How do you breathe new life into an established brand? Anne-Marie
Crawford considers the rebirth of three well-known consumer products
HLR & Co/BBDO Stockholm
Do you want to be hip and express your European credentials? Then get a
pager. A cellular phone is far too establishment, as Motorola discovered
earlier this year.
Since Motorola launched pagers in Sweden in 1993, the product has been
radically transformed. From a brand that was positioned as a
straightforward, rather boring business-to-business tool, Motorola has
reinvented pagers to make them a trendy youth accessory.
The shift in positioning has been so successful that Motorola now
regards 16- to 24-year-old men as its primary target audience. So why
did Motorola do it? Bernd Krautscheid, marketing and communications
director of Motorola Paging Europe, Middle East and Africa, says: ‘The
youth market is potentially ten times bigger than the business-to-
To get to the heart of this, we must return to Sweden, where the
marketing opportunity was first realised. ‘What we saw were young people
buying pagers - 80 per cent of whom were men,’ Krautscheid explains.
Krautscheid recognised the chance to seize on the concept of paging,
which, after all, is a service every telecom operator offers, and
associate it with the Motorola name. In so doing, he planned to freeze
out rivals such as Philips, NEC and Swatch from the outset.
Motorola initiatives such as scrapping subscription charges allowed BBDO
Sweden to reposition pagers as a must-have youth lifestyle product.
Anders Bergmark, BBDO’s European account director for Motorola,
enthuses: ‘The campaign was an enormous success, with a 500 per cent
increase in the market.’
Faced with such attractive figures, Motorola decided there was a huge
potential if it could export the idea across Europe. By working with
BBDO in several countries, the client was able to research the youth
positioning concept in conjunction with local telecom operators.
First and foremost, the company wanted to discover what barriers were
likely to stop young people from buying pagers. The reasons ranged from
‘don’t know what a pager is’ to misconceptions about their price.
Motorola also made a number of other important discoveries. The
youngsters most likely to buy a pager lived in big cities and socialised
a lot. They were interested in music, but didn’t watch much TV or
regularly read newspapers or magazines. ‘We decided MTV was exactly the
channel that fitted that profile,’ Krautscheid says.
Building on the new brand platform, Motorola launched a pan-European
campaign in November last year using a liberating, no-strings-attached
message through BBDO. ‘We wanted pagers to be seen as something you’d
like, but don’t necessarily need. Something that would make life better,
or more enjoyable,’ Krautscheid adds.
BBDO devised a trendy, non-speech, music-based ad and supported it by
sponsoring MTV’s Most Wanted programme. The agency also embarked on a
raft of below-the-line activity, which included competitions and events.
At the beginning of this year, Motorola tracked public awareness of
pagers across 24 countries. In response to the question: ‘How likely are
you to buy a pager in the next three months?’ the figure among non-MTV
watchers was 3 per cent, while with MTV viewers it was 12 per cent. And
to the question: ‘Do you have a pager?’ the figure was 2 per cent among
MTV aficionados and zero among non-watchers. This compares with a
statistical penetration of 0.2 per cent.
Crucially, although Motorola has been recast as a hip youth product, the
brand is still valued by its business-user clients.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty
When Bartle Bogle Hegarty scooped the Polaroid international account
from BDDP in November last year, it knew it faced a challenge. The
product had a poor image and was fast losing its relevance to people’s
Polaroid admitted it had strayed off course in its product positioning
and was eager to turn the situation around. Tim Palmer, marketing
director of Polaroid, says: ‘We did some research with BDDP that
suggested we needed to return to our roots and go for more of a fun,
social positioning, rather than the business and practical aspects we
had been pushing for eight years.’
BBH’s board account director, Cindy Gallop, is more blunt: ‘Polaroid was
seen as a fuddy-duddy, 70s product that wasn’t very relevant any more.
It was also failing to motivate people.’
There were other problems as well, such as doubts about picture quality
and the high cost of the film. They represented rational reasons for not
using the product.
BBH felt sure it could make Polaroid aspirational again. Its solution
was to position the brand as ‘the camera that isn’t a camera’, and
beyond what is seen as a camera’s traditional function.
Gallop explains: ‘We said, Polaroid doesn’t operate as a camera, and its
rivals are not Kodak or Agfa. Polaroid is a social lubricant that comes
into its own in social settings, so its real competitors are things like
alcohol, karaoke and fancy dress.’
BBH also established that when someone pulled out a Polaroid in front of
their friends, they inevitably did something wacky such as pull a silly
face. Moreover, people were still embarrassed to be seen with one in
By emphasising the instantaneous, fun aspect of Polaroid cameras, BBH
was able to generate a host of positive implications. However, the
agency first had to overcome the negative connotations associated with
the brand. ‘We had to make people aware that Polaroid could fulfil a
role in their lives. We also had to make the product credible and
stylish again,’ Gallop says.
Before BBH’s appointment, the client ran a functional print campaign
throughout Europe. The incoming agency decided to pitch Polaroid at a
younger audience and advised the client to use MTV to reach it. The
resulting campaign focused on two elements: the instant fun aspect and
living life to the full, both of which were captured in the strapline,
‘Polaroid - live for the moment’.
BBH produced two umbrella ads, ‘rock star’, set at a rock concert, and
‘cure all’, which were both highly visual, non-dialogue executions. In
addition, ten-second promotional spots were placed in the brand’s local
markets: Germany, France, Switzerland, Hungary and Russia. And to
complement the pan-European work, Polaroid sponsored MTV’s fashion
programme, the Pulse.
Palmer admits that the budget wasn’t large enough to achieve a huge
impact everywhere, even though Polaroid was able to save on production
costs by using MTV.
So far, it looks like money well spent. ‘We did pre- and post-testing
that showed a statistical increase in purchasing intent. We have also
doubled advertising awareness,’ Palmer says. Next year, the client hopes
to reinforce the Polaroid message in the UK and Poland. It will be using
MTV and BBH to help it do just that.
In the last decade or so, the condom market has really taken off. An
increasing awareness of Aids and perennial health scares about the pill
have helped fuel growth across Europe by as much as 10 per cent year on
Latching onto this trend, Durex’s owner, the London International Group,
decided in 1993 to divest itself of a raft of businesses and concentrate
on its key brands: Durex, Regent surgical gloves and Marigold rubber
gloves. It refocused and boosted its adspend on these products, and
aimed to make Durex a global brand.
Curiously, although the market was expanding rapidly, there had been
little attempt at that time to market condom brands. Mates tried, but
its approach presented condoms as a potentially embarrassing thing for
young people to have to buy.
John Hackney, McCann-Erickson’s vice-president, Europe, with
responsibility for Durex, points out: ‘Most of the work relating to
condoms has pushed the safe sex message under a general health banner.
It’s been very generic.’
McCanns, LIG’s agency of record in most European countries, was briefed
to carve out a global territory for Durex. It immediately saw the
opportunity to do something different, but realised it was not going to
be easy. Although Durex was a big name in certain markets, such as the
UK, in others it was relatively unknown. For example, in Germany the
brand is known as London, while in Italy it is called Hatu.
Hackney sums up the challenge: ‘Our task was to create a global
positioning for Durex and highlight the fact that these other brands
were under it.’ Towards the end of last year, the agency carried out a
study across eight diverse markets to assess people’s attitudes towards
condoms and condom brands. ‘As well as the credibility of a big brand,
people also wanted sensitivity and sensuality in their choice of
condom,’ Hackney says.
MTV seemed the appropriate vehicle to target Durex’s core audience of
16- to 24-year-olds. However, LIG’s marketing controller, Catherine
Taylor, emphasises: ‘This was not a panacea to cover all markets. But
across Europe we had a very clear objective of targeting young adults,
and we wanted to hit hard.’
McCanns’ ad, ‘blind man’, was deliberately shot like a pop music promo
video. It featured a couple becoming more and more intimate, until at
the end the audience is told that the man is blind. The strapline in
English is: ‘Feeling is everything.’
To achieve maximum impact, LIG also sponsored the Dial MTV programme and
incorporated three different logos - for Durex, London and Hatu - into
the break bumpers and promotional spots. Taylor says: ‘Because of our
desire to be cost effective, one of the most important aspects was that
the campaign could be leveraged off-air.’
Early research indicates that awareness levels have risen. ‘It’s too
early to suggest there’s been a change in attitude, but the outtake is
good,’ Hackney says. Taylor adds that the campaign also appears to have
improved sales. The next challenge is to reinforce the Durex brand
around the world.