CAMPAIGN REPORT ON NEW MEDIA: Brand vehicle versus DM tool - Is the internet best used to increase brand recognition, or as a direct marketing tool to consumers? Karen Yates reports on two different responses to website technology



One of the net’s big successes, in terms of marketing, is as a showcase

for hardware. Cars, computers, camera equipment - they’re all there,

bombarding consumers with branding messages as they browse through the

reams of technical details on offer before making a purchase.

But what of soap powders, chocolate bars and beers - the brands we lob

into our supermarket trolleys without a second thought? Consumers have

little incentive to root around a website for data about them, so the

potential for brand reinforcement would seem poor. That is, of course,

unless you team up with another, more vital, source of information. Then

the results can be quite staggering, as Budweiser discovered during the

World Cup this summer.

Beer, football and the internet. It sounded like the ideal combination,

since all three are the stamping grounds of the much sought-after adult

male. The only the problem was: how could Budweiser remind web users of

its status as an official World Cup partner in a plausible way? The

answer came from its advertising agency, BMP DDB, which suggested

sponsoring the World Cup News site of Sky Sports.

’It wasn’t cheap,’ Chris Rayner, the new media director of BMP

Interaction, admits, ’but it was a lot cheaper than developing a site of

our own.’ It was also phenomenally successful as an awareness-raising

tool. By the end of the championship, research by Sky showed that

Budweiser was the most well-known of the official sponsors of the World

Cup among web users. The research, drawn from around 500 users recruited

from Sky’s other sites, formed part of Budweiser’s site sponsorship

deal. This included cross-promotion with other Sky products. For

example, Budweiser’s trademark logo headed Scoreflash, Sky’s invision

box, which enabled fans to keep up to date with matches while


Budweiser also developed a number of football-oriented computer games

attached to the site. Some games, notably the Budweiser Fruit Machine,

offered the potential for small prizes and could attract valuable user

names and addresses for a consumer database.

However, the thing that most pleased Rayner, by the time the site came

offline, was how web users had begun to feel about the Budweiser brand

itself. Sky research showed that fans did not think the sponsorship a

cynical stunt to cash in on a major event. To them, it was a genuine

move to help Sky fund better coverage of the games. In their eyes, at

least, the Yanks had ridden to the rescue again.


Car buyers are a particularly cyber-sensitive lot, it seems. Recent

research in the US, for example, has revealed that one in four car

buyers surf the net for details of prospective car purchases before they

even step into a showroom.

This was a salutary statistic for many car manufacturers. If 25 per cent

of their customers were a good way through their buying decision before

even meeting a sales rep, what was the future for showroom-focused sales


The answer, according to Peugeot, was to weld the website so tightly to

the sales team that the two work together as an integrated unit. And

that is what the French car giant did when it went live with its site in


The site, developed by Brann Interactive, is directly plugged into

Peugeot’s call response centre in Bristol, which is run by a Brann

sister company. This means that all net-generated leads can be followed

up within 24 hours, and customers can fix exact times for telephone

chats with sales reps and even make appointments for test drives through

their computers. By tying the site to its own database, Peugeot can also

list ’live’ prices for each model on the net. In short, it can provide

all the facilities of a showroom through a computer.

The big test for this internet-linked approach was the launch of

Peugeot’s new model - the 206 - officially unveiled at the Motor Show

this month. For the first time, Peugeot did not confine its pre-launch

hype to direct marketing and PR, but included web activity. What it

found was that as much as 40 per cent of all leads came from internet


’Peugeot was gobsmacked,’ Tim Beckett, director of Brann Interactive,

explains, ’but very happy.’ Although the site emphasises lead generation

and response handling, Beckett is also keen to point out that it is

strongly branded. It has a number of pages devoted to specific models,

accessories and information on finance and insurance. Each features

Peugeot’s hallmark blue colour and bears the Peugeot logo, as well as

featuring current promotions and images from above-the-line


By the end of the month, the main Peugeot site will have 350 new

additions, each developed for specific dealerships around the country.

These sites will bear a picture of the dealership, a map of how to get

there and details of available stock. The aim? To make punters feel more

at home with Peugeot than any other brand by the time they finally make

their way through the doors of the showroom.

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