Impact FCA’s team solved a difficult image problem by using ingenious visual wizardry.
It was easy enough to define Dunhill’s problem. The King Size brand
image needed updating for the 90s, but it had to be done within a
framework of stringent media restrictions. Advertising tobacco has never
been easy, but when your advertising needs a facelift, the problems are
Dunhill appointed Impact FCA to tackle the advertising for King Size in
September 1995. Impact already worked with Dunhill on its Raffles brand,
but King Size posed different challenges. And because the product is
tobacco, those challenges had to be sensitively handled both above and,
equally importantly given the media restrictions, below the line.
The task for the agency was encapsulated in the brief: get consumers to
reassess the brand - to take another look at it. For years Dunhill had
been associated with quintessential English imagery, with the cigarette
pack often displayed on top of a leather, inlaid desk. Now Dunhill
wanted to give the King Size brand a more contemporary feel, while
building on the premium nature of the brand and communicating the
message across social boundaries.
The first step for Impact’s joint creative directors, Ian Harding and
Shaun McIlrath, was to get close to the brand - and in typical Impact
style, that meant moving from their ivory tower to the client’s
premises, where they worked closely with the client team.
From the initial advertising brief came the idea of using challenging
visual imagery which required a bit of thought on the part of the
consumer, encouraging them to think again about the brand. The above-
the-line advertising used these visual tricks in a range of consumer
magazines, including the Sunday Times Magazine, the Mail on Sunday’s
You, Time Out, Hello! and Woman’s Own. ‘We were keen to target the
glossies, but also to ensure that we had a broad coverage of men and
women from across the board,’ Chris Parry, Impact’s managing director,
Impact wanted to maintain the brand values and strategy of the above-
the-line work in the below-the-line campaign, which was targeted at
newsagents and at consumers at the point of sale. But the below-the-line
work also had to introduce a new price point message to the consumer.
‘Price wasn’t a factor of the press work, but we wanted to hit the
consumer with the message at the point of sale,’ Parry says.
To make the in-store promotions as acceptable to the newsagents and as
effective as possible, Impact talked to CTNs. They found that shelf-
wobblers and tent cards were likely to get the most exposure, so Impact
set about creating a set of point-of-sale items which would continue the
theme of ‘take another look’ below the line. The result was a range of
promotional materials which were designed to appear to move with the
consumer around the shop. Again, the creative treatment focused on
visual trickery, using reverse perspective to create a type of 3-D
image, by now familiar from the press work.
With above- and below-the-line work now neatly executed, it might be
supposed that the task was completed. But with media restrictions
weighing heavily on the tobacco manufacturers (TV advertising is
prohibited and poster spend drastically cut last year), Impact was
constantly looking for other ways to take the campaign idea into
While waiting in a client’s reception one day, Harding and McIlrath
spotted an example of the work of the British artist, Patrick Hughes,
who is renowned for his reverse perspective portraits. The picture
sparked an idea. Harding, McIlrath and the team met with Hughes and
together created a unique 96-sheet poster site on the Cromwell Road
which took eight weeks to construct.
Again, the creative treatment was a visual conundrum and, like the
shelf-wobblers and tent cards, was designed to follow the gaze of
passers by. The poster features corridors of Dunhill packs which appear
to follow motorists as they journey out towards the M4.
Harding says that because the campaign is all about visual surprise the
possibilities are endless. ‘We’ve got a really strong property here,
and the whole campaign is a lot of fun.’