Simon Sheard is sure that memorable ads will bring punters in.
‘Reassuringly expensive’ is not a line that could be applied to Pontin’s
advertising strategy, but Simon Sheard, the client behind Lowe Howard-
Spink’s famous Stella Artois campaign, promises to back advertising that
is just as memorable in his new role as sales and marketing director of
Holiday Club Pontin’s.
Sheard appointed Cowan Kemsley Taylor to the Pontin’s task (Campaign,
last week) because he was impressed not only by the agency’s strategic
and creative offer, but by the way the staff threw themselves into the
Pontin’s experience. The two creatives on the pitch, Brent Gosling and
Michael Bear, got so carried away with their research in Blackpool that
they ended up performing on stage to holidaymakers.
Even Sheard has not gone this far - he once donned a checked shirt for a
special country-and-western weekend, but decided that everyone else
looked too good and declined to join in the hoedown.
Although not in the target market for Pontin’s, Sheard, with his wife
and two teenage children, has enjoyed getting to know many of the 18
centres around the country. He looked at half a dozen sites before
taking on the job and remembers: ‘It made me laugh, and I cried tears of
joy to see what was happening there.
‘Pontin’s is a British institution,’ he says, ‘but it has faded, so my
task is to breathe new life into the brand.’ To this end, he is
investing pounds 60 million in capital spending over the next four
years, and pounds 5 million on marketing next year.
Despite giving pride of place to creativity, Sheard is a firm believer
in the value of research and planning. He was the client responsible for
taking Heineken back to blockbuster advertising, and also launched
Stella Dry and saw Foster’s through 17 Paul Hogan ads.
Pontin’s may not be quite as glamorous as Bass, Courage, Whitbread or
even Sainsbury’s - his former employers - but Sheard, who is by nature a
‘big company person’, is dedicated to attracting new punters to Pontin’s
through ‘sustainable, competitive advertising’.