By students, for students.

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Diageo’s opportunities in 2013

In Management, Marketing on December 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Guinness is Diageo's leading stout

Diageo has proven itself an exemplary brand builder and agile innovator, remaining curious despite controlling many heritage brands. HBR looks at future opportunities in the alcohol industry.

Female drinkers: Diageo already markets to women with the Baileys brand, but – with women spending £10bn a year on drinks – more can be done to break with the past of male-dominated pubs. Men are currently more likely to reach for a high-calorie Guinness or tin of Red Stripe. Diageo’s gender focus is revealed by the brand characters of Johnnie Walker and Captain Morgan. Despite the huge barriers to bringing beer to women, Diageo should compete with Carlsberg’s Eve.

Low-alcohol: Mintel has highlighted lower-alcohol wine as one of the few segments of the category which was showing significant year-on-year growth. Diageo could profit by focussing on this segment if they could overcome three obstacles: extra production costs, taste and packaging. Leveraging scale of production offers a way to reduce the cost placed on a buyer considering low-alcohol options, while marketing celebrating difference in taste could help turn consumer perceptions. Low-alcohol options could be further differentiated by packaging as Mintel also found screw tops, boxes and pouches were also growing in popularity.

Matching trend: The shift from on-trade to off-trade has been accompanied with a rise in consumers looking to match their food and alcohol. This comes as a consequence of eating at home, without the recommendations of a sommelier or wine list. Diageo should move to perform this role within the home, targeting consumers in supermarkets. Partnerships with the food industry could be mutually beneficial as cross-promotional recommendations read: ‘Perfect with Guinness!’ or ‘Great at BBQs!’


Deadline day

In Fun on December 14, 2012 at 12:33 am


Good luck with hand-in ISM pros.

Remember – DEADLINE: 14/12/12 4pm. (Hard copy and Turnitin.)

Alan believes in you!

Internstrips: New guy

In Fun on December 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Bee office internstrip

HBR’s worst buzzword of 2012:


One who excessively devours buzzwords

The speaker was an aural gourmand of the highest calibre. Half the audience was lost, pale, perspiring and confused within the first paragraph of his peroration. The other half looked on smugly, knowing they too were fully paid up aural gourmands, feasting with the Heston Blumenthal of their profession.

Three tenets of marketing communications

In Coaching, Management, Marketing on December 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

katie price snickers

Marketing campaigns have taken innumerable forms under the pressures of competitive capitalism. However, the most successful examples share three qualities.

The best marketing communication campaigns are distinctive, customer-orientated and conscious of the positioning, qualities and perceived value of the product they are pushing.

Firstly, successful campaigns reach, resonate and register with potential customers. In order to build profitable customer relationships, successful campaigns take a dazzling variety of forms, from Domino’s Times Square interactive billboard on to a Boots deal on the back of a bus ticket. A race for distinctive communications has steered some agencies away from focus group research, finding public input drives campaigns towards the middle ground. Campaigns which take on a cultural life of their own are celebrated within the industry and mainstream media. For instance, the Old Spice campaign saw millions of people engaging with a brand that had been consigned to the grave.

Secondly, marketing communications should grow out of an understanding of the customer. Tesco Mobile knows that parodying iPhone ads aligns their offer with price-sensitive customers looking for no-nonsense service in contrast with the glamorous positioning of competing brands. A campaign may have high production values, stylish design and be enviably placed but, without an idea of the customer needs, wants and desires at stake, it will fail. This means differentiation is vital.

Thirdly. In order to be accepted by consumers marketing messages, however abstract, must be built on the qualities of the product, service or brand. Snickers’s 2012 ‘hungry celebrity’ Twitter campaign referenced the bar’s everyday snack appeal, but would undermine a luxury brand like Hotel Chocolat which celebrates high grade and high prices in the gift market.

Successful campaigns differ in many ways but have consistently provided distinctive, imaginative, targeted and authentic communications.

Branding Bacon

In Marketing on December 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm


Brands can be deliberate or emergent. Branding is the reputation, emotional significance and a mental summary of a business, organisation or even personality. By this definition, 20th Century painter Francis Bacon emerged as a successful brand both for his art and its commercialisation.

The Bacon brand was coherent, underpinned by a view of man as merely another animal – prey to its sexual desires, bodily functions and anxieties. This attracted a particular segment of the art world, between modern abstraction and neo-romanticism, where those seeking brand association would pay almost $90m for the privilege of owing a piece of his ‘brand’.

The Bacon brand was also authentic. He maintained his standards as an artist by regularly destroying canvases so that they would never reach the public. Bacon refused to sever the connection between his art and the sensory and emotional realities common to all humanity. Bacon inhaled the full range of human experience – dining with countesses, drinking in Soho, mixing violence and sexuality in his private life. His brand was an amalgam of transparent influences.

The most successful brands project a consistent and credible message – strengthening emotional associations to build profitable customer relationships. I believe Francis Bacon achieved much the same. However, he might be appalled that those elements of quality, coherence, authenticity provide a platform today for the sale of ‘Bacon’ beach towels and cushions in ‘his’ shop – an enterprise, even if philanthropic, that could damage the brand by its conflict with all that Bacon embodied.

Ambrosia’s hidden meanings

In Management, Marketing on December 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Ambrosia picnic

Click for ad (video)

Marketing bloggers are infamous for searching for hidden messages in print ads or TV spots.  Yet, for every dreamt-up satanic cameo there is a legitimate observation of the careful details used to support the overall message of the advertiser. Henley Business Review turns our detective’s glass on  Ambrosia’s latest offering.

According to Campaign Live: “Set in the countryside, the quirky animated spot features an apple, a flask, a Scotch egg and a chicken drumstick laid out for a picnic, each animated with a superimposed face. The team used sophisticated prosthetics to ensure the characters’ faces fit seamlessly on to the objects.”

“Devon knows it’s unbelievably good” is the conclusion of the advert conducted as elements of a rural Devonshire scene incredulously respond to Ambrosia Rice’s dual benefits: being creamy, but low in fat. These attributes are clearly not meant to be missed –  pronounced at least 10 times in 32 seconds  The ad portrays news spreading outwards from the original spoon. Early adopters, it is implied, can pride themselves with being ahead of the curve.

On another level the advert must be read as celebrating Ambrosia as a rival to traditional snacks. While the spoons (the natural ally of the rice pudding) respond with unambiguous joy at the new arrival, the chicken leg and the Scotch egg appear disconcerted: are they to be replaced?

Ambrosia’s product is not lent a voice; its quality speaks for itself. The rest of the food is imbued with overexcited and disturbed personalities. Ambrosia’s offering can be seen to involve less fuss than alternatives. (You wouldn’t want to be caught by an exploding thermos!)

The music is borrowed from a 1970s puppet show. So the ad’s secondary message becomes clearer. Ambrosia is a well-established purveyor of traditional puddings proud of a heritage in a county famed for its cream and authentic rural produce, but Ambrosia’s new offering differs from the rest of the food at the picnic – it is modern, convenient and, of course lest we forget… creamy and low in fat.

Secrets of advertising: Wit

In Marketing on December 10, 2012 at 11:48 am

It's summertime in london

A clever ad is witty.

Let me explain.

The world of advertising is schizophrenic. Authorities such as the Advertising Standards Agency pronounce as if the profession has an Orwellian stranglehold on the way we think. On the other, and in reality, political sound-bites have halved in length to keep pace with audiences’ shrinking attention span as they desperately fast forward their Tivo box to avoid the tedium of the fifth Renault ad that evening.

A clever advertiser reconciles advertising’s potential power with widespread resistance to the barrage of slogans people battle daily. This is achieved by providing content worthy of 90 seconds of consideration and so being positively welcomed by potential customers.

Most satisfyingly this has been achieved through wit. In an age of mass production, digital selling and global supply chains, wit is the closest a customer comes to directly interacting with the human face and character of a business. For instance, the Eurostar’s ‘summertime in London’ campaign showed a Royal Guard at the barbers, getting the fur of his bearskin hat shaved off to reveal an elongated head. And consider the Economist’s billboards proclaiming “Great minds like a think.”

Each ad is playful, subversive and unexpected and, crucially, cuts to the heart of their service’s value. The Eurostar becomes more than a transport solution, but a connection between neighbours – connected despite their eccentricities and dissimilarities. The Economist presents itself as possessing an alternative perspective and enjoyable rhetorical style (and a club their target reader would appreciate being invited to join). The same element of the unexpected suffuses the latest Guinness “Cloud” ad. You take on the message of a clever ad as a consenting partner and not a hostage.