FIELD MARKETING: Making an impact - Ken Gofton investigates how field marketing can bring advertising to life

The little stand giving away hot sausages in the supermarket car

park is hardly the most glamourous end of the marketing game. Yet

companies, from Unilever to Procter & Gamble, have recognised what an

immediate and substantial impact this direct approach can have on


Roadshows are powerful, commercial theatre. Consumers can see the

product, hear it sizzling in the pan, smell it, touch it, taste it -

and, in all probability, walk away with a money-off coupon. And, in this

more sophisticated era, the whole project, from the selection and

training of the staff to the set construction, can be designed to

communicate the brand's values.

Events like this are not going to replace advertising. It's not

practical to put a stand in every supermarket car park, railway terminus

or shopping centre. Roadshows will never have the reach of a TV

campaign. But the impact they can have within a limited area makes them

a viable medium in their own right.

As several of the current case studies presented here demonstrate,

roadshows are quite capable of bringing advertising to life, directly

reflecting the themes of current campaigns.

It's apparent, however, that co-operation between agencies still has a

long way to go. Even where the aim is to strongly reflect advertising

themes, the brief is as likely to reach the field marketing agency from

the client, a media independent, or a sales promotion or PR agency, as

it is from the originators of the above-the-line campaign.

Nick Fennell, a former marketing director with CPM and founder of

Archway Management, a consultancy specialising in field management and

customer contact strategy, says there are signs that field marketing

agencies are "moving up the food chain". However, they need to make more

effort themselves to ensure they are at the pitch table.

"Clients want to know what their options are for achieving their

objectives," Fennell adds. "Field marketers need to add more to the

discussion than simply 'this is what we do and this is what it


Fennell singles out RPM as an agency that is "refreshingly evangelical"

in the way it promotes the benefits of the roadshow medium. RPM's joint

managing director, Ross Urquhart, says that it's not about any

discipline having the upper hand, but he finds clients are now

comfortable with the idea of making "brand experience" a central part of

their campaigns.

"Bringing a brand to life is a special skill and not many people can do

it very well," Paul Soanes, a director at the rival field marketing

agency iD, says. He's currently talking to a cross-section of agency

heads, promoting the idea of improved co-operation.

"It's partly that old chestnut about asking them to be open with us," he

explains. "If they give us as much information and time as possible, it

can work really well. You can't brief us the day before and expect us to

do a really good job for you."

Batchelor's Cup-a-Soup

The perspiring marathon runner reaches a refreshment point, grabs a

container - and pours soup over himself. As the TV campaign from Mother

has it: "There's a time and a place for Cup-a-Soup. This is not it."

Late last year, Batchelor's added a potato recipe to its range and was

keen to encourage sampling. Naked, the media agency working alongside

Mother, proposed including field marketing in the media mix. At the

heart of the ad campaign is the idea of consumers encountering the brand

in inappropriate circumstances, to prompt them to think of times that

would be more suitable.

The challenge for the "brand experience" specialist RPM was to take this

basic theme and interpret it in a way that would bring it to life on the


Its answer is a 70s mobile disco, complete with a smooth-talking DJ

playing hits of the period and a background of flashing lights and a

mirror ball. Absolutely not the place for drinking instant soup.

All of these ingredients were in the incongruous settings of four train

station concourses in London and at Birmingham New Street.

Medallion-clad dancers were on hand to give out product samples.

A second hit squad targeted high streets and office restaurants in 12

cities. In total, about 750,000 product sachets were distributed.

"We needed to get the product out to people and bring it to life at

suitable touch and contact points," Craig Wills, a strategist at Naked,

says. "For us, it is a very new way of reaching the audience and

bringing the product to life. We were not necessarily trying to explode

the sales; it was more about reaching a slightly younger audience."

RPM's Urquhart adds: "Breathing life into the advertising proposition is

a real trend. It has always been possible to hold up a mirror to the

advertising, but it was often a very crude translation. Standards have


"We were brought in early by Mother on Cup-a-Soup, so we were able to

continue the theme and the humour.

"Brand experience is one of the most powerful techniques of the moment.

Ad agencies and brand experience agencies can be very good


BT Videophones

The technology for beaming Captain Kirk back to the safety of the

starship Enterprise may still be the stuff of dreams, but that other

stalwart of futuristic films, the videophone, is now a reality.

Developing a market for the videophone is seen as a five-year


BT has been trialling the equipment with 250 people for a year and is

now moving on to the next stage. Over the next few months, it wants to

sell 1,000 sets at £650 a time. But first, it has to let the

public know about the technology. And this being a very limited

initiative at this stage, with a complex message to communicate,

conventional advertising is not considered to be the ideal solution.

"We wanted as many people as possible to see the videophones and handle

them," Karen Horsburgh, BT's videophone marketing manager, says. "Seeing

is believing.'

CPM Mobile Marketing, part of the Omnicom subsidiary, CPM, Europe's

largest field marketing agency, was commissioned to develop a roadshow

which toured five major shopping centres in November and December.

Leaflets were distributed in advance to attract visitors and there was a

prize draw for two videophones, including the necessary "extras" such as

an ISDN line.

The stand featured two videophones, allowing members of the public to

talk and simultaneously see pictures of each other. Plasma screens on

the stand were used to communicate the videophone's features, while

specially trained CPM staff were able to demonstrate how to use it.

According to Horsburgh, the roadshow attracted 1,000 people to each

event, with 300 a day having an opportunity to try the equipment.

Participants were then interviewed to assess their level of


"The general feeling is good," she adds. "A lot of people say they like

it and can see the value of it for keeping in touch with family members

they can't see very often."

Currently, the BT videophone is only available from a freephone number,

or via the BT website. But, Horsburgh says, "We may well open it up to

other channels later in the year."

The older generation know a thing or two about getting the best out of

life. Look at them out enjoying themselves, while the wage slaves have

to remain chained to their desks.

That, at any rate, is the theme behind WCRS' advertising for, Guardian Media Group's "online career management

network". Basically, it's an internet jobs site, with the added benefit

that it offers expert advice on optimising your working life.

And what else are the old folk always nattering on about? Start the day

with a proper meal.

Carlson Marketing Group, with activities ranging from sales promotion,

direct marketing and loyalty programmes to field marketing, was called

in to support the advertising and publicise the service by

the client's brand communications agency, Michaelides & Bednash.

From its database, Carlson selected suitably mature individuals to hand

out breakfast bags to commuters at key London Underground

stations and at mainline stations in London, Birmingham and


The bags were designed by Carlson's in-house team to reflect the

graphics and style of the above-the-line advertising. Each contained

orange juice, an apple, a cereal bar and a postcard designed to drive

traffic to

Targeting AB professionals, the team successfully distributed 80,000

healthy breakfasts. Page impressions on the website increased by 15 per

cent on activity days. Several hundred "thank you for breakfast" e-mails

were received.

One of the benefits of field marketing in this instance, according to

Carlson's head of field marketing, Brona Connolly, was that the human

touch helped break down the inevitable barrier that deters people from

visiting a website for the first time. The breakfast bag was also

something to be talked about in the office, spreading knowledge of the

site by word of mouth. The programme ran for a fortnight in mid-November

and will be repeated throughout 2002.


Purdey's is a multivitamin fruit drink from Britvic, sold in a

distinctive silver bottle with a wide screw top.

It is an established product, but a new advertising theme developed by

Barrett Cernis - "Energise peacefully" - provided an opportunity to

attract new consumers. The ad campaign was centred on the London

Underground and banner posters in Manchester.

A field marketing programme was developed and run by Hicklin Slade, with

a sampling team handled by Walker Enterprises.

"Our main objectives were to drive trial and repeat purchase and to

communicate the product benefits," Kate Emery, the account manager at

Hicklin Slade, says. "It was a brand experience with sampling alongside

and it engaged the consumer."

The creative idea was to stage beginners' classes, with qualified

instructors, in a range of disciplines from tai chi to yoga and Pilates.

"We were very specific in briefing the instructors that anything they

demonstrated had to relate to re-energising peacefully," Emery adds.

The venues chosen for the exercise included open areas such as Golden

Square and the Victoria Embankment in London and Sackville Park in

Manchester. The instructors wore branded clothing and the exercises were

conducted on branded, inflatable yoga mats.

Office workers were invited to have a go at one of the disciplines, try

a bottle of Purdey's and complete a questionnaire. The programme lasted

for ten days and close to 60,000 samples were given away.

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of the consumers who joined in the

activities were under 30. Just under half (48 per cent) had drunk

Purdey's before. Four out of five said they would drink it again - and

were given a coupon to encourage them to do so.

Golden Wonder Bugles

McCann-Erickson has sought out specialist shops in the related sectors

of sales promotion, roadshows, field marketing and point-of-purchase

design and amalgamated them to form a new "experiential" agency,

Momentum. So it was not surprising that Momentum proposed a

multi-discipline solution when invited to support the launch of General

Mills' new snack, Golden Wonder Bugles, to both the trade and


The product is aimed at 13- to 25-year-olds and the campaign had to

reflect brand values, which include escaping the norm and being fun and


After a successful regional test, Momentum proposed a national roadshow,

with field marketing and sampling, a trade campaign including direct

marketing, sales promotion and trade press advertising and a PR event to

tie in with the national TV ad campaign.

A mail pack to trade customers was labelled "Open at your own risk"and

warned: "Beware, the Bugles are out!"

The five-week roadshow targeted multiple retailers and busy city


Teams of seven visited the selected locations in brightly branded Bugles

Volkswagen Beetles. Each team aimed to give away 7,000 samples per day,

as well as other merchandise, such as T-shirts. To add to the fun, the

team included a comedy ringmaster and there was also a free prize draw

to win a brand new Beetle.

Many of these activities were also incorporated into the national launch

event in London's Leicester Square in late October, but this featured a

day of Bugles-branded Zorbing - the name, apparently, for pushing a very

large ball up an inflatable chute. Eddie the Eagle got things going with

his first attempt at Zorbing and the public joined in.

About 300,000 samples were given out during the campaign, and there were

30,000 entries for the draw. According to Golden Wonder, early sales

figures show an 87 per cent distribution for Bugles in the multiples,

and a 2.1 per cent market share. Bugles was elected 2001 Snack of the

Year by The Grocer.

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