CAMPAIGN DIRECT: MARKETING CHALLENGE - How FCA! helped Hotpoint ditch its ’dull and mumsy’ image/Irritated by the ’spotty oik’ factor, John Owen is rare - a mere humble male who loves Hotpoint’s message

The trouble with long-established brands such as Hotpoint is that they carry an awful lot of baggage. When the brand image becomes a little tired, it takes considerable time and effort to change the public’s perception.

The trouble with long-established brands such as Hotpoint is that

they carry an awful lot of baggage. When the brand image becomes a

little tired, it takes considerable time and effort to change the

public’s perception.

The trouble with shopping for a washing machine is that you have to put

up with the spotty, teenage oik who passes for a sales assistant telling

you why the machine he’s on a special bonus to shift this week is the

one for you - citing technological breakthroughs that you know he’s

merely learned by rote and has little or no genuine understanding of.

And, when you finally acquiesce, just to shut him up, he then starts to

tell you how unreliable all washing machines are - yes, even this one -

and how you’ll therefore be needing an extended warranty.

These were the two central problems that faced Hotpoint’s agency, the

Publicis-owned FCA!, when it set out to devise a new campaign for the

country’s leading white goods manufacturer in November of last year.

Research results told FCA! that the brand’s heritage was beginning to

work against it. As Shaun McIlrath, the agency’s joint creative

director, puts it: ’Consumers had come to view the brand as ’mumsy and


There was also ample evidence of the ’spotty oik’ factor. As a

consequence, the research found, consumers were increasingly keen to

have made their purchase decisions before entering the store.

Further delving into the recesses of the washing machine shopper’s mind

revealed that most divided their purchases into two categories: rational

(read ’boring’) and reckless (read ’liberating’). No prizes for guessing

which category Hotpoint’s wares fell into, but the agency used this

insight as the key to Hotpoint’s first branding campaign in years -

presenting Hotpoint as the solid foundation on which a house of fun

could be constructed.

The search for the right line began and at least ten were tested on


Easily the most resonant turned out to be: ’Hotpoint. You’ve got the

rest of your life to be reckless.’

Handed a pounds 2 million budget for a six-month campaign between April

and September this year, CIA Medianetwork recommended women’s magazines

as the best way to reach the 25- to 45-year-old female target market.

Then came the clever bit: how to develop the brand while, at a stroke,

giving consumers the depth of information they needed to bypass those

oily sales creeps.

The answer was tip-ons. FCA! stuck thousands of mini-brochures on to a

series of press executions developed around reckless shopping ideas -

including hairdos, cakes and lingerie. Each ad pushes a specific, new

Hotpoint machine.

The short, pithy body copy was designed to marry with the different

themes of each ad: in ’cakes’, for example, the Casatta washing machine

is described as ’one of life’s more sensible little indulgences’. In

’hairdos’, the Hotpoint Ultima is credited with ’incredible looks’ and

billed as ’the most sensible decision you’ll ever make’.

Meanwhile, the tip-on brochures went into more detail about the range of

models. Not that they provided too much practical guidance. Their main

purpose seems to have been to underline the range of colour schemes each

machine is available in. The Cassata, we are told, boasts a ’classic

white body colour with softly textured coloured trim (which) is a subtle

yet sophisticated way of mixing colour and finishes. It’s discreet yet

distinctive. It’s Hotpoint.’

Subtle yet sophisticated this copy might not be, but it’s difficult to

argue with the results.

For Dick Broomfield, the Hotpoint account director at FCA!, the central

aim of the marketing campaign was always clear: ’The challenge is to

bring new users in. If Hotpoint can satisfy them from then on, it’s got

them for life.’

Now, indisputably, Hotpoint has more customers to try and hang on to

than before. Before the campaign, its share of the washing machine

market stood at 25 per cent, according to the white goods industry

analyst, GLK Lektrak.

During the marketing blitz, this leaped to 40 per cent, before settling

down at around 35 per cent - more than its three nearest rivals put

together and streets ahead of the second-placed Zanussi, on 12 per cent.

And it still has a third of its new product range to launch as the

campaign moves into its second phase in the run-up to Christmas.

The tip-ons are also being used to incentivise sales staff, who will win

a trip to France if an undercover Hotpoint visitor finds them using the

tip-ons creatively to sell the machines.

’As a creative director, this was the most difficult campaign I have

ever had to approve,’ admits McIlrath, who was helped in its development

by almost the entire FCA! creative department. ’It was so tightly

targeted that I didn’t understand how it worked - hardly any of the men

in the agency did. But the women in the office both liked and understood

it and the research results were the best we’ve ever had.’

Steve Holton, the Hotpoint marketing director, is more cautious in

assessing the campaign’s effectiveness so far. He’s waiting for tracking

survey results before committing to the ’reckless’ theme for 1998, but

he admits: ’We believe it’s got legs.’