Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Thursday, July 31, 2008


In June 2003 the DirecTV Group, Inc., provider of satellite television, launched a new marketing campaign featuring commercials with A-list Hollywood actors giving dramatic readings of actual fan letters received by the client. The use of celebrities was intended to help elevate DirecTV above its competition: cable television providers and direct-broadcast satellite rival Dish Network, both of which had begun imitating DirecTV’s successful commercials featuring Dan the installer.
Developed by ad agency Deutsch/LA, the new $100 million-plus campaign consisted primarily of TV spots, which included such actors as Joan Cusack, Danny DeVito, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, and Andy Garcia. Comedian Dennis Miller anchored radio spots, and a print ad was introduced featuring a picture of actor Dennis Hopper. The TV spots were shot against a bare background with nothing more than a stool. What made them powerful was the enthusiasm of the customers’ letters and the ability of veteran actors to read the letters with equal conviction. The atmosphere was kept lighthearted, resulting in impromptu remarks that found their way into the commercials. In one, for example, DeVito, following his rant called ‘‘Lies,’’ asked the crew in a joking manner, ‘‘Did I capture the guy’s anger?’’ ‘‘Celebrities Read Fan Mail to DirecTV (Become a DirecTV Fan Now)’’ lasted little more than a year, ending in July 2004. While it proved a boon to DirecTV, which enjoyed four straight quarters of increased subscribers, the same could not be said of Deutsch. Despite its good work and excellent relationship with DirecTV’s marketing people, the agency lost the account even before the campaign closed.

Deutsch/LA established its relationship with DirecTV in 2000 when it won a creative project for Sunday Ticket, the exclusive National Football League package of Sunday games. Deutsch won the entire creative account later in the year when DirecTV put up its business for review. With just under 9 million subscribers, DirecTV was the dominant player in its category but, after a solid run of several years, it had become engaged in a fight for survival, threatened on one side by rival satellite providers and on the other by digital cable. In the fall of 2000 DirecTV ran the first television commercials developed by Deutsch. Centered around Dan the DirecTV installer, these commercials became the focal point of DirecTV’s marketing campaign for the next year and a half. While successful, the installer campaign led some viewers to mistake DirecTV for a hardware company. The installer concept grew even less attractive when Dish Network and cable companies began using installers in their own ads.
With the installer becoming everybody’s spokesperson of the moment, DirecTV felt that the waters had been muddied and its brand diminished in the process. The company believed it was imperative that DirecTV launch a new marketing campaign that would not only reinforce its position as an entertainment company but also reassert its leadership position and restore some luster to the brand.

In the campaign that would succeed Dan the installer, DirecTV targeted existing customers, hoping to keep them on board. The company also wanted to appeal to potential new subscribers, especially ones with higher levels of disposable income, people who were not only attracted to premium brands but also likely to purchase DirecTV’s higher-end programming combinations, payper-view events, and high-margin sports packages. To achieve that end DirecTV asked Deutsch/LA to create a campaign that leveraged the influence of celebrities.

DirecTV faced entrenched competition from cable television systems (whether mom-and-pop operations or larger systems) around the country, but none could match the number of channels and digital picture and sound quality that DirecTV had to offer. Early on DirecTV faced satellite competition from PrimeStar, but after DirecTV swallowed PrimeStar’s 2.2 million subscribers in 1999, that left only Echostar’s Dish Network. Because the satellite dish and receivers were manufactured by Echostar, Dish Network was able to offer lower programming costs as well as lower equipment prices, making it a formidable foe.
By 2000 DirecTV and Dish Network battled each other but also received stiffer competition from cable operators, who began rolling out their own digital packages that not only rivaled the quantity of channels found on direct broadcast satellite systems but also offered movies on demand, high-speed Internet access, and Internet phone service as well. And on the horizon was another satellite provider, VOOM (owned by a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corporation), slated for a 2004 launch. VOOM eventually positioned itself as a high-definition television service, but it never caught on and ceased operations in April 2005. Nevertheless, in the early 2000s VOOM, backed by Cablevision’s deep pockets, was not a venture DirecTV could afford to take lightly.

Since taking over the DirecTV account, the Deutsch/LA creative team had become aware of the client’s unusual fan mail—mostly handwritten, usually quirky, generally humorous, and incessantly enthusiastic about DirecTV’s service, especially when compared to cable, which the writers skewered with a passion. In fact, DirecTV executives adorned their walls with their favorite letters. After DirecTV requested a campaign that featured celebrities, the Deutsch team began sampling the letters, which the agency had already used in a small way on the DirecTV website in promoting Sunday Ticket. Although the team was attempting only to get a feel for DirecTV subscribers, it soon became apparent that the fan letters were a treasure trove of material. ‘‘It was stuff you couldn’t make up,’’ Mark Musto, a Deutsch creative director, told Shoot. ‘‘We kept saying to ourselves, ‘If there is a way we can get this passion and emotion into our TV commercials, we’d be in a great place.’ So then we started kicking around the notion of getting big Hollywood actors to present these letters.’’
The creative team selected a pool of letters, all of which possessed ‘‘that special something that set the letter apart—whether it was a quirkiness or a passion or something that was real human that you could hang your hat on,’’ Musto recalled. Then the team began the laborious task of tracking down the letter writers and securing permissions. People who agreed to allow their letters to be read were given a $500 thank-you. In several cases, however, a favorite letter had to be discarded when the writer balked. While the agency secured the permissions, a director, Baker Smith of Harvest Productions, was hired.
The team had no interest in simply impressing consumers with how big a name it could buy to endorse DirecTV. Rather, the goal was to match the material to a specific actor, to deal with emotions that everyone could connect with while hopefully establishing a relationship between the audience and the celebrity. Securing the kind of A-list Hollywood talent DirecTV and Deutsch had in mind presented a challenge, however. While actors at this level might lend their voices to commercials or accept a paycheck for pitching a product in Japan, they avoided showing themselves in U.S. television commercials in the belief that overexposure might tarnish their star power. A wish list of actors was developed, and feelers were made through their agents—but only with money on the table. The first group of actors to sign on were DeVito, Fishburne, and Garcia. Another element in the campaign, a kicker, was that the actors were also DirecTV customers, although, in truth, DirecTV was ready to make them customers if necessary.
Initially the commercials were to be shot on an ornate set in the Culver Studios in Culver City, California. As the day of production neared, however, the soundstage was stripped down, finally consisting of nothing more than a glossy black floor, a blue background, a stool, and a simple spotlight. The creative team began to worry that by taking such a minimalist approach the commercials might fail to engage the audience. But as soon as the actors stepped into the spotlight and began performing the letters—quickly demonstrating to everyone assembled why they became stars in the first place—it became apparent that in terms of production value less was definitely more. The sparse set actually accentuated the power of the actor and the passion of the letter writer.
Each actor was given three letters for filming, one of which was in keeping with a familiar persona and others that might even go against type. Smith intentionally kept the atmosphere loose to make the crew into a ready audience to help draw out a performance. As a result the actors were willing to take chances and try out a number of deliveries. Smith told Boards Magazine about his experience directing Fishburne: ‘‘I didn’t know Laurence from a hole in the ground, but I’d give him simple suggestions like, ‘Try reading the letter as if you’re a 17-year-old surfer dude,’ and this 40-year-old black guy turned into a 17-year-old white surfer. I watched the transformation. Then we read like Shakespeare and Orson Welles, got way fucking serious, and again the body language changed.’’ In the end Fishburne used a Shakespearean delivery for a letter that read, ‘‘Dear DirecTV, This morning I turned on the telly and all I can say is jumpin’ ja hos se fat! Yee haw!’’ For his spot DeVito performed a letter the team called ‘‘Lies,’’ in which he delivered a passionate screed:
‘‘Dear DirecTV, Cable says reception quality is poor with satellite TV. Lies! My reception is way better with DirecTV than it ever was with cable!’’ Garcia’s spot, ‘‘Even Greater Than Greatest,’’ was intense but a shade quieter than the others: ‘‘Dear DirecTV, There’s not a word to describe how great DirecTV is. It’s not great. It’s not greater than great. It’s even greater than greatest.’’ The convivial atmosphere on the set also elicited some off-the-cuff remarks from the actors as they slipped out of character, such as DeVito quipping, ‘‘Did I capture the guy’s anger?’’; Fishburne wondering, ‘‘How was that? Was that too over the top?’’; and Garcia remarking to the letter writer, ‘‘I think I’m going to have you write my next review.’’ These comments then served as taglines to close the commercials.
The first three 30-second commercials began airing in June 2003, presented in letterbox format with the name of the actor and writer appearing in subtitles. ‘‘Celebrities Read Fan Mail to DirecTV’’ also included radio and print elements. The radio spot used Miller, who read a letter from a customer expressing her joy about calling her former cable company to say, ‘‘Please disconnect my cable.’’ The print ad showed 21 faces of DirecTV customers and fans, one of which was Hopper. Joining the campaign in September 2003, actor John Goodman cut a television commercial to promote Sunday Ticket. He read a letter from a satisfied Indianapolis Colts fan.
In March 2004 DirecTV and Deutsch launched a second phase of the campaign, which ran until July 2004. It featured television commercials by Cusack and Duvall. Cusack offered a screwball interpretation of a letter written by a fan in love with the word ‘‘great.’’ Duvall, adopting the tone of a proper Southern gentleman, pondered the qualities of a DirecTV customer service representative that he longed to see in his wife.

‘‘Celebrities Read Fan Mail to DirecTV’’ was considered a success by DirecTV, which signed up new customers at a healthy pace during the course of the campaign. But even before the second leg kicked off, DirecTV elected to sever its relationship with Deutsch/LA. The company hired a new executive vice president of marketing, Neal Tiles, who decided to consolidate the DirecTV account with agencies owned by Omnicom Group, including BBDO Worldwide, which took over the Deutsch business. BBDO had recently hired executive creative director Eric Silver, who had previously worked with Tiles. Deutsch managing partner Eric Hirshberg told Adweek, ‘‘I look back on our four years with DirecTV as a satisfying client-agency relationship . . . It was a good run.’’

Raise Your Right Hand Campaign

The Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the Londonbased marketing subsidiary of the international diamond company De Beers SA, had earned a reputation for its success at creating buzz for diamond jewelry and reaching untapped consumer niches to help expand the sale of diamonds. With its promotion of eternity rings, diamond tennis bracelets, and three-stone anniversary jewelry, DTC’s advertising resonated in particular with American consumers. According to the trade organization Jewelers of America, in 2000 retail sales of diamonds in the United States reached record levels, accounting for more that half of the $57.5 billion in retail diamond sales worldwide. Always watching for ways to introduce classic diamond jewelry to new market niches, in 2003 DTC introduced the right-hand ring.
With the support of its longtime advertising agency, New York–based J. Walter Thompson, the right-hand ring was introduced with a multimillion-dollar campaign that sent the message that diamond rings were no longer just for engagements and weddings. Themed ‘‘Raise Your Right Hand,’’ the campaign featured print ads in fashion magazines and targeted baby-boomer women with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more. Ads included photos of fashion models dressed in evening clothes showing off the rings; the copy declared, ‘‘Your left hand says ‘we.’ Your right hand says ‘me.’ ’’ Women were encouraged to change their way of thinking about diamond rings. Not only could women wear them to express their individual style, but they could buy the rings for themselves rather than waiting to get a diamond as a token of a man’s love. The campaign was a success. It was awarded a Gold EFFIE Award in 2005 for, among other things, achieving 39 percent awareness of the right-hand ring in the year following the introduction of the campaign. In addition, the campaign helped boost diamond-ring sales in the nonbridal categories by 15 percent in the year after its launch. In 2005 the ads were revamped to depict ‘‘women next door’’ wearing the rings, and the Diamond Trading Company’s U.S. marketing arm, Diamond Promotion Service, partnered with the Internet retailer to promote October as ‘‘Right-Hand-Ring Month.’’

Since its beginnings in 1888 as a South African diamondmining operation developed by the Oppenheimer family, De Beers SA had grown to a conglomerate as multifaceted as the gems it mined. To establish a market and build social status for the diamonds it was mining, in the 1930s De Beers turned to Hollywood, draping stars and starlets in diamond jewelry for photo opportunities. Also at that time De Beers created the Diamond Trading Company to serve as its London-based sales and marketing arm. By the 1940s the company was emphasizing the link between diamonds and romance. Its advertisements encouraged men to shower their significant others with diamonds set in rings, necklaces, and other jewelry as a symbol of their undying love. In 1947 De Beers’s ad agency introduced ‘‘A diamond is forever,’’ a slogan that lasted for almost 60 years.
To promote the diamond engagement ring in Brazil, Germany, and Japan, in 1967 De Beers hired New York–based advertising agency J. Walter Thompson to develop an ad campaign. The campaign, which portrayed the diamond ring as a symbol of love, was only moderately successful in Brazil and Germany, but it was a hit in Japan. By 1981 more than 60 percent of the brides in Japan were receiving a diamond ring as a symbol of engagement. The professional relationship between De Beers and the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency was a success, too. The Diamond Trading Company’s U.S. marketing arm, Diamond Promotion Service, was a division of J. Walter Thompson, and its public-relations side, the Diamond Information Center, maintained an office in J. Walter Thompson’s New York offices. De Beers created new outlets for its diamonds and joined the list of diamond retailers in late 2000 when it joined forces with luxury-goods company LVMH Moe¨t Hennessy Louis Vuitton to create a new retail jewelry brand. Women’s Wear Daily reported that the two companies planned to invest $400 million over a five-year period in the venture, with the first store, named De Beers, to open in London. At that time the De Beers name became the sole property of LVMH; all subsequent generic diamond advertising by De Beers would feature the company’s new ‘‘Forever’’ trademark, and marketing would fall under the banner of the Diamond Trading Company.

Since stepping in as the sales and marketing arm of De Beers SA in 2000, the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) had shown a flair for building interest in and driving sales of fine diamond jewelry. In early 2001 the DTC told upscale women that a diamond tennis bracelet, a classic design in which a single line of diamonds encircled the wrist, was the perfect piece of jewelry to complete any fashionable outfit, and women listened. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11 of that year, fashion jewelry such as diamond tennis bracelets fell from favor, but the DTC reintroduced the three-stone diamond anniversary ring in a two-part campaign. The first part targeted men, encouraging them to buy the rings as symbols of the past, present, and future of a relationship. The second, aimed at women, promoted three-stone diamond earrings and necklaces as a way for a woman to celebrate life with her significant other. The challenge of bringing back to the fashion forefront the outdated cocktail rings buried at the bottom of women’s jewelry boxes led to creation of the so-called ‘‘right-hand ring.’’ But the right-hand ring also provided an opportunity to reach a previously untargeted niche of nearly 77 million people: 45- to 65-year-old professional women, both married and single, with household incomes of $100,000 and up. ‘‘This woman knows herself, she’s proud. . . . She reflects her confident style through a luxury purchase,’’ Lynn Diamond told Israel Diamonds magazine. Diamond, the managing director of Diamond Promotion Services, the United States division of the DTC, said that the right-hand ring created a category for, and gave meaning to, diamond rings not classified as engagement, bridal, or anniversary jewelry and encouraged women to buy the rings for themselves as a way to express their personal style.

Although De Beers supplied more than half of the market’s rough diamonds, two other companies vied with De Beers for market share: BHP Billiton, with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia (BHP Billiton Limited), and London (BHP Billiton Plc); and Aber Diamond Corp. of Toronto, Ontario. Both companies produced diamonds in the rough, and both also pursued relationships with highend retailers to create branding, marketing, and consumer sales outlets for their gems.
Aber directly supplied diamonds to high-end jewelry retailer Tiffany & Company Then in a twist, in 1999 Tiffany purchased almost 15 percent of Aber at a cost of $71 million in order to assure a steady supply of quality diamonds for its jewelry. According to Jewelers Circular Keystone, while it was not uncommon for miners like Aber and De Beer to turn retailer, Tiffany’s acquisition of a percentage of Aber was the first time a jewelry retailer had turned miner. In what was considered more the norm, in 2004 Aber acquired 51 percent of jeweler Harry Winston for $85 million. With its purchase of a share of Harry Winston, one of the leading retail jewelers to the rich and famous since 1932, Aber developed a broader presence in the diamond industry, eliminated the middleman for its diamond sales, and gained a foothold in the profitable U.S. market.
BHP Billiton, the largest diversified natural-resources business in the world, reported that diamonds were both its smallest business unit and its fastest-growing one. Following the 2001 merger of Australia-based BHP Limited and London-based Billiton Plc, the company seemed to be on a mission to increase its diamond assets and involvement in the diamond industry. The heart of the company’s diamond business was the Ekati mine in Canada, which accounted for approximately 6 percent of the world’s rough diamond production in 2000. To brand polished diamonds from Ekati, in 2000 the company created Aurius Diamonds, a marketing division based in Australia. By 2001, following the introduction of Aurius, sales had doubled monthly in Australia, producing $393 million in sales. In 2003 BHP Billiton announced plans to offer the Aurius brand in retail stores in the United States, Canada, and Singapore in addition to Australia.

Following the success of its three-stone-jewelry campaign, which promoted rings, earrings, and necklaces as symbols of love and enduring relationships, in 2003 the Diamond Trading Company launched a new campaign to sell not just diamond rings, but an idea. Working with its ad agency, J. Walter Thompson, DTC introduced the right-hand ring and through clever marketing launched a fashion trend. Additionally, the campaign reached a previously unmarketed-to demographic: independent, financially well-off, older women. Unlike previous campaigns that portrayed the diamond ring as a symbol of love, the ‘‘Raise Your Right Hand’’ campaign promoted the diamond ring as a badge of individual style. Claudia Rose, director of marketing strategy at J. Walter Thompson, said that the right-hand ring campaign was different because it linked diamond rings to fashion rather than romance. ‘‘This gives women another message,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Diamonds also can represent a woman’s unique style and be expressive as something like their favorite leather goods.’’
For the multimillion-dollar campaign, J. Walter Thompson developed a series of print ads that ran in fashion magazines, including Elle, Vogue, and In Style. Ads also appeared in publications likely to be read by the target demographic—upper-middle-class women 45 to 65 years old—such as Conde´ Nast Traveler and Town and Country. In developing the ads J. Walter Thompson used fashion models younger than the women being targeted. Explaining the strategy, Diamond Promotion Service, De Beers’s U.S. marketing arm and a division of the J. Walter Thompson agency, said that regardless of their own ages, women identified more readily with younger women in print ads. The ads had edgy, eveningwear-clad fashion models showing off right-hand rings Each ad also featured a significant message to distinguish the right-hand ring from the engagement and wedding ring worn on the left hand. Among the statements were:
‘‘Your left hand says ‘we.’ Your right hand says ‘me,’ ’’ ‘‘Your left hand likes to be held. Your right likes to be held high,’’ ‘‘Your left hand is your heart. Your right hand is your voice,’’ and ‘‘Your left hand lives for love. Your right hand lives for the moment.’’ Each ad included the tagline ‘‘Women of the world, raise your right hand.’’ By the end of the year the print campaign was expanded to include television spots.
Jewelry designers were encouraged to develop rings that matched De Beers’s prototype right-hand rings, which were trendy and fashion-conscious To avoid being confused with traditional diamond engagement and wedding rings or with the popular three-stone anniversary rings, right-hand rings had one diamond of 20 points or larger and as many additional smaller diamonds as desired as long as it was not limited to three. A report in Israel Diamonds noted that more than 300 designs were submitted by manufacturers hoping to be a part of the campaign. From the original submittals, 10 ring designs were selected. An additional 6 ring designs were commissioned by Diamond Promotion Services, resulting in the 16 rings that were featured in the ads.

The ‘‘Raise Your Right Hand’’ campaign was a marketing success for the Diamond Trading Company. Prior to the campaign’s launch, diamond-ring sales were at the low end of the diamond-jewelry market, representing 28 percent of diamond jewelry, or $3.3 billion in sales, in 2003. Following the introduction of ‘‘Raise Your Right Hand,’’ in 2004 nonbridal ring sales increased 15 percent. The campaign also created a cultural phenomenon by convincing single women that they could have a diamond ring without an engagement or in addition to a bridal set. And while the campaign originally targeted women with household incomes of $100,000 or more, right-hand rings soon were available at stores from Costco and Wal-Mart to Tiffany & Company and ranged in price from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand. Besides appearing on the right hands of stars such as Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, and the female cast members of Sex and the City, women in all income brackets were soon sporting the rings. Clothing designers such as Betsey Johnson and Zac Posen, recognizing a growing trend, paired right-hand rings with their 2004 spring ready-to-wear styles. In 2005 the campaign garnered a Gold EFFIE Award from the New York American Marketing Association for ‘‘exceeding its objectives of bringing ring growth into line with total diamond jewelry growth.’’ The campaign was also recognized for pushing single women into the diamond-jewelry-buying market and achieving 39 percent product awareness among consumers in the year following its launch. Also in 2005 the DTC revamped the campaign, introducing new ads that were similar to the original but with a softer and less fashion-forward tone, replacing hard-edged fashion models with women dressed in cardigans. The right-hand ring category was broadened as well to include almost any ring that allowed women to express their individual identities. To further encourage women to raise their suitably adorned right hands, Diamond Promotion Services, the DTC’s U.S. marketing arm, partnered with, the premiere Internet jewelry site, and named October ‘‘Right-Hand Ring Month.’’


In 2004 Diamond Foods, Inc., a company known for producing culinary nuts, created a high-quality selection of snack nuts called Emerald Nuts, which came in packaging that fit automobile cup-holders. The canister lids measured out 1.5-ounce servings. To create national brand recognition and to move away from its image as making nuts that were only for cooking, Diamond released its ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ in early 2004. The ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign,’’ created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, appeared in print, Internet, and television formats. The agency created 15 television commercials that all played on the initials ‘‘E.N.’’ The first two spots, ‘‘Encouraging Norwegians’’ and ‘‘Exercising Newscasters,’’ aired in Northern California markets during the 2004 Super Bowl. ‘‘Encouraging Norwegians’’ showed a portly Norwegian man standing next to a bull’s-eye target while someone off camera fired arrows at it. The man gave encouragement, such as ‘‘Good shot,’’ while snacking on Emerald Nuts. The spot ended with a voice-over stating, ‘‘Encouraging Norwegians love Emerald Nuts.’’ Diamond spent an estimated $9.9 million on advertising during the first 10 months of 2004.
The campaign’s bottom-line success was measured in July 2004, when Diamond reported an annual net revenue of $350 million, which was $50 million above the previous year. In a daring move Diamond gambled almost the entirety of its advertising budget to air a 30-second spot (which diverged from the ‘‘E.N.’’ theme) during the 2005 Super Bowl. ‘‘We can buy one spot, and we can make one ad for that one spot,’’ Sandra McBride, Emerald’s vice president of marketing, told the Boston Globe. The gamble paid off when Diamond sales grew 56.3 percent during the three months following the game. The ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ also garnered a gold EFFIE in 2005.

Diamond, an established brand in California since 1912, was owned by more than 1,800 growers at the start of 2004. This farmers’ cooperative, doing business as Diamond, led the world in culinary walnut production and in-shell walnuts. Diamond paid nut growers 3.5 cents a pound over the industry average, which was 1.8 cents a pound. In January 2004 the cooperative took a stab at the burgeoning snack-nut market by creating Emerald Nuts, a brand that offered nuts in exotic flavors, curvy containers, and larger sizes, with fewer peanuts in the assorted packages. The snack-nut sector only had one major player, Planters Nuts, one of the many brands owned by Kraft Foods. Besides taking advantage of a sector with only one main competitor, Emerald Nuts were intended to capitalize on the popularity of the Atkins diet, a high-protein and low-carbohydrate weight-loss plan that encouraged nut consumption. Further, the nut sector reported 12.7 percent growth in 2004. Analysts attributed this sharp rise to a heightened demand for high-protein foods and to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s announcement that nuts reduced heart disease. ‘‘What we’re doing with Emerald Nuts is building a new consumer franchise over in the snack-nut aisle,’’ McBride told the Stockton Record Previously Diamond products had been located solely in supermarkets’ baking aisles. One of the greatest challenges for the ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ was successfully introducing the public to an unheard-of brand. ‘‘It does cost somewhere between 20 and 30 million dollars to build a brand name,’’ Suzanne Walchli, an assistant professor of marketing at University of the Pacific, explained to the Record. ‘‘It’s rather difficult to break even on a brand in the first year.’’
The advertising climate during the period between the 2004 and the 2005 Super Bowls welcomed the innocent silliness of Emerald Nuts’ branding. When Janet Jackson’s wardrobe ‘‘malfunctioned’’ during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show and exposed her breast, more than 500,000 complaints poured into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In response the FCC instituted massive censorship restrictions across most media channels. Therefore the climate for 2005’s Super Bowl, the one that Diamond poured a majority of its Emerald Nuts advertising budget into, was increasingly sensitive. ‘‘Everybody was paying more attention this year,’’ McBride told the Record. ‘‘That attention was good for Emerald.’’

The ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ targeted 25-to 45-year-old males and females. Surveys showed that faster-paced Americans were drifting away from traditional sit-down meals. ‘‘In a survey last month, we found that more than 62 percent of adults polled admit to replacing a meal with a snack at least once per week,’’ Michael J. Mendes, Diamond’s president, said in an interview with Business Wire. ‘‘We want to convey the message to general consumers, and professional or armchair Olympic athletes, that not all nuts are created equal. Emerald sets a higher standard in snacking, providing a quality alternative to less healthy snacking options.’’
Sports enthusiasts were continuously targeted during the 2004 leg of the campaign. After the 2004 Super Bowl, 15-second television spots were shown during the Athens Summer Olympics and then during the World Series. The 30-second spot that aired during the 2005 Super Bowl was viewed by 89.2 million people and ranked as one of the campaign’s greatest expenditures. ‘‘Even at a rate of $2.4 million for 30 seconds of air time, advertisers said, the Super Bowl is among the cheapest advertising available when you factor in the cost per eyeball,’’ according to Naomi Aoki, a writer for the Boston Globe. A survey conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, a strategic communications firm, determined that the majority of Super Bowl viewers would rather miss the actual game than the Super Bowl’s commercials.

Nabisco Holdings Corp. owned Planters Nuts until Kraft purchased Nabisco in 2000. Up until 2004 Planters was the only nationally branded snack nut and dominated supermarket’s snack-nut aisles. ‘‘Planters is like the Big Brother of salty snacks. We had to come up with creative that stood out, was fun and that just sticks with you beyond 15 seconds,’’ Jeff Goodby, the Goodby, Silverstein & Partners cochairman who helped formulate the Emerald Nuts campaign, explained to Brandweek. In 2003 ad agency Foote Cone & Belding created commercials for Planters that depicted the brand’s mascot, Mr. Peanut, dancing to disco music in one spot and breakdancing in another. Using computer-generated imagery, other Mr. Peanut commercials showed Mr. Peanut’s life as a young legume. Baby Mr. Peanut was shown receiving his first monocle, despite being an infant, followed by his first hat and cane. The spot was an attempt to ‘‘contemporize’’ the brand and spin the mythology behind Mr. Peanut. Commercials released closer to Christmas showed Mr. Peanut with Santa Claus and a reindeer. Up until 2004 Planters had packaged its nuts inside cans and bags. A few months after Emerald Nuts introduced its sleekly packaged nuts, however, Planters released its own range of multiflavored peanuts called Nutcases, which came sealed in reusable, brightly colored pots. Flavors included sour cream and jalapen˜o. Rob Woodall, marketing director at Trigon Foods, the primary manufacturer of Planters products, told Brand Republic, ‘‘The opportunity was to create a lighter-eating nut-snack, which would appeal to a younger audience.’’

Two 15-second television spots, ‘‘Encouraging Norwegians’’ and ‘‘Exercising Newscasters,’’ kicked off the ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ during the 2004 Super Bowl. The first containers of Emerald Nuts had been released only a few weeks prior, and only in Northern California supermarkets. Because of the brand’s limited availability, the Super Bowl spots only aired in Northern California. After Diamond increased the range of Emerald Nuts’ distribution, nationwide spots began airing during the Athens Summer Olympics. A total of 15 spots, each 15 seconds in length, were created, all with nonsensical titles, such as ‘‘Entangled Nine-Year-Olds’’ and ‘‘Extreme Nurses.’’ The spots depicted their amusingly named groups just long enough for the viewer to understand the title. One spot, ‘‘Envious Nomads,’’ showed two dusty, travel-worn nomads standing with a camel on a sidewalk. The outof-place male nomad snacked on Emerald Nuts while admiring a typical suburban house and yard. The voiceover ending the spot explained that ‘‘Envious Nomads love Emerald Nuts.’’
To compensate for the campaign’s limited budget, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners purposely created short television spots. They were then placed as ‘‘bookends’’ on commercial breaks, with one spot airing at the beginning and one at the end of the break. ‘‘As a result, we get tickled by the first spot and afterward, given a minute or two to ponder it, we’re hit with a second spot straight away to cement the brand name in our minds,’’ ad critic Seth Stevenson explained on National Public Radio. The television spots primarily focused on brand awareness, and Diamond was criticized for not explaining why consumers should pick their nuts over Planters’. Diamond executives, however, boasted positive results after the campaign’s 2004 beginning. ‘‘We saw an active response at shelf level and we just had a flood of consumer e-mail that showed a very, very strong response to the campaign and the product,’’ McBride told the Record. The campaign’s boldest move occurred in early 2005, when Diamond placed a majority of its budget into one 30-second nationwide television commercial to be aired during the Super Bowl. The spot deviated from the previous ‘‘E.N.’’ format, showing a father snacking on Emerald Nuts next to his daughter. When the daughter asked, ‘‘Daddy, can I have some Emerald Nuts?’’ her father replied, ‘‘Honey, if you eat an Emerald Nut, unicorns will disappear forever.’’ A talking unicorn, Santa Claus, and even the Easter Bunny sequentially appeared to admonish the father for lying. The spot ended with the text, ‘‘They’re kind of hard to share.’’ According to a Diamond spokesperson, the Super Bowl spot was discounted from $2.4 million to $2 million because of its fourth-quarter game placement. Diamond scored, however, when the fourth quarter became the second-most-watched segment of the game as the losing team rallied during the final minutes. Most of the campaign’s television spots, along with deleted scenes, were posted on the brand’s website,

The primary objective of the ‘‘Emerald Nuts Marketing Campaign’’ was to establish brand awareness of Emerald Nuts at a national level. Diamond quickly met with success at the local level. Just a few months after the campaign launched, an early campaign survey showed that 77 percent of Northern Californians recognized the Emerald Nuts brand. By July sales for Diamond were $50 million above the previous financial year’s sales. The company took a big risk by sinking a majority of its 2005 advertising budget into one 30-second Super Bowl commercial. Grant Pace, creative director at ad agency Conover Tuttle Pace, which created Budweiser’s ‘‘Bud Bowl’’ Super Bowl campaign, approved of the strategy, saying to the Boston Globe, ‘‘People aren’t going to think hard about it . . . What you want is for people to see you in the store and think, ‘I saw these guys on Super Bowl. It must be pretty decent stuff.’ ’’ Diamond was pleased with the results of its Super Bowl advertising. The Monday after the game, the Emerald Nuts website reported 24,308 unique visitors, significantly more than the 1,182 average-per-day reported during the previous October. Sales after the Super Bowl increased 56.3 percent between February and April.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


In 2001 Dial, the Dial Corporation’s mainstay brand in the soap market for more than 50 years, was the only brand with an all-antibacterial line of products. The challenge in promoting it was that focus-group research showed that many consumers did not think they needed their soap to be antibacterial. In its maiden voyage as Dial’s ad agency, Austin, Texas–based GSD&M came up with a high-impact national TV campaign called ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think.’’ With the goal of increasing sales by reinvigorating the public’s interest in the brand’s soaps and body washes, the campaign was released in January 2002.
GSD&M created two television commercials to kick off the campaign, which had a budget of somewhere between $18 and $25 million. The effort not only used the tagline ‘‘You’re not as clean as you think,’’ but also resurrected the slogan ‘‘Aren’t you glad you use Dial?’’ One spot began with a close-up, from a toilet bowl’s point of view, of a thirsty dog lapping up a drink of toilet water. The dog’s owner then arrived home to have her face licked enthusiastically by the pooch. This spot, as well as a second one that took place in a gym locker room and featured an inadvertently shared towel, employed grossout humor. They were, however, constructed carefully to keep the message up front and offense to a minimum. The campaign hit its mark. Sales of Dial-brand products increased 5 percent in the first half of 2003, placing the company more solidly in the number two position behind Dove’s Unilever. USA Today’s Ad Track polls in 2003 showed good numbers for the Dial commercials, particularly with regard to women, an audience Dial had hoped to woo. Dial retained the ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think’’ theme in 2004, using it in a crosspromotion with the movie Shrek 2, a partnership that the company described as successful.

The Dial Corporation’s signature brand was established in the mid-1940s, when meatpacker Armour & Company developed an unlikely new product, deodorant soap. It named the new soap ‘‘Dial’’ to underscore claims that the product supplied 24-hour protection from odors caused by bacteria. The soap was introduced in 1948 with a fullpage advertisement in the Chicago Tribune that featured a unique attention-getting element: it was printed with scented ink. Dial soap was an instant hit, and by the 1950s it had become the best-selling deodorant soap in the United States. In 1953 the company’s famous advertising slogan, ‘‘Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everybody did?’’ was born.
The Dial brand was expanded beyond soap to include other deodorant products and shaving creams. In 1970 the brand was passed from one unusual corporate parent to another when Canadian bus company Greyhound bought Armour and moved the company to a new headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, under the moniker Armour-Dial. In 1987 the bus line was sold off. Two years later Liquid Dial soap, the first antibacterial soap of its kind, was introduced. The product was so well received that it spawned many imitators. In 1991 the company took the name of its best-known brand and became the Dial Corporation.
The Dial Corporation struggled in the 1990s, as competition increased and sales flattened. In the late 1990s it employed a campaign themed ‘‘Doesn’t That Feel Better.’’ The TV spots were created by agency DDB Worldwide, a subsidiary of the advertising conglomerate the Omnicom Group. Set to Judy Garland’s rendition of ‘‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’’ the spot was composed of black-and-white images of a child washing with the bar soap. The voice-over said, ‘‘You can get there and feel clean, healthy, restored,’’ and then followed with the tagline ‘‘Doesn’t that feel better?’’ The campaign garnered little attention and failed to make any sales breakthroughs. When Herb Baum, formerly of Hasbro and Quaker State, took the reigns as CEO of Dial in fall 2000, his task was to streamline the operation in preparation for a change of ownership that was planned to take place in 2004, when Dial would become a subsidiary of the German consumer-products company Henkel KGaA. Austin, Texas–based agency GSD&M Advertising, which, like DDB, was part of the Omnicom Group, won the $18 to $25 million Dial Corp. account in June 2001. The maverick agency developed a campaign that made consumers and industry observers take notice and that in the process even managed to reinvigorate the old slogan ‘‘Aren’t you glad you use Dial?’’

Young mothers and other young bacteria-conscious consumers were the focus of the new ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think’’ campaign. ‘‘We have a 40-plus group that has been very loyal,’’ explained Steve Tooker, general manager of Dial’s personal care division, in a 2003 USA Today article. ‘‘They grew up with ‘Aren’t you glad you use Dial?’ What we were missing along the way was picking up the younger group and the younger mom.’’ GSD&M’s memorable TV spots had to walk a fine line between funny and too gross. Male audiences would appreciate the bathroom humor, but the commercials also needed to avoid offending young female household buyers, in whom Dial wanted to instill concern regarding unseen dirt and bacteria. Focus groups revealed that the widely recognized gold bar of Dial soap was often thought of as a masculine product. The company felt that the TV spots’ shock factor communicated the idea that their soap was essential for cleaning as well as protection and would resonate with mothers in particular. Although Dial asserted that it was not trying to make the brand more youthful, in 2004 it chose a kids’ movie, Shrek 2, the sequel to the hugely successful animated feature about an ogre named Shrek, for the brand’s first movie promotion. TV spots featured the characters from the film demonstrating the theme ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think.’’ These spots may have been aimed at moms and tots alike, but the packaging, which included a limited-edition ogre-shaped dispenser, was clearly meant to appeal to children’s purchasing influence on their parents.

According to global research firm Mintel, from 2000 to 2003 more than 250 antibacterial products were available for sale in the North American market. Dial may have invented the antibacterial segment, but by 2002 it was running second in the $950 million bar-soap category as a whole. At 16 percent it was well behind the 25 percent share boasted by Unilever’s Dove soap. Those figures, compiled by market-information firm Information Resources, Inc., omitted Wal-Mart, a significant Dial retailer, but there was still cause for concern. Research company TNS CMR reported that Dove was outspending Dial as well. In the first nine months of 2001 Dove’s media spending was $29 million, compared to $11.5 million for Dial.
A number of other soap manufacturers served as challengers to Dial’s variety of personal-cleansing products. Colgate-Palmolive’s Irish Spring bar and Softsoap liquid were top sellers in the late 1990s and the first few years of the new millennium. With longstanding loyalty among consumers, conglomerate Procter & Gamble’s Ivory and Safeguard brands were formidable competitors as well. By 2001 the glut of competitors had forced the midsize Dial Corp. to set itself apart by getting creative in a normally unexciting advertising category.

In 2001 Dial was unique in that it was the only brand with an all-antibacterial line, but research showed that many consumers did not think that they needed their soap to be antibacterial. Rich Tlapek, a vice president and group creative director at GSD&M, described the dilemma in a 2002 issue of Advertising Age. ‘‘In focus groups, people would all say they thought they were clean or clean enough. That left us in a difficult situation of how do we increase the relevance [of the antibacterial position] if people think they’re already clean?’’ GSD&M won the Dial account in 2001 with a plan to use highimpact TV spots that would remind consumers just how germ-ridden they might be on any given day. The budget for ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think’’ was reported to be between $18 million and $25 million, with almost half of it spent on testing the campaign in order to ensure efficacy once it was released in January 2002. Two 30-second TV commercials ran on prime-time network and cable channels, primarily during sitcoms but also during some morning shows. The first spot opened with a close-up of a thirsty dog enjoying a drink from a toilet. Upon hearing the arrival of his owner, the dog ran downstairs to greet her with an enthusiastic face licking. The second spot took place in a gym locker room. A sweaty man wiped not only his armpits but also his privates with a towel and then replaced it where he had found it. A second man, who had just come from the sauna, took the same towel to dry his face. Both spots were capped off with a voice-over saying, ‘‘You’re not as clean as you think,’’ which was then followed by Dial’s old slogan, ‘‘Aren’t you glad you use Dial?’’ Dial and GSD&M were aware that they ran the risk of turning people off. ‘‘We definitely don’t want to be in the fear-mongering business,’’ said Bill Puentes, director ofmarketing at Dial, to Advertising Age. ‘‘That’s why we took a humorous approach.’’ The goals of the campaign were to grab consumers’ attention, communicate why people needed Dial products, and reinforce the brand’s national presence. The spots were designed to hook viewers with likable yet cutting-edge content while also maximizing brand recognition by drawing upon Dial’s advertising heritage. Other spots followed in 2003, expanding on the same theme. In one a man in a pool heard the boy swimming next to him tell his mother that he no longer needed to use the restroom. Another spot showed a bus that had been transporting nudists to a retreat; after it dropped them off, it changed its sign and took on riders for a garden tour—without a cleaning in between. Bolstered by the success of the campaign, Dial undertook its first movie cross-promotion, forging an affiliation with the 2004 animated film Shrek 2. TV spots featured the lovable but not-too-tidy cartoon ogre Shrek extracting wax from his ear; the substance was later mistaken by his friend, Donkey, for hair gel. The tagline remained essentially the same: ‘‘You’re not as clean as you think you are.’’ During the movie’s highly successful run Dial sold Shrek-themed products, including bottles of Liquid Dial featuring pumps shaped like Shrek and Donkey and ogre-apple scented body wash.

The Dial Corporation and GSD&M had a winner with ‘‘You’re Not as Clean as You Think.’’ Brand sales grew 5 percent in the first half of 2003, and the company gained ground on market-share leader Unilever. The campaign received positive press from both ad-industry publications and the mainstream media, and consumer brand awareness increased. USA Today ’s Ad Track poll reported good numbers for the commercials in 2003. The newspaper surveyed those familiar with the campaign, and 25 percent of these respondents said that they liked the spots ‘‘a lot,’’ which was above the Ad Track average of 21 percent. Perhaps more important was the fact that 26 percent of women, a key target of the campaign, liked the commercials ‘‘a lot.’’ In an August 2004 issue of USA Today, Tom Ennis, Dial’s director of marketing, said that the Shrek 2 cross-promotion was good for the movie studio as well as Dial, stating that the promotion had ‘‘overachieved its sales estimates.’’


By repositioning Dial-A-Mattress, a seemingly fly-by-night operation with B-grade commercials, as a company on the cutting edge of so-called anti-advertising, the ‘‘Always Out There’’ campaign demonstrated the importance of taking chances. Dial-A-Mattress first took a chance by hiring Dweck & Campbell in New York, a young agency with a penchant for guerilla marketing, such as spray painting brand names on Manhattan sidewalks, to handle most aspects of the makeover. Dweck, in turn, took a chance by selecting 30-year-old John O’Hagan to direct the three introductory commercials in the campaign. Hagen, a 1996 graduate of New York University Film School, had directed an award-winning documentary for his thesis but no television spots. Dweck, which had very strong creative people but no staff producer, according to 31-one-year-old producer Larry Shanet, took a further chance by hiring Shanet to produce the spots, his first freelance assignment after working for four years at Siquis Ltd. in Baltimore. This willingness to take risks culminated in a series of three 30-second television spots described as ‘‘very odd’’ and even ‘‘demented,’’ terms that translated into compliments in the contemporary advertising lexicon. Dweck mirrored the atmosphere of the commercials with oddball marketing tactics, such as advertising on carryout pizza boxes and Chinese take-home cartons. The campaign also initiated a number of changes that transformed the face that Dial-A-Mattress presented to the public, including a script for its customer service representatives to use when fielding orders over the telephone, new uniforms for its delivery people, and a redesigned company logo that was painted on the sideboards of its truck fleet.
The commercials introduced these changes by following the misadventures of two imperturbable deliverymen as they deposited mattresses in the households of customers who revealed themselves to be very strange.
‘‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’’ featured a man in a squirrel costume who intended to hibernate all winter in his basement; ‘‘Wrestlers’’ featured a husband-and-wife team re-creating the antics of pro wrestlers; and ‘‘Wannabe’’ featured a uniform freak who dressed up in a Dial-AMattress uniform. The spots generated humor by focusing on the contrast between the eccentricity of the customers and the unflappability of the deliverymen, who seemed to have seen it all.

Dweck & Campbell president Michael Dweck described his client Dial-A-Mattress succinctly: ‘‘It’s the FedEx of mattress companies.’’ More precisely, Dial-A-Mattress amounted to a marriage of a phone-order catalog company and an overnight delivery service. Customers phoned in an order to Dial-A-Mattress, and then one of the company’s delivery trucks, which were on the road 24 hours a day, arrived at the customer’s home with a choice of three mattresses to compare. The ultimate resting place of the product—the customer’s own bedroom—thus served, quite appropriately, as the showroom. In 1999 an article in Advertising Age pointed out that ‘‘prior to [the ‘Always Out There’] campaign, Dial-AMattress was known in the New York area for painfully bad TV spots.’’ In fact, the constraints of advertising budgets across the bedding category created a genre of advertising so uniformly awful that it generated a subgenre of ads that parodied the stereotypical bedding commercials. So Dial-A-Mattress was well positioned to use parody in its advertising, provided it could find an agency attuned to the subtleties of irony but willing to work on a low-budget, regional account.
Dweck & Campbell fit the bill perfectly—the start-up shop’s first account in 1992 revitalized New Jersey-based Giant Carpet with a series of 30-second commercials, aired on Saturday Night Live, that cost about $1,000 each to produce. Mining the same vein of presidential mockery as SNL cast member Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George Bush, the commercials recast the cut-rate carpet retailer from cheesy to hip. By 1997 the agency, founded by Dweck and vice president/ creative director Lori Campbell, collected billings estimated at $20million from clients such as Pepsi, TimeWarner, and Seagram’s. Servicing these staid names earned Dweck inflated clout and budgets, but the shop maintained its cutting-edge reputation by continuing to take risks. After seeing the story boards for the Dial-A-Mattress campaign, about 150 directors sent in reels from respected companies such as bicoastal Harmony Pictures and the bicoastal/international firm Propaganda. From these Dweck chose O’Hagan on the endorsement of Bryan Buckley, a partner at Hungry Man production company, which was in the process of signing the young director. Buckley backed the rookie by agreeing to codirect the spots; while Buckley showed up on the sets daily, he allowed the young director to take the reins of the production. Even without Buckley’s recommendation, O’Hagan’s work spoke for itself, as his student film Wonderland, which documented the eccentric inhabitants of Levittown, New York, had won the 1997 Cable Ace Award as well as a nomination for O’Hagan as the best director at the DGA Awards.
O’Hagan, a Brown University graduate who was born in Dublin, Ireland, but grew up in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., listed photographers Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Bill Owens as well as fiction-writer Flannery O’Connor as his prime artistic influences. ‘‘They all have a way of capturing the absurd and the poetic in the everyday,’’ O’Hagan said in an article by Scott Jones in a 1998 issue of Shoot. Dweck sought a director who could similarly capture the absurd and the poetic in the everyday, hence the choice to chance a newcomer. O’Hagan captured the absurdity of the everyday by allowing his actors enough room to spontaneously create genuine moments where they were guided less by the script or the director’s instructions than by their own intuition of the natural flow of the situation. ‘‘I don’t tell [the actors] how they have to say it or that they have to hit all the words on the line,’’ O’Hagan commented in Jones’s article. ‘‘They can put their spin on it, direct it, keeping it as real and spontaneous as possible.’’ The key was to get his actors ‘‘to a place where they try things, where they aren’t just saying things they think you want them to say,’’ O’Hagan continued.

Consumers in the regional area targeted by Dial-AMattress were familiar with the name of the company, but they were not aware of its unique selling process. ‘‘With Dial-A-Mattress, we did studies and found out that people who didn’t buy from them knew the company well—through 10 years of advertising—but didn’t know where the mattresses came from,’’ said Dweck in a 1998 Shoot article by Richard Linnett. ‘‘They didn’t see any outlets, no salesmen,’’ he continued. Part of Dweck’s challenge consisted of educating the consumers about the process, so the commercials portrayed it, focusing on the deliverymen who visited customers’ homes with the products. The spots also featured exaggerated versions of the target audience. By depicting customers who were unusual, Dial-A-Mattress identified its customers as individualistic. By exaggerating the quirkiness of the portrayals, the spots set consumers’ minds at ease by assuring them that the deliverymen would not consider them weird, as they had probably seen even stranger behavior.

The ‘‘Always Out There’’ campaign was a direct reaction to a decline in sales at Dial-A-Mattress as a result of increased competition from Sleepy’s, another regional bedding retailer that followed the traditional strategy of wooing customers into showrooms. Dial-A-Mattress also competed against department stores, which maintained showroom displays that captured the attention of customers who were not even shopping specifically for bedding. Dial-A-Mattress distinguished itself, however, as the only retailer that delivered the bed to its future setting as a part of the selling process, allowing for a purchasing experience tailored to the individual.

Dweck & Campbell took on the responsibility for a complete overhaul of Dial-A-Mattress with the understanding that greater visibility with a revamped image would require changes in the company itself. Market research revealed that consumers were wary of a retailer with no showroom and no tangible structure upon which to pin an image. ‘‘We had to build trust,’’ recounted Dweck in Linnett’s article. ‘‘So we said, let’s redesign the trust. What [Dial-A-Mattress operators] say when customers call, how they say it, how [customers are] treated after the purchase—we’ll control that whole cycle. And then there’s radio ads, there’s outdoor; we’re creating wardrobe, too, [and] we designed their uniforms.’’ The ‘‘Wannabe’’ spot highlighted the new uniforms, as the commercial centered around a customer with a uniform fetish. In an odd twist, the customer greeted the deliverymen dressed exactly as they were, and the wanna-be joined them in unloading the mattress. While displaying the screwball humor of the other ads in the campaign, this spot also paved the way for the shift to new uniforms. ‘‘Of course, we don’t want people to think this is a weird transition, an overnight transformation, like if the post office suddenly showed up with bright orange trucks,’’ Dweck observed. ‘‘You’d say, ‘What’s up? What’d you do with my mail?’ We want to make the transition nice and smooth, but fast, too.’’ Dweck & Campbell used existing ad space as well to support the transition. Dial-A-Mattress maintained a fleet of ‘‘50 trucks that are always out there,’’ Campbell pointed out. ‘‘So we are using them as billboards and a way of introducing their new logo—‘Always Out There.’ ’’ The new logo highlighted not only the pervasiveness of Dial-A-Mattress delivery trucks and the availability of its telephone operators but also the ‘‘out there’’ quirkiness of the new campaign and the company’s attitude more generally. The two other spots accentuated this message. ‘‘Wrestlers’’ featured a suburban couple garbed in outlandish wrestling outfits. ‘‘Honey, it’s here,’’ the husband announced as the deliverymen appeared with the mattress. The wife proceeded to pin her husband on the mat and then kick him in the groin. ‘‘What’s wrong?’’ she inquired lovingly, before continuing to thrash him. The two deliverymen shrugged off the couple’s actions as commonplace, everyday behavior. ‘‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’’ exaggerated the absurdity of the situation. In this spot, a man greeted the deliverymen in a squirrel costume, acting out his identification with the rodent who wanted to hibernate, although he had not yet been able to do so because he was too busy cleaning the gutters and roof. The costumed man escorted the deliverymen to his den in the basement and informed them that ‘‘Anybody with half a brain knows an Arctic ground squirrel is down by now.’’ The spot hinted at the reason behind his desire to burrow into the ground when his wife upstairs began loudly berating him through basement ceiling. The man tried to enlist the sympathy of the deliverymen, but all they offered was a clipboard to sign for his delivery. The impassive demeanor of the deliverymen provided both the humor and the sales pitch: these guys did not deliver therapy or interpretation or even reaction—all they delivered were mattresses.

Dweck & Campbell believed in the maxim that word-ofmouth advertising worked best of all. So they targeted their advertising at triggering discussion from its audience. It pleased O’Hagan to overhear random strangers quoting his spots, confirming that the commercial had made a memorable impression on them. ‘‘Right after [‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’] came out, I overheard some guys on the subway telling each other to ‘Shut your piehole!’ ’’ O’Hagan recalled in Jones’s article in Shoot. ‘‘It felt good to do something that people were responding to,’’ he continued. O’Hagan designed his films to elicit responses from his audience by leaving them open to interpretation, by not spelling out the meaning of his message: ‘‘If you’re just shoving things down people’s throats, there’s nothing for them to talk about . . . I like to give the audience more credit than that. People do pick up on the subtleties. They enjoy them.’’ The ‘‘Always Out There’’ campaign generated much talk value in these terms.
Shoot magazine’s Linnett called the ‘‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’’ spot ‘‘magnificently absurd.’’ He expressed reservations about the ‘‘Wrestlers’’ spot after viewing a rough cut at MacKenzie Cutler, a postproduction boutique in the revitalized Flatiron district of Manhattan, where Dave Coza edited the films. ‘‘Although it’s a funny concept, the piece at this stage begs less fight and more personality,’’ stated Linnett. The addition of the wife’s fleeting concern for her husband injected personality into the spot. ‘‘That one plaintive moment captures her character and gives the entire spot a sense of texture and personality,’’ Linnett pronounced.
Advertising Age, in its May 31, 1999, ad review, called the ‘‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’’ spot a success. ‘‘The unexpected nature of the spot and others in the campaign, along with the genuinely funny executions, helped drive Dial sales up significantly.’’ ‘‘Arctic Ground Squirrel’’ won a coveted Gold Lion in the retail category at the 1998 Cannes International Advertising Festival. A year later the spot picked up a Gold Clio in the Home Furnishings/Appliances category and a bronze medal in the Consumer Television under $50,000 Budget category at the twenty-third annual One Show Awards held in New York City’s Lincoln Center. In August 1998, however, Dweck & Campbell resigned the $5 million account, even though the agency was producing award-winning work on the campaign. Dweck explained in an article in Advertising Age that ‘‘philosophical differences over direction’’ forced him to resign the account. Although the ‘‘Always Out There’’ campaign was short-lived, it gained attention from the critical community of the advertising field as well as the attention of everyday consumers.


In 1996 Guinness initiated a new advertising campaign for its famous stout beer. With a history dating back to 18th-century Ireland, the brand had a venerable image. Not only was the black-colored beer the bestselling stout in the United Kingdom and Ireland but it was also exported to 150 different countries. Abroad, Guinness was able to capitalize on its association with all things Irish to drive sales. But at home in the British Isles, Guinness found that newer Irish stout beers such as Bass and Murphy’s were threatening to encroach on Guinness’s domination of the declining stout category. Most importantly, Guinness had not captured the younger generation of 18 to 34 year olds. For the most part these younger drinkers considered the dark brew to be more their parents’ beer of choice than their own. The ‘‘Not Everything in Black and White Makes Sense’’ campaign was conceived to reposition the Guinness brand to appeal to younger drinkers. The surrealistic-style commercials created by advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather attempted to make people reconsider Guinness. The campaign set out to do so in two ways. Not only were the commercials creative, humorous, and eye-catching but they also presented implausible situations that encouraged viewers to form their own opinions—about the spots and about Guinness itself. The intent was to enable viewers to drop their preconceptions about Guinness, including common notions that the beer was too bitter, fattening, or not chic enough. ‘‘We decided we had to more or less revamp the brand and everything it stood for—re-invent it as it had re-invented itself many times already, and reconnect it to the new Ireland,’’ Guinness marketing director Tim Kelly told the Sunday Business Post.
The launch spots of the campaign—‘‘Bicycle’’ and ‘‘Old Man’’—were both directed by Tony Kaye and encouraged viewers to take a new look at Guinness. ‘‘Bicycle,’’ which was filmed in a style reminiscent of 1940s movies, depicts a world without men. Against a backdrop of the song ‘‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,’’ the commercial portrays women in jobs traditionally held by blue-collar men. After these women drink beer, arm wrestle, and shoot pool, the commercial moves to a scene of a starkly empty maternity ward. Gloria Steinem’s famous quote, ‘‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,’’ flashes on the screen. What follows is the image of a fish riding a bicycle and the campaign’s tag line, ‘‘Not everything in black and white makes sense.’’ ‘‘Old Man’’ similarly set out to shock the viewer with its surprising ending. The commercial sets out with the sad scene of an old man dressing alone in his apartment. Singer Pete Townshend’s quote appears on screen: ‘‘I hope I die before I grow old.’’ It turns out, though, that the old man is donning his formal wear to marry a heavily pregnant buxom blonde.
While Guinness’s sales rose over the life of the campaign, the company was not entirely pleased with Ogilvy & Mather’s efforts. Two spots in particular sparked firestorms of controversy, which were not the sort of notoriety Guinness was hoping to achieve with its advertising. One, involving sadomasochistic practices, was decried as a reference to the death by hanging of a conservative member of Parliament that was rumored to have had sexual undertones. The other, which never actually ran, featured two gay men enjoying a tranquil breakfast. Tabloid newspapers, which got wind of the proposed commercial, chastised Guinness for condoning homosexual behavior. When the company responded by denying that it ever intended to do so and that it never would in the future, the gay community was outraged. Ultimately, Guinness fired Ogilvy & Mather and shifted its advertising business to Abbott Mead Vickers. That agency’s first campaign for the stout giant featured more traditional advertising focusing on the quality of the beer.

Guinness beer was founded under near-mythic circumstances in 1759, when Arthur Guinness took over an abandoned brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin, Ireland, and began producing a dark beer called porter. In later years the company named one of its strongest brews Guinness Extra Stout Porter. The porter appellation was in time dropped, and thus the stout category of beer was born. Guinness’s distinctive black color derived from the fact that some of the barley used in the production was roasted, rather like coffee beans. The darkness of the beer contrasted with the ‘‘blonde’’ foam that resulted from the beer being poured or ‘‘pulled’’ from the tap. The company also had a venerable history of advertising. Beginning in the 1930s the SH Benson ad agency coined the slogan ‘‘Guinness is good for you.’’ At the same time the ‘‘My Goodness, My Guinness’’ poster ads, which featured a balding zookeeper whose Guinness was perpetually stolen by larcenous animals, received critical and popular acclaim. Even as early as the 1930s, however, the company used advertising to reposition the brand. The Guardian newspaper has explained that, for example, the ‘‘Guinness for Strength’’ campaign of that decade, which portrayed an archetypal workman in the midst of his labor, was designed to give the beer ‘‘a more masculine, macho image.’’ Nearly 40 years later the company sought to again reposition itself. In order to appeal to women and to soften the brand’s primary association with working-class men, Guinness designed glossy, stylish ads that appeared in British fashion magazines.
In the 1980s Guinness again shifted its image through its advertising campaign. The seven commercials of the ‘‘Guinnless’’ campaign targeted 24- to 34-year-old men by depicting humorous scenarios of Guinness drinkers who were deprived of their coveted brew. In the late 1980s Guinness signed on with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and released the ‘‘Man with the Guinness’’ campaign, which once more deliberately tried to reposition the brand—this time ‘‘as a drink for strong, confident individuals,’’ according to The Guardian. Yet by the mid-1990s the cultural world of which Guinness was a part had again shifted. Not only had other Irish stout beers entered the market with their own distinctive advertising campaigns, but stout beers as a whole were losing British drinkers. Guinness became convinced that viewers had become too comfortable with the overwhelmingly popular seven-year ‘‘Man with the Guinness’’ campaign. To reinvigorate its marketing, the company went back to the drawing board with Ogilvy & Mather and nearly two years later released the first two ‘‘Black and White’’ commercials.

The target of Guinness’s new campaign revealed once more a strategic repositioning of the brand. As of 1996 the stout sector of the beer market was in decline. Although 79 percent of British drinkers over the age of 55 drank stout, only 35 percent of young adults consumed it. Thus, while Guinness held more than 80 percent of the draught stout market, the company’s growth could not be fueled by gaining more within the segment. Instead Guinness had to focus on winning over younger drinkers to its distinctive stout beer. As a result, the brewing titan targeted its new campaign to 18- to 34-year old males. ‘‘Guinness need[ed] . . . consumers to rethink their choice of beers,’’ reported Advertising Age International. The goal, in short, was to appeal to the target market to ‘‘rethink stubbornness when making up one’s mind.’’
In order to reach out to its target, the campaign sought to reflect the values of young adults in the 1990s. In an era dominated by postmodern philosophy that posited the ultimate relativity of all things including truth, the campaign resonated perfectly with the abundant insecurity and introspection of the times. ‘‘Research shows people today are more inwardly focused,’’ said the Independent-London. ‘‘The current message is: think again about life, your inner self, Guinness. All is not how it appears at first glance.’’ Each of the commercials opened with a statement that appeared to be categorical, but as the commercial progressed the assertion became more tenuous and open to debate.
Moreover, the look of the campaign was crafted to reach out to its target audience. It was stylish enough to appeal to a segment of the population that was raised with television and advertising. And it did not resort to the exclusivity that was the hallmark of other beer advertising. ‘‘Bicycle’’ was decidedly non-sexist and attempted to challenge the viewer with issues of gender. Ogilvy & Mather even produced a commercial that featured two gay men together at the breakfast table engaging in a decidedly normal kiss. The spot was leaked to tabloid newspapers before its release, however, and in the ensuing ruckus Guinness chose not to release the commercial.

While other stout beer producers were not challenging social mores in quite the same way, Guinness did begin to feel pressure from stout brands that challenged Guinness’s hegemony. Irish brands, including Murphy’s Irish Stout, Caffrey’s, Beamish, and Bass Ale, were expanding their market share at Guinness’s expense. Many of these brands laid claim to an Irish heritage through their advertising. These Gaelic ties were significant because, as the largest minority group in Britain, the Irish wielded considerable spending power. More importantly, however, was the fact that both in Britain and abroad (especially in the United States), the love of Irish culture had exploded in the 1990s to the point that all things of Ireland were trendy. Murphy’s sought to capitalize on this dynamic with the ‘‘Vincent Murphy’’ campaign. In one spot the quintessentially Irish Vincent Murphy sips his beer while he observes a ranting old man at the pub. As the man complains, Murphy quips, ‘‘Unlike the Murphy’s, he’s very bitter.’’ This underhanded dig at Guinness’s supposed bitter taste also subtly conveyed Murphy’s ‘‘genuine’’ Irish heritage. Caffrey’s ads, on the other hand, focused on the ‘‘New Ireland.’’ ‘‘There’s warmth and lyricism mixed with cosmopolitan and contemporary appeal,’’ a spokesperson for the company told the Independent-London. Beamish trumpeted its status as the ‘‘only brand that brews only in Ireland.’’
According to The Guardian, the ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign served to reassert ‘‘Guinness’s superiority in a marketplace that had suddenly become saturated with Irish stouts.’’ On the one hand, the explicit premise of the campaign—that not everything was as it appeared or claimed to be—addressed Guinness’s rival’s claims of cultural integrity as well as the competitors’ snipes at Guinness itself. The campaign also sought to reflect Guinness’s clout in the market. Controlling nearly 80 percent of the stout sector and 4.4 percent of total beer consumption in Great Britain, Guinness was, without question, the dominant beer in its category. The creativity and quality of the ‘‘Black and White’’ commercials sought to highlight the status of the beer itself.

As the definitive leader in its category, Guinness could not count on converting drinkers of rival stout brands as a means of continuing to expanding the brand. Instead, it had to win the loyalty of those who did not drink stout beer or had never tasted the black ale. In short, the campaign had to convince consumers to reevaluate their choice of beers. According to the Sunday Business Post, the goal of the ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign ‘‘was three-fold: to bring non-draught Guinness drinkers into the brand, to make Guinness a regular choice for occasional drinkers, and to dissuade regular drinkers from switching to competitive stouts.’’ Part of this agenda involved ‘‘updating’’ the brand’s image among younger British consumers. The campaign set out to accomplish this goal through daring commercials that clearly reached beyond Guinness’s solid, middle-age base. One of the more infamous spots of the ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign portrayed a sadomasochistic man hanging by chains from the ceiling (in a leather straightjacket) beneath a picture of British Prime Minister John Major. Other commercials in the campaign displayed similar moxie. A series of print ads featuring a satanic priest and an overweight nudist appealed to a more youthful audience. The company not only used mainstream publications to display the campaign’s ads but also selected smaller magazines that directly reached the campaign’s target. The sadomasochistic ad, for instance, ran solely in FHM, a publication with a circulation of only about 500,000 readers, most of whom, however, were young men drawn to the magazine’s glossy coverage of ‘‘fashion, football, and women,’’ according to the London Sunday Telegraph.
Guinness strove to reposition itself outside the realm of television and print also. The company sponsored the Cheltenham festival in Britain as well as the Fleadh Irish Music Festival in New York. By aligning the brand with international rock stars such as Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison, and Shane MacGowan, Guinness sought to increase its allure with a younger and more cosmopolitan segment of the British population.

The Guinness ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign was deemed a success from the outset. According to the company’s marketing department, the brand achieved its highestever share of the beer market—5.2 percent—after the campaign broke. The November 1997 Adwatch survey revealed a 56 percent recall among consumers across socioeconomic and gender lines. The survey also emphasized that the commercials performed especially well among the target audience. The campaign garnered industry accolades as well. Bob Garfield acknowledged the spots in Advertising Age International. In March 1998, however, Guinness indicated in a bold fashion that it was not entirely pleased with the high-profile ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign when it left Ogilvy & Mather and placed its advertising account with Abbott Mead Vickers instead. Officially the company stated to the Times of London that ‘‘part of the Guinness ethos has always been to move on before we have to’’ and that ‘‘Ogilvy & Mather’s work cannot be delivered any further.’’ Yet the rift between Guinness and Ogilvy & Mather ran deeper. The spot featuring the two gay men (which never ran) unleashed a storm of protest from conservative viewers and shareholders. After Guinness furiously backpedaled in response, claiming that ‘‘at no time, did we set out to make a so-called ‘gay’ ad, nor will we be screening one,’’ the gay community became outraged. Later the spot picturing the hanging sadomasochistic man drew another round of criticism, especially from Tory politicians who insisted the ad was a reference to the death by hanging of Tory Member of Parliament Stephen Milligan.
Furthermore, Guinness hinted that the ‘‘Black and White’’ campaign was ‘‘elitist’’ and inaccessible to younger consumers. Analysts speculated that the commercials had not touted the brand’s essential ‘‘Irishness’’ enough or that they had cultivated too serious an image for the beer. Guinness followed ‘‘Black and White’’ with Abbot Mead Vickers’s ‘‘Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.’’ These new commercials were decidedly non-surreal and lacked the ‘‘artistic’’ feel of the grainy ‘‘Black and White’’ spots. One spot portrays an elderly swimmer attempting to cross the village bay before his pint of Guinness, poured by his bartender brother, has settled. The old-fashioned style of the commercial contrasted with ‘‘Black and White’s’’ postmodern style.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Diageo plc’s Johnnie Walker was one of the world’s top scotch brands in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but blended scotch as a category was in long-term decline. Among distilled spirits, meanwhile, vodka was booming, largely as a result of effective youth-oriented marketing. Trying to shed a perception that scotch drinkers were stodgy, suit-wearing business types, JohnnieWalker in 1999 unveiled a global branding campaign called ‘‘Keep Walking’’ that continued to associate scotch drinking with success while widening the definition of success to appeal to young drinkers. The U.S. version of this campaign, which began in 2001, celebrated themaverick entrepreneurial ideas of the 1990s, but its message fell prey to changing perceptions of exactly such entrepreneurs following the dot-com crash and successive corporate scandals. In 2003 Johnnie Walker’s U.S. agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) of New York, set out to update ‘‘Keep Walking’’ to accommodate yet another definition of success.
The new installment of ‘‘Keep Walking,’’ which had a budget of approximately $15 million, focused on life as a journey and offered Johnnie Walker as a product that helped people navigate the uncertainties of that journey. The Striding Man logo, an image of an aristocratically dressed man in midstride, had been used in the campaign’s prior incarnations to represent the idea of personal progress; now the logo was used to suggest the determination required to weather the many obstacles and strange turns one encountered in life. The campaign’s print ads paired the Striding Man and the ‘‘Keep Walking’’ tagline with stories of individual career paths that had taken unpredictable turns, while outdoor executions featured the Striding Man as their central character, who was shown having emerged from difficulties represented by simple visual symbols, such as walls, rainclouds, and stock-market graphs.
BBH exceeded its goals of drawing attention to the Johnnie Walker brand and to the Striding Man as a brand icon. The update of ‘‘Keep Walking’’ won a Silver EFFIE Award in 2005. The concept behind the outdoor component of the campaign was extended in a subsequent series of print and outdoor ads launched in late 2004.

Blended scotch whiskey fell drastically out of favor among American consumers during the 1980s and 1990s, losing more than 20 percent of its sales volume as young people in particular turned to clear liquors. While vodka brands such as Absolut and, later, Grey Goose built up-to-date, premium product images that appealed to people in their twenties and thirties—high-volume consumers essential to the long-term health of any alcohol brand—scotch advertising on the whole did not keep pace with the times. Predictable appeals, such as using stereotypical Scottish imagery or connecting traditional ideas of business success with scotch drinking, were ineffective in communicating with young people.
Diageo’s Johnnie Walker attempted to remedy this image problem by turning, in 1999, to a global branding platform called ‘‘Keep Walking,’’ crafted by Bartle Bogle Hegarty of London. Featuring the Striding Man logo—an image of a walking man decked out in a top hat, boots, and cane, which made its first appearance on the Johnnie Walker bottle in 1909—‘‘Keep Walking’’ was meant to suggest the idea of personal progress; the perpetually walking figure signified the determination necessary to realize one’s dreams and goals. In print ads as well as TV spots such figures as Abraham Lincoln and the actor Harvey Keitel, as well as artists and philosophers, were employed to stress the long-established connection between success and scotch-drinking, but the campaign effectively broadened the definition of success to encapsulate worlds beyond the country clubs and private libraries of macho businessmen.
A U.S.-specific campaign running under the ‘‘Keep Walking’’ umbrella was launched in early 2001, at the height of enthusiasm regarding the so-called ‘‘new economy.’’ Print ads assuring consumers that ‘‘A simple idea can change the world’’ depicted napkins on which the big entrepreneurial ideas of the 1990s—like selling coffee for $4.95 or opening an online bookstore—were shown in embryonic form, sketched on cocktail napkins, matchbooks, and other scraps of paper. A corresponding online promotion offered entrepreneurs a shot at $500,000 in grant money to realize their own business dreams. In the wake of the dot-com crash, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and a wave of corporate scandals, however, the limitations of this inspirational, shoot-forthe-moon message became clear. Diageo enlisted its U.S. agency, the New York office of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, to further recast the ‘‘Keep Walking’’ idea in 2003.

Urban men aged 25 to 34 were Johnnie Walker’s primary target, but the 2003 update of the ‘‘KeepWalking’’ concept marked a key shift in the brand’s approach to this group. Previous installments of the campaign had been aimed at stimulating demand among the target group regardless of whether they already drank Johnnie Walker or, for that matter, scotch in general. The new version of ‘‘KeepWalking,’’ by contrast, was aimed at scotch drinkers who were already familiar with the brand. BBH New York sought to take advantage of the fact that most people chose their alcohol brands based on social factors; the agency felt that if those who occasionally drank Johnnie Walker could be encouraged to drink it regularly, then they would serve, ultimately, as brand representatives among their friends and acquaintances. By strategically narrowing the target market in this way, moreover, BBH was able to make better use of a limited advertising budget.
BBH believed that in a scandal-ridden, recession-era business world, it did not make sense to emphasize material riches exclusively. The agency found poll numbers suggesting that a large majority of young men would, if given the choice, prefer two extra weeks of vacation to a 10 percent raise in pay. The new installment of ‘‘Keep Walking,’’ then, emphasized life as a journey and offered models of success that were much more down-to-earth than those presented in the prerecession campaign of 2001. Gone were references to simple, world-altering ideas; in their place there appeared profiles of accomplished men, complete with references to the setbacks, humiliations, and unpredictable turns that characterized their paths to success. The Striding Man logo was transformed into a symbol of endurance rather than of simple inspiration.

‘‘Keep Walking’’ supported Johnnie Walker’s two blended scotches, its Red Label and Black Label products. Johnnie Walker Red was the more affordable and more popular of the two and was America’s second-leading scotch brand, behind Dewar’s. Johnnie Walker Black, the fourth-bestselling scotch in the United States at the time of the campaign’s launch, was a rival to premium brand Chivas Regal, then the country’s number five scotch. Dewar’s, like Johnnie Walker, was at this time attempting to update its image and appeal to a younger audience. In 2000 the brand changed its approach to print marketing, entering into advertising partnerships with a few strategically selected publications, rather than continuing to run ads in as many as 20 magazines at a time. One prominent Dewar’s partnership, with Men’s Journal, resulted in a 2003 project called ‘‘Conquer the Highlands,’’ an adventure story of two young men on an ‘‘extreme’’ tour of Scotland, which ran as a print insert described as an ‘‘advertorial,’’ meaning it was intentionally similar to the magazine’s content. This blurring of the boundaries between editorial and advertising content tested magazine-publishing conventions of the time. The theme was also adapted into a cable-television program, a one-hour adventure show that likewise mixed the two young men’s adventures with product placement. Rather than continuing to compete with vodka and other clear spirits for the youth market, Chivas Regal in 2003 instead began repositioning itself to appeal to an older male market. In a global ad campaign called ‘‘The Chivas Life,’’ the brand made no apologies for its luxury roots, celebrating bold life choices such as going ice fishing in Alaska, ‘‘crossing the room like you own it,’’ and embarking on a sailing trip, the destination of which was decided by throwing a dart.
Vodka, meanwhile, was the distilled-spirits industry’s fastest-growing market segment and one in which consumers’ purchasing choices, according to many observers, were almost exclusively tied to marketing and brand image. In the 1980s and 1990s Absolut vodka had risen from obscurity to become one of the hippest brands in the world and, ultimately, the number three distilled spirits brand in America, thanks to a long-running advertising campaign that turned the product’s bottle into an iconic, fashionable emblem. In the first few years of the new millennium, however, Absolut’s yearly sales growth could not keep pace with the vodka market at large, which was growing rapidly because of new designer brands such as Grey Goose. Using a taste-test platform whose findings were called into question from the start, together with aggressive marketing to bar owners, the Grey Goose brand grew faster, between 2000 and 2004, than any alcohol product in recent memory, becoming the vodka of choice for urban consumers of pricey specialty cocktails.

The new ‘‘Keep Walking’’ campaign had an estimated budget of $15 million and involved distinct print and outdoor components meant to accomplish different tasks. The ‘‘Journeys’’ print series, which featured profiles of men who had achieved success in unconventional ways, was meant to connect with consumers by making them evaluate their own conceptions of personal progress and by showing them that Johnnie Walker understood their lives. The outdoor portion of the campaign, called ‘‘Icons,’’ was less personal and more overt in its branding, showing the Striding Man continuing to move forward despite difficulties, which were represented by simple but suggestive graphics against a black background. The ‘‘Journeys’’ ads included ‘‘Bar,’’ which showed a young man standing behind the bar of his own cuttingedge drinking establishment. A horizontal yellow timeline cut across the image, with copy reading, chronologically across the page, ‘‘First Business Loan,’’ ‘‘Second Mortgage,’’ ‘‘Third Migraine,’’ and ‘‘Fourth Location.’’ Similarly, ‘‘Cave’’ summarized an unconventional career path, showing a rear view of a man who was standing at the mouth of a cave that opened on to the ocean. The copy keyed to the various stages of the timeline graphic read, ‘‘Discover Caving,’’ ‘‘Discover Perfect Cave,’’ ‘‘Discover Others Will Pay to Be Guided There,’’ and ‘‘Discover Perfect Job.’’ ‘‘Producer’’ depicted a preoccupied man sitting in front of an enormous audiomastering console. The story of his career path, as told via the accompanying timeline, was, ‘‘Terrible Guitarist,’’ ‘‘Incompetent Drummer,’’ ‘‘Laughable Lead Singer,’’ and ‘‘Double-Platinum Producer.’’ In each ad the Striding Man logo appeared above the ‘‘Keep Walking’’ tag at the far right end of the time line, suggesting the pictured individual’s determination.
The ‘‘Icons’’ ads sent similar messages, but through symbolic images rather than via individual profiles. For instance, the Striding Man was shown emerging from the precipitous valley of a stock market graph and climbing a slope indicating an upswing, a clear reference to the recent economic woes that had affected many among the Johnnie Walker target market. ‘‘Wall’’ depicted the Striding Man on the other side of a wall he had just walked through, and ‘‘Cloud’’ showed him continuing to walk after having weathered a rainstorm. In addition to point-of-service promotions, which linked imagery from the national campaign to retail displays of the product, the campaign included a less traditional element called a ‘‘Mentorship’’ program. The program involved sending E-mail invitations that directed Johnnie Walker drinkers to a website where they could register for social gatherings staged by the brand. These gatherings put the ‘‘mentors’’ in a position to spread their brand enthusiasm to Johnnie Walker neophytes.

BBH exceeded many of its goals for attracting attention to the Johnnie Walker brand. The agency met its goal of increasing awareness of the Striding Man as brand logo. Whereas only 22 percent of consumers were aware of the logo’s connection to Johnnie Walker before the campaign ran, 50 percent made the connection after the ads had been running for three months. While BBH had not staked the value of its campaign, which was more concerned with building brand equity and identity, on its capacity to generate immediate sales increases, a comparison of sales figures from the same three-month period the previous year showed a dollar-sales increase of 3.7 percent and a volume-sales increase of 3 percent. The campaign was awarded a Silver EFFIE Award in 2005. The concept behind the ‘‘Icons’’ outdoor ads was extended in a print and outdoor campaign thatwas launched in late 2004, in which the Striding Man was shown, as before, against a black background, having successfully endured an obstacle represented by symbolic graphics. More than 50 such adswere generated, and each was tailored to its medium, the timing of its appearance, or (in the case of outdoor placements) its physical location. The ‘‘Keep Walking’’ tagline and the Striding Man logo remained Johnnie Walker’s controlling umbrella concepts in subsequent advertising both globally and in the United States.


In June 2004 Plantation, Florida–based DHL Holdings (USA), Inc., a subsidiary of DHL, which was headquartered in Belgium and was itself a subsidiary of the privately owned German postal service Deutsche Post World Net, ended a more-than-20-year absence from the U.S. television advertising market with a three-spot campaign that announced increased competition in the U.S. express and ground parcel market. The company, which had gone through a number of changes in the years just prior to the campaign, hired Ogilvy & Mather of New York to produce the campaign. The campaign sported the tagline ‘‘Competition. Bad for them. Great for you.’’ It consisted of television spots as well as print and online advertising and outdoor signage. In addition to the campaign proper, Ogilvy PR Worldwide conducted a public-relations campaign to assist in reintroducing the brand. The cost of the campaign was approximately $150 million.
The ‘‘Competition’’ campaign not only reintroduced DHL to United States customers but also introduced new colors for the company and made consumers aware of a fourth option (after UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service) in the U.S. express shipping market. The campaign ended in February 2005, but DHL’s two subsequent U.S. advertising campaigns followed up on what ‘‘Competition’’ had achieved and further cemented the company’s presence in the U.S. market. B to B named it the best integrated campaign of 2004.

Founded in 1969 by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn (whose surname initials gave the company its name), DHL was originally an express-courier service that carried documents such as bills of lading between San Francisco and Honolulu. During the next two decades DHL focused on international express delivery. In the 1970s DHL first initiated service to Pacific Rim countries (except China) and followed this up with service to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. In the 1980s the company began air-express service to Eastern Europe and the People’s Republic of China. A television ad campaign of the early 1980s was memorable for its visuals of flying company vans. During this period DHL was content to relinquish the U.S. express market to rivals United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (now FedEx). That attitude changed in the early years of the twenty-first century. The new approach toward the U.S. express-shipping market came with a new owner. In 2002 the German company Deutsche Post World Net completed its acquisition of DHL (the process had begun in 1998). The following year DHL, in an effort to expand its ground-delivery capabilities, made a $1.1 billion offer to buy the ground-delivery service of Seattle-based Airborne Express. Airborne, initially an air-delivery company, had only recently begun its ground-package service in 2001. The deal was held up for five months while the U.S. Department of Transportation examined it closely. The department’s two concerns were reduced competition and—because of the climate of heightened security following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—foreign ownership. Ultimately the acquisition went through: the Airborne ground service was merged with DHL Americas, while Airborne’s air operations became part of a new independent company called ABX Air, which was owned by Airborne stockholders. In this way the issues of foreign ownership and reduced competition were bypassed.

The target market for the ‘‘Competition’’ campaign was the combined group of owners of small- and mediumsized U.S. businesses. Theresa Howard wrote in USA Today, ‘‘Historically both DHL and Airborne courted larger companies, overlooking the smaller businesses that generate 75 percent of new jobs and 52 percent of the gross domestic product, according to Inc. magazine.’’ It was by tapping into this overlooked market that DHL in 2004 hoped to expand upon its meager share of the U.S. ground-express market while not overlooking its core customer base of larger companies.
In addition the humor of the spots was designed to grab the attention of customers under age 40, whether or not they were business owners. In this way DHL laid the groundwork for its future customer base. Finally, as at least one media critic, Barbara Lippert of Adweek, recognized, the spots were also intended to boost morale among DHL employees and solidify the company’s effort to expand its share of the express- and ground-delivery market.

While the United States Postal Service (USPS) competed with DHL, there was never any doubt about who the company was really focused on overtaking. UPS and FedEx held such larger percentages of the U.S. expressand ground-delivery market that DHL Americas CEO John Fellows referred to them as duopolists. In an article in South Florida CEO, Rochelle Broder-Singer quoted Fellows, who saw some advantage for the smaller DHL Americas. ‘‘Within the U.S., our competitors are very inflexible [because of their size] and often arrogant. We’ll ensure that our brand is flexible.’’ Flexible or not, UPS had effectively rebranded itself with its ‘‘What Can Brown Do for You?’’ campaign, which cost some $45 million. The campaign broke in February 2002, during the Winter Olympics. For its part FedEx responded in October 2003 with its $90 million, award-winning ‘‘Relax, it’s FedEx’’ campaign.
That FedEx and UPS saw DHL as a potential threat was obvious from the roadblocks that they threw up when the company sought to take over Airborne Express. Still, compared to them DHL was a very small player in the U.S. market. According to SJ Consulting, a Pennsylvania-based transportation-industry consulting firm, in 2004 UPS held 51 percent of the U.S. parcel market, FedEx had a 27 percent share, and the USPS captured 13 percent of the market. DHL trailed with 7 to 8 percent.

The strategy for the advertising campaign was twofold: to reintroduce the brand to customers and to position DHL as a serious alternative to UPS and FedEx in the United States. DHL executives felt that increasing the company’s share of the U.S. market was crucial to the company’s global positioning. In her USA Today article, Howard quoted Richard Metzler, then executive vice president of marketing for DHL Americas, who said, ‘‘There can’t be a strong DHL globally without a strong DHL in the U.S.’’ The campaign was DHL’s first U.S. advertising in two decades, and it used simple humor to get the point across, never leaving any doubt that the company was taking on the giants in the U.S. express market. In one television spot UPS and FedEx trucks waited on opposite sides of a railroad crossing while a long line of flatcars passed, each carrying DHL trucks. Another spot showed a FedEx truck and a DHL truck racing through a city trying to arrive first at the same destination. The race ended in a two-way tie for second place: a DHL driver was walking out of the building just as they arrived. The spots featured the tagline ‘‘Competition. Bad for them. Great for you.’’ The passing-train spot particularly reinforced the new DHL colors, red and yellow. Previously DHL trucks had been painted white. The spots aired early in the morning, on prime-time broadcast and cable programs, and during late-night talk shows. Metzler, who had worked in FedEx’s marketing department prior to coming to DHL, also discussed the spots in a B to B article by Mary Ellen Podmolik. ‘‘We had to nail it on creative, and we did,’’ he said. Podmolik noted that because of the lengthy gap between DHL’s ad campaigns, ‘‘Metzler considered it critical to refer to FedEx and UPS by name so as to define [DHL’s] own abilities in the express delivery market to U.S. customers.’’ In addition to the television commercials, print ads were run in leading business publications, ads were placed online, and billboards were installed in strategic locations around the United States. One of DHL’s most prominent, and telling, billboard ads was located at the Memphis, Tennessee, airport, across from the FedEx hub. (FedEx was headquartered in Memphis.) As further proof that the ‘‘Competition’’ campaign was the first salvo in DHL’s plan to become a major shipper in the U.S. market, the company announced in September 2004 that it had leased space in Memphis for a new sorting center, the third of a planned seven new hubs. The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis daily, quoted two DHL officials on the subject. Steve White, at the time the head of DHL’s hub and gateway operations, explained, ‘‘Memphis will allow us to expand our overnight delivery to parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.’’ Dan McDonald, then head of DHL network planning, had a more competitive take on the expansion into Memphis: ‘‘Memphis is geographically in the center of the country. FedEx found it works for them, and that we’re in FedEx’s backyard is just icing on the cake.’’
Ogilvy PR Worldwide complemented the ad campaign with a public-relations campaign that aimed, according to a June 2004 press release published in Business Wire, ‘‘to reintroduce the global express and logistics leader to core constituents and opinion leaders.’’ In that same press release Metzler said, ‘‘Using a full 360-degree arsenal of marketing channels, we are showcasing the DHL brand’s value message to current and potential customers across all points of contact.’’
DHL enhanced its ad campaign by signing a deal that made it the ‘‘Official Express Deliver and Logistics Provider’’ of the U.S. Olympic team for the 2004 Olympic Games, which were held in Athens. As such DHL also signed an exclusive U.S. broadcast agreement with NBC, the network that aired the Athens Olympics. The agreement locked out UPS and FedEx from national television advertising during the Olympics broadcast. This was not DHL’s first sponsorships of a high-profile sporting event; in 2002 the company was one of the official sponsors of the British soccer team during the World Cup tournament.

There was no doubt that the reintroduction of the DHL brand was successful, though, as expected, gaining a larger share of the market was less so. Nevertheless, in the USA Today weekly poll Ad Track, 23 percent of those familiar with the spots liked them ‘‘a lot.’’ This was a slight increase over the Ad Track average of 21 percent. Among those polled in the 30-to-39 age group, 33 percent liked the spots ‘‘a lot,’’ while 27 percent considered them ‘‘very effective.’’ The Ad Track average for the latter was also 21 percent. Furthermore, as Howard noted in her November 2004 USA Today article, ‘‘tests of DHL’s unaided consumer brand awareness show a 40-point climb.’’ Because of the Airborne Express acquisition and the $1.2 billion expansion project, DHL’s U.S. operations lost money in 2004 and 2005, though parent Deutsche Post World Net boasted that the company would reach the break-even point by 2006. Being more or less the groundbreaker in the United States for the new DHL, the ‘‘Competition’’ campaign was bound to influence the company’s subsequent campaigns. In early 2005 DHL launched a baseball-themed campaign as part of a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball. DHL became the official delivery service for the league, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the website, and individual teams. One of the baseball spots featured Johnny Damon, who at the time was a star outfielder for the 2004 World Series champion team the Boston Red Sox. By associating the company with one of the touchstones of American culture, the baseball connection demonstrated DHL’s commitment to increasing its share of the U.S. market. In September 2005 DHL introduced a new integrated campaign that emphasized customer service. ‘‘Last year we wanted people to understand that we were here and that we were a choice in . . . shipping,’’ said Karen Jones, DHL vice president of brand, advertising, and promotions, in an Adweek article by Kenneth Hein. ‘‘Then the task was coming up with a unique and different message to tell the world why they should choose DHL.’’