Secret Marketer: The media plan for Paddington the movie was nothing short of a masterpiece

As Christmas fades into the distance, I reflected on two festive marketing approaches that couldn’t have been further apart in terms of success. One that was simply appalling – Christmas cards and messages, and one that was a masterpiece – Paddington, the movie.

I was stunned by the vast number of Christmas cards and emails that I received in the weeks leading up to Christmas (and even worse, the week after) from random marketing suppliers – none of whom I have met or heard of, yet each was personally addressed as though we were long lost friends.

Why do they do that? How is it possibly going to impress me so much that I award them business? It is the crassest, most pitiful form of business development I can imagine.

Is this yet another example of marketing automation gone mad – “when date field approaches mid-December, send the Christmas message”, which might explain why some of the messages arrived after Christmas, as people blindly entered 25th December as the trigger date.

By contrast, the team behind the Paddington movie developed a comprehensive media plan – notwithstanding the obvious bus-side advertising, PR sell-in and somewhat over-the-top social media – the ‘trail’ of concrete Paddington statues across London took experiential marketing to a new level. Coupled with great product tie-ups from VisitLondon to Hamleys toy store, through to Robertson’s marmalade in Selfridges, this was a campaign that got everyone talking and – critically for us marketers – fully engaged.

I, for one, was quick to print off my Paddington trail from the website and was soon traipsing my family across London, with cries of “there he is” as we scoured each street corner on the map, before finding a colourful Paddington statue cheekily tipping his hat to all and sundry.

More than once I would be eavesdropping on the 8-year-old child next to me, to see which statue they were going after next, and then would seek to beat them to it, although rarely succeeding.

And did we buy into the ultimate return on investment of such a campaign? Sure we did – we queued up to see the film on New Year’s Day, we have two jars of Robertson’s marmalade in the cupboard, and I have the VisitLondon app downloaded on my phone, ready for the next outing to get the family mobilised.

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