Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Are Marks & Spencers off their trolley?

I read with great surprise that Marks & Spencers have dropped their famous ads for food “it’s not just food it’s M&S food” or otherwise known as “food porn ads” because of the sexy portrayal of the food.

This campaign has been one of the most successful campaigns ever, not only winning awards but increasing sales significantly for the brand. Sales increased by 288% of the hot chocolate pudding after the ad and sales of panacotta increased by 1207%. And this is only for the individual products, the extra footfall of customers walking through the door to buy the chocolate pud must have had an effect on overall sales.

Aside from revenue success, I think that these ads marked a change in the M&S story, when it left behind the difficult years and turned towards the future.

Finally, the concept was just so clever, simply because it wasn’t trying to be clever. Just featuring good food, with great filming and using emotion to sell, instead of blinding consumer with a whole load of different messages about the multiple benefits of the product as us marketers love to do.

So why oh why on earth would you ditch this campaign? Yes it has been around for a few years but so as “have a break have a kit kit” but Nestle aren’t daft enough to throw it in the bin because the marketing staff are a bit bored with it.

Even worse, the new ads to replace them will aim to “concentrate on food quality, provenance and ethics.” Yawn yawn yawn. And the message will be “Just because”.

Just because what? Just because…the new marketing director wanted to make his mark? Just because… the new CEO is coming soon and we need to look innovative? Just because….we fancy a bit of change? Just because…ditching on of the most memorable and revenue generating campaigns in recent history seemed like a good idea in the pub the other day?

I think this is a classic case of marketers forgetting what makes a brand famous (see David Taylor and Brand Gym since this is one of his favourite subjects) and binning far too early the core of a campaign instead of updating it. Tragic.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Got your speedos on?

While there are some brands that are desperately trying to establish themselves and create some kind of meaning and story around their name, others are trying to actively shed an association with their brand. For example I am sure that Burberry would prefer not be linked to the “chav” side of life. And Toyota will be looking to shed their newly acquired image of poor quality and mass recalls.

But what does the brand Speedo suggest to you?

It’s certainly iconic, and almost a brand that defines a category in the way that Hoover or sellotape does. But although part of me has a little image of a bloke wearing something skimpy, there is also a bit of a “fuddy duddy” association around the edges.

Well, Laura Rattray, a designer from Speedo is trying to change that.

Unusually she is not in a headlong rush to make the brand youthful and hip again. Laura has put some real thought into the new Speedo range, studying her target audience and coming up with something that replies to a real need.

Although we are presented with a myriad of colours in swim suits every season, it seems that there is really only one basic style decided some time in the 50s. Would that be the one that makes your wobbly bits bulge out?

So, she worked with researchers at London’s Hammersmith hospital to scan the body images of 5400 “normal” women and found that most of us will fit into three shapes hourglass, pear-shaped and top-heavy. She then designed “made to measure”suits in these styles that are designed to fit and flatter today’s women.

I think this kind of innovative thinking shows that you can still innovate in a mature category if you are willing to think differently and think customer.

I am all for it. As a spokesman for Speedo reminds us - wearing a swimsuit is pretty close to getting naked so I am sure there would be some brand advocates created if Speedo managed to get us looking a little better and more confident at the local pool.

Thanks to the Daily Mail for the article and Alex Grier who brought it to my attention.