In April this year, Londoners began to notice a new character on
the capital's streets. A stringy, hand-drawn running person of
indeterminate sex had sprouted up on flyposters and billboards. Thus was
born the teaser campaign for Nike's "RunLondon 10k" event.
The campaign was developed to run for three months - the estimated time
it takes to get fit to take part in such a race - and aimed to tap into
the feelings of potential participants in the build-up. Nike organised
training plans, practice runs and events around the run. Places were
sold out within days and the campaign has worked well.
Fast-forward to this week, which sees the full rollout of a new campaign
from the financial services company Royal & Sun Alliance. It is
rebranding its consumer insurance business to More Th>n and chose a
teaser strategy covering a variety of ambient media, as well as TV, in a
bid to differentiate itself in a crowded market. The campaign's
character, Lucky the dog, symbolises what the service offers and
products such as pet insurance will be rolled out as it gathers
The campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, which snatched the account
from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R in July last year, racked up an
impressive amount of coverage in the national press last week and marks
a bold step for RSA, which has been virtually invisible within its
Robert Ffitch, a board account director at Manning Gottlieb Media, which
worked with O&M on the launch, says the campaign and rebranding will
help RSA engage with consumers, grab their attention and gain a better
place in the market.
But while some think the campaign is daring, witty and relevant, others
are bogged down in confusion about the relevance of a small dog to a
financial services provider. And who can afford to bamboozle consumers
in the current economic climate when adspends are under threat? Ffitch
says: "We've spent only 10 per cent of the whole budget on the teaser -
financially it's not a high-risk strategy."
Yet teaser campaigns are notoriously difficult to pull off - and there
are plenty of turkeys around as evidence. So in spite of dreaming up and
selling the Nike RunLondon campaign with the creative agency Wieden &
Kennedy, MindShare's business director, John Forsyth, is sceptical about
"It's crucial to a teaser's success that, as well as really engaging and
entertaining people from the start, there are some tangible benefits to
be gained at the end of the campaign. After the initial hype, people can
be easily disappointed," he says.
Ffitch agrees: "'Where's Lucky' is backed up by the unique services
offered by RSA. The teaser creates a positive environment in which they
can be rolled out, as consumers are already aware of the branding."
Michaelides & Bednash's managing partner, George Michaelides, thinks the
brand behind the client is the most important factor in deciding on a
teaser campaign. "It's got to lend itself to that air of mystery to
really engage people."
M&B's most recent foray into the genre was its collaboration with
Channel 4 and OMD UK to promote the comedy series Trigger Happy TV. The
agency, taking a creative as well as planning role, worked with the
show's frontman, Dom Joly, to create a campaign in the spirit of the
programme, spanning viral online executions and suitably amateur-looking
posters strapped to trees and lampposts.
"People who saw the posters were tickled, rang the hotline to find out
more, and were rewarded with some corking comedy," Michealides explains.
"That's when teasers really work, when you give something to consumers
they enjoy. It's entertainment."
Michealides' reasoning points to why so many teasers fail. Barclays'
internet banking venture, B2 ,was launched with a teaser campaign
featuring only a shot of a beach with waves lapping on the shore. The
Lloyds TSB merger was heralded with a campaign showing green and blue
objects - the two colours of the brands - melting into one another.
As well as consumers, O&M's executive creative director, Steve Dunn, has
been confused and turned off by past teasers. "Most are awful and
relevant only to those sitting round the client's boardroom table," he
claims. "What we've done with 'Where's Lucky' is dramatise financial
services, packaging it with the things that are really important in
people's lives, such as their pets."
"This will put RSA on the map in consumers' minds in the same way that
the Prudential brand, Egg, is now," Ffitch stresses. "The company has
ploughed millions into direct mail, but this campaign means consumers
can interact with the brand on the streets, and enable More Th>n to
claim a share of the market."