While pony-tailed girls handing out free samples may still lurk in the occasional supermarket, they're now a dying breed.
Field marketing agencies are increasingly working with ad agencies to offer more seamless communications. It seems like the famous Pepsi Challenge advertising from the 70s - where the TV ads showed the field marketing exercise in action as consumers declared that Pepsi tasted the best in blind tests - was almost ahead of its time. The campaign was so successful in debunking Pepsi's main rival Coca-Cola and increasing sales that Pepsi resurrected it in 2001 in the US, putting the concept of the Pepsi Challenge to consumers who hadn't even been born when the original campaign aired.
The number of creative ideas filtering down from TV screens to the street is increasing, Mark Evans, the managing director of Kommando, says. His company borrowed the surreal above-the-line strategy from Mother for Batchelor's Cup-A-Soup and tweaked it for a field marketing campaign, which hit the streets and workplaces of several northern cities last year. "People are waking up to the creative potential of field marketing," Evans says. "You can deliver the essence of the brand through a field marketing campaign that consumers can link with what they've already seen in the media. Not only can you tailor it to hit exactly the right audience but it's tremendous value for money."
Kommando worked with Naked on translating the "There's a time and a place for Cup-A-Soup. This isn't it" creative into a winter roadshow that toured urban areas teeming with hungry potential soup-eaters on their lunch breaks.
The ads, which included marathon runners dousing themselves with the soup, were built on by Kommando's teams of badly fake-tanned campaign staff who ran amok with the product clad only in swimming costumes and sunglasses in mid-winter. Evans won't comment on the effectiveness of the campaign in sales terms, but claims that consumers made the link between the product and the ads they'd already seen, thus raising awareness. He says it also enabled people to interact with the brand in a way that would be impossible through traditional media, garnering crucial insight into what a product's target audience thinks.
The close way in which the creative, media and field marketing agencies worked together for Cup-A-Soup was mirrored in a recent campaign for Imperial Leather. The company announced its launch into the bath products sector and celebrated its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Games by running a series of TV ads in a mock commentary style. The campaign's tagline, "The Imperial Leather fun and games", was rolled out in an action-packed series of events and field marketing stunts, centred around the games in Manchester and implemented by Tequila. The agency's group account director, Elaine Lees, was briefed alongside the creative agency BDH\TBWA, the PR company Biss Lancaster and the media agency Mediaedge:cia from the start, demonstrating the client's commitment to fully integrated field marketing. "This wasn't a stunt that was tacked on the end of the above-the-line campaign, but a fully integrated campaign that used the event to maximum advantage," she says.
Imperial Leather had a tough job in convincing consumers that it was a credible brand to be associated with a prestige sporting event such as the Commonwealth Games, according to Lees. "We had to come up with the most engaging campaign to counter any ambush tactics from fellow sponsors or non-sponsoring brand," she says.
They adopted the "games" idea from BDH's above-the- line work and wowed spectators at the stadia with activities such as a huge bouncy bath and a game called "slippery soap", basically curling using a bar of soap instead of a stone. "Because it so clearly linked with the above-the-line work, the continuity had great impact," Lees says.
Another client that understands the importance of continuity above and below the line is Interbrew, with its Stella Artois lager brand. Stella's award-winning ads through Lowe reference famous movies, while the field marketing agency Momentum UK produces film roadshows that allow film buffs to watch current releases in beautiful settings, with Stella Artois on tap. Last year, the roadshow was rolled out across 22 central European cities.
In this instance, the field marketing agency worked more closely with the client than the ad agency, the Momentum marketing manager, Emma Stranak, says. "Interbrew was very clear about what it wanted to do in terms of reinforcing its link with film, and although the TV work and its idents work in much the same way, the roadshows required a different approach.
Each agency has specific knowledge to make the strategy work and it's great that the client recognises that," she adds.
Client: Imperial Leather
Agency: Tequila Manchester
Brief: Make Imperial Leather a credible sports brand; improve brand
share and sales; compete against other sponsors at the 2002 Commonwealth
Games in Manchester
Ad agency: BDH TBWA Manchester
Results: Imperial Leather saw its highest-ever brand share in the period
immediately after the games
Client: Batchelor's Cup-A-Soup
Brief: Bring the irreverent above-the-line strategy to life by taking it
on to the streets
Ad agency: Mother
Media agency: Naked
Results: £70,000 free media coverage through PR
Client: Stella Artois
Agency: Momentum UK
Brief: Reinforce the link between Stella Artois and film
Ad agency: Lowe
Results: 15,000 people at each event; more than 75,000 litres of lager
sold throughout the campaign; extensive PR coverage