Of all the buzzwords that fill our daily lives, ‘through-the-line’ can sometimes seem like the greatest misnomer. Whilst ATL and P-O-P agencies may essentially speak a very similar language, attempts by both sides to cross the line between different media territories is often greeted by a frosty response. So where does that leave marketers looking to successfully translate that latest TV campaign into store?
In 2009, FMCG giant Procter & Gamble launched what it called its ‘Store Back’ initiative. The concept was pretty simple. Agency partners were mandated to begin by having the end in mind when they were developing ideas – starting the campaign development process by thinking about how a campaign would be executed at retail, and then work backwards. Rather than simply modifying existing advertising for use in-store, the initiative focused on helping P&G to produce more closely targeted executions to maximise impact at the point-of-purchase. So three years on, how widespread has this new approach to joined-up thinking during campaign development become?
According to Adrian Green, shopper marketing controller with United Biscuits, there is still some way to go. “Shopper messaging can be handled by any agency – in theory,” he says. “However, ATL agencies need to understand that whilst shoppers can be the consumer in some instances, they respond to a totally different set of stimuli, sometimes unconsciously, to how they react as a consumer or in planning mode.” The key, he believes, is to use shopper insight to unearth the barriers to purchase that must be overcome in-store, before turning this insight into action.
During the launch of its new McVitie’s Medley product, the reliance on shopper research to adapt the thinking applied to ATL creative, prior to it being translated in to store, was paramount to United Biscuits. Whilst the marketing team was keen to see it applied to the retail space as well as TV and press media, they soon realised that it might not be wholly appropriate. For example, it was identified that shoppers would likely be buying the product because they were bored, not hungry. As a result, UB created distinct and phased messaging campaigns, aimed specifically at shoppers. The first, reinforcing the trial price of the product in order to drive penetration amongst ‘biscuit explorers’ or early adopters, followed by one focused around shopper education – designed to communicate product quality. “Shopper will tell you what’s appropriate in that context,” says Green.
However, other marketers – whilst unanimous in their support for truly integrated creative campaigns – also advise caution when adapting ATL activity for use in-store. “One of the challenges that we have, in terms of granular shopper targeting and reaching out to varied shopper types in different retail environments, is that it’s often difficult to determine how far you should tailor messages to shopper needs, without losing part of your brand identify that you’ve invested so much in building through ATL activity. Sometimes there is a danger that marketers can go too far,” warns Alice Taylor, POS and shopper activation executive with Beiersdorf, brand owner of NIVEA. She is also keen to highlight the fact that adapting ATL to in-store can be a very challenging process, given the confines of retailer guidelines around P-O-P in-store.”
But marketers do not have to look far for a recent example of how successfully applying shopper behaviour learning in-store can also positively influence wider campaign development. Launched into a category dominated by Sensodyne, the brief for Colgate’s new Pro-Relief sensitive toothpaste was to develop an holistic campaign that would draw consumers and shoppers along the path to purchase – building awareness, engaging them with the category and activating purchase. It required a simple creative idea that people could relate to, grasp immediately and engage with, whether they buy a sensitive toothpaste or not. The in-store campaign created became so relevant that it drove ATL work.
“Advertising is engaging and elicits an emotional connection with the brand,” says Gideon Karmiloff, managing director of creative agency Vivid Brand, which worked on the Colgate campaign. “But when it comes to applying that same creative to in-store it becomes all about adapting it to drive transaction. Yes, campaigns in-store should have visual attributes from ATL, but you don’t want ‘matching luggage’ – it requires a creative approach that delivers a strong visual message as well as more defined messages to the shopper, promoting why you should choose one brand over another at the moment of purchase consideration,” he argues.
In truth, there are very few leading retailers who fail to understand the value of in-store communication. The challenge now is for brands and agencies to come up with in-store communication that benefits the brand, retailer and shopper – brand and category activations that provide added value, instead of simply replicating creative executions on TV or in print. “When brands do that successfully they can create a meaningful dialogue in-store,” says Gideon.
The images below, showcase Vivid Brands response to Coke Zero’s ‘Mission Impossible’ campaign. This was about aligning the consumer with the feeling of an action hero. The tools below relate clearly to the ATL, but focus on the consumer (young male) and what would attract him in a convenience store. The eye catching use of Lara Croft style legs for convenience store counters was one of the most frequently implemented tools and the gondola end hovering helicopters tool worked well as beacons to highlight the range in a busy store.
In supermarkets, a different approach was required. Action Heros were proposed to carry out the shopping for Mum – who is likely to be purchasing heavy multi packs.
Green believes that many ATL agencies still see shopper marketing as a re-branded version of trade marketing. In his mind, trade marketing represents old-fashioned thinking, where businesses would spend a bit of money with shoppers to get a creative proposition away, but it would always be an exact copy of ATL campaigns. “This is extremely difficult to do, and indeed undesirable: manufacturers should be looking at ways to deliver category growth with their retail partner,” he says.
He uses the example of the Coca-Cola and Diageo partnership around summer drinking to further illustrate his point. “This was a good example of how insight to a behaviour can trigger a different communication in-store and out of store,” says Green. “The insight was that shoppers were not bothering to buy the spirit and mixer because of issues around convenience and awareness. Bringing both together in store, away from the main aisle with awareness communication resolved that issue. The ATL could then wax lyrical about the excellent consumption benefits of spirit and mixer. Putting up a set of creative media in-store with the same message would have been unlikely to change shopper behaviour.”
Gideon also points to the US soft drinks company as a great example of in-store activations that are relevant to the shopper whilst still remaining true to ATL work. “Diet Coke ran an in-store promotion in partnership with leading cosmetics company Benefit and retailer Boots. It linked through really well, reinforcing Diet Coke’s TV ads – which feature female puppet brand ambassadors – and the theme of Boots own ‘here comes the girls’ ATL creative, with a promotion entitling shoppers to receive £5 off Benefit products.”
This more coordinated approach is in many ways symbolic of the growing move by ATL agencies to dedicate their considerable resources into the world of shopper marketing. The hope is that with it will come greater awareness of the retail environment as a place where future campaign ideas can be born, not just applied.
“My big plea to all agencies, whatever path they may have taken to find themselves in-store is: take the retail space seriously,” says Green. “It’s not a case of a ‘one creative solution fits all’ approach. Understand the complex and fast changing retail environment, the category, competitors and shoppers who influence, substitute, ignore, or love your client brands, and why.” If indeed this were to become common practice, pre-existing marketing lines would almost certainly become less visible. Perhaps instead being replaced by lines of fully engaged shoppers at the till, which would translate rather well to the bottom-line.
See the article in In-Store insights, or at www.popai.co.uk