The Marketing Society Awards 2004: International brand development


Client: Sanford Corp.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

WINNER The advent of the electronic communications age has had a profound effect on Sanford Corp. brand Parker Pen, which had become a declining brand in a declining category.

To counteract the main problem of consumers' dwindling relationship with writing by hand, Parker took the strategy of becoming an accessory as the 'professional edge to a community of strivers'.

Research indicated that Parker needed brand rejuvenation with a clear, long-term identity fully supported by integrated efforts across the board. The decision was made to invest more money in its marketing efforts and to create synergies across Parker's global markets by centralising this marketing activity at its European office and devising a unique global marketing approach.

Its 'This is not a pen' strategy revolved around creating a different product philosophy through new partners, communications and promotion and distribution.

The range of products was based on making different types of statements through the various design styles rather than a single product or price ladder.

The campaign directly targeted people who are motivated careerists, with the creative behind the media strategy positioning Parker products as an appearance management tool, as opposed to a writing instrument.

Past communications and PR strategies had focused on the traditional world of pens and writing. Typically, a launch would be promoted to the pen world exclusively - a market that was irreversibly shrinking. The new campaign positioned Parker products as precious 'treasure' objects for sole enjoyment by the owner.

Research indicated that the desire among consumers to signal socially to each other had driven the luxury accessories market to grow by 5.1% per year and it was on this philosophy that Parker's communications approach was based. The campaign line 'Aim high' was a direct, simple challenge in relation to what motivated this target audience.

Consumer feedback in communications tracking indicated that the strategic approach was driving reappraisal of the Parker brand, with an increased likelihood to purchase. During this period sales moved from a 19.5% decline to 4.1% growth, proving that this consumer attitudinal shift has been accompanied by real action.

Following a decline of more than 30% in the previous four years, the rise in Parker sales began in 2002 and continued throughout 2003.

Exceeding initial goals, the UK delivered a 28% increase in sales during the period of November-December 2002 against the previous year.

Brand recognition was 55% above the norm, with purchase intent measured at an increase of 38%.

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