Walkers, Lidl, Santander: 5 things that mattered this week and why

Catch up on all this week’s big marketing news including the return of Hovis’s ‘Boy on the Bike’ ad, Walkers enlisting the help of the Spice Girls and Lidl going “big on” quality.

Walkers enlists the Spice Girls to rejuvenate its brand

The Spice Girls are back touring, and that also means their endorsement engine has roared into action again. Back in the 1990s, the Spice Girls were happy to put their name alongside brands including Pepsi, BT, Asda and, of course, Walkers and they are back promoting crisps as the brand looks to spice up its image.

The aim is to reposition the brand to make it more relevant. Brand awareness is still high, but seemingly people aren’t talking about it enough, so it is embarking on its biggest campaign ever to get people to give it some love again.

The campaign launched with a competition to find the Spice Girls’ biggest fan on social media, culminating in a TV spot that saw superfan Dev surprised by the arrival of the band at his home. Ecstatic at first, his feelings soon change when he realises the Spice Girls want to share his crisps – a bag of Walkers of course!

Walkers has some lofty ambitions to reach 97% of the UK population with this campaign, creating a “Superbowl moment for the UK” (although we thought that accolade had already gone to Christmas marketing). It also wants to inject some much-needed spark into a brand that has been relying on Gary Lineker to get people talking (although he still makes an appearance).

Marketing director Fernando Kahane wants to ensure the brand is at “the heart of popular culture”. Whether the heart of popular culture still includes the Spice Girls is up for some debate. But Walkers needed to do something as consumers shift to healthier alternatives to crisps.

Certainly this campaign will get people talking. Whether it will get them buying is another question entirely.

READ MORE: Walkers launches biggest ever marketing campaign as it looks to ‘rejuvenate the brand’

Lidl shouts about what its ‘big on’

Ever since the German discounters made their entry into the UK grocery scene they have been trying to shake off that ‘discounter’ label. Yes price is an important differentiator for them, but they also desperately want to be known for quality and range.

Arguably, they’ve already done a fairly good job of getting that message across. But the messaging has always been quite rational. For Aldi, it has involved shouting about British provenance and comparing its products to the leading brands. For Lidl, showing the surprise of customers when they realise quality produce comes from its stores.

Lidl, however, is shifting direction. With new agency Karmarama leading on creative, it has gone for a big emotional, brand building campaign that focuses on what it’s ‘big on’. This campaign looks much more like something we might expect from the big four supermarkets and is clearly aimed at convincing more people to do their weekly shop at Lidl.

There is both opportunity and risk in this. If Lidl wants to shake off its discounter badge it needs its offering to be equated with Tesco or Sainsbury’s or Morrisons or Asda. But it must no lose sight of the reason people shop there in the first place. Finding that balance will be key or it risks being held to the same standards as the big four.

READ MORE: Lidl on its new marketing campaign – We want to be as famous for quality as we are for price

Santander shifts brand positioning with the help of Ant and Dec

As bank brands go, Santander is pretty strong. According to Global Data, its net promoter score (NPS) is 40, on a par with TSB and Bank of Scotland and way ahead of HSBC, Lloyds and RBS. YouGov BrandIndex also shows perceptions of the brand among consumers is strong – it is second on quality and scores well on value, consideration and purchase intent.

Its outgoing CMO, Keith Moor, thinks it can do better though. Back in 2016 it shifted messaging to talk about its brand purpose for the time – namely helping people prosper. But it has since found that is a bit of a lofty ideal that most customers can’t connect with and a space that a number of its competitors are also trying to occupy.

So Santander is trying for something “more tangible”. And to do that it has enlisted the help of Ant and Dec. Kudos to the creative at its agency Engine that spotted that ‘Ant and Dec’ looks similar(ish) to Santander and then sold that idea into the duo and their management.

Despite Ant’s troubles over the past 18 months, the duo bring some personality and humour to the brand while also highlighting some key banking insights. It’s an instantly memorable campaign, although the brand will have to work hard to ensure it doesn’t become tired.

With Moor on his way out for a new job at National Lottery operator Camelot, he has thoughtfully left his team with a new creative platform they can work for the forseeable future. You can’t ask for much more than that as incoming CMO.

READ MORE: Santander wants to make its purpose ‘more tangible’ as it shifts brand positioning

Hovis brings ‘The Bike Ride’ back to TV


Four decades after we first saw a boy pushing his bike with a basket full of loaves up a cobbled street, Hovis has brought ‘The Bike Ride’ back to TV screens for a new generation.

The advert, which last year was crowned the nation’s favourite from the 1970s in an exclusive Marketing Week and YouGov Omnibus poll, was named the “most iconic” ad of the past six decades in a Kantar poll released in May.

Hovis marketing director, Jeremy Gibson, believes the mix of nostalgia, a great creative concept and dedication to the craft has driven enduring affection for ‘The Bike Ride’. He also sees it offering viewers a “moment of pause” compared to the way ads are shot today, with multiple scenes and often aggressive price messaging.

“It celebrates a time in the advertising world when emotion and feel were much more important than ‘our phone is faster’ or ‘our product is cheaper’,” Gibson suggests.

This is the first time Hovis has revisited its Bike Ride roots since the 2008 campaign ‘Go on Lad’. The two-minute film follows a young boy running with a loaf of Hovis through history, from the sinking of the Titanic and World War I, to VE Day street parties, miners strikes and the Millennium celebrations.

Prior to the re-release of ‘The Bike Ride’, the latest campaign from Hovis was last year’s ‘It’s Just Bread’, which communicated the brand’s shift away from pancakes, crumpets and muffins to focus on the quality of its core bread products.

While the campaign did raise brand awareness, Gibson feels on reflection the message was not as “pinpointed” as they would have liked and now Hovis plans to use ‘The Bike Ride’ as a springboard to celebrate bread and the wider category going forward.

There’s always a fine line to balance between looking forward and looking back. The return of its most iconic ad will no doubt get people thinking about Hovis again. When it originally aired, marketing was really just about a TV spot and maybe a bit of print and outdoor. The challenge now is how it shows up across media as an effective and integrated campaign.

READ MORE: Hovis brings its iconic ‘The Bike Ride’ ad back to TV

BT forks out for FA sponsorship deal

BT has forked out £50m to sign a five-year partnership with the Football Association (FA) in an exchange that will see the telecoms giant become the lead sponsor of UK football’s governing body.

Allocating more of its marketing spend to sponsorship is new territory for BT, which historically relies on traditional media and is already a household name. So why enhance it’s commitment to sponsorship now?

BT’s marketing and communications director Pete Jeavons says it wants people to “think differently about the company” by proving it has a role to play in their lives rather than being seen as an “ornamental brand”.

“[We’re] trying to get people thinking differently about the brand. The common objective throughout all of this is for BT to be seen playing a role and having some real relevance rather than being a more ornamental brand,” he explained.

Fittingly, the deal was finalised just in time for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Nations League finals. It will see BT become lead partner of all 28 England football, incorporating teams from grass roots to the elite, as well as its disability, development and futsal squads.

Jeavons believes the partnership will help people get a better grasp of what BT does beyond the obvious. In fact, he’s sure many people don’t realise BT works closely with the emergency services, security forces and the NHS.

“This felt like the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle in order to really allow people to see and experience what BT can do,” he said.

“The brand deserves for people to have a better understanding about it. Hopefully that means they will feel much more positively about it, and that it’s more relevant to them.”

But does a telecoms brand really need to have a role in our lives beyond keeping us connected? BT should probably focus on the former rather than the latter.

READ MORE: BT wants to shake off its ‘ornamental’ status with FA sponsorship