WHAT I’VE done…


Hard to believe, but there was a time when Sony were only known for their TV’s and music systems.

Back in 1995 they weren’t so sure they could break into the electronic gaming market. Did they have the credibility  to compete with the likes of Sega? (remember them?)

We conducted extensive worldwide research to evaluate whether Sony could pull off such a category breakout.

The answer was a resounding yes. In fact the kids were cited about the prospect. We strongly recommended they pressed the ‘X’ button – full steam ahead.

As of July 20, 2008, PlayStation had sold 102 million units

The Economist wanted to know what they could do with their website. They have a fantastic reputation and brand name and consequently felt their website might provide an lucrative gateway for internet marketing.

But was the equation that simple?

How far could the brand go in extending itself over the internet without undermining, damaging or being inconsistent with the flagship brand?

The answer, quite frankly, was not very far. We conducted international research amongst the corporate movers and shakers who are the bedrock of The Economists. What we found was as challenging as it was heartwarming.

The brand is held in such high esteem by its loyal readers that they felt any departure from its fiercely independent positioning would be a major disappointment.   They hoped The Economist would  resist the temptation to make a quick buck at the expense of tarnishing its integrity.

And so it turned out. The Economist website (www.economist.com) remains a paragon of commercial understatement.

Sometimes good marketing is about understanding the fine line between offering valuable services and straying into money-making schemes that may make short-term profits, but ultimately dilute the brand.

It’s 10 years since these iconic sneaker came on the market.

The Presto was an instant classic, with its innovative sock-like upper with a fashion aesthetic that moved Nike out of sportswear and onto the high street.

We were asked whether such a radical move would compromise the brand’s sports credentials.

By changing the rules to this degree, the answer was no. We recommended they develop the shoe and be less concerned about being  hard-nosed ‘jocks’. ‘The t-Shirt for your feet’ was how they were positioned. Many still swear they are the most comfortable shoe ever made.

To celebrate its anniversary a new range of Prestos has been introduced this year. Check out: www.sneakernews.com

Like all good brands, Channel 4 keeps an eye on how the world is changing and makes sure it adjusts its offer and brand when those conditions change.

They needed to know what’d happen when everyone had 200 channels to choose from and an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to flick you from one place to another.

Would viewers become promiscuous and roam the airwaves looking for the best ‘fix’ or would they still feel loyalty towards their favorite channels?

The answer was not as apocalyptic as was feared and a combination of a reliable quality offer and the underlying habitual behavior of the human mind meant we suggested C4 continue to underpin their quality offer and develop their brand.  Several years later and anarchy has not broken out, as yet, in the digital TV landscape.

The Motley Fool is a web-based financial service that needed to know how to increase its revenue streams.

We conducted lots of in-depth interviews and focus groups with a wide range of Motley Fool users and non-users. We looked at heavy and light users, serial buyers of stocks and shares and people just looking to get a mortgage.

At the end of this exhaustive process we provided a complete picture of the current and potential users of the Motley Fool site and how these groups differ from each other in terms of needs and outlook. From here it was possible to develop the appropriate marketing strategy, and brief the site designers in a way that built loyalty amongst users, to maximizing the potential income of the site.

Metro is a free daily newspaper, designed for commuters in major urban areas of the UK.

They make money from their advertising and consequently needed to show potential clients why it’s a good idea to advertise in their title.

We conducted research in all of the various British conurbations and delivered a report that defined and explained the peculiar qualities of Urban Living.

We found ‘Urbanites’ to be more proactive in their life choices, less willing to compromise, more ambitious, more materialistic and more likely to feel the place they live had a big influence on their success.

They are less willing to settle for second best, see life as a competition, are on the lookout for ways to improve their position in life and, consequently are more avid consumers of media that may help them succeed.

Metro represent a valuable source of information for these time-poor individuals and as  such is a powerful platform for advertisers looking to reach this highly specific and sought-after audience. Our input helped to both define the paper and act as a sales tool for attracting potential advertisers.

The Independent undertook a major review of its product culminating in the present ‘compact’ design.

We were asked to identify the brand’s ‘positioning’ – how it stacks up against the competition – plus, explain how the paper fits in with other sources of news, such as radio, television and the internet.

An interesting insight we clarified was the idea of ‘Independence’

On the one hand it means the paper doesn’t subscribe to any one political party – which, for some, is a genuine USP. Alternatively, it may mean its readers can’t predict what the paper is going to say next, which is probably less helpful! We helped clear up this potential confusion and focus their output.

These days The Independent uses the strap line: “Free from Party Political Bias /  Free from Proprietorial Influence” which just about sums it up.

A couple of years ago, Hellman’s came up with the clever idea of promoting itself as ‘real food’ (i.e. eggs, vinegar and vegetable oil)

This ‘return to basics’ worked really well but wasn’t necessarily a concept that worked across different cultures.

The US Hispanic community for example, love their food and use more ‘real’ (i.e. unprocessed) foods anyway. So we explored how ‘real food’ could be applied to Hispanic culture.

We found that, to Latinos, ‘real food’ means food you can indulge in. It’s about enjoying food, rather than counting calories as the gringos tend to do! The strategy we developed as a result allowed Hellmann’s to run an overarching marketing campaign that, with a little tweaking here and there could be applied to both markets, providing strength through consistency as well as saving Unilever a huge amount of money!

Over the years we’ve done more work for Coke than you can shake a drinking straw at.

In one study we check out how the growth and potential impact of supermarket own-label colas would affect the brand.

Having explored the phenomena across the globe, we came back with a strategy and tactics based on insights into how housewives negotiate the trade-offs of giving their kids what they want set against balancing their weekly budget.

In the States we found plenty of housewives who gave their kids own-label, but kept a stash of the real stuff for herself and her hubby! Despicable! Quite apart from developing ads that shamed mothers into giving their kids ‘The Real Thing’ we also helped shape a strategy that powerfully asserted that Coke would not lower itself to compete with own-label alternatives, thus preserving its superiority within the shopper’s eyes.





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