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
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
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.’