50 Years of Fame: Brandfame - WH Smith

The highlight of WH Smith's TV advertising has been the campaign featuring Only Fools and Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst. Over five years the actor played members of the same family, including a mum, her teenage daughter and seven-year-old son.

The 'Whatever you're into, get into WH Smith' campaign ran from 1997 to 2002 and helped the chain consolidate its position as a store for all the family, as well as creating a real talking point that revived interest in the brand. UK sales at Christmas 2001 rose 8% on a like-for-like basis.

WH Smith has a long track record in TV advertising, and over the years its campaigns have switched between overall brand work and ads promoting specific offers.

From 1988 to 1990 it ran its 'More to discover' campaign, featuring the then-unknown Steve Coogan. In 1991 it moved its 'We don't sell' outdoor activity into a TV ad, conveying the message 'We don't sell boring presents; we only sell exciting presents'.

The campaign ran for two years, and was replaced in 1994 with the 'There's more to life at WH Smith' campaign, which ran until 1995. This used a child talking about what each of its parents would like, and much of the creative was designed to look as if it had been drawn by the child.

After a fling with outdoor, WH Smith returned to ITV in 2004 in a bid to drive sales with a campaign featuring a puppet bookworm and his friends.

The ads, which use the line 'More of what you really want', are aimed at adults and children, and are focused on price-led product messages that are carried through to the stores.

WH Smith traditionally concentrated its advertising in the run-up to Christmas, but last year's campaign ran for 10 weeks, four weeks longer than the usual pre-Christmas push. Despite the extra effort, however, the retailer posted disappointing results after encountering tough trading, as did many other high street retailers.

The company remains committed to TV and plans to advertise at other key times during the year, such as in the run-up to every school term and at the end of the tax year.

'Our TV advertising keeps us top-of-mind and gives people a reason to visit our stores more often and shop more widely with us,' says brand director Richard Cristofoli. 'We have a passion for books, magazines and stationery and we want to get them into consumers' hands. Topicality is key and TV allows us to be flexible and switch the message on and off as we need to.'


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