Monday, 22 July 2013

The Colgate Brushswap Saga - marketing lessons from Colgate and Philips

It’s a sad but true fact that one of the best way to learn in business if from others mistakes and I would like to share an absolute classic from Colgate. Colgate’s brand has grown from toothpaste to toothbrushes and now electric toothbrushes.

The latter is a very competitive market with brands such as Philips and Braun’s Oral B spending vast sums on TV advertising. So you can sympathise with the marketing team at Colgate when thinking how they could make some noise about the launch of its new electric toothbrush.

What they came up with was BrushSwap. Create a viral noise by having a stand at Waterloo station for a week followed by another at London Victoria station for a week. At the stand commuters could swap their old electric toothbrushes for a brand new Colgate ProClinical toothbrush billed as being worth £170. A great idea you might think, or was it?

The problem with giving away free stuff and announcing it on social media is that it tends to get shared, a lot. On the first day people starting queuing at the stand at 5am, it wasn’t planned to open until 7am. By 9am they were forced to shut the stand after being swamped by people and having run out of brushes. Cue lots of annoyed people who had travelled to London to get this seemingly great offer taking to social media to vent their anger and Colgate trying to respond and explain the situation via twitter.

To be fair to Colgate on paper it was a good idea using a tried and trusted technique. The reality was different.  Colgate has now learnt not to underestimate the reach of social media to spread both a good message and a bad one when things go wrong. It has also moved the initiative online to an open to all draw for one of 7,000 brushes they are giving away. Network Rail is also reviewing what promotional opportunities it allows after numerous complaints from angry commuters caught in the chaos.   

Maybe the real lesson comes from Philips who placed a press ad appearing in national newspapers reading, "The best things in life aren’t free." The ad had an image of the Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush and the strapline, "The UK’s No1 sonic toothbrush. And worth every penny." Now that’s marketing.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Temperature controlled outdoor advertising – as hot as the weather

The world of advertising likes to paint a picture perfect world of British summertime for particular products. For example, you never see cider ads with people sitting in a pub garden huddling under umbrellas hiding from the rain while wearing jumpers.

It’s often forgotten that bad summer weather causes problems for brands as well as tennis players and farmers. Brands can spend hours and weeks carefully crafting a campaign for their product based on the good feelings generated by good weather, only for it to be completely ruined by it showing during a period of inclement rain and cold. Despite this every summer we are faced with ads filled with images of picture perfect summers days, even when they are the exception and not the norm.

However for every problem there is someone somewhere coming up with a solution and in this case it is, and I am not joking here, temperature controlled ad panels.

Stella Artois is now running ad slots across outdoor advertising company Posterscope digital poster boards for its Cidre brand. When the temperature rises two degrees or more above the average in the specific location using real time data an ad appears for the cider brand.

Costa Coffee has run a two month campaign on the London Underground working with CBS Outdoor who manage the ad slots there and who were pioneers of digital outdoor advertising. They promoted Costas Ice Cold Costa range on the underground network when the temperature went above 22 degrees Celsius. The ads were location specific so when the temperature went up, a digital panel at a station exit not only delivered a promotional message but also direct underground users to the nearest Costa outlet that they could buy an Ice Cold shake.

Not only is this enormously clever but it will also reduce a lot of wasted spend and effort. Ad slots based on increased pollen counts are now also being introduced and this no doubt is just the start of a whole new advertising concept with winter brands already being lined up for temperature based campaigns. So weather sensor based advertising is here and will grow, all we need now is some hot weather!

Tim Youngman is Director of Marketing for Archant