CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Merged ferry giants go on TV. John Govett explains P&O Stena Line’s ’untypical’ ad approach. By Jade Garrett

’I never want to merge again,’ are the weary words of John Govett, P&O Stena Line’s marketing and sales director. The two ferry giants, P&O and Stena, merged on 9 March and the new company’s first TV ads went on air last Monday (Campaign, 19 June).

’I never want to merge again,’ are the weary words of John Govett,

P&O Stena Line’s marketing and sales director. The two ferry giants, P&O

and Stena, merged on 9 March and the new company’s first TV ads went on

air last Monday (Campaign, 19 June).



The idea behind the work, by J. Walter Thompson, is that you have to

wait for many of the good things in life, but not one of P&O’s Stena

Line’s ferries. ’We’ve opted for a very untypical approach,’ Govett

says. ’This phase of the advertising places little emphasis on the ships

themselves - the ads open with pictures as diverse as eggs and babies.’

The campaign includes two 60-second spots, identical except that one

omits a scene showing Bobby Moore lifting the World Cup in 1966. ’That

was done for the already football weary among us,’ Govett says.



The ads convey the idea that when travelling by ferry, consumers can

make better use of their time. The wider campaign (with a budget of

’about pounds 15 million’) will include ten-second spots - for a loyalty

scheme and discounts - and 48-sheet posters. Govett had little input on

the posters, which were agreed pre-merger when he was Stena’s marketing

and sales director.



Until the merger could be announced publicly, Govett was unable to

disclose the name of the chosen advertising agency. This was done in an

attempt to avoid making relations difficult between the two, then

separate, companies and their incumbent shops.



The second phase of the advertising has had to be pushed back. All of

the ships are due to have a refit and the next phase of TV work will

promote this but, as the work will not commence until the autumn, the

ads are unlikely to hit our screens until next year. This is a result of

delays to the approval of the merger by the English and French

authorities, a situation Govett describes as ’not ideal’.



However, he remains optimistic. ’I feel that, for the first time, we

have come out of the operation stage and are now doing the more

sophisticated marketing - which is great,’ Govett says.



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