Today's big sell of internet banking makes telephone banking feel like history. But it wasn't long ago that First Direct was working out how to persuade people to throw years of ritualistic banking behaviour to the wind and to trade outings to the high street for a quick phone call.
Craik Jones was part of the force that motivated more than one million people to change their conservative financial habits and switch to First Direct. It has had to find a way of convincing people to adopt a brand which was all about 'virtual' banking by using the centuries-old format of print.
Peter Simpson, the commercial director of First Direct, knows how tricky the brief is: 'There's low emotional involvement, but it needs a type of advertising and marketing communication that convinces consumers to think. It's not spontaneous. Craik Jones understand that, yes, initially it must be appealing - and then go a bit deeper. Two bites at the cherry - nice creative and a bit thought-provoking.'
Simpson is particularly pleased with the way the agency has understood that the customer, or potential customer, needs provoking, without pushing him or her too far. 'The work is engaging, witty, slightly oddball at times. Theirs is a consistently direct, no-nonsense approach, and they have continued to get it right for us over a long period of time,' he says.
So how does he see the future for First Direct and Craik Jones as internet banking becomes a reality alongside its predecessor, the telephone bank?
'We have a good relationship, a strong relationship. We love the people and find them challenging - you don't go to Craik Jones for an easy ride.'
Dolphin holds the licence for the UK's only national digital mobile communications network designed for businesses, and it offers the functionality of mobile telephone/two-way radio/ pagers in one handset. The service was launched in 1999 with a major TV campaign, and Dolphin came to Craik Jones in 2000 to build on this launch - with steep sales targets.
The target audience for this network and product is diverse and fragmented, with multiple decision-makers - from operations to logistics, from finance to telecoms/IT - across a variety of sectors. The main commonality across the audience is that they have a mobile or dispersed workforce.
Most companies did not see a need for this new product, because they were happy with traditional analogue two-way radio and/or mobile phones.
Dolphin was entering the market for mobile communications which is dominated by four well-established players with huge advertising and marketing budgets.
Craik Jones realised that it had to build a unique brand proposition for Dolphin, based on its benefits for dispersed and mobile workforces. The agency had to distinguish Dolphin from the ordinary mobile competition, and to ensure that it generated high quality response with no wastage, cost efficiently.
The agency began by building a prospect database through rented lists, overlaid on Dolphin's current prospect and customer data. It then telescreened all lists to identify managers in departments such as telecoms/IT, operations and logistics. Craik Jones knew that the telecoms manager was the most important person to be target, but that operations and logistics would also have a major role to play in a decision to change their mobile communications to Dolphin.
Craik Jones then developed a highly structured communications plan to target the differing members of the decision-making unit:
- Posters and national/business press for credibility and name-awareness among managing directors and other senior decision-makers.
- Sector press and radio to establish awareness of the key Dolphin benefits and generate qualified leads from more operational job functions in the key sectors that Dolphin were targeting.
- Radio, direct mail, internet banners and inserts to deliver volume leads.
- Web microsite developed specifically as a response channel.
- Third parties/dealers support - POS, press and radio template ads that dealers could personalise to their businesses.
- CD-ROM-based fulfilment pack for all enquiries.
More than 10,000 leads have been generated at a lower cost per response than previous activity, the majority of a high quality. Quality is judged by the handset potential, and the leads generated have a total handset potential of 150,000.
For the first time since launch, Dolphin achieved its quarterly target for new business. Unprompted awareness has increased from 9 per cent in Q1 2000 to 19 per cent in Q1 2001. This is an excellent result, given that there has been no TV advertising.
In addition, the campaign has motivated dealers, business associates and partners (such as Motorola, who manufacture a range of handsets for Dolphin) to invest in Dolphin's campaign, and Dolphin dealers to develop their own campaigns to take advantage of Dolphin's success in building the market.
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND
There comes a time when the sheer weight of credit card mailings sent through letter-boxes puts their value in question. RBS, all too aware of the thudding of more and more of these mailings on to peoples' doormats, with the same old branding and pricing messages, decided to switch tack.
According to Tim Lewis, the director of credit cards at RBS who appointed Craik Jones almost 18 months ago, the bank has a 'successful recipe. We are positioned between the main English credit cards which are only about brand, and the main American cards which sell on price.' Converting people to the RBS recipe of both brand and price, in a country where there are more than 1,500 credit cards and where many users either can't be bothered to change or surf different cards for low rates, has been a strategic and creative challenge.
Rather than simply add to those increasing volumes of credit card direct mail, the agency used a multi-media strategy, including DRTV, press and the internet. And, despite a tempting introductory interest rate, it concentrated on creating communication that was refreshingly in tune with the consumer.
The integrated campaign clearly demonstrated the lasting value that a Royal Bank of Scotland card offers in an empathetic, simple tone that never patronises. 'Most of the competitive direct mail is price, price, price,' Lewis says. 'We tried to use more than just that.'
The approach succeeded. It seems that sufficient numbers of people were spurred to action. Tracking research shows 23 per cent more people considering switching to a RBS account than in the previous year. And the campaign was 37 per cent more responsive than predicted.
What gin drinker could resist a year's supply of Gordon's? The chance to be one of ten people to land a year's-worth, was one incentive used by Craik Jones in its campaign to identify heavy gin drinkers and start to rebuild loyalty to the brand.
Gordon's is the UK's leading brand by a mile. However, over the past few years there has been great pressure from own-label, niche and premium brands, as well as other drinks - most especially wine. UDV wanted to develop a campaign to identify and capture the imagination of gin-drinking stalwarts and build their loyalty to Gordon's.
A wide range of media, including press, internet and direct mail was used to encourage gin drinkers to make themselves known. A series of engaging and evocative mailings was then targeted at the different segments to build emotional involvement with Gordon's and communicate Gordon's superior taste credentials.
The audience was a discerning one and the right tone of voice was vital, as was the use of rich and familiar bubbly imagery. The marketing manager for Gordon's at UDV, Simon Soothill, feels that the agency's work made a big difference. 'The creative work was stunning and touched exactly the right tone for our target audience. One woman wrote asking us to update her address on our database because she'd moved home - a direct marketing first!'
The multimedia campaign was a huge success. Over 12 months Craik Jones identified more than 1,000,000 UK gin drinkers. The national press small space ads delivered response rates 11 times industry averages. And the bottom line? Gordon's share of consumption among heavy gin drinkers rose by 26 per cent.
Gordon's now has a new above-the-line agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and Craik Jones has been working with them to develop an integrated communications plan which continues to focus on core heavy drinkers. Soothill is clear that 'one-to-one is a really important part of our armoury against this audience'. The future for Craik Jones and Gordon's is, he says, 'very positive'.
It is the business travellers who make the real difference to a train operator's bottom line. So, working with Virgin Trains' marketing director, Craig Inglis, and direct marketing manager, Clodagh Buckley, Craik Jones needed to come up with a natty approach to get noticed by this busy breed, which is being wooed by airlines as well as having the option of using the car.
Virgin Trains may have had its setbacks in recent months, but its relationship marketing programme is not among them. It is the only train operator that has such a sophisticated approach - looking well into the future and giving its communications a creative edge. The agency's brief was to protect business revenue and help to grow it, as well as increasing sales through direct channels and building up a database of customers and prospects.
Getting noticed by the target audience is a tough brief, especially in an area where business people are not much interested at the best of times.
So Craik Jones developed a dynamic campaign, using rock-solid incentives - such as two free weekend tickets when you buy a first-class return.
The creative had a strong and witty look and feel and used a consistently confident tone. It included eye-catching print work such as an 'air sickness bag', which points out the disadvantages of plane travel.
The campaign delivered a return on investment of more than 313 per cent and in the quest to build up the database, the agency achieved responses from cold lists of between 2.5 and 7.9 per cent. This has also led to Virgin Trains winning gold and Highly Commended at last year's DMAs.