Brand Building: Ten DM campaigns that built the brand

Direct marketing has a growing reputation as a brand builder with an increasing number of campaigns transforming consumer perceptions. Kim Benjamin picks ten of the best.


The campaign: Fund management group M&G Investments was an ailing brand with a limited following in a crowded market. In 2001, agency HTW was tasked with repositioning it and increasing people's awareness of the company.

What it involved: Research revealed that many people associated M&G with words such as expertise, informative, straightforward and durable. This led to the development of a brand idea based around: "The Truth about Investing - As We See It."

A brand-response DM campaign was created to present M&G's point of view, consisting of national newspapers and posters with long, but straightforward and informative copy, demonstrating M&G's depth of knowledge on market issues. To create standout, colour pages in main news sections were chosen, rather than traditional money pages where competition was high.

Alongside these, direct mail was sent to businesses and consumers, as well as fulfilment literature and a customer magazine. An internal staff handbook was also developed.

The brand-building effect: Much of the competition was using generic images to reflect their brands, but M&G built its brand around its products and why people should buy them. To measure the effect on the brand, tracking criteria such as impact on market share and cost per response were used. M&G ranked eighth out of 107 firms when consumers were asked to recall financial services advertising, while response rates went up by 32.5 per cent and media spend went down 31.7 per cent.


The campaign: Land Rover has developed an ongoing direct marketing programme that aims to appeal to prospective customers as well as communicate with existing ones.

What it involved: The aim is to increase test drives and brochure requests as well as encouraging people to become loyal to the brand. Recent campaigns have focused on Land Rover's capability to deliver an adventurous angle into people's choice of vehicle. It has five models, each of which are targeted at a different audience.

The brand-building effect: The programme is designed to overcome any barriers to the brand. Land Rover regularly assesses the impact of its direct marketing programmes on customers' perceptions. Telephone research is carried out among those who have responded to mailings.

"We do brand measures to ensure that our targeting is getting through," says David Watson at Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, who works on the Land Rover account. "We also track propensity-to-buy as a measure of brand building by comparing this with our mailing file. "We get quite significant shifts in brand awareness. Direct mail responses are declining across the board, in particular responses on paper, such as coupons. There is now a propensity to respond online."

As a result of the campaign, the car manufacturer has a growing prospect pool where respondents are six times more likely to react than those on a cold-mailing programme.


The campaign: O2 mailed businesses and consumers between 2004-2005 to promote its mobile services.

What it involved: O2 wanted to build brand values among its customers and be recognised as a distinctive, imaginative and straightforward brand. It adopted a humorous approach in two of its campaigns, developed by AIS. The first mailing sought to attract lapsed customers and featured an O2 offer in the form of a return train ticket. The second mail pack educated people about using the phone abroad and focused on a pair of chopsticks, illustrating how some things may be hard to use abroad, but your mobile is not one of them.

The brand-building effect: O2 adopted a different tack from B2B mailings that often lack a human approach. It wanted its mailings to achieve an impact whether they were received at work or at home, and establish O2 as a breath of fresh air compared with the competition. The number of consumer and business users switching to O2 has increased and the campaign helped propel O2 to number two in the mobile marketplace.


The campaign: Brand awareness of the Radio Times is very high, but it is seen as old-fashioned. The magazine asked ds-j to help it change readers' perceptions.

What it involved: Segmentation was carried out to identify the people most receptive to the product. A mail pack with the proposition that Radio Times was the only TV magazine with substance was sent to a million people.

The brand-building effect: This was measured through a purchase panel and surveys into brand attitudes before and after the packs were sent out. Thirty per cent of the panel had purchased the magazine before the campaign and 55 per cent did so after. Surveys showed that people no longer felt the magazine to be old-fashioned.


The campaign: Skoda has done much to tackle the negative perception of the brand, but it believed there was still some confusion about the models' qualities.

What it involved: The campaign by AIS focused on the Skoda Octavia as a car that is practical and agile. This was shown by a split screen on its website, each displaying an identical car, but with different qualities highlighted.

The brand-building effect: Skoda aimed to increase the credibility of, and consumer trust in, its brand and used its website as a way of reinforcing the brand message. Success has been measured in terms of response, increase in test drives and sales figures.


The campaign: Cancer Research UK (CRUK) aimed to acquire new donors and strike a balance between the seriousness of the disease and feelings of optimism associated with those who have survived cancer.

What it involved: National direct mailing, radio ads, tube-card panels and ambient media, was developed by Ogilvy One, based on the message: 'I shouldn't be here.' This used real-life stories to show how CRUK has helped in the treatment, prevention, detection and cure of cancer.

The brand-building effect: Communicating on a one-to-one basis with the target market helped to build the trust and understanding of CRUK. The campaign also aimed to get people to emotionally engage with the cause and the brand. The effect was measured via brand tracking, qualitative research and response rates.


The campaign: Together is an NHS programme aimed at persuading smokers to give up smoking. It was first rolled out in 2003, and will run again next year.

What it involved: A range of people who rang the NHS stop smoking helpline were recruited for the Together programme, and encouraged to pick a date for quitting smoking. Four to six weeks before that date, a preparation pack was sent out with information to incentivise quitting. Two days before the quit date, a survival pack was sent with further motivational tips.

Other packs were sent out one month after quitting, then at three month intervals, up to a year after sign-up. The campaign also used text messaging and email to target its audience.

The brand-building effect: Together was created as a brand to show that stopping smoking is a joint community effort and has enabled the NHS to build a sub-brand representing its supportive nature.

"We used direct marketing to build a tone of voice that was distinct from any of the above-the-line NHS messages," says Kate Waters, planning partner at Partners Andrews Aldridge, which developed the campaign.

Collecting regular feedback from people at various stages in the programme has shown how valued the Together brand is as a programme and a support network.


The campaign: To launch a product called Blotters that can stop bleeding fast, under the brand name SEAL-ON, into the business-to-business marketplace.

What the campaign involved: Agency ds-j had a limited budget of £65,000 and decided to use direct mail to target independent pharmacists and journalists on healthcare titles. The creative was inspired by the everyday term for the type of cut Blotters deal with - a nick. This was turned into 'Nicked' to present the Blotters story as a police file, prepared by a new unit, 'Blotters Squad.' The packs came complete with statements and crime scene photography. The physical evidence was a sample pack of Blotters.

The brand-building effect: The pack went out to 5,500 pharmacists and 500 journalists. The press pack attracted a large amount of coverage, and Dr Hilary Jones was one high-profile personality asking for more information the day after the campaign broke. Weekly sales increased by 556 per cent following launch.


The campaign: In the summer of 2004, Volkswagen wanted to inspire prospect tests and sales of its Polo Match model, with air conditioning offered as standard.

What it involved: An ice tray moulded to the Polo design dramatising the cooling effect of air conditioning was sent by Proximity London to young women motivated by style and safety and older men who respond to comfort messages.

The brand-building effect: Volkswagen is known for the dry wit it uses in its above-the-line marketing, but it wanted to achieve this recognised, quirky tone of voice below-the line. It decided to engage with its consumers by using the ice cube tray mailing to place the brand into consumers' hands. The average response rate was 6.05 per cent against a target of 5 per cent and Polo March sales exceeded quarterly targets.


The campaign: ISP provider Freeserve was acquired by the French business Wanadoo in March 2001. Freeserve had a high level of brand awareness as a quirky and quintessentially British offering, which made a rebrand to Wanadoo challenging.

What it involved: The Freeserve brand had many assets that Wanadoo wanted to keep, but some that it didn't, so a rebrand was set in motion, from the visual identity, look and feel, to how the brand was valued. It was based around the theme of 'Holy Days'.

DM played a crucial part, enabling Freeserve to tell the story of the rebrand in a narrative way and over a period of time. Key to success was ensuring that customers understood what was happening and that there would be no change to their email addresses or internet connection arrangements.

Mail packs, emails and inserts explained that Freeserve was changing, and that Freeserve had become Wanadoo. This ensured customers felt the brand was with them every step of the transition. Wanadoo also wanted to create excitement and suspense associated with a rebrand, but without turning people off.

The brand-building effect: Four weeks before the first communication went out, spontaneous recall of the Wanadoo brand was close to zero per cent, while prompted recall was 16 per cent. A month after the campaign started, spontaneous recalls were up to 3.8 per cent and prompted awareness had doubled to 34 per cent. WWAV Rapp Collins developed the campaign.


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