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Where are the brilliant business building ideas?

June 23, 2007

Consultants tell agencies that clients need big ideas powerful enough to transform their businesses, but there’s little evidence of these ideas and even fewer benchmarks.

Thankfully, Craig Mawdsley of the UK’s AMV BBDO put together a fantastic paper about the work his agency did for UK grocery giant, Sainsbury’s.

The paper is wonderfully written and brilliantly argued.

Here is a quick summary.

1.    Sainsbury’s appeared to be starting success in the face in 2002- with its Jamie Oliver campaign, although there were strong short-term gains it didn’t translate into long term growth. The chain couldn’t keep its prices competitive and the advertising effect was wearing out.

2.    New leadership came in and made a commitment to lower prices and improve quality. Hired 3,000 new employees (colleagues)

3.    Advertising was refocused around a quality message, a better understanding of the target mindset, led to more effective media targeting. The business grew, but advertising wasn’t responsible for the growth and the growth was not of significant magnitude to deliver the 2.5 billion pounds of extra revenue required to meet targets.

4.    The agency took a look at the core brand idea- “Making Life Taste Better’. It provided good brand linkage for all the media elements, but it was passive. It asked nothing of customers or the colleagues (employees). They needed to create an active business idea.

5.    Defined as:

Business Idea
= A growth engine built from insights about how people and business interact, changing a way a business operates

Communications Idea
= Integration of communication channels visually and strategically behind a single idea

Advertising Idea = A compelling single media idea

6.    The agency built a business idea out of three components

1.    Food was a part of Sainsbury’s DNA
2.    People went through the motions when they shopped- to demonstrate this- AMV sent a man with a gorilla suit into the store and filmed reactions, no one noticed
3.    People needed some inspiration for their midweek meals that had become routine and regimented.

7.    Business Idea. “Try Something New Today”

The main focus of the idea was to encourage people to try new things. The idea included; in-store sampling, tips on the website, direct mail tips and TV advertising that encouraged people to try something new. The goal became to get people to add one more item to their shopping baskets, this alone could generate an extra 2.5 billion in a few years.

In-store new idea cards became a big driver for trial, in the first 6 months of the campaign 7 million customers tried something new from these cards. These cards were shared and the idea spread by word of mouth. The website was turned into a community environment where people shared these tips and new ideas.

“Try Something New” gave the employees a role. A manager’s survey indicated 97% of employees had recommended something new to a customer.

8.    The idea dramatically impacted Sainbury’s image. The idea was simple, but had a broad impact. It immediately turned the stores into more interesting places to shop, got consumers more interested in food and shopping and gave the employees a focus.

9.    Results:

-    Weekly transactions rose from 14 million to 16 million
-    The brand became more relevant to families – 3% ahead of the market
-    The brand has returned to No2 market position for the first time since 2003
-    The idea generated an additional 200 million pounds in revenue

Too often marketing and advertising exist on the fringes of business, they are disciplines that aren’t seen as integral or part of what the business does.

This idea is different, it starts at the center of the business and radiates outwards, without real actions from the brand at a store and employee level, it would have been meaningless and ineffective.

Whether this Sainbury’s case becomes a blueprint for the future of the agency generated idea or the exception, depends on the answers to these three questions.

1. Can agencies think this big?

2. Will clients let them?

3. Will clients compensate agencies for these ideas?

Thanks to Simon Law

Posted by Ed Cotton

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