I’ve had RAC breakdown cover since 2012. Their basic Roadside Assistance service means that if you break down, a patrolman will come out and try and fix your car, and if he (or she) cannot then you will be towed back to your home or your nearest garage to a maximum distance of 10 miles. This basic service is fairly standard now in the market.
So when I got my renewal letter recently which asked me for £50.98 (notice the price point there – why not £51?) for another year of cover I blanched, recalling how my premium has increased way above inflation over the years. When I first signed up in 2012, the price was £29. By 2015, it had risen to £40.82 for another year. In 2016 it rose to £46.40. Last year it went down to £45.79. But my latest bill represents an 11% increase in price. Last time I checked, inflation over the past year was 2.3%. Continue reading
Hillarys Blinds – a good example of direct response press advertising
I had cause recently to undertake some research into the state of direct response press. Because of the ‘dash for digital’, it had been some time since we (at MCS) had looked at this medium and when we did, we were surprised that there was so little data ‘out there’ about it. We talked to media agencies, publishers, marketing bodies, local media organisations, and past exponents of direct marketing who led the boom of the 1990s. And yet very little data emerged.
Although we know how to create effective direct response press ads, we wanted to know answers to key questions, such as does Direct Response press advertising still work? What response rates should brands expect? Or is most of the audience online, and should brands put all their ad spend into digital? And has direct response been made redundant by the infinitely more measurable pay-per-click, online display and affiliate advertising? Continue reading
Unilever – Bringing vitality to life.
The agency I work for, MCS, recently exhibited at the Suffolk Business Exhibition in Ipswich and we held a competition for visitors to our stand whereby they had to recall the slogans of 17 top brands. Most were flummoxed and the eventual winner ‘only’ got 11 correct (probably with a little help from the internet). Try these three (I’ve reversed them so you have to guess the brand from the slogan): 1) Trusted everywhere, 2) Looking after your world, 3) Bringing it all together.
Unless you work in strapline development, I’d be very surprised if you got all three correct. (The answers are Duracell, British Gas and BT). And this is why I suggest that brand slogans present a conundrum for organisations – how to get it right. Continue reading
Posted in Advertising, Branding
Tagged brand slogan, brand slogans, branding, Carlsberg, Guinness, Helen Edwards, Mark Ritson, slogans, straplines, taglines, Unilever
Last week an MCS colleague emailed me a link to an recent article called How clients are de-skilling the UK advertising industry which mourns how marketers (the clients) have forced agencies to cut their fees so much in the past decade that it has affected the quality of the work. But the author doesn’t just blame the clients, he blames agencies as well because they have failed to demonstrate to brands where their value really lies – in their ideas and creativity.
Because MCS operates via a different agency model that mitigates the problems outlined above, it gives us an authority to contribute to this topic and examine further how and why agency primacy has been eroded over the years. In this first of a two-part blog on the topic, I explore the empowerment of the client, how many agency fees are inflated by the need to recover overheads, and how agencies are being distintermediated from their clients in three ways. Continue reading
Androgel: Stop using it if your wife starts growing body hair and develops acne!
I have just returned from a holiday in Cuba where we were able to get some American TV channels in our hotel room. We loved watching the US channel TBS, which seems to show never-ending comedy, (its strapline is ‘Very funny’). But I couldn’t help but notice the nature and quality of the TV ads (which were also never-ending). Apart from the fact that every other ad was for pizzas, all-you-can-eat pancakes with maple syrup, or burgers – everything you need to pile on the pounds if you’re a couch potato whose idea of exercise is watching comedy all day – I didn’t really think much of the creativity of the ads.
Now I’m a great admirer of American comedy, indeed TV, and I think that in general it is far superior to ours. They are an extremely creative nation but this creativity doesn’t seem to extend to their TV ads which generally avoid the sophistication – and humour – of ads for UK audiences. The ads seem to patronise their audience or treat them as dumb, whereas I’d say the opposite is true here in the UK. Of course there are some great exceptions (watch out for the imminent Superbowl ads) but generally this was my impression. Continue reading
This article has also been published at Marketing:Blogged
I had cause to visit my local WH Smith in Wood Green, North London, on Saturday. Disappointed at not finding some quality paper DL envelopes (very strange for a supposed top stationer) I trudged to the checkout with an inferior pack. I counted only three members of staff including the manager on the shop floor, and whilst the store was almost empty (it was near closing time) it occurred to me whilst waiting in the queue how easy shoplifters must find it, as the usual security guard wasn’t in evidence. I negotiated the convoluted path up to the tills – a ‘gauntlet of confectionary’ – to be served by the over-stressed, but very pleasant, young, female manager.
From this and previous visits, everything seems to be wrong with WH Smith for me. Gaps in their product range, demoralised and overworked staff, unacceptable queues at the tills, tired store layouts, and desperate marketing ploys like the confectionary gauntlet to squeeze out extra sales. I’ve even been propositioned before by a couple of salesmen for nPower, the energy supplier, who were allowed to ply their trade in the store! How much damage to the brand does that do? Go to Smiths for a birthday card and come out with an energy plan you don’t want! Somehow, Smiths seems to have lost its way. And I’m not the only person to thinks so… last year, Mary Portas branded WH Smith “a dump”. So in an effort to find out what’s going on at WH Smith, I’ve done a little research… Continue reading