FRUKT Sessions #003: Communicating in a Downturn

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Matthew Carlton of Xtreme Insight on best practices for communicating during recession
matthew.carlton@xtremeinformation.com

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  • Welcome & Intro to the company
  • All of the research, studies etc is perhaps best summed in via this video…….
  • But brands need to be careful not to simply try and blanket all media with bland advertising, which may be tempting as media prices fall Landscapes are changing Consumer behaviour is changing, people are becoming thrifty, either overtly or subconsciously Brands have to be even more careful than ever at this time Especially financial brands who are perceived by many to the cause of the problem Aviva are a brand who perhaps didn’t judge the market Recent name change ad featuring………….has come in for a lot of critiscism
  • These are some of the comments I came across on YouTube and Times Online The top one is particularly interesting…..this ad actually caused someone to be physically sick.
  • These are some of the comments I came across on YouTube and Times Online The top one is particularly interesting…..this ad actually caused someone to be physically sick.
  • These are some of the comments I came across on YouTube and Times Online The top one is particularly interesting…..this ad actually caused someone to be physically sick.
  • Firstly, we’ve noticed a surge in ads with messages relating to the home and love. Because ‘home’ encodes values such as safety, security and comfort, it is not a surprise that, considering the financial uncertainty, brands are favouring the comforts of home and focusing on happier times as creative themes. Brands can and do play with the idea of home as a metaphor for happier times too - particularly using them to represent stability and certainty. Taglines appeal / tell consumers to stay in / come home This ad from Pilsbury in the US is becoming more common
  • And this theme is being jumped on by entertainment brands, whose offer is home-based, notably Sky in the UK Sky is a prime example of a brand viewing the recession as an opportunity not a threat. With more people staying in and cutting back on expensive leisurely pursuits to save money, it’s an opportune time for Sky to attempt to boost subscriber numbers which have stagnated over recent years . Seems to have focused more on Movie offering of late, as movies and the cinema remain recession proof – 8% rise in cinema figures - It is perhaps no coincide that Sky has recently slashed the cost of its HD box - £49. if people are spending more time at home to save money, a monthly digital TV bill might be seen as better value for money – perhaps the £10 extra per month for HD will even be worth it. In its tagline it is actually encouraging – almost ordering? - people to stay in as it indirectly hints that this is a way to save money during these times
  • Theme of Home & Love is closely linked to another key theme prevalent in downturn marcoms strategy……Community & Togetherness Again clearly this theme hasn’t come about because of the recession but is being used more and more of late There’s the widely-held belief that it is easier to overcome difficulties through companionship and partnership than when acting alone and many brands, especially those in sectors that promote social interaction, are now pushing intimate unions and communal togetherness over hedonism and self-expression. It’s particularly prevalent among brands in the telecomms sector where O2 now claim ‘we’re better, connected’ Orange tell us that ‘together we can do more’ And T-Mobile are now declaring that ‘life is for sharing’ Pre-Christmas Asda encouraged
  • In the same vein as using Home & Love, in the run-up to Christmas Sky urged consumers to ‘Share The Movies You Love With The People You Love’ And T-Mobile’s ‘Life’s for Sharing’ campaign has been hard to ignore over the past month Pizza Hut has made indirect references to the crisis by focusing on the increased financial pressures on parents at this time, which are all forgotten when the family visits ‘The Hut’ And Orange has placed even greater emphasis on its Orange Wednesday movie offering since the turn of the year, pushing home the message that they should be spent with friends.
  • For instance, in the UK there used to be a far clearer distinction between retailer (eg supermarket) brand positioning: with very subtle but established differences in terms of offers, products, values and stance. But what we are seeing during the downturn is that competition is becoming more promiscuous as advertisers move beyond their own core territory into that previously occupied by rivals. For example Aldi, renowned for its powerful ‘price discount’ approach, is now stressing its premium/luxury offer with the claim ‘where quality is cheaper’ and ‘top quality for less’.
  • Conversely Sainsbury’s, which pre-recession was arguably positioned in the middle / slightly upper market has been forced to retrench and move into territory previously occupied by Asda and Tesco. Price promotions and offer are nothing new in the supermarket sector but it’s interesting to note the change in Sainsbury’s recent marcoms. These press are from spring 08, and these….
  • Have appeared recently. The font style has changed dramatically with bolder fonts conveying a much more serious tone and approach. If you stripped away the colours and branding, you’d be mistaken for thinking these were ads for Asda or Tesco. JS is placing much more emphasis on deals and, although it is to a degree still encouraging consumers to try new recipes, Jamie Oliver hasn’t appeared in any TVC since Christmas, and there’s been much more emphasis placed on it’s value range.
  • Another theme to emerge over recent months is one of heritage and nostalgia, with brands using the recession to allow consumers to reminisce about their past relationship with a product or service. By taking this approach a brand can…. But it still must be relevant, no good churning out old ads for the sake of it – Virgin & Guinness had anniversaries to mark and Heinz and Cornflakes were emphasising that the product was still as much as a part of a family lifestyle as it has ever been.
  • Timely - Ran in November. ‘ Epic like’ ad – dominated an ad break in Coronation St - generated substantial PR Conveyed a really warm, genuine feeling.
  • H&N links into another key theme – reinforcing and emphasising brand credentials. As consumers are more and more skeptical and wary about brands, brands are in turn keener than ever to tell their target audience about how ‘trusted’ they are, or how they offer the ‘best value’ and will back this up through consumer surveys and awards. Powerful, punchy, copy-led messages are increasingly common Often this can be directly attacking a rival Common in supermarket sector Boots, for so long a caring, nurturing brand, is the latest advertiser to adopt this strategy as a tactical move against its low price direct competitor Superdrug And the battle between Apple and Microsoft is intensifying, with Blackberry also now directly taking on Apple via a recent viral
  • Tackling the recession head on is a strategy which hasn’t been embraced by a multitude of brands thus far, probably because it’s the riskiest of the strategies to emerge from the recession. Although some consumers may welcome such an approach and warm to a brand that’s current and appears to empathize with them, it can also alienate those who have been affected by the crisis. It can work well
  • Carlsberg is another brand prepared to make light of the recession in this recent ad from Ireland, which interestingly hasn’t aired in Britain. … . It fits nicely with the brand’s relaxed approach to life and it’s long-running ‘probably the best in the world’ slogan
  • While in a lot of cases its inappropriate for financial brands to be acting like nothings happened and proclaiming ‘greed is good’ – consumers, perhaps more so than ever, want to forget about the pressures of today’s economic climate. What we have seen though is a flagrant money wasting will result in a backlash, but an entertaining and engaging multi-platform strategy will continue to be successful, with Compare The Market’s Meerkat campaign providing evidence here.
  • FRUKT Sessions #003: Communicating in a Downturn

    1. 1. Communicating in a Downturn Matthew Carlton, Xtreme Insight
    2. 2. Communicating in a Downturn Key Learnings and Themes Frukt Sessions March 2009
    3. 3. To Cut or Not to Cut? The Dreaded ‘R’ Word – But History Suggests Spending is Vital Studies Ronald S Vaile (1940s) Media Advertising When Your Market is in a Recession (1982) Malik PIMS (2001) Brands Kellogg vs Post (The Great Depression) Procter & Gamble - Crest (1950s) Burger King (1970s) BMW (1970s) Renault - Clio (1990s)
    4. 4. Don’t Slash Budgets – Momentum is Key Heed the advice, but don’t simply throw money at advertising Landscape has shifted – media space is cheaper Consumers are questioning and deliberating purchases more than ever They are also increasingly wary of brands Financial brands in particular are under intense public scrutiny
    5. 5. Aviva – Big Campaign, Big Backlash
    6. 6. Aviva – Big Campaign, Big Backlash Pissing away a fortune to pay those greedy pigs is good for reputation? The ad makes me puke. Typical Norwich Union - waste money on spin whilst diddling its policyholders insurance is boring and my point is who really gives a shit was they are called? and why waste millions on payouts to greedy celebs who have enough money for many generations of their family It is so disgusting that this company pays these "fat cats" a fortune just to advertise their change in name, who cares if their name has changed? still a boring insurance company, and the celebs greed is horrendous, shame on you ringo, bruce, alice, and tranny. Dreadful grasping company.. pathetic returns; endowment shortfalls; reattribution rip-off; swinging staff cuts; exporting call centres to India etc but they can find money for this sort of worthless advertising and sky gh directors salaries Just what is needed at the time of a credit crunch - a suggestion that you may have paid some stars a lot of money to star in an advert to tell us about your no doubt costly name changing exercise - great timing! This rebranding is nothing to do with value creation and everything to do with a new CEO's ego as a very good editorial in the FT said at the time of his appointment. If the Board's main preoccupation was the creation of shareholder value it wouldn't be wasting millions destroying a great brand.
    7. 7. Aviva – Big Campaign, Big Backlash Pissing away a fortune to pay those greedy pigs is good for reputation? The ad makes me puke. Typical Norwich Union - waste money on spin whilst diddling its policyholders insurance is boring and my point is who really gives a shit was they are called? and why waste millions on payouts to greedy celebs who have enough money for many generations of their family It is so disgusting that this company pays these "fat cats" a fortune just to advertise their change in name, who cares if their name has changed? still a boring insurance company, and the celebs greed is horrendous , shame on you ringo, bruce, alice, and tranny. Dreadful grasping company.. pathetic returns; endowment shortfalls; reattribution rip-off; swinging staff cuts; exporting call centres to India etc but they can find money for this sort of worthless advertising and sky gh directors salaries Just what is needed at the time of a credit crunch - a suggestion that you may have paid some stars a lot of money to star in an advert to tell us about your no doubt costly name changing exercise - great timing ! This rebranding is nothing to do with value creation and everything to do with a new CEO's ego as a very good editorial in the FT said at the time of his appointment. If the Board's main preoccupation was the creation of shareholder value it wouldn't be wasting millions destroying a great brand.
    8. 8. Change of Approach - Halifax A brand at the epicentre of the crisis Understanding the need to be more sensitive Howard is no more Upbeat and jovial approach is out; serious, community focus is in
    9. 9. Key Themes Direct Comparative Attacks Reorganising Brand Positioning Home & Love Togetherness & Community Contextualisation & Relevancy Non-Core Related Offers Common Touch / Real Ads, Real People Heritage & Nostalgia Tackling the Recession Head on
    10. 10. Home & Love More brands favouring the comforts of home Metaphor for happier times Signifying stability and certainty
    11. 11. Home & Love Sky Opportunity not a threat – Home based offering Movies and the cinema remain ‘recession proof’ as people crave escapism More marketing movie focused – altered tagline Reduced price of HD – may be seen as a long term money saver
    12. 12. Community & Togetherness Community & Togetherness A theme exacerbated by the recession Easier to overcome difficulties through companionship and partnership More brands are intimating unions over themes of self Expression Trend emerged pre-recession through O2 and Orange
    13. 13. Community & Togetherness T-Mobile – Life’s for Sharing Sky – Share The Movies You Love With The People You Love Asda – Get The Whole Family Round Pizza Hut – Get Together Orange – Wednesday is friendsday
    14. 14. Reorganising Brand Positioning ALDI – Don’t Change Your Lifestyle, Change Your Supermarket Opportunity not a threat Repositioning – trying to reach up Hoping to woo concerned customers from more discerning brands Exemplified in UK supermarket sector Brands move beyond old territories into those occupied by rivals
    15. 15. Reorganising Brand Positioning > Sainsbury’s Previously in middle / upper sector Retrench and move into Asda & Tesco space Above ads from spring 2008
    16. 16. Reorganising Brand Positioning > Sainsbury’s Notable changes to style and font Press ads akin to those from Tesco and Asda Greater focus on ‘Basic’ range Less emphasis on ‘Trying something new’ Jamie Oliver not seen in TV ads so far this year
    17. 17. Heritage & Nostalgia Enables consumers to reminisce about past relationship Virgin Atlantic & Guinness – anniversaries Cornflakes & Heinz – part of family lifestyle Safe option yet can be entertaining
    18. 18. Heritage & Nostalgia Hovis Started this recent trend 120 second TVC charters last 12 decades of British history Shows the brand’s presence throughout key historical moments Victorian Era – World War – Swinging 60s – Miners’ Strike Similar approach used during 1970s recession
    19. 19. Reinforce & Emphasise Credentials / Attack Rivals
    20. 20. Tackling the Recession Head on Only used by a few brands Risky > Empathise or alienate? Needs to fit with previous marcomms Entertaining - Can work well with humour
    21. 21. Tackling the Recession Head on > Ubank Ubank Tongue-in-cheek webisode series Targets the ‘YouTube generation’ Created buzz and increased brand awareness New account openings increased Y-O-Y
    22. 22. Tackling the Recession Head on > Carlsberg Carlsberg Ireland TVC Fits perfectly with brand’s relaxed outlook and slogan
    23. 23. Top Level Findings Brands should not fear being entertaining View recession as an opportunity not a threat Research the evolving consumer - identify relevant changes in consumer behaviour Establish key themes www.xtremeinsight.net
    24. 24. Credits: Matthew Carlton – Editor, Special Reports Contact details: Xtreme Insight, Xtreme Information, 45 Foubert’s Place, London W1F 7QH. Telephone +44 (0)20 7575 1905. Fax +44 (0)20 7575 1809. Email [email_address] Website www.xtremeinformation.com
    25. 25. FRUKT Sessions #004 Coming October 2009 Email to register your interest: [email_address]

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