The Work

Marmite cocktails
Marmite cocktails

From brief to browser, how are Nike, Marmite, Lexus, and Drench getting their message heard?

Nike True City

Agency: AKQA

Last summer Nike re-released its classic AirMax1 shoes to mark the twentieth anniversary of their launch. The shoes were originally the brain child of Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who, inspired by the 'inside out' architecture of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, cut a hole in the sole of the shoes to reveal their patented air capsule. Following their launch in 1981, Nike's AirMax1 have gone on to become one of the sports giant's most popular footwear brands.
In an effort to reflect the original AirMax1 design inspiration, Nike asked agency partner AKQA to devise a digital initiative that would allow consumers to reveal and share the best things about the cities in which they live.

Nike instructed AKQA to focus its creative thinking on one primary mantra: 'Through the eyes of revolutionary people, Nike will make the hidden visible.'
With this in mind, AKQA came up with the idea of creating an iPhone app based on the premise that every city has its hidden treasures, but few people actually get to discover the places, art and technology that makes them unique.
In an effort to resolve this situation, the agency devised Nike True City, giving iPhone users access to a live community of 'tastemakers' who would share what's happening in six European cities: London, Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Paris.

According to AKQA, throughout the entire creative process the concept for Nike True City remained consistent. Rather than a guidebook for visitors or a brand-building tool, Nike wanted the app to be a utility that would genuinely add value to the lives of consumers.
By combining mobile technology, including QR (quick response) codes and geo-tagging, with social media functionality such as Facebook Connect, Nike True City is intended to inspire influential consumers to share their real-life experiences of living and working in Europe's major capital cities.
The app works by encouraging 'Nike Insiders' to keep the True City community up to date with the latest events in their area.
Users are then incentivised to contribute their own information and opinions in order to have a chance of becoming Nike Insiders themselves. The app also contains a 'buzz' filter to keep consumers up to date with information about upcoming official Nike events and product launches.
"Consumers can download the app to get an alternative taste of their city updated in real time by real people," explains Daniel Bonner, chief creative director at AKQA.
"They can become inspired to start tagging and broadcasting their own view of the city on the fly using the latest iPhone technology," he adds.

Media plan
AKQA knew that the effectiveness of its promotional strategy could make or break the success of the app.
The agency devised a multi-phase promotional plan designed to ignite word of mouth, achieve mass-market reach and sustain long-term interest in the Nike True City concept.
An initial pre-release teaser featuring a few seconds of the full True City promotional video was seeded on a series of influential blogs and websites 48 hours before the app's official launch.
This succeeded in triggering numerous conversations across the internet.
Nike also tweeted about the app prior to its launch in an effort to stoke rumour and anticipation surrounding the initiative.
The official True City launch was supported by a PR outreach programme including a True City film showcasing the app's main features, as well as promotional events in major European cities.
Advertorials on high-traffic websites and social networks explained the True City concept to fans of Nike Sportswear, while adding to the interest surrounding the launch of the app.
Nike aimed to generate long-term awareness via a media partnership with youth culture magazine Vice, arranged in conjunction with Mindshare.
The tie-up will see Vice provide ongoing 'influencer' content for the app, as well as editorial features both in print and on its website.

In the first week since its launch, the True City app generated more than 25,000 spontaneous articles and blog posts.
It also achieved top-ten rankings in Apple's App Stores across Europe.



Campaign: The Marmarati
Agency: We Are Social

Background: Unilever briefed We Are Social to create a social media campaign that would encourage consumers to submit ideas for a super-strength version of the spread, code-named Marmite MXO, ahead of its launch.

Aims: The FMCG giant wanted input on flavour and jar design, and for brand advocates to spread the word to others.

Execution: In October last year, Unilever set about finding Marmite aficionados through blogs, forums, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, as well as a Facebook page dedicated to the spread. It then invited a selection of these people to an event hosted by 'The Marmarati', a group dedicated to Marmite lovers. The invitees were asked to blind taste three blends of the stronger Marmite and then provide feedback and comments via social media. We Are Social also created a website - - for the general public to submit proof of their love for Marmite by uploading essays, images or video.

Results: According to We Are Social, the word 'Marmarati' has been mentioned over 2,500 times on Twitter, helping spread awareness of the brand to around 120,000 people via the microblogging site. Together with the Facebook fan page and the bloggers who wrote about the product, the agency claims the reach of the campaign is more than half a million.



Campaign: Why compromise when you can customise?
Agency: Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw

Background: As a niche brand in a market hit hard by recession, luxury car marque Lexus has seen its prospect base dwindle. In an effort to revitalise its customer database it identified its most affordable model, the IS, as the focus of an online marketing drive.

Aims: Using online advertising and email marketing, Lexus wanted to create brand engagement, grow the IS prospect base and generate as many test drives as possible. Prospects would be given the opportunity to customise their new car for free, with a choice of alloys and metallic paint or a satellite navigation system, while existing owners would receive a £1,000 loyalty bonus.

Execution: Overseen by Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, the campaign kicked off in August last year, with homepage takeovers on sites such as,, and Expandable banners appeared across ad networks and were managed dynamically in order to respond to peaks in demand. Prospects were invited to customise their IS, download images as wallpaper and request to drive the real thing. The campaign also included email to cold lists of competitor model drivers.

Results: Nearly 200,000 people interacted, with the online campaign with a further 1,838 downloading branded wallpaper. Engagement levels exceeded UK automotive benchmarks, with an average interaction rate of 17 per cent and dwell time of 32 seconds. Just over 70,000 of those who saw the campaign took action, by either requesting a brochure or test drive, or visiting the Lexus website.

Campaign: Get a life
Agency: Steak

Background: Swiftcover's target audience of ABC1 adults is skewed towards those who are familiar with technology and making transactions online. The brand's 'Get a life' campaign, starring Iggy Pop, launched in 2009 and was promoted on TV, radio and outdoor, as well as online.

Aims: Swiftcover wanted to understand how its target audience would interact with the brand through online video. While sales are the ultimate goal, Swiftcover wanted to test the medium in 2009 prior to a bigger online video push this year.

Execution: Pre-roll video ads ran across on-demand portals and alongside premium content on a variety of other sites. A combination of 15- and 30-second spots were used, depending on whether the content was long or short form. The activity was targeted so Swiftcover could test different audiences and discover at what times they were most likely to respond.

Results: The campaign's click-through rate was a 33 per cent increase on the brand's initial target. For those placements targeted according to timing and geography, the click-through rates were double that of the activity that did not have these targeting criteria.


Creative Review: Drench

Reviewed by Ross Tyalor, chief digital officer, TMW

Campaign: Clever hamsters
Brand: Drench
Agency: CHI & Partners

Britvic launched Drench in 2006 into a crowded bottled water market. It's never easy to differentiate any brand of water based solely on product quality, so brand becomes everything and advertising its main driver.

Drench's first ad featured Brains from Thunderbirds strutting his stuff to Rhythm is a Dancer while swigging from a bottle of water. This unusual approach gave Drench a clear distinction from its rivals - abandoning the focus on provenance so slavishly followed by the likes of Evian and Danon, and positioning Drench as a quirky alternative.

It seemed to work. The campaign achieved a 100 per cent increase in sales, according to Britvic, and YouTube is full of tribute videos.

What direction has Drench decided to take in its latest campaign? A jazz band of hamsters, of course.

The 'Clever hamsters' ad, which follows an X-Factor-style audition for the furry band, is simple, clever and cute. The spot is well executed and the soundtrack works, too. So far, so good.

However, Drench has missed a golden opportunity to make the campaign something much bigger and better. The very best ads are far more than just a great creative idea nicely executed. They don't just communicate with the audience; they act as a trigger to encourage consumers to engage with the brand. With this in mind, the power of the creative idea behind this ad could have been extended much more cleverly and successfully into the digital space.

I hate to bring up 'Compare the meerkat', but it has become a reference campaign simply because it's so good. Aleksandr the meerkat has been carefully distributed across the web, including Facebook, Twitter and numerous blogs. The brand mascot has a life all of his own - his 700,000 Facebook friends are part of an active fan club, and his dolls are now changing hands on eBay for £100.

Sadly, 'Clever hamsters' simply doesn't match up. The core idea of getting consumers to send in audition tapes of their talented hamsters is great, but just doesn't work. The whole thing comes across as a bit Big Brother, with a cheap CCTV look and feel. Why not simply execute the campaign on YouTube where there is already a significant audience?

Also, the initiative is let down by the lack of cohesion between the TV ad, the main consumer website,, and the campaign site. Anyone engaging with all three is left with the impression that they have been developed by separate agencies that have never communicated with each other.

And surely the hamsters deserve their own Facebook page? Drench's social media presence is sadly out of date, with its Facebook page still focusing on the previous 'Pheasant rodeo' campaign and clearly under-serving the 67 followers that have bothered to sign up as fans. So when it comes to social media, indifference to Drench seems to be the order of the day.

'Clever hamsters' is essentially a great idea that works well on TV but has been let down in the digital space. Overall the campaign has failed to generate the buzz that it could have achieved. So instead of an enduring Aleksandr dynasty, Drench will likely be going back to the drawing board for its next marketing push.

Ross Taylor is chief digital officer at TMW and group digital director at Creston, where he works with brands including eBay, Sainsbury's and T-Mobile. "As broadband removes traditional navigational constraints, the quality of work produced by the best brands and their digital agencies will be higher than ever. However, there are still too many disjointed campaigns that leave me feeling disappointed."

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Creative director: Ewan Paterson
Writers/art directors: Wayne Robinson, Matt Collier
Production company: Infinity Productions
Director/editor: Alex Turner
Post-production: The Moving Picture Company
Audio post-production: James Clark, Clearcut Sound Studios

Also reviewed by Ross Taylor

LG Chocolate Phone/Avatar

I am delighted to see Avatar, in partnership with LG's Chocolate phone, being promoted through interactive screens on bus shelters. The screens sense someone passing by and use sound and video to engage them. Consumers can then interact with movie content, enter a competition or find the nearest cinema showing the film. More please.

Agency Kodu Digital Group account director Owen Davies Creative director Paul Harrison Director Jamie Parker Senior programmer Matt Booy Digital designer Matt Randall

Santander game

Santander offered me a free game for clicking on this banner on the Sun Mobile homepage. I clicked to download, only to be met with an error message: 'Download failed. 907 Invalid Code.' Please, Santander, if you are going to get into mobile marketing, at least get the basics right and don't leave me with a worse impression than before I saw your banner.

Agency Marvellous Other credits Not supplied

Sony Ericsson Hopper

You have to devote a small part of your heart for the world's first online flashmob. After the initial event, Dare came up with a great follow-on plan, encouraging consumers to include the #pumpt hashtag in tweets to have their own space hopper inflated by Sony Ericsson. Why? Well, does it matter? I don't honestly get the link with the mobile phone brand, but it is engaging.

Agency Dare Other credits Not supplied


I am a big fan of Innocent Smoothies and how the company approaches digital marketing. I regularly reference it as a shining example of effective social engagement. Unfortunately, I just don't get the 'ask us anything' approach on its main website. I like the TV ad. I like to know that a smoothie is now two of my five a day, but why ask the rabbit a question?

Agency Soup Other credits Not supplied


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