The little stand giving away hot sausages in the supermarket car
park is hardly the most glamourous end of the marketing game. Yet
companies, from Unilever to Procter & Gamble, have recognised what an
immediate and substantial impact this direct approach can have on
Roadshows are powerful, commercial theatre. Consumers can see the
product, hear it sizzling in the pan, smell it, touch it, taste it -
and, in all probability, walk away with a money-off coupon. And, in this
more sophisticated era, the whole project, from the selection and
training of the staff to the set construction, can be designed to
communicate the brand's values.
Events like this are not going to replace advertising. It's not
practical to put a stand in every supermarket car park, railway terminus
or shopping centre. Roadshows will never have the reach of a TV
campaign. But the impact they can have within a limited area makes them
a viable medium in their own right.
As several of the current case studies presented here demonstrate,
roadshows are quite capable of bringing advertising to life, directly
reflecting the themes of current campaigns.
It's apparent, however, that co-operation between agencies still has a
long way to go. Even where the aim is to strongly reflect advertising
themes, the brief is as likely to reach the field marketing agency from
the client, a media independent, or a sales promotion or PR agency, as
it is from the originators of the above-the-line campaign.
Nick Fennell, a former marketing director with CPM and founder of
Archway Management, a consultancy specialising in field management and
customer contact strategy, says there are signs that field marketing
agencies are "moving up the food chain". However, they need to make more
effort themselves to ensure they are at the pitch table.
"Clients want to know what their options are for achieving their
objectives," Fennell adds. "Field marketers need to add more to the
discussion than simply 'this is what we do and this is what it
Fennell singles out RPM as an agency that is "refreshingly evangelical"
in the way it promotes the benefits of the roadshow medium. RPM's joint
managing director, Ross Urquhart, says that it's not about any
discipline having the upper hand, but he finds clients are now
comfortable with the idea of making "brand experience" a central part of
"Bringing a brand to life is a special skill and not many people can do
it very well," Paul Soanes, a director at the rival field marketing
agency iD, says. He's currently talking to a cross-section of agency
heads, promoting the idea of improved co-operation.
"It's partly that old chestnut about asking them to be open with us," he
explains. "If they give us as much information and time as possible, it
can work really well. You can't brief us the day before and expect us to
do a really good job for you."
The perspiring marathon runner reaches a refreshment point, grabs a
container - and pours soup over himself. As the TV campaign from Mother
has it: "There's a time and a place for Cup-a-Soup. This is not it."
Late last year, Batchelor's added a potato recipe to its range and was
keen to encourage sampling. Naked, the media agency working alongside
Mother, proposed including field marketing in the media mix. At the
heart of the ad campaign is the idea of consumers encountering the brand
in inappropriate circumstances, to prompt them to think of times that
would be more suitable.
The challenge for the "brand experience" specialist RPM was to take this
basic theme and interpret it in a way that would bring it to life on the
Its answer is a 70s mobile disco, complete with a smooth-talking DJ
playing hits of the period and a background of flashing lights and a
mirror ball. Absolutely not the place for drinking instant soup.
All of these ingredients were in the incongruous settings of four train
station concourses in London and at Birmingham New Street.
Medallion-clad dancers were on hand to give out product samples.
A second hit squad targeted high streets and office restaurants in 12
cities. In total, about 750,000 product sachets were distributed.
"We needed to get the product out to people and bring it to life at
suitable touch and contact points," Craig Wills, a strategist at Naked,
says. "For us, it is a very new way of reaching the audience and
bringing the product to life. We were not necessarily trying to explode
the sales; it was more about reaching a slightly younger audience."
RPM's Urquhart adds: "Breathing life into the advertising proposition is
a real trend. It has always been possible to hold up a mirror to the
advertising, but it was often a very crude translation. Standards have
"We were brought in early by Mother on Cup-a-Soup, so we were able to
continue the theme and the humour.
"Brand experience is one of the most powerful techniques of the moment.
Ad agencies and brand experience agencies can be very good
The technology for beaming Captain Kirk back to the safety of the
starship Enterprise may still be the stuff of dreams, but that other
stalwart of futuristic films, the videophone, is now a reality.
Developing a market for the videophone is seen as a five-year
BT has been trialling the equipment with 250 people for a year and is
now moving on to the next stage. Over the next few months, it wants to
sell 1,000 sets at £650 a time. But first, it has to let the
public know about the technology. And this being a very limited
initiative at this stage, with a complex message to communicate,
conventional advertising is not considered to be the ideal solution.
"We wanted as many people as possible to see the videophones and handle
them," Karen Horsburgh, BT's videophone marketing manager, says. "Seeing
CPM Mobile Marketing, part of the Omnicom subsidiary, CPM, Europe's
largest field marketing agency, was commissioned to develop a roadshow
which toured five major shopping centres in November and December.
Leaflets were distributed in advance to attract visitors and there was a
prize draw for two videophones, including the necessary "extras" such as
an ISDN line.
The stand featured two videophones, allowing members of the public to
talk and simultaneously see pictures of each other. Plasma screens on
the stand were used to communicate the videophone's features, while
specially trained CPM staff were able to demonstrate how to use it.
According to Horsburgh, the roadshow attracted 1,000 people to each
event, with 300 a day having an opportunity to try the equipment.
Participants were then interviewed to assess their level of
"The general feeling is good," she adds. "A lot of people say they like
it and can see the value of it for keeping in touch with family members
they can't see very often."
Currently, the BT videophone is only available from a freephone number,
or via the BT website. But, Horsburgh says, "We may well open it up to
other channels later in the year."
The older generation know a thing or two about getting the best out of
life. Look at them out enjoying themselves, while the wage slaves have
to remain chained to their desks.
That, at any rate, is the theme behind WCRS' advertising for
workthing.com, Guardian Media Group's "online career management
network". Basically, it's an internet jobs site, with the added benefit
that it offers expert advice on optimising your working life.
And what else are the old folk always nattering on about? Start the day
with a proper meal.
Carlson Marketing Group, with activities ranging from sales promotion,
direct marketing and loyalty programmes to field marketing, was called
in to support the advertising and publicise the workthing.com service by
the client's brand communications agency, Michaelides & Bednash.
From its database, Carlson selected suitably mature individuals to hand
out workthing.com breakfast bags to commuters at key London Underground
stations and at mainline stations in London, Birmingham and
The bags were designed by Carlson's in-house team to reflect the
graphics and style of the above-the-line advertising. Each contained
orange juice, an apple, a cereal bar and a postcard designed to drive
traffic to workthing.com.
Targeting AB professionals, the team successfully distributed 80,000
healthy breakfasts. Page impressions on the website increased by 15 per
cent on activity days. Several hundred "thank you for breakfast" e-mails
One of the benefits of field marketing in this instance, according to
Carlson's head of field marketing, Brona Connolly, was that the human
touch helped break down the inevitable barrier that deters people from
visiting a website for the first time. The breakfast bag was also
something to be talked about in the office, spreading knowledge of the
site by word of mouth. The programme ran for a fortnight in mid-November
and will be repeated throughout 2002.
Purdey's is a multivitamin fruit drink from Britvic, sold in a
distinctive silver bottle with a wide screw top.
It is an established product, but a new advertising theme developed by
Barrett Cernis - "Energise peacefully" - provided an opportunity to
attract new consumers. The ad campaign was centred on the London
Underground and banner posters in Manchester.
A field marketing programme was developed and run by Hicklin Slade, with
a sampling team handled by Walker Enterprises.
"Our main objectives were to drive trial and repeat purchase and to
communicate the product benefits," Kate Emery, the account manager at
Hicklin Slade, says. "It was a brand experience with sampling alongside
and it engaged the consumer."
The creative idea was to stage beginners' classes, with qualified
instructors, in a range of disciplines from tai chi to yoga and Pilates.
"We were very specific in briefing the instructors that anything they
demonstrated had to relate to re-energising peacefully," Emery adds.
The venues chosen for the exercise included open areas such as Golden
Square and the Victoria Embankment in London and Sackville Park in
Manchester. The instructors wore branded clothing and the exercises were
conducted on branded, inflatable yoga mats.
Office workers were invited to have a go at one of the disciplines, try
a bottle of Purdey's and complete a questionnaire. The programme lasted
for ten days and close to 60,000 samples were given away.
Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of the consumers who joined in the
activities were under 30. Just under half (48 per cent) had drunk
Purdey's before. Four out of five said they would drink it again - and
were given a coupon to encourage them to do so.
Golden Wonder Bugles
McCann-Erickson has sought out specialist shops in the related sectors
of sales promotion, roadshows, field marketing and point-of-purchase
design and amalgamated them to form a new "experiential" agency,
Momentum. So it was not surprising that Momentum proposed a
multi-discipline solution when invited to support the launch of General
Mills' new snack, Golden Wonder Bugles, to both the trade and
The product is aimed at 13- to 25-year-olds and the campaign had to
reflect brand values, which include escaping the norm and being fun and
After a successful regional test, Momentum proposed a national roadshow,
with field marketing and sampling, a trade campaign including direct
marketing, sales promotion and trade press advertising and a PR event to
tie in with the national TV ad campaign.
A mail pack to trade customers was labelled "Open at your own risk"and
warned: "Beware, the Bugles are out!"
The five-week roadshow targeted multiple retailers and busy city
Teams of seven visited the selected locations in brightly branded Bugles
Volkswagen Beetles. Each team aimed to give away 7,000 samples per day,
as well as other merchandise, such as T-shirts. To add to the fun, the
team included a comedy ringmaster and there was also a free prize draw
to win a brand new Beetle.
Many of these activities were also incorporated into the national launch
event in London's Leicester Square in late October, but this featured a
day of Bugles-branded Zorbing - the name, apparently, for pushing a very
large ball up an inflatable chute. Eddie the Eagle got things going with
his first attempt at Zorbing and the public joined in.
About 300,000 samples were given out during the campaign, and there were
30,000 entries for the draw. According to Golden Wonder, early sales
figures show an 87 per cent distribution for Bugles in the multiples,
and a 2.1 per cent market share. Bugles was elected 2001 Snack of the
Year by The Grocer.