy has always happened. But this also includes things like Unilever creating a combined buying deal with the weight of all its brands – a critically important part of the marketing plan.”

Big idea bundling

“This is when brands do something together for the same end. It might be a laundry powder and a washing machine manufacturer getting together to co-promote the idea that people should turn their machines to 30 degrees. That works because there is the same target audience and the same occasion. Procter & Gamble’s ’makeover breaks’ also work because they have chosen brands with similar target audiences.”

Endorsement or co-brand bundling

“This is when there is a partnership between brands, such as Fairtrade, where it has done a big marketing push on all the brands that have anything to do with the movement. With this type of bundling, it helps if the businesses are different or compete with each other because the consumer can then see that there is more to it than making money. It might help someone simplify their buying choice.”

Liz Tinlin, chief marketing officer of sustainability charity Start, which is backed by Prince Charles, agrees that it doesn’t necessarily matter to consumers if products bundled together in marketing come from the same brand or not.

“It can even help if the consumer thinks the products are from different companies because what you want is the consumer getting a sense of businesses clubbing together to do something more interesting,” she notes. “It is helpful if the consumer thinks that there is something other than just a cross-selling goal.”

Outside consumer goods, some companies believe brand bundling works most effectively when a mix of individual brands and the parent brand is used. Car maker Chevrolet has been using both its brand name and multiple models within one ad to change perceptions of the brand in the UK.

Different market, same strategy: FMCG giant Procter and Gamble and Chevrolet have both used brand bundling

It is running a campaign featuring all of its car range driving together, but with two distinct endframes – one to promote its Spark city car and the other to market its five-door Cruze hatchback. Chevrolet UK managing director Mark Terry notes: “I don’t think P&G cares whether people know that its products come from the same manufacturer, but for us it is very important that people know that Chevrolet makes different types of vehicles.

“The Chevrolet name is widely known globally but is possibly more associated with the classic American 57 Chevy. What we have to do is get consumers to be aware that Chevrolet in the UK today is very much a European product for European needs – with a great brand around it.”

While each car model will appeal to a different type of owner, Terry says that brand bundling works because its buyers are keen to associate with the parent marque initially before they find out about individual models. This sets it apart from other car brands, such as Toyota, which takes entirely different marketing approaches for its various models.

“Our audience is wide-ranging in respect of people’s purchases but the common theme for them all is that they want to buy into [the parent] brand,” says Terry.

But getting brand bundling right depends on marketing a collection of products that have shared goals, says Start’s Tinlin, such as having the same target audience and similar use occasions.


“It takes the right ’who’ and the right ’when’ to do this,” she says. “P&G couldn’t possibly chuck its Ariel washing powder into the makeover ad because even if it is exactly the same people buying Olay as Ariel, it is a different ’when’ – or use occasion.

“The who – the target audience – and when are what make the big idea work. Companies don’t just do it for cross-selling, they do it for the halo effect on the brand equity as well.”

Changing the perception of a product by using brand bundling to put it in context with others can help to change perceptions for FMCG brands, according to Tinlin. She points out that Max Factor make-up has links to the fashion industry but Olay face cream is more about traditional skincare, so putting the two together could help Olay reach a new audience.

“The context it has been put in helps move it away from the 50-year heritage of it being Oil of Ulay for older ladies,” she says.

For Tinlin, there are three types of brand bundling – execution bundling, where an FMCG manufacturer might use its broad range of products and overall size to buy media time or space in bulk; big-idea bundling, where the target audience and the occasion is the same; and endorsement, where different businesses come together for a common goal (see The Three Types of Brand Building, above).

Five brand bundling campaigns

Barry M

The cosmetics brand is running three TV ads featuring young women trying out its products and using the strapline Make Everyday Beautiful.


The car manufacturer is running ads showing several of its models in one execution to get UK consumers thinking of it as more of a European brand with a variety of cars to suit different needs, rather than solely as a classic US brand.

Procter & Gamble

The FMCG brand owner has been running Future Friendly since 2007, an initiative which marks several of its products – including Fairy, Flash and Lenor – as helping consumers be more sustainable. The campaign is currently running in-store and in the press.

Unilever USA

Ran The Family Dish campaign last year through iAds – advertisements within iPhone apps – encouraging families to spend time together by cooking with its products.

Reckitt Benckiser

The FMCG brand owner ran The Great British Cleaning Blitz on TV for a month in January, featuring Dettol, Cillit Bang, Harpic, Vanish, Finish, Windolene and Mr Sheen, to “create synergies between brands where there is a logical reason to do so,” according to UK marketing director Stefan Gaa. It was the first time RB had done this type of multibrand advertising.

The Start charity practises endorsement bundling and is running Start Today, an initiative where big businesses are coming together to suggest simple actions to get consumers to behave more sustainably. The idea originally came from a competition to make a film about how marketing can make a difference to the world’s future run by The Marketing Society. It was won by agency Meteorite.

Start Today has big brands, including EDF, Eon, Aviva, More Than, Eurostar and Virgin Media, working with it, each promoting a different action that people can do easily to help them save energy or water, for example.

“Start Today is part of endorsement or co-brand bundling,” says Tinlin. “If you think about how lots of brands work together during Comic Relief, they will all do something separately but it is all tied together by one idea.”

Competitive brands marketing themselves as a bundle can also mean they have better individual relationships overall. London’s South Bank is made up of 17 venues, which last year came together to market collectively to target the business community. Sharon Chou, acting head of marketing at South Bank Employers Group, which runs the group’s marketing, says brand bundling has helped the area promote itself.

“The business tourism sector was hit particularly hard by the recession. The venues do a great job individually but they felt that they needed an extra boost. There is definitely a commercial advantage in doing this. For example, we can provide a forum for feedback and businesses can send on referrals to each other when they can’t handle an enquiry,” she says.

How collective marketing can go wrong


If demand for one product in a bundle outstrips supply

Mark Terry, managing director, Chevrolet UK, says: “Chevrolet’s current campaign features a variety of models in the same ad execution. If we were unable to supply one particular vehicle, we might have to drop that from the ads because we wouldn’t want to create appeal for a car that people couldn’t get.”


If the brand values of multiple products don’t fit

Liz Tinlin, chief marketing officer at sustainability charity Start, says: “It is really dangerous for a company to think they can put something together when the brand values don’t quite fit. If you put Premier Inns, Whitbread Inns and Costa Coffee [all owned by Whitbread] together, for example, it would simply be confusing. You would risk alienating your core consumer group for one or other of the brands.”


It dilutes an individual brand’s message

Roisin Donnelly, corporate marketing director and head of marketing in the UK for Procter & Gamble, says: “Putting multiple brands together could dilute the message, but where they have the same strategy and target, they work really well. You also need to have a compelling consumer story as part of the creative that brings things together.”

Chevrolet has also found that the commercial advantage in brand bundling comes back to saving money, as the current ad campaign was shot in just two locations using all the models and then endframes were shot separately.

Kraft and Unilever are also looking to be more efficient and effective in their marketing, working together on a brand bundling project in France. The two manufacturers produced an ezine to bundle together 25 product categories that might otherwise never have been advertised together. It claims that more than 2 million people visited the site when it launched earlier this year.

Kraft also tested brand bundling in Greece and Spain last Christmas, with a ’Just In Case’ campaign based on the idea that consumers buy extra food during the festive season in the event of unexpected guests. Snack food brands were presented in store to encourage cross-selling.

Daryl Fielding, vice-president of marketing for Kraft Foods Europe, says: “Our consumer insight said that all the unexpected needs of visitors at Christmas are quite stressful, rather than the main meal itself. We bundled our products together in-store and provided ideas about how to cater for unexpected needs.” Fielding won’t reveal whether the strategy will roll out this year but says it had “encouraging results”.

While Donnelly at P&G says bundling will never replace single brand ad campaigns, Fielding calls P&G’s multiple-product strategy “innovative”. She believes that featuring multiple products makes sense in the beauty industry because of the large volume of online searches for skin and beauty help and advice.

Fielding says Kraft has run tie-ups with retailers where Philadelphia cream cheese might be bundled and sold with food such as smoked salmon but says: “I can’t imagine how we would bring some of our other brands into that but anything is possible. There are great opportunities for cross-promotion.”

So with nervous financial directors demanding that the marketing department gets more value from its campaigns, expect more bundles of brands to come to a TV screen near you in the future.

Q&A: Roisin Donnelly, UK corporate marketing director and head of marketing, Procter & Gamble

Marketing Week (MW): Why use a brand bundling strategy?

Roisin Donnelly (RD): Putting brands together allows Procter & Gamble to leverage its competitive edge. We have a very wide portfolio of brands that are talking to the same consumers.

Beauty Recommended: Procter and Gamble promotes its own products, including Olay, in an ezine

Bundling brands within our beauty and grooming department allowed us to run awards and talk to beauty editors about them together. It was a natural transition from there to see whether there was an opportunity to advertise some of the brands together on TV. For our “makeover break” initiative – where a woman is made over using Max Factor, Olay, shampoo brand Aussie and hair colourant Nice & Easy products over a number of ad breaks – we worked with Channel 4 on the creative and production. It was the first time we ran a multibrand campaign on TV.

So we have looked at the common P&G brands that have proven stories and brought them together for the consumer.

MW: What reaction did you get from consumers to the makeover breaks?

RD: It was very successful. A lot of women went to the makeover break microsite to see exactly what products had been used, the shades, how they had been used and what the experts were saying. There was a huge increase in brand awareness across each of the brands and sales of the specific products shown went up.

MW: Do you think consumers know or care that all the products in the makeover breaks are from the same manufacturer?

RD: Some do and some don’t. What they want is a lot of great brands. We have just launched P&G as a corporate brand after 80 years in the UK and, in today’s world, people want to know whether a company is one they can trust.

MW: Your Beauty Recommended ezine includes P&G beauty products and other brands such as Chanel. Why include others?

RD: It is important we have [more general] messages as well. In the makeover break, we had an editor from Grazia magazine doing the clothes because that is part of the total look. The consumer does not just want a lipstick but to look great and feel great overall.


MW: How else are you using brand bundling?

RD: We are running the Future Friendly marketing campaign, which includes a variety of P&G brands that have the common goal of helping people be more sustainable. These include Ariel, Lenor, Fairy, Flash, Pampers and Pantene, which have reduced packaging. The idea is to help save energy, save water and reduce waste.

It is another platform where rather than having a dozen brands with separate messages, we’ve got a number of brands in the P&G stable doing similar things. If they join up together, it leverages their edge and enables the consumer to make a much bigger impact for the planet.

MW: You have run Science Behind the Beauty ad breaks which look at the science behind Oral B toothbrushes, Olay and Head & Shoulders. How has that gone?

RD: The legislation changed last September so for certain categories we can show people in white coats in our advertising. As a result, we ran another multibrand event that worked in a similar way to the “makeover break”. We used P&G scientists, experts and a presenter telling a very scientific story of how the products really work, in-between the same TV show. Now it has become more of a brand we are doing a website and some standalone ads.

MW: Can we expect to see more brand bundling from P&G?

RD: As we promote P&G as a brand and for our Olympic Games sponsorship, you will see us putting our brands together more frequently. It makes more and more sense, especially in the digital arena where consumers are not going to visit 70 different websites.

We have introduced things like where we bring lots of brands together. It is targeted at consumers who have less time, so it is much more efficient to have some multibrand messages. The Supersavvyme site has more than 1 million hits a month.



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