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WATCH: How the7stars made Suzuki a Saturday night TV entertainer

When Tesco group brand director Michelle McEttrick describes something as "a playbook for media sponsorship," you know it's worth pricking up your ears. Hear Suzuki and the7stars reveal how they won at the 2017 Thinkbox TV Planning Awards with memorable Ant & Dec TV content that made the brand "fun and famous".

The problem, the insight, the solution (and the record sales)

Back in 2015, Suzuki had a "middle market" problem, hemmed in by trusted European premium car brands at one end and Korean rivals Hyundai and Ka, which had claimed the "high-tech, low-cost" proposition, at the other.

Breaking through was going to require distinctive communications from this Japanese carmaker which had just 2% of the market. It was against this backdrop that the7stars was tasked with delivering sales of the Suzuki Vitara, a family SUV.

Years of consumer research, motor reviews and dealer feedback led the agency to the key insight that Suzuki cars are fun to drive - so a media plan was devised to generate fame by showing the brand’s fun personality.

By creating an extensive partnership with ITV, Suzuki and its agency were given unprecedented access to the Saturday Night Takeaway IP as well as the talent, Ant & Dec. Thus #Suzuki Saturdays were born, spanning licensing, talent, broadcast and content creation.

As well as sponsoring the show, with entertaining idents created by Red Brick Road, the7stars created special content featuring Ant & Dec and two Suzuki Vitaras in comedy skits and pranks that ran on TV, across mobile, social channels and in dealerships nationwide.

As a result, positive opinion of Suzuki rose by 56% and the company posted record UK car sales for the year of more than 38,000 units - completely selling out.

Suzuki "has done something here that is exceptionally focused and brave that TV was fundamentally part of," said David Wilding, Twitter’s director of planning and a TVPA judge. "It was bigger than just sponsorship," added Thinkbox’s chief executive Lindsey Clay.

Suzuki and the7stars won the "Best use of sponsorship" category in 2017.

The Thinkbox TV Planning Awards are run in conjunction with Campaign. They are free to enter, with submissions for the 2018 awards due in by an extended deadline of 23 March.

This is the 10th year of the awards which celebrate creative and effective uses of TV and recognise the people behind them. All will be feted at an afternoon ceremony on 28 June at One Marylebone.

There are six main categories, from which the Grand Prix will be chosen, and other special prizes may be allocated at the judges’ discretion.

The categories are: Best use of "TV and..."; Best ongoing use of TV; Best newcomer to TV, Best use of sponsorship; Best use of content and Best use of TV innovation.

To enter, go to www.thinkbox.tv/planningawards

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