Listening Intelligently #4 | What do a pair of scissors, a tattooed naked bloke and a convenience shop have in common?

Authors: Jemima Bird, Hello Finch | Michael Longmore, Corr Blimey!

In short, highly effective, game changing communication campaigns. In a world where we are bombarded by communication through increasingly diverse channels it’s important that the message we are receiving is clear. Not only do we seek clarity but we also need comms that have a call to action that customers can interact with and increase their spend.

Over the years we have worked with some brilliant clients who have had the foresight to use their marketing budgets to drive sales through strong campaigns.

A pair of scissors…

For years Tesco was considered to be the poor relation of the supermarkets, grotty stores, poor range and very much the fourth choice of consumers. Yet in a few short years Tesco elevated itself to be the number one supermarket in the UK and to have global presence. This wasn’t by luck but through establishing the business as a value retailer with its customers at its heart, Every Little Helps being the campaign summation of what it was doing to put the customer first.

All well and good but how could this proposition be clearly communicated to the customer through marketing in a way that would resonate with customers, both existing and potential, with the capability of remaining pertinent for years and not just a gimmick. The communication brief was good:

“We need a device that will let customers know that we are investing in price but in a way that will mean something”

– the answer was simple, the pound and scissors. Customers would see investing in price as some sort of business speak but a clear graphic device nailed it.

Tesco Pound & Scissors creative graphic and communication vehicle

The pound and scissors endured, so much so that many other retailers over the years have asked us to use it for them, well something like it, but it’s a one off and a truly memorable piece of brand communication.

A tattooed naked bloke…

With Moss Bros the campaign brief was simple:

how do we make a 160 year old men’s tailor relevant to the 18-24 year old customer?

For years Moss Bros was the epitome of style and where the well heeled gentleman went for his work, wedding and play suit with retail stores attached to The Savoy Hotel and flagship premises in Covent Garden.

Vintage Moss Bros Postcard from Covent Garden "Clothes of Distinction" image of top hat and business suited gentleman - creative communication graphic

Roll forward to the present day and Moss Bros was a shadow of its former glory,  known at best as the place to hire a morning suit for the races or a wedding, at worst, somewhere you dad shopped.

And yet, at its heart, Moss Bros offered everything the young “noughties” guy wanted, a great fitting suit, tailored to their fit and style

The team had brought in an industry stalwart CEO and exciting new Creative Director, but in rebranding themselves away from their heritage and calling themselves “Moss” in an attempt to appear trendy (groan) they had in effect simply turned themselves into the dodgy drunk uncle at the aforementioned wedding… trying to hard to appear cool and down with the kids.  

Following some fantastic research with their target audience, we learnt that what young people wanted wasn’t fast fashion when it came to their suit, they wanted expertise, and Moss Bros shouted tailoring heritage.

The challenge therefore was not one of rebranding their name, it was rebranding their comms

Enter Billy Huxley 

Billy Huxley image showing the beard, heavily tattooed hipster. A man very much of the moment and target audience. Creative communication graphic

Billy fitted the modern suited man about town – a bearded hipster with swagger and style, a way of wearing a suit that shouted quietly.

A look that was appealing in the peacock generation of the time

A cleverly shot piece of film by Creative Director Sotos Georgalli, an overlayed underground piece of music from Kid Mac loaded onto YouTube created momentum for the brand, and quickly took them from dads suit to prom champions…

It took bravery from the Board to embrace the campaign approach, but by getting naked, Moss Bros reinvented itself with an audience that was key to its future success. (Side note, we reckon they could do with getting naked again)

A convenience store…

The Co-op is a great British institution. A bit like John Lewis, everyone has an opinion. Following a series of ups and downs in brand fortune, a 2017 rebrand brought back the Co-op heritage to the retailer, and alongside some Chardonnay and Vinegar own label crisps, this was a retailer on the move. What they didn’t have though was the financial brand punch of its rivals Tesco, Sainsbury or Asda. Cue the need for some intelligent thinking. 

Brand association is nothing new, many brands have partnered over the years to create something different – think Jimmy Choo for H&M. Product placement was also nothing new in film, best exemplified in The Truman Show.

However in the UK advertising in show rules up to 2017 were locked down. Until they weren’t.

There’s many things being a football fan caters for, and in this instance being a lifelong Liverpool fan meant a friendship with ITV’s head of sponsorship. Over a beer, we kicked around how could Co-op get in on the act of regular prime time advertising campaigns, knowing that the brand simply didn’t have the budget to booked a key ITV a show like I’m a Celebrity. 

Maybe it took the second beer, but we started kicking around how everyone wanted the 19:45 advertising spot in the ad break of Coronation Street to really land their brand message, and it struck us – Coronation Street is a Manchester based show, Weatherby a “suburb” of the city, and Co-op’s home is Manchester.

It was incongruous that Coronation Street wouldn’t have a Co-op

Of course it would have the Cabin, but Curly Watt’s store, well that would’ve been a Co-op for sure. 

And thus we had the kernel of an idea.

Cue talking to the long standing characters of the show, who the editorial team genuinely wanted to buy into the idea (which they did – thanks Ken (the original one…!))

The result, a Co-op on Coronation Street, written into storylines, characters in uniform in the Rovers Return, Sally a Webster with a bag of Co-op goodies, and some carefully placed messaging on the bus stop where everyone knows everything meaningful happens on Corrie.

With a 6 day show and 7th day omnibus, Co-op got itself a 365 day prime time slot on the most famous show in the land, with no danger of the customer popping to put the kettle on and missing their “ad”. Sure it wasn’t shouting it’s 241 offers as it’s rivals were, but in truth we were all happy say BOGOF to that.

Images of the Co-op store on coronation street, a co-op coronation street truck outside the Rovers Return Pub, a series of commemorative bag for life shopping bags and the team behind the campaign including lead CMO Jemima Bird. Creative communication graphics

Brand Communication is critical

What ties these three campaigns together is the ability to create messaging and creative that is readily understandable with its target audience, there are many criteria to judge a campaign on, the most important being increased revenue.

The scissors, a naked man and the convenience store delivered sales growth and a rise in customers, it wasn’t luck, but good briefing, super strong creative, clear communication and thinking a little bit differently.

We call it Listening Intelligently.