INTEGRATED: INTEGRATED ISSUES; Is ‘disintegration’ the path forward for HHCL or just a one-off solution?

Michele Martin reports on a distinctive two-pronged promotion for Pot Noodle

Michele Martin reports on a distinctive two-pronged promotion for Pot


You can tell Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury is not pushing

‘disintegration’ as the Next Big Thing because one senior staffer there

readily admits: ‘I’ve never heard of it.’

But the idea that an agency at the forefront of integrated thinking is

promoting the concept at all is odd - even though its champion, Adam

Lury, a partner, adds the disclaimer that it is valid for only ‘a small

group’ of clients.

Lury defines disintegration as the promotion of two contradictory brand

messages simultaneously, compared with an integrated approach which

draws its strength from positing just one.

He adds that it is a reaction to taking integration ‘too literally’: ‘I

think an integrated experience will form the basis of the answer to a

lot of big business problems, but you can’t fit all brands into a ‘one-

size-fits-all’ strategy.’

‘The rest of humankind would call this targeted marketing. This is just

another ‘ism’ owned temporarily by Howell Henry,’ says Mark Fiddes, a

former partner at the agency, now managing partner at the marketing

company, Touch.

Fiddes may be right, because Howell Henry only has one example of this

exception to the rule. It is the recent Pot Noodle campaign that

promoted the brand as both health food and fast food.

The work was developed to appeal equally to the snack’s 16- to 24-year-

old consumers and the diet-conscious adults generally responsible for

buying them. First, a jolly health education-style leaflet campaign

featuring the cartoon character, Ned Noodle, was door-dropped to three

million homes, leisure centres and doctors’ surgeries. Then a more

typical television strategy, showing Terry the Pot Noodle addict railing

at the manufacturer, Golden Wonder, about the real-life, healthy-eating

campaign, went on air nationally. ‘It’s too gorgeous to be faffy food,’

he moaned.

Lury says that such disintegration supersedes integration because it

does more than just deliver a message. It takes advantage of growing

consumer sophistication by asking viewers to decode strategy, making an

ad an ‘experience’ rather than just a one-way communication.

Jeremy Woods, Golden Wonder’s marketing manager, Instant Hot Snacks,

adds that disintegration only works by using techniques developed from

integration: ‘What you learn from integration is how all the elements of

a campaign work together - it makes it easier to pull them all apart, as

we have with this.’

Woods and Lury make interesting points, but they still have an uphill

struggle ahead convincing others that disintegration is a trend. To

most, the strategy seems little different to that of any other brand

with more than one market to target - such as financial services

companies hitting both ‘grey’ consumers and first-time home-buyers, or

supermarkets running image and price ads.

Graham Kemp, chairman of the Marketing Store, believes Howell Henry has

just found a clever one-off creative solution to a common marketing

conundrum. ‘Any product seeking parental endorsement has the same

problems,’ he says. ‘When I worked at McCann-Erickson 15 years ago on

Nesquik, we did one set of ads in kids’ comics saying the drink was fun

and another in women’s magazines telling mums: ‘Milk’s good for you and

here’s a way of getting kids to drink it.’’

If Kemp and Fiddes are right, then disintegration may be little more

than an interesting way of analysing individual campaigns. But whether

it delivers anything more profound is another matter.

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