It's often been said that a week is a long time in politics, and the events of the last week have certainly given credence to that. But judging by recent reports and observations it's also a long time in the retail business.
Some weeks ago I wrote inRetail Gazetteabout HMV's journey from administration to survival, albeit without its original iconic Oxford Street store. I noted that whilst some improvements had been made, the fundamental issue of a transactional website had still not come to fruition. The way forward would be to focus on their existing target audience and make sure that they are creating an engaging shopper experience, in-store, online and on the move.
Although the latter is still not a reality, there is some good news for the embattled retailer. Based on an assessment of the public's view of its quality, reputation, impression and value, their YouGov BrandIndex rating has improved to a score of 10.6. A quick visit to a couple of outlets suggests that store traffic may be on the increase again, and certainly there appears to be a fresh spring in the steps of the staff.
A renewed focus on marketing is undoubtedly playing its part in the revival. There seems to be a significant latent affection for the HMV brand, and this should give the new owners confidence to invest further funds in marketing in order to increase and maintain a higher level of customer engagement. We are promised live gigs and record signings, but presumably only in a very few of the biggest stores. And our old retail friend the loyalty card has been re-introduced, albeit in a somewhat limited form. PureHMV is being advertised as an online loyalty programme, but without the ability to purchase goods online it seems to be fighting the battle with one arm tied behind its back. You earn points through purchases in-store which you then redeem for 'stuff money can't buy' as well as stuff it can, in the form of music track downloads but not the stuff that's sold in-store.
Meanwhile the mighty Tesco is being hit by the newly invigorated discounters and is continually criticised in the media for having lost its way. Should they move further up market and compete with Waitrose and M&S or simply wheel and deal like the discounters? It has even been reported that consideration is being given to ditching the iconic ClubCard loyalty scheme, which many commentators would credit with being the catalyst for their market dominance for decades. Is it a case of how are the mighty fallen, or will they discover a new momentum and see off those European upstarts?!
My money's on an HMV revival, provided they get to grips with whatever it is that is preventing them from making the website fully transactional. And whilst this week Tesco shares may be a Hold or even a Sell, next week could well herald the start of a much-anticipated comeback. Either way, it only goes to show that a week really is a long time in retailing.
Click on the pop-up illustrations to reveal hidden anecdotes
Sainsbury’s Active Kids
For the last seven years we have implemented the annual Sainsbury's Active Kids programme. To date in excess of £155 million worth of sports and cooking equipment has been donated to over 50,000 organisations. THAT gets us excited.
But not as excited as Lucy Savage (our much-loved Account Director on the business) got when she spent the day on a shoot with the then ambassador David Beckham. Not long after Lucy left to have twins. We are absolutely sure the two things are not connected.
After a lot of research for this Trebor Mints Breathtaking Holidays campaign we created two pieces of key art for advertising and pos.
One was using Christ the Redeemer in Rio and the other was the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Both are of highly religious significance and we checked with the Embassies of both countries first to ensure no offence would be taken using them in our campaign. As it was about promoting travel to those amazing locations it was deemed totally acceptable.
In 2009 Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment created what was to become the global phenomenon Angry Birds. We leveraged the property to create on pack activity for Pepsico Lays that ran across Europe. But check out this clip. We didn't do it for T-Mobile in Barcelona, but we love it and wish we had!
In November 2012 we shot a film for Club Wembley to promote their Private Boxes, featuring the legend that is Sir Geoff Hurst. It was the day England were playing an evening friendly against Germany - think about it! At 10am, the time shooting was scheduled to start, the stadium was quiet and empty and the sky was blue.
Unfortunately Sir Geoff's car was late to pick him up and by the time shooting of him walking along the pitch talking to camera commenced, there were 7 lawn mowers working their magic on the pitch. Try asking them to stop. So there ensued a very comical 30 minutes of dodging tetchy groundsmen and timing takes when the mowers were the other end of the pitch.
Check out the results here and see if you can hear them:
When the 2013 Tour de France came to London, no one was expecting one of the teams to get lost along the route. And technically they didn't. Other than the one we created for a UKTV channel Dave social media stunt. And even we didn't expect the local constabulary to fall for it hook line and sprocket and offer the errant cyclists an escort back to the official track!
So when we created a set of fake sponsor branded cycling uniforms…who did we turn to, to model them for the cameras but our very own Ryan Newton and Head of Shopper Peter 'Lycra' Lidgey…check out these bad boys!
In 2011 we pitched for and won the chance to launch the Peugeot 208 in to the UK. It was a stunning success. The single we commissioned by Rudimental got to No.1 in the charts. The viral video achieved over 10 million views and Peugeot broke their 10-year pre-sales record.
Who would have thought it when, for the pitch we hired Super Malcolm at Pineapple Dance Studios to teach us to throw a few shapes and we made this little mood video of the results. Particularly worth watching is the Dad dancing by our CEO, Planner and Head of Experiential at the end!
From 2008 to 2013 we devised and managed the Cadbury Easter Egg Trails at National Trust properties all round the UK. In total over 2 million people engaged with the activity. But we wonder how many of them realised that the original thought was inspired by an idea that was voted one of the 20th Century's top promotions – created in part by our very own Non-executive Director Roger Hyslop.
The Cadbury Creme Egg Conundrum – itself inspired by the incredible 1970's work Masquerade by Kit Williams – garnered so much publicity it resulted in questions being asked in the House of Commons AND a change in marketing law.
In 2010 we ran a promotion for Quorn which resulted in us creating and designing a cookbook that was offered as a premium on pack. Shortly after launch the book went to No.1 in the Amazon cookbook charts and you can still buy a new one today for £10.00, or a used one for £4.82! What are you waiting for…
"Retail is detail"…or so will claim Peter our Shopper Marketing guru. "Ha…not just Shopper!" our experiential team will counter. In the spring of 2011 they door-dropped 250,000 UK households between the hours of 3.00 and 7.00am, placing two chilled bottles of Tropicana juice on the doorstep.
No mean task, but it was the attention to detail that made the campaign such a success. Firstly using Google Maps our team of intrepid Juice Elves discounted visiting any house with a gravel drive so as not to awaken the occupants. And every household was revisited before 11am to remove any bottles not accepted – so as not to alert any would be burglars in the area that the occupants were away.
Creating, organizing and implementing an event for 15,000 people at Althorp Estate featuring 16 brands, a 22-piece orchestra, 3 world-renowned acts, an Oscar-winning composer, a Hollywood superstar and a giant panda is just not enough for some people.
Pandamonium in the Park was devised as a vehicle for Sainsbury's to celebrate the launch of Kung-Fu Panda 2, with the film's star Jack Black (Po) addressing the audience along with the Chinese Ambassador to London and Justin King, the then Sainsbury's CEO.
As part of the activity we created a stand for Dettol to dramatise the launch of their new hands free soap dispensing bottles. The premise of the Guinea-Po Petting Zoo was that we hired some black and white Guinea Pigs representing baby pandas, that kids could pet – thus the requirement for washing their hands afterwards. Genius! (even though we say so ourselves).
Only, we started the day with 16 Guinea Pigs…and ended up with 15. Some furry-fingered pilferer had nicked one. We only hope Po doesn't find out who it was, or they could be for the chopsticks!
Creatures Of The Night was one of a number of large activities we created and implemented for Miller Genuine Draft under the global platform of Tonight It's Miller Time.
But our favourite idea never quite got off the ground. Check out this story posted a few years back. It tells of how the Miller Brewery in Millwaukee is haunted.
And that thought formed the basis of an idea we had for creating a Halloween event. We would leverage the back story of the haunting to launch our event, which this mood film gives you a little more insight in to. Sadly timings and budget were against us in implementing it to the full, although the subsequent Creatures of the Night campaign was a roaring (or should we say screaming) success.
With some ideas the simplest thought is often the killer. We were asked to come up with a way to encourage people to use more colour when painting outdoor projects. So if what Dulux gave you when painting indoors was INSPIRATION, for outdoors it had to be OUTSPIRATION.
You can download the subsequent App. we launched here:
Securing Beyonce to perform at the 02 exclusively for Mondelez brand Trident Gum was pretty damn exciting we think. The activity, although originated by Initials, soon had all of Trident's agencies working to integrate a huge campaign. One of the highlights from the PR was a flashmob of 100 single ladies dancing in Piccadilly Circus.
Over 9 million have viewed the film on YouTube, but how many of those worked out the little teaser – 99 of them are indeed single laydees….but one is a man!...can you tell who it is?! The film is still on YouTube, but unfortunately the rights to use Beyonce's track has passed, so there's some other weird track on there now!...enjoy…
Putting a 55-ton surf machine in Broadgate for Naked Juice is undoubtedly one of our Experiential team's greatest achievements. Check out this film, shot for us over a whole day, featuring a very cool surf dude visiting our event.
To research for the original brief on this Cheetos activity we sent a team round Europe talking to groups of 12-14 year-olds. So was born 'Cheebay'…the chance for kids to bid for the prizes they wanted with points from the packs. The biggest success was in Russia where they went mad for it!...check out our first ever Russian TV ad…
Clerkenwell based artist, illustrator and storyteller Vic Lee is our hero. He managed to bring to life a load of crazy stuff that was in our heads and created the amazing 5m long mural that adorns our reception and welcomes you into the agency. Check out the video of the genius at work as he creates it from start to finish - although it took him 10 days, a bit longer than the three minutes of film. You could also visit his website at viclee.co.uk for a nosey around at his stuff - if you do, say hi from us.