75th Anniversary Issue: Marketing moments - 75 biggest marketing moments

From the launch of the COI in the 40s to the first TV ad in the 50s, McDonald's arrival in the 70s and Benetton's shock campaign of the 90s, Gemma Charles and Joanna Bowery chart the marketing-related events that defined their era.


1939: Leafleting the Germans

The dropping of propaganda leaflets intended to lower morale and destabilise the enemy is a common occurrence during World War II. Both the Allies and, to a lesser extent, the German forces use the tactic. The British campaign starts on 3 September 1939, when the conflict is only hours old, and continues beyond the end of the war.


1945: Jaguar roars to life

In one of the first major rebrands, car manufacturer SS Company changes its name to Jaguar Cars. The initials 'SS' were deemed too reminiscent of the recently fallen Nazi regime.

1946: COI starts spreading the news

With a launch budget of £4m, the Central Office of Information opens on 1 April with a remit to provide news to domestic and overseas departments as well as government advertising. Its early years see a boom in government advertising as the post-war Labour leadership seeks to revive the economy and communicate the benefits of the new welfare state.


1950: First supermarket opens its doors

Sainsbury's opens the UK's first purpose-built supermarket in Croydon, South London. Other retailers have already converted small counter-service stores to self-service, but the Sainsbury's store has several innovations associated with the modern supermarket, including refrigerated cabinets with Perspex display units and fluorescent lighting. It also dwarfs the others in terms of size, at 3360ft2.

1954: An end to food rationing

Fourteen years after the start of food rationing, the regime is abolished on 4 July with the lifting of restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat. Food manufacturers gear up for a fresh marketing push as the nation celebrates, with some people even burning their ration books.

1954: As simple as ABC

The National Readership Survey develops its 'ABC1' social grading system based on the occupation of a household's chief income-earner. Originally intended to classify readers of newspapers and magazines, the six-strata system is still widely used.

1955: Toothpaste brand heralds arrival of TV ads

On 22 September, at 8.12pm, Gibbs SR becomes the first TV advertiser on the new ITV channel.

1959: Mini manoeuvres onto the scene

Launching on 26 August as a way of saving fuel following the Suez Crisis, the Mini goes on to become the bestselling car in Europe and a symbol of the swinging 60s. Its popularity is further boosted when it features heavily in 1969 film The Italian Job.


1960: Sports learn value of a relationship

Mark McCormack's handshake with golfer Arnold Palmer in 1960 is a pivotal moment. Not only is it the beginning of McCormack's business, which would evolve into sport and management giant IMG, but it also signals the start of the multimillion-pound sports sponsorship industry.

1962: Standards laid down

The Advertising Standards Authority is created to adjudicate on complaints about advertising following the establishment of the British Code of Advertising Practice. The development prevents the industry from falling under state regulation, as is the case at the time in the US.

1963: Green Shield puts its stamp on UK

Taking a lead in the loyalty stakes, Tesco introduces the Green Shield Stamps scheme. Customers collect stamps in books which, once full, can be redeemed for products.

1964: Manufacturers lose pricing powers

Individual manufacturers had been able to set the prices at which their products would be sold to consumers until the passing of the Resale Price Act, which wrests their power away. Retailers are now given the right to set the final selling price of the majority of goods unless it is demonstrably against the public interest. This is bad news for small retailers, as bigger chains are now able to undercut them.

1965: Tobacco ads banned from TV

Cigarette brands are forbidden to advertise on TV; more than three decades pass before the ban is extended to other media.

1966: Pay freeze sparks company-car boom

When Labour prime minister Harold Wilson announces a pay freeze to control inflation, it has an unintended consequence. In an attempt to reward employees in other ways, companies begin providing executives with cars. The perk continues long after the end of the pay freeze and for many years is a key driver of car sales in Britain.

1967: Hole in wall proves profitable

Barclays Bank makes 24-hour banking a reality by installing a cash dispenser in its Enfield branch. The first person to use it, for the benefit of news cameras, is On The Buses star Reg Varney. The 'hole in the wall' has revolutionised personal banking - there are now more than 1m ATMs around the world.

1967: Kotler makes his mark

Philip Kotler's Marketing Management makes its debut. Now in its 12th edition, the work is considered the ultimate resource for marketers and remains one of the bestselling marketing management textbooks.

1968: We're all 'backing Britain'

'I'm Backing Britain' becomes the slogan of a high- profile campaign to boost British industry. It is helped by the fact that the pound, after a sharp devaluation, is now worth less overseas. People are encouraged to sport T-shirts and badges emblazoned with the slogan and everyone from a group of secretaries in Surbiton - who do half-an-hour's work for free - to the Duke of Edinburgh get involved. But there is embarrassment all round when it emerges that some of the promotional T-shirts have been made in Portugal.

1968: Trade descriptions makes a name for itself

The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 comes into force in November, with the intention of clamping down on extravagant claims made in advertising and protecting consumers from unscrupulous retail tactics. The act makes it illegal for retailers to say that a product is in a sale or is being sold at a reduced price unless it has been sold at the original higher price for a period of 28 days prior.


1970: A business Virgin starts empire-building

Young entrepreneur and Student magazine founder Richard Branson starts selling records by mail order. A year later, the first Virgin record shop begins trading on Oxford Street, laying the foundations of an empire that now covers businesses as diverse as air travel, trains, finance, soft drinks, music, mobile phones, holidays, wines, publishing, cosmetics, space tourism and latterly even stem-cell storage.

1971: D makes way for p

Another 'D' day for the UK as on 15 February, Britain's currency goes decimal. The new coins - 1/2p, 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 50p - replaces the old shillings and pence, not to mention halfpennies, threepenny bits, sixpences, florins, half-crowns and crowns.

1973: Charley says something for the first time

Public-information films featuring an animated ginger cat called Charley (voiced by DJ Kenny Everett) capture the imagination of TV viewers. Charley, famed for his garbled warnings about the danger of strangers, matches and water, has his day in the spotlight again almost two decades later when dance music act The Prodigy samples the feline's growls for its 1991 hit Charly. The series was recently voted the nation's favourite public-information film.

1973: Britain joins the Common Market

On 1 January Britain, Ireland and Denmark enters the Common Market, joining founder members Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Britain had twice before had membership applications refused.

1974: Golden Arches illuminate the high street

McDonald's opens its first restaurant in the UK, in Woolwich, South-East London. Loved and hated in equal measure, the controversial fast-food chain now has more than 1000 stores across the UK, serving 2.5m customers a day.

1976: Body Shop opens for business

On 26 March, the first Body Shop store opens in Brighton, selling 25 hand-made products. By 1982, new stores are springing up at the rate of two a month and Anita and Gordon Roddick's company is on the way to becoming the first mainstream ethical brand in the UK. The firm's green credentials are called into question when it is bought by L'Oreal in 2006.

1977: No-frills air travel takes off

In September Freddie Laker's airline, Laker Skytrain, becomes the first no-frills airline, offering one-way tickets from London to New York for less than £60. But the age of the low-cost airline will have to wait: five years later, following stiff competition, Skytrain goes bust. A court later rules that rival airlines had applied illegal price pressure to put Skytrain out of business.

1979: Liverpool signs first shirt sponsor

Liverpool Football Club becomes the first professional English club with a shirt sponsor after signing a deal with electronics giant Hitachi - but regulations mean the shirts are only worn for non-televised matches. The first club with a shirt sponsor was non-league minnow Kettering Town, which struck a deal with Kettering Tyres three years earlier.

1979: British Rail gets a taste of its own medicine

Agency Allen Brady & Marsh enters advertising folklore with its audacious pitch for the British Rail advertising account. On the day of the pitch, the client delegation is left waiting in the agency's reception next to a table stained with half-empty cups and overflowing ashtrays. Just as the BR team is about to walk out in disgust, agency chairman Peter Marsh emerges to say: 'You've just seen what the public think of British Rail - now, let's see what we can do to put it right.' The agency wins the business.


1980: Companies freed to raise prices

Marketers welcome the Competition Act, which abolishes the need for companies to make regular submissions to a government department before raising their prices.

1980: Nestle boycott begins

Nestle comes under fire over its marketing policies for baby milk substitutes in developing countries, prompting UK campaigners to follow earlier action in the US by calling for a boycott of its products. Today, Nestle claims the boycott is over, as it conforms to the World Health Organisation's international code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, but Baby Milk Action, the group leading the UK campaign, claims Nestle continues to breach the code and insists that the boycott stands.

1980: Walkman makes a noise

Sony's Walkman, a portable tape player, goes on sale in the UK after launching in Japan the previous year. Industry experts and even Sony employees believe people have no desire to walk and listen to music, but the gadget's success proves otherwise. It launches as Soundabout in the US, Stowaway in Britain and Freestyle in Australia; eventually Sony settles on the global name Walkman. The brand lives on in Sony Ericsson mobile phones and Sony MP3 players.

1980: Supermarkets trial laser-scanning

Supermarkets begin to put pressure on FMCG companies to package products with bar codes following successful trials of laser-scanning checkouts. Fears over cost had made manufacturers reluctant to implement the system.

1980: Computers for the masses

The Sinclair ZX80, the second computer from Clive Sinclair, arrives, starting a revolution in home computing. At a time when other computers cost more than £400, at £99.95 (in kit form), the ZX80 gives the masses a chance to enter the computer age. With a maximum memory of just 16k, it is superseded a year later by the ZX81.

1980: Pac-Man chomps onto the scene

Namco's Pac-Man - known as Puck Man in Japan -seals his place in history as the first gaming brand character. The yellow dot-muncher has since inspired more than 400 products. Ms Pac-Man makes her way into the arcades a year later.

1981: Which one's Pepsi?

The Pepsi Challenge, a blind-taste test, is foisted on the UK public. The bold field marketing activity becomes the cornerstone of Pepsi's marketing during the 80s and features in its TV ads. Consumers nearly always choose Pepsi and the results scare Coca-Cola so much that it launches the ill-fated New Coke.

1983: Mailing Preference Service launches

The direct-marketing industry makes an attempt at self-regulation by creating the Mailing Preference Service, which allows consumers to opt out of receiving direct mail.

1984: Tell Sid we're going private

British Telecom is privatised in what is claimed to be the world's biggest flotation. It is the first in a long line of public sell-offs during the Thatcher years. The privatisation is promoted by the 'Tell Sid' campaign, created by Dewe Rogerson and Dorlands.

1985: Little Ern makes an important call

Comedian Ernie Wise makes the UK's first mobile phone call on 1 January through the Vodafone network. Despite costing about £2000 and having a battery life of only 20 minutes, the phones are an instant hit with yuppies. In 1985 consumers had a rather simpler choice of networks than today - Vodafone or BT Cellnet.

1985: Betamax starts to get the picture

After years of waging a titanic battle, by 1985 JVC's VHS system has taken a decisive lead over Sony's Betamax in the video recorder war due to its larger capacity tapes and its popularity with video rental shops. In 1988 Sony finally admits defeat and begins manufacturing VHS video-recorders - but only stops making Betamax machines in 2002.

1985: Martin Sorrell buys Wire and Plastic Products

Saatchi & Saatchi finance director Martin Sorrell purchases shopping-basket manufacturer Wire and Plastic Products in a move that will leave an indelible mark on global advertising. Intent on transforming the shell company into a marketing services group, Sorrell sets about making a number of acquisitions, but it is not until 1987, when WPP acquires the venerable US advertising agency J Walter Thompson, that the world really sits up and takes notice.

1985: New Coke fails taste test

After taste tests indicate consumers prefer the taste of arch-rival Pepsi, a reformulated version of Coca-Cola, New Coke, is launched. The move backfires spectacularly when drinkers complain they do not like the sweeter taste. The backlash forces the firm to bring out Classic Coke made to the old formulation.

1987: Direct mail hits the billion mark

The volume of direct mail sent to UK householders tops 1bn items for the first time.

1988: RHM puts its brands on the balance sheet

Rank Hovis McDougall becomes the first company to put its brands on the balance sheet after a brand valuation exercise. The valuation, conducted by Interbrand, was made to help RHM defend itself against a hostile takeover. The food manufacturer felt that the price on offer did not take account of its brands, and therefore undervalued the company as a whole. Using the Interbrand valuation, RHM is able to convince its shareholders that the company is worth more than the offer, and the takeover is rejected. The strategy not only inspires other brand-led companies to take similar steps, but also increases the importance of marketing in a business context. Brands go from being intangibles to core assets with real value.

1989: A bank without branches?

Consumers get their heads around virtual banking with the launch of First Direct. In February 2007, the first self-styled 'branchless bank' has scored another first by imposing a £10-a-month charge on current-account customers who fail to meet a threshold on credits or average balance.

1989: Trouble brewing

The government shakes up the UK beer market after a Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigation finds that a monopoly exists, favouring the brewers that own tied houses or have tying agreements in place. Under the Beer Orders, the government caps the amount of pubs a brewer can own and requires breweries to allow landlords to sell a guest beer to stimulate competition.


1990: No more Marathons

Marathon becomes Snickers in one of the first major examples of a global rebrand in the UK. Until this point, the UK has been the only market using the Marathon name. Mars, the brand's owner, attributes the decision to the rise of satellite television and a need for consistent branding across markets.

1990: McLibel in for a long stretch

McDonald's serves libel writs on London Greenpeace members Helen Steel and David Morris following their distribution of a leaflet that, among other things, accuses the fast-food giant of encouraging litter, mistreating animals and destroying rain forests. At 313 days, the 'McLibel' trial becomes the longest case in English legal history. Most observers agreed that pursuing the case does nothing but damage McDonald's reputation.

1990: Perrier hit by contamination

Iconic 80s brand Perrier is forced to withdraw 160m bottles of its sparkling water after traces of benzene are found in a small sample. Despite returning to the shelves once given the all-clear, the brand has never fully recovered.

1991: Benetton gets shocking

Clothing brand Benetton attracts a raft of complaints when it uses an image of a bloody newborn baby in an outdoor campaign. It continues to court controversy throughout the 90s; subsequent ads feature a dying Aids patient, a black horse mounting a white mare and children with Down's syndrome.

1991: Revamped BT plays to piper's tune

British Telecom change its trading name to BT and introduces the blue and red piper logo in a £60m rebrand. The 'prancing piper', as it is nicknamed by some sections of the press, plays his last tune in 2003, when BT makes its Openworld globe the company's general logo.

1991: Gerald Ratner's 'crap' moment

When Gerald Ratner tells an Institute of Directors conference that his namesake jewellery chain sells a 'crap' sherry decanter and jokes that a prawn sandwich would last longer than a set of 99p earrings bought from his stores, he can have no idea of the ramifications: £500m is wiped off the firm's value and Ratner himself is forced to resign.

1992: Tesco gives something back

Tesco's 'Computers for schools' scheme is introduced. The first major example of cause-related marketing, it has helped schools receive more than £100m of kit, including 58,000 PCs and more than 700,000 further pieces of hardware and software.

1992: Hoover's free flights fiasco

Hoover comes close to commercial suicide by offering two free return flights to Europe and then to the US to anyone spending more than £100 on a product. Consumers fall over themselves to take advantage of the promotion, which ends up costing the company's parent, Maytag, more than £40m.

1992: Premier League kicks off

The FA Premier League is introduced as the top professional football league for the 1992/3 season. BSkyB pays £304m for the broadcast rights to the matches and money that flows into the clubs brings about a new wave of commercialisation in the sport.

1993: Marlboro Friday rocks brands

Friday 2 April is a low point for brands, as events cast doubt on their raison d'etre. Tobacco company Philip Morris' sudden announcement that it is slashing 20% off the price of Marlboro cigarettes to compete with cut-price rivals prompts commentators to predict the death of the brand. In the short-term, Marlboro Friday has a catastrophic effect on manufacturers of consumer goods. Philip Morris' share price nose-dives, as do those of many other major names including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Heinz, but in time it becomes clear the fears had been overly pessimistic.

1994: It's Sunday ... we're open

On 28 August thousands of shops in England and Wales open their doors on a Sunday for the first time. Of the major chains, only Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and Waitrose take advantage of the new trading laws.

1994: The flaw in Persil Power

Unilever launches Persil Power, containing a newly developed manganese-based catalyst. To great fanfare, the company proclaims this will help clean clothes at lower temperatures. Soon after the product goes on sale, it emerges that in some cases the catalyst could attack dye on fabrics and severely damage clothes. To make matters worse for Unilever, pictures are circulated of 'rotting' clothes that had been washed with the powder. Despite attempts to keep a reformulated version on sale, the manufacturer eventually admits defeat and withdraws the product from all markets.

1994: Lottery fever sweeps nation

Everyone wonders if it will be them as they sit down to watch the first National Lottery draw on 19 November. But, to the dismay of lottery operator Camelot, it fails to create a millionaire as the £5.8m jackpot is shared between seven winners. Camelot raises £10.6bn for good causes over the seven years of the first licence, but is also embroiled in a 'fat-cat' pay scandal. Despite this, the operator turns around a decision favouring Richard Branson to win a second seven-year licence from 2002.

1995: WH Smith becomes first online retailer

WH Smith launches the first UK-originated transactional website, initially selling 200 products including popular books and CD-ROMs.

1995: ClubCard makes Tesco number one

Tesco ups the loyalty stakes again, this time with the introduction of the ClubCard on 13 February. Initially dismissed by Sainsbury's chairman David Sainsbury as 'electronic Green Shield Stamps', its impact is immediate: after a year, ClubCard-holders are spending 28% more at Tesco and 16% less at Sainsbury's. ClubCard is hailed as a key reason for Tesco overtaking Sainsbury's in the same year to become the number one supermarket.

1995: Saatchi boys go it alone

Brothers Maurice and Charles leave Saatchi & Saatchi after a boardroom row to set up M&C Saatchi - and take flagship client British Airways with them.

1996: Pepsi goes blue

Blue becomes the new red as Pepsi gets a new look and urges consumers to 'change the script' in a £200m global rebranding campaign. UK activity includes printing the Daily Mirror on blue paper and repainting a Concorde with the brand's new livery - it remained blue for two weeks.

1996: Hotmail gets us emailing

Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith launch web-based email service Hotmail on 4 July - US Independence Day - to symbolise freedom from ISPs. In December 1997, it announces that it has more than 8.5m subscribers. In the same month, Microsoft buys the company for a reported $400m and relaunches it.

1997: Biscuit world hit by Puffingate

United Biscuits, the maker of Penguin, fires a shot across retailers' bows on behalf of branded food manufacturers when it sues Asda for trademark infringement and passing off following its launch of Puffin chocolate-coated biscuits. Although Asda is allowed to continue to sell Puffins, it is ordered to make significant changes to the packaging.

1997: British Airways tail fins slated

British Airways comes under attack when it replaces the Union Flag on its tail fins with a variety of abstract 'ethnic' patterns. Margaret Thatcher is particularly scathing about the fins, which have since returned to a more traditional design.

1997: When grocers become bankers

On 19 February, Sainsbury's becomes the first major supermarket to open a banking arm. The venture, now 50% owned by HBOS, provides products including insurance, credit cards, savings and loans. It now has 1.5m active customers, with deposits in excess of £2bn.

1998: Sunny Delight juices up the market

UK consumers get their first taste of Procter & Gamble's Sunny Delight. It becomes the most successful grocery launch of the decade, with sales soaring to almost £160m after only a year. Sunny D's sales have since plummeted as consumers have turned to healthier alternatives.


2000: Boo heralds dotcom bust

Fashion e-tailer Boo.com, which launched amid much fanfare, calls in the receivers on 18 May after just six months in operation. Emergency plans to secure its future fall through, and its demise signals the start of the dotcom bust.

2002: Nectar promises sweet success

Keith Mills, already with the pioneering Air Miles to his name, goes one better with the launch of Nectar. The loyalty scheme, run by Loyalty Management UK, signs up Sainsbury's, Barclaycard, Debenhams and BP as launch partners, and has since secured more than 20 brand tie-ups. LMUK now estimates that 50% of UK households collect Nectar points.

2004: Dasani lands Coca-Cola in hot water

Coca-Cola finds itself in the midst of a media storm when it emerges that its new water brand, Dasani, was originally Sidcup tap-water. No-one, it seems, is swayed by the company's argument that its 'NASA-approved reverse-osmosis multi-barrier filtration system' makes the humble Kentish H2O worth the premium price. Just when Coca-Cola thinks things can't get any worse, 500,000 bottles of the water are found to contain illegal levels of the carcinogenic chemical bromate. Soon after, the company withdraws the product from the UK.

2005: Rover falls apart

On 8 April, British car manufacturer MG Rover goes into administration after years of falling sales and the collapse of a rescue effort by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. Three months later, Rover's remaining assets are bought by China's Nanjing Automotive, although BMW, and then Ford, took ownership of the Rover name.

2005: Nestle goes Fairtrade

Fairtrade hits the big time but becomes mired in controversy when Nestle, one of the world's most boycotted companies, launches a Fairtrade-certified coffee, Nescafe Partners Blend. Campaigners are quick to dismiss it as 'greenwashing'.

2006: Free post

On January 1, the postal market is fully liberalised following a lengthy transition. In 2000, Post Office Group had rebranded as Consignia as part of a repositioning to match the impending new commercial environment - only for incoming chairman Allan Leighton to dump the unpopular name in favour of Royal Mail Group in 2002.

2005: Cheers to 24-hour drinking

The era of round-the-clock drinking is ushered in on 24 November with the introduction of altered licensing laws. More than 1000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets are granted 24-hour licences despite fears the move could encourage binge-drinking. Two years down the line, it has become clear that the fears were largely unfounded, with some police forces even reporting falls in alcohol-related crime.

2006: Cadbury ill with salmonella

A leaky pipe costs Cadbury £30m and disrupts its marketing plans as it battles to contain the biggest health scare of the year. A leak in one of its factories affects the production of several of its chocolate brands, among them the flagship Dairy Milk. The firm discovers the leak in January, but decides the levels are too low to pose a health risk. It does not inform authorities until June, at which point it recalls 1m bars. The news that Cadbury had knowingly sold contaminated goods hits its reputation hard, but sales appear to have recovered.

2007: Clampdown on food ads aimed at kids

Broadcast regulator Ofcom introduces restrictions on TV advertising for food high in fat, salt or sugar for shows watched by large numbers of under-16s. The ruling is condemned by food manufacturers, media owners and the advertising industry.


First UK TV ad shown, 1955

Brian Palmer, Copywriter on the Gibbs SR ad

The biggest thrill was sitting in my tiny little flat in Notting Hill on 22 September 1955 with my mates from the agency. It was the first night of this untried new medium, and we didn't know that the commercial I'd written for Gibbs SR toothpaste would be the first to air - it was chosen by drawing names out of a hat. But suddenly the commercial that we had worked on was on-screen.

I got inspired to go into TV about a year before. I had heard a talk by the head of one of the American networks, who was very evangelical about the idea and described it as the greatest selling medium ever seen. I asked my creative director at Young & Rubicam, George Plant, if I could become a specialist in it, got trained and then became the main creative in TV at the agency. I remember my immediate boss, the copy chief, telling me 'You're mad, Brian. It will never be a major medium.'

I really enjoyed the combination of words and sound and vision. You could talk to people in their own homes. I was all of 25, and at that age you're not thinking about global things - you're thinking about how to pay the rent and whether you will get promoted.

It really made me, because I became head of Y&R's television operations, and television became the biggest part of our billing, then I rose through the ranks to become joint creative director. I became the youngest ever member of the board in 1961, so I really got on a fast track.


Launch of the UK's first cellular mobile phone, 1986

Kevin Lawless, Managing director, Wireless Economics

Today's BlackBerry owners were the sort of people who bought Motorola's DynaTAC 'brick' mobile phone when it launched in 1986.

I was head of Motorola's UK and Ireland sales and marketing. But, to be honest, marketing probably had only a 10% influence on the outcome of the product - it was really 90% engineering-led. Marketing was a voice somewhere near the end of the process and we focused on placing the product, nothing more complicated than that. We got TV coverage on the BBC's flagship chat show Wogan and used that to push the product into the business community.

Marketing was extremely tactical and we fell into all the traps of a reactive business. We met on a Monday, did things on a Tuesday and saw the results on Friday. The next Monday, we'd change it all again. If I had my time again, I would take at least 10%-15% out of every month to really think about a solid strategy.

The main challenge was keeping up with demand. I used to get 'Do you know who I am?' calls from MPs and celebrities asking for freebies and had to say no. We got 100 calls a day and could only install 10 a day, so we worked out a way to put people into a holding pattern by saying we had to do preparation surveys and get things ready for them, but it was nonsense.

To be honest, I didn't realise how big this was until about 1991, when the penny dropped that this was going to change the way we all live.


Launch of Tesco ClubCard, 1995

Terry Hunt, Chairman, EHS Brann

Looking back, the ClubCard launch was a phenomenal experience. It was obvious that this loyalty programme we had been testing would transform the business of everyone involved. But, because of the scale of moving from just a couple of stores to more than 300 in a matter of months, for us at Evans Hunt Scott, it was all about survival - could we deliver what we promised?

Reputations were on the line. This wasn't just an ad campaign that might succeed or not. Tesco's marketers were putting millions into transforming its relationship with its customers. It hardly put a foot wrong. It knew that this was a long-term commitment. There was the odd glitch, such as the banana man in the first year; we had created an offer to earn extra points if you bought bananas: he calculated that the value of the points exceeded the cost of the fruit, and basically bought all the bananas in his local store then gave them away outside. I don't know how we managed to screw it up that much - luckily, it wasn't across the whole country.

A lot of our challenge was predicting the likely impact of offers - you don't want to over-achieve and end up with empty shelves. We did a barbecue promotion in the first year that emptied Tesco of beefburgers. They couldn't kill enough cows.

ClubCard doubled the size of our agency in a year. It changed me from being creative director to becoming a strategic planner, and it redefined EHS as a business. It was the best thing that happened in my career.


The relaunch of Hotmail, 1997

Marc Giusti, Managing partner, Good Technology

It's rare that you can genuinely claim to have been part of the first moments of something definitive in terms of our culture today. When Microsoft acquired Hotmail, it was the first time most consumers had the opportunity to have their own email address that could be accessed from anywhere in the world. For the first time, your personal, private and office lives could have an interface with different email addresses. It suddenly became enormous.

It was back in 1997 and I was creative group head at EHS. This was clearly an exciting opportunity. It was about personality. Before then, an email address was just made of numbers and letters; sometimes you shared an address with 20 other people.

We focused most of the marketing at the student market with the proposition 'Be who you want to be'. Young people wanted a level of independence in how they were using the net and wanted to communicate.

Looking back, we should probably have had a more eclectic launch strategy, but at the time, awareness campaigns just used press, poster and inserts. We did large poster installations outside colleges. Then, before we knew it, the campaign became viral and guerrilla and engaging. Word of mouth was its biggest aid.

In terms of today's measurements of viral take-up from traditional media adspend, we managed to do something that everyone is desperate to achieve. I don't think it's been beaten.


Want to share your story of having a ringside seat at one of these events? Go to www.brandrepublic.com/marketing.

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