’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.