skip to content

  • About Us

PR Blog

Archive For 'February, 2013'

Brand birthdays: does anyone really care?

22 February 2013 at 10:07

Brands seem to have an obsession with letting people know how old they are.

This is equally true of iconic household names and smaller regional businesses.

The FT recently celebrated its 125 year anniversary with a bit of a fanfare and Diet Coke is hinting that it may bring back its classic hunk as it turns 30 this year. If you take a quick flick through your local paper’s business pages, there’s sure to be a ‘Joe Blogs enterprises celebrates xx years trading’ story.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on brand birthdays. Do you care at all? Do you think it depends on the business size / sector / target audience? Is it more relevant for business-to-business brands whose audiences may associate longevity with industry knowledge and expertise? Or does it all come down to the objectives and the strategy of associated PR and marketing?

If you’d like to consider some more views on brand birthdays, Marketing magazine recently ran this feature on the topic:

Are brand birthdays really a cause for celebration?


Coca-Cola, VW and The Financial Times are among the growing number of brands who have invited consumers to join in their birthday celebrations. But does anyone want to join the party? John Reynolds and Ben Bold investigate.

What do the Tube, The Financial Times, Harley Davidson, Coca-Cola, Cartier, Volkswagen, Starbucks and Marmite have in common?

Answer: they have all recently trumpeted their birthdays in a bid to attract publicity, boost their brands, increase sales, and remind consumers of their heritage.

Earlier this week, the FT celebrated its 125th anniversary with a global marketing campaign spanning press, digital, experiential and outdoor, telling readers it is "Still guiding the way for global business".

Meanwhile, last month Marketing reported that, as part of its 30th anniversary, Diet Coke had unveiled a teaser ad on its Facebook page, hinting at the return of the "hunk" from its classic TV ads.

Lager brand Heineken is celebrating its 140th birthday, while Heineken UK this week announced the launch of a multimillion-pound marketing campaign for Foster's to begin a year-long celebration of the lager brand's 125th anniversary.

Meanwhile, Harley Davidson is marking its 140th anniversary, and Coca-Cola last year reproduced some of its heritage bottle designs as part of its 125-years celebrations.

But are these brands akin to the kid at school who witters on about it being his birthday, when the sad reality is that nobody cares? Or are their celebratory fanfares being heard and appreciated by the consuming public?

Marketing asked two experts – Alistair Green at media agency Mindshare UK, and David Goudge of consultancy The Brand Development Business – what they thought of this trend of self-congratulation.

Alistair Green, head of strategy, Mindshare UK 

My birthday is in April and I may mark the occasion with a day off work and an evening out withfriends and family. People make a certain amount of effort when a birthday comes round: they buy presents, post cards or e-cards, send good wishes on Facebook, phone or Skype to catch up.

So, it's not surprising brands try to reap the same benefits when their birthday rolls around. Heineken is celebrating its 140th, Cartier its 155th, Coca Cola turned 125, and the youngsters Volkswagen (60), Starbucks (40), and Diet Coke (30), are out celebrating with anyone who will join in.

Since their inception, brands have always tried to position themselves as our best friend, and with a new media landscape to aid more personable interaction than ever before, brands continue to humanise their relationship with us to garner our loyalty. It's called good marketing, and brands that do it best make it a fun and rewarding experience, like any good birthday party should be.

Even though there is an ulterior motive for brands celebrating a birthday – to drive sales and ROI – it's not that different from my nine-year-old inviting both classes of boys in his year so he could get more presents.

As Hobbes explained, all acts are selfish by default. So a brand deciding to celebrate its birth date is a good strategy, as long as like any good host, it makes sure its guests have a good time and it doesn't use it as an opportunity to pontificate about its entire life story.

David Goudge, managing director, The Brand Development Business 

Diet Coke is 30, Doctor Who is 50, Harley Davidson is 110; but who cares?

Certainly the brand team, and their ad and PR agencies. But what about the consumer?

In tough economic times, there is a natural tendency to look back to the past with affection and nostalgia, and as a brand, it's great to have the opportunity to reassure consumers of your longevity.

But in the hangover year following the Jubilee and Olympics, when the economic gloom looms large, should brands be using just any excuse to jump onto the bandwagon?

Some anniversaries are clearly worth celebrating: the Tube’s 150th encourages us to re-evaluate and appreciate a London icon as the pioneer that it is.  Equally, the Football Association’s 150th birthday is worthy of celebration.

But as more and more brands jump onto the bandwagon, the me-toos will have to work harder to stand out – ensuring their activity adds relevancy to the narrative of their brand story.

A brilliant case in point is Marmite's celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee. They didn't trot out just another Jubilee pack – they delighted us with the humour of Ma'amite, whilst quietly upstaging the Queen by pointing out they were born in 1902.


Tags: Marketing magazine | FT | David Goudge | Alistair Green | Coca-Cola | VW

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

PR fall-out of the horsemeat saga

14 February 2013 at 16:21

Over the past four weeks, the biggest food scandal to hit the UK for decades has unfolded before our eyes.

The horsemeat contamination issue is complex and raises questions over the integrity and traceability of the entire food chain. But it is inevitably the household brands selling contaminated products that consumers are demanding answers from.

Downing Street has criticised retailers for a reluctance to comment publicly on the situation, saying "it isn't acceptable for retailers to remain silent while customers have been misled about the content of the food they have been buying" - see this morning's BBC coverage.

The price of cutting PR

PR Week magazine has been charting media developments surrounding the crisis. Findus has been particularly lambasted for a perceived slowness of response and an unwillingness to address the issue head on.

In an article published this week, PR Week Deputy Editor Alec Mattinson suggests that the Findus brand is reaping the rewards of cost-cutting measures, which saw the senior UK comms team axed in 2011:

More light will be shed on horsemeatgate over the coming weeks. But wherever the blame lies - and whether it transpires to be a food safety issue, a fraud issue, or both - food retailers have a lot of work ahead. They need to pay due diligence to food traceability and communications strategies if they are to re-gain public trust.


Tags: PR Week | Findus | Alec Mattinson | BBC

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

The real Super Bowl winner

08 February 2013 at 12:07

Commercials aired during premier US sporting event the Super Bowl spark almost as much discussion as the game itself.

TV spots are sold at a premium, and leading brands create big budget flagship ads to maximise their exposure as most of America tunes in.

But Oreo’s Twitter activity on this year’s Super Bowl Sunday showed that a canny approach to social media can also score a touchdown.

When a power blackout disrupted play, Oreo whipped up an ad with the caption: “Power out? No problem” / “You can still dunk in the dark”. Within an hour it had been shared more than 10,000 times on Twitter, and was retweeted and favourited more than 18,000 times.

It’s a lovely example of how a partnership approach between a brand and its agency can enable intuitive, agile activity that reaps dividends.

Here’s a full write-up on the story from Brand Republic’s Gordon Macmillan:

Oreo scores big win on Super Bowl night with Twitter power-out ad

The biggest moment on Twitter during last night's Super Bowl was not during play itself, but when the lights went out at the New Orleans Superdome for 35 minutes and cookie brand Oreo scored the biggest ad win of the night.

The power went early in the third quarter, with the Baltimore Ravens leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6.

As soon as the power went down, Oreo and its agency went to work on an ad that was quickly Tweeted. Within an hour, the Oreo ad, with the caption, "Power out? No problem", had been shared more than 10,000 times on Twitter and went on to be retweeted and favourited more than 18,000 times.

That means one of the most talked-about ads on the Super Bowl night, when TV spots were being sold by CBS for between $3.8m (£2.4m) and $4m (£2.5m), was done for free on Twitter.

It was the perfect case of being ready at the right time and taking advantage of a golden opportunity.

Oreo wasn't the only advertiser to try it. Several others did as well, including Audi, with more than 9,000 retweets and 2,800 favourites, Tide, with around 1,500 retweets and favourites, and Calvin Klein, which picked up a couple of hundred.

It was only freely posted ads. Twitter said that marketers started bidding on "power outage" as a search term just minutes after the lights went out.

Oreo however won big, as it was when the lights were out that Twitter really lit up with 231,500 – that's almost 50,000 more than when the clock expired after play had resumed, with just over 13 minutes left in the third quarter, and the game was won by the Ravens 34-31.
So how did Oreo manage to get an ad out so fast? The answer is that it was down to its agency Dentsu-owned 360i.

The agency said that the ad was "designed, captioned and approved within minutes," according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of 360i.

She said all the decisions were made in real time, as the marketers and agency members were sitting together at a "mission control" centre watching the game unfold.

"We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity. Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes," Hofstetter told BuzzFeed.

Laurie Guzzinati, a spokeswoman for Mondelez, which owns Oreo, said: "They saw a real-time opportunity with the power outage and jumped it, doing so in a social voice true to the Oreo brand."

The agency was able to get the ad approved so quickly because members of the Oreo marketing team were on hand to sign it off.

Hofstetter said: "You need a brave brand to approve content that quickly. When all of the stakeholders come together so quickly, you've got magic."

See the original article here:

Tags: Super Bowl | Oreo | Brand Republic

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

PR as an agent for change

01 February 2013 at 12:27

Can PR play an active role in accelerating change and progress? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, but it can require a significant leap of faith.

PR power

The Guardian ran an excellent article by Andrew Last this week on using PR as an agent for change in corporate sustainability. His three tips for getting it right are:

• Set and communicate a clear direction on sustainability, which liberates people throughout your organisation to talk passionately and freely about what you're doing. They are your best advocates.

• Be transparent about your motives. Business needs to pursue business objectives if any initiative is to be sustainable. Don't let PR wrap your business motives in cloying half stories about the social good your business is driving.

• Tell the story of the journey. Be open about what's not working as much as what is. Vulnerability plays surprisingly well with sustainability stakeholders and a cynical public.

We couldn’t agree more.

Honesty, transparency and clarity of vision are fundamental to the success of any communications strategy. Andrew is writing from the perspective of global giants such as GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever wanting to make an impact on the global sustainability agenda. But the message is equally true for niche engineering firms seeking to break into challenging new markets or fledgling regional businesses beginning to stretch their wings.   

Instead of simply dressing up what you do to generate nebulous, self-gratifying media coverage, identify the issues that really matter to your industry and your target audience. Create space to think about those issues, encourage colleagues and employees to do the same and empower them to find their own voices. This can create a fertile bed for meaningful PR activity. PR that plays a role in enhancing the industry at large, as well as clearly communicating what your organisation stands for.

You can see Andrew’s full article here:

Tags: Andrew Last | Salt | The Guardian | GlaxoSmithKline | Unilever

Posted in Friday Rambles | No Comments

  • Our Awards
  • Stroud Life
  • Business Woman
  • CIPR Pride Award