Media: Strategy Analysis - Spicing up dull cricket advertising

Brand: Nando's restaurants Client: Nando's restaurants Brief: Grow the footprint of Nando's customer base and make Nando's famous for its quirky Portuguese-style "peri-peri" chicken Target audience: Restaurant venue decision-makers - ABC1 men Budget: Undisclosed AGENCIES Media: Rocket Creative: Hooper Galton

STRATEGY

Historically, Nando's has relied almost exclusively on word of mouth and local marketing to deliver organic growth of its restaurant group.

By early 2005, however, it had entered a planned phase of brand development, focusing on increasing market share. Nando's briefed Rocket and Hooper Galton to develop a communication strategy to help it achieve this.

On a relatively modest budget, the agencies needed to maximise awareness and understanding of the Nando's brand among a family audience. The brand, as experienced in the restaurants, is a quirky personality, serving fiery, Portuguese-style "peri-peri" chicken. The agencies felt it was crucial to make the brand personality centre-stage to ensure the message would resonate with the target audience.

Qualitative research showed that men are very influential in deciding family restaurant destinations, especially when it involves fiery foods.

We also knew that this audience was united by its collective love of sport and humour.

The Ashes presented a great opportunity for a quirky brand such as Nando's.

In the absence of any major football or rugby tournaments, the Ashes was set to be the biggest sporting event of the summer. And, for the first time in 20 years or so, England actually had a side that could give the Aussies a match.

In the past, cricket sponsorship and advertising has been, in the main, dry and dull - the exclusive domain of insurance companies and car manufacturers.

Rocket and Hooper Galton knew that this environment jarred with the sensibilities of the famously fun-loving Test-match crowd.

The big idea was to disrupt the dryness with a series of communications that would entertain and engage the fans. The agencies sensed a real opportunity to make a statement about what Nando's is.

EXECUTION

- TV: TV formed the bedrock of the campaign. Hooper Galton created nine ten-second TV spots, which ran exclusively in live Ashes action on Channel 4. Using a short time-length delivered significantly higher levels of frequency than is usually possible through a standard 30-second cricket package. This created the sense of a virtual (un-official) sponsorship of the series.

The creative execution dramatised Nando's sponsorship of the Portuguese cricket team - essentially, a fictional bunch of no-hoper enthusiasts - with each ad carrying the line, "Portuguese cricket forever!"

- Battle bus: The agencies also created an open-top "battle bus" for the campaign, which drove around all the Test venues each morning as they were filling up, with Portuguese music blaring out, the campaign strapline emblazoned on the side, and local staff members dressed in cricket whites singing and dancing on the upper deck.

Alongside the bus, staff dressed as cricketers handed out fake Graham Gooch moustaches (as worn by the Portuguese character in one of the TV spots), caps and restaurant vouchers to fans as they were entering the ground. The fans loved it and and were featured on the Channel 4 coverage wearing the moustaches in the ground. The bus featured regularly on both national and local news programmes.

- In-restaurant activity: It was essential for the campaign to "live" within the restaurants too. The agencies produced Gooch-moustache stickers for customers to wear and T-shirts for the staff that declared: "We've never lost the Ashes." Mock reverential portraits of fictional Portuguese cricket stars were hung on the walls. All materials were extremely well-received by staff, possibly the most important brand ambassadors of all.

RESULTS

Nando's Portuguese Cricket Forever activity during July, August and September contributed to an average sales uplift for each restaurant of 5 per cent compared with the previous year.

Anecdotal evidence, supported by Channel 4, suggests many viewers thought Nando's had sponsored the broadcast coverage, when the official sponsor was, in fact, Betfair.

THE VERDICT - Marie Oldham head of strategy, Media Planning Group

I have to admit that I have never given Nando's much thought (up to now).

That's not to say I don't know the name or what they serve. I have walked past Nando's West Hampstead branch thousands of times and am vaguely aware of the branches in Finchley and Chalk Farm. I know they serve chicken and I've made the Portuguese connection. However, I would never dream of crossing the threshold and I really don't know why. My perception was cheap chicken and pre-pub-style stodge, so some rapid market research was called for. Seventy-five e-mails later, I knew I was not alone.

Three camps emerged.The first camp fell into: cheap chicken, not for me, maybe families. The second said: expensive fast food, tried it, hated it, stick to McDonald's before the pub or cinema. The last camp love Nando's and said they visit with their families all the time.

Linking this to Rocket/Hooper Galton's work meant I could buy into the insight by families as a target audience, but I had two concerns.

The issue seems to be all around consideration and trial. Getting people to try the product must be the lead objective.

Second, although I agree the campaign was right to target families, ABC1 is a little ambitious and I would question the presumption that males are the dominant decision-makers. Would targeting mums, families as groups or even children be a stronger route to driving consideration/trial?

In terms of execution, I loved the depth of the creative idea and the thoroughness of the implementation. However, given that I can't really buy into the solus ABC1 male targeting, I also had great difficulty with the Ashes as a vehicle. I do believe in the disruption approach and think stand-out among stuffy financial brands can be powerful, but there is a difference between impact and "what the bugger has that got to do with anything?" as a take-out.

There is some great use of ambient and traditional channels. The creative is fun and taken right through the line. But I have a nagging worry about the targeting and therefore the vehicle.

Finally, while vouchers at grounds were mentioned, I don't think there was enough emphasis on "try it, you might like it".

SCORE: 3 out of 5.