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Must Try Harder. When TV advertising is back in the driving seat of campaigns it needs a definitive edge to make the grade

20 August, 2015 - Source: Y&R London

With shrinking budgets and increasing sales targets, the battle for advertising supremacy is greater than ever before. We know that TV drives footfall and generates sales but the real edge is created with TV advertising that gets people talking.

With shrinking budgets and increasing sales targets, the battle for advertising supremacy is greater than ever before. We know that TV drives footfall and generates sales but the real edge is created with TV advertising that gets people talking. Today’s challenge is to make TV the ignition point of excellent social media marketing – whether that is through a direct call to action that asks people to do something (such as Coca-Cola’s “#shareacoke”) or by providing purpose and utility like the British Beer Alliance #BeerMatch Twitter service.

This challenge provided the context to the “Adventures in Food” campaign for Marks & Spencer. A new campaign in a food category where there was hot competition and a significant emphasis on taste and experience.

“Adventures In”, which launched in 2014, is an ambitious campaign that aims to convey the transformation of the M&S Food business while provoking people to talk about M&S Foodhall as a unique place, a place of discovery and expertise.

TV’s lead role

TV is very much the lead channel, it has the greatest reach of all media – no other channel can build scale as quickly and powerfully as TV. With the “Adventures In” campaign, the role of TV is to inspire people to come into store, so the next time they are out and about they'll take action and pop into the Foodhall to discover the new products and ingredients showcased.

But TV also creates standout and provides a real edge to the campaign. In TV, the executional technique is to ‘deconstruct’ food and show the beauty of the individual ingredients or components. Familiar foods are shown in surprising ways, in the extreme close-up of their contours and construction, or their response to the stimuli of cooking (heat, freezing, flames, slicing, smashing, mashing). We wanted to show the craft, expertise, passion and artistry that go into M&S food. Rather than communicate this explicitly, the message is conveyed implicitly through the medium itself, so that the cinematic craft of the film is a proxy for the culinary craft of M&S.

Multi-sensory experience

Food and drink are multi-sensory pleasures, appealing to the eyes as well as to the taste buds. Video in particular can communicate so much about food – the steam, the cracking, popping, hissing and bubbling of food - triggering our pleasurable responses in a way that nothing else can. New film-making techniques allow us see food in new and exciting ways, conveying so much more about the product and the brand than simply the ‘in the mouth’ sensation.

TV plays a major role in positioning the M&S Foodhall as a place of discovery. The TV element of the campaign is designed to arouse curiosity, rather than give answers. The film technique cuts between interesting but often oblique perspectives on the food; like a beautiful kaleidoscope, the viewer is invited to imagine the finished product. The creative strategy is to raise consumers’ curiosity and tempt them in store to check out new products which have been tantalisingly shown on TV. Once inside the store, the TV campaign links up to an in store ‘discovery trail’ designed to encourage browsing.

Understanding consumer behaviour

The launch of “Adventures In” was centred on the consumer
mindset and how people behave at specific times.

During the weekday, M&S shoppers tend to be time-poor and spend less time planning and cooking. The role for weekday TV is essentially to drive footfall to the food hall with deal messaging (25% off) and new products. Weekday ads use shorter copy lengths to drive understanding of products and the offer.

At the weekend, the mindset shifts to a willingness to spend more time planning, shopping and cooking. Weekend programming provides many opportunities to drive re-appraisal and inspiration with brand stories that have product at the heart, for example “Adventures in Imagination”. Longer copy lengths take advantage of the consumer mindset during this time.

The experience with M&S “Adventures In” shows that TV’s role remains a powerful one, contributing towards a significant rise in sales of fresh ingredients and awareness of the M&S Foodhall experience. But an additional edge is provided by outstanding strategy, creative, consumer insight and understanding of TV’s interaction with other media and social channels.

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