How do you breathe new life into an established brand? Anne-Marie Crawford considers the rebirth of three well-known consumer products

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-

business market.’

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

their hands.

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.

Durex Condoms


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.

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