4 ways to innovate: Mars, Shell, Coca-Cola & DFS reveal

Innovation and openness to change are more important than ever in our fast-paced world and can be essential for growth, as four MediaCom clients have found

4 ways to innovate: Mars, Shell, Coca-Cola & DFS reveal

Optimising "business as usual" and increasing pressure on efficiency can make innovation seem like a luxury. Yet with the pace of change as it is, it is crucial to try new things. Four of our clients explain how they have changed the way they operate to find new ways of delivering growth.

Coca-Cola changed ad formats and channel mix to reach young adults. Shell invested in a new medium and found significant growth. DFS used data signals in new ways and gained a competitive advantage. Mars transformed how it partners with agencies and media owners and has established highly successful new approaches to advertising.

The Coca-Cola Company

Alec Mellor, marketing manager, The Coca-Cola Company

If there’s one truth about talking to young adults, it is that the media rules of reaching primary shoppers just don’t apply. It might be easier to follow a classic media playbook, but to connect with this generation you need to innovate. Reaching these young adults is crucial for us at Coca-Cola. Let’s not pretend it’s easy. Certainly if your start point is building on heritage practices. If everything in media is changing fast, it’s going exponentially fast for that age group.

We started with their first screens, not our traditional ones. So whatever we did had to be fit for purpose on smartphones and at snackable speed. Coca-Cola had to earn the right to get some attention in the medium of choice and in the language of this audience.

The "This One’s For" campaign was born from what’s relevant to young adults on Snap, Insta and YouTube. This year we have run more than 30 pieces of copy reflecting their interests and earning CocaCola a place in their world.

This One’s For…
• Nailing that reverse park (everyone finds that one daunting)
• Slaying your look (with the Mandeville sisters obvs)
• Making that 9am lecture (with Jax Jones, naturally)
• 1,000 keepie-uppies (with Liv Cooke – who else?)
• Coca-Cola is your reward for getting stuff done.

We pivoted on youth culture and drove brand love, not to mention millions more drinking occasions.

If you’re not familiar with Jax, Liv and the Mandevilles then you’re probably not 18, and frankly that’s exactly the point.


Franziska Kaiser, brand and communications team lead, Shell UK

At Shell, we are always looking for innovative ways to reach and serve UK motorists while they are on-the-go through our products, people and services.

Through partnering with community-based GPS, traffic and navigation app Waze, our ambition was to bring more drivers to Shell by targeting them with the right message at the right time.

Waze was a natural fit, in terms of its superior ability to avoid traffic, find drivers the quickest route and save them time. We introduced pins to show drivers where their nearest Shell station was, while "Zero Speed App Takeovers" enabled us to tell those nearby customers about the facilities, fuel and food that would be available when they got there.

During our initial test phase, we rerouted more than 65,000 drivers to Shell through Waze. Since then we have been expanding the partnership, helping us to be top-of-mind for drivers, encouraging around 3,000 reroutes to Shell service stations across the UK every day.


Toni Wood, chief marketing and commercial officer, DFS

DFS is the market leader in the upholstery category; however, as consumer confidence and the climate for major purchases continues to decline, there are pressures across the retail industry.

We are well known for our long-term commitment to successful broadcast advertising, which has helped build awareness and mental availability, but there is much more to our continued success than only leveraging mass channels to reach our customers.

Our approach is to combine a customer-led focus with a restless curiosity about how media consumption is changing. The customer journey, through digital and physical touch points, is ever-changing, and this ongoing focus on insight sharpens our approach to our marketing programmes and our evolution as an omnichannel retailer.

This has led to a rebalance of our media strategy to deliver both mass and targeted marketing. Through forensic analysis of digital signals, we are able to identify what triggers the decision to purchase now, the decision to delay purchase and the need for design inspiration. With this information we’re testing our ability to reach our prospective customers with the right message at the right time and, importantly, to do this at scale. We’re now working in new ways with our media partners to make sure that when potential customers are in market, they get exactly the right brand and product message to inspire them, as well as the right offer to reassure them of our ongoing commitment to great value.

We are committed to working with our media partners on ever more innovative approaches to reach customers effectively.


Christoph Weber, media director, Mars Wrigley Confectionery

Getting selected in the confectionery category is becoming increasingly complicated, where we now compete with a plethora of salted and savoury snacks. Our media heritage lies in forced-view video storytelling. Although this still works well for our brands, it is not enough on its own to maintain brand selection at shelf. How we partner with our agencies and media owners has transformed our approach, providing us with several success stories.

Working with Spotify, we’ve used new data sets to bring our famous Snickers "You’re Not You When You’re Hungry" campaign to audio. Using listener data, we identified people whose song selections were out of character. For example, if you usually listen to Taylor Swift but start listening to Slipknot, we served you an ad suggesting that you were confused due to hunger.

Through Mars and MediaCom’s start-up incubator, Launchpad, we’ve begun to explore the digital commerce environment, a new frontier for impulsive and low-value purchases. This has allowed us to test new distribution models, such as micro-gifting on social sites, and impulsive add-to-basket buttons on retailer platforms. We are already scaling up pilots to multiple brands and markets.

Collaborating with Facebook, we created a new set of M&M’s assets fit for the behaviour of people scrolling through their newsfeeds. By understanding the user experience, we ran a series of product-led videos designed to be viewed for no longer than a few seconds. This campaign saw our highest ever sales uplift results.