Tag Archives: Consumer Proposition

Dear Westjet


Dear Westjet,

Thank you for making me smile with your Christmas Miracle video.

OK, so some of the editing and voice-over are way too schmaltzy for me, and at over 5 mins the clip might be excessively long to maximise full viral potential, but the warm fuzzy feeling you’ve created helps me (and the 6m YouTubers who have seen it since launch 2 days ago) to get over that.

And whilst I’m on the topic of Xmas ads, 2013 has been a bumper crop. Some great, some not so good.

Personally, this ad doesn’t do it for me.

I do like the backing track and admire the connection with past John Lewis Christmas ads: Music style (acoustic covers of well-known tunes); Focus on the giver not the receiver and the climax to the product “reveal” (clock / scarf) at the end.

But it took me a while to “get it” – I think probably because it didn’t do enough to make me pay attention the first few times I saw it.

Lots of people, including my wife who described it as her “favourite advert EVER”, seem to love it (although on questioning, she didn’t get it at first either). So nice one John Lewis.

M&S: whevs. Although Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is certainly somewhat arresting. As is David Gandy, so my sofa (life) companion tells me.

Cadbury’s: I actively dislike this one. I know it’s supposed to be Joyful, but frenzied, manic and at times aggressive tearing off of wrapping paper on Christmas Day – as depicted here – fills me with total dread and I will be doing everything in my power to make sure that this is not a behaviour my children adopt in a fortnight’s time.

Tesco: Isn’t that basically what John Lewis did with Always a Woman a few years ago? Although they did it better.

But the one that has really caught my attention is the Sainsbury’s ad.

Technically it’s very similar to the Tesco ad in its home-videoy-ness. But it’s more humorous. It’s more real. And it’s more engaging.

But it’s that final scene when the Dad comes in through the door, returning from Afghanistan that really pulls on the heart-strings.

Mild blubbing – and a Sainsbury’s online order – ensued in our household.

Thanks again everyone and Happy Christmas.



Dear Costa Coffee


Dear Costa Coffee,

Thank you for your Coffee Coolers. I laugh in the face of an un-air-conditioned office when you’re just across the road, churning out these gorgeous grown-up slush-puppies.

Costa coffee coolers

Now I’m guessing that the weather impacts on your sales and that generally your core business (cups of coffee) dips a little over the summer. So what a fantastic product to be able to offer your consumers when the sun is shining.

I can almost see your needs map right now with Coffee Coolers proudly occupying one corner of the map, with the rest of your product portfolio deployed against the axes in a highly satisfactory manner.

But where to next? Where’s the white space Costa? Time for a new, broader map?

And thank you for your head-bopping ad from last year.

Attention-grabbing and catchy.

Or in marketing-speak, differentiated and memorable.

And what’s not to love about synchronised head-bopping?

Thanks again


Dear O2

O2 Logo

Dear O2,

Thank you for giving us the best line of advertising copy so far this year: “Carpe Diem. It means Grab the Frisbee“:

Whilst Be More Dog has given me a good old laugh, for which I’m grateful, it does feel a little bit “off-brand”. Where are the bubbles? Where’s the blue sky? Where’s the water? After all, you’ve spent 10 years establishing those codes, why go and throw them all away now?

But hang on a wee second Mr Brand Purist. (Not quite sure why I’m referring to myself in the third person here, nor affecting Scottishness…but anyway.)

As it happens I’m coming up to the end of my 24 month contract with you. And even after nearly 4 years with you, we don’t have much of a relationship.

You send me monthly emails telling me how much money you’re going to take from my account.

You send me texts informing me that I’ve got through my monthly 100mb data allowance – which seemed loads 23 months ago, but now just seems pitiful – and would I like to Bolt-on some more for only £3?

You send me PRIORITY Moments texts announcing concerts and other stuff, 99% of which don’t interest me, although are still worth receiving if it means I can get early dibs on Coldplay tickets like I did last year. (Barclaycard did the honours this year helping get my mother-in-law and I to Hyde Park to see The Rolling Stones.)

EE Logo


My current plan is to switch to EE (formerly Orange who I switched from to you to get my first iPhone), get a nice new shiny iPhone (possibly hanging on for the iPhone 5S rumoured for an October launch) and then get my home broadband through them too (with a nice new shiny router).

I’m fairly certain I can be bothered.

But this Be More Dog thing has piqued my interest. OK, so there’s no bubbles, but as your Priority Moments is not bad, I was intrigued to check it out. Which I did.

Be More Dog Landing Page

Hmmm. This O2 Refresh thing sounds good.

And there are the bubbles. Ahhh, that’s better.

And O2 Tu Go sounds kind of interesting.

O2 TuGo


So on-brand bubbles or off-brand cats and dogs but no bubbles, Be More Dog has alerted me to some service and product innovations that you’re offering that otherwise I would not have known about.

So perhaps you can thank Be More Dog for retaining me as a customer for another 24 months. Perhaps. No switch to EE. No hassle. New phone for me probably on a more expensive contract.

Which I’m guessing you’d classify as a success.

Thanks again




Dear Wickes


Dear Wickes,

Thank you for taking a near perfect and insightful product concept (for Ultra Gold Screws) and turning it into a beautifully executed advert that’s wonderfully nuanced in terms of its targeting and that celebrates the emotional benefit (i.e. pride) around which you’re building your brand.

Thank you for your insight (“We know when you take pride in your work. It’s the details that make the difference”) which demonstrates your deep understanding of your target consumers.

It would have be so tempting to have gone down the road of a self-fulfilling product insight (e.g. “Isn’t it annoying when your screws don’t go in smoothly?) but you’ve gone for a brand and category insight that operates at a level above the product category. Bravo!

Thank you for successfully targeting both tradesmen and keen DIY-ers. Fundamentally, both groups want to do a job that they’re proud of, although for Tradesmen there’s the added incentive of wanted to be paid and recommended whilst for DIY-ers there’s the satisfaction and economic advantage in not having to call in a Tradesman.  You manage to tick both boxes especially with the line “A range of screws, fit for professionals”.

Thank you for your product description – lots of lovely benefits and Reasons to Believe in there. And for visualising both the insight and the benefits so beautifully. Accuracy and precision like that is what every tradesmen and DIY-er aspires to.

Although you’ve done it before, so it’s no real surprise.

I love the close up shots. The dust. The pencil. The Chisel. The drill.

Just as M&S did to food a few years back – with their much parodied food-porn ads (It’s not just food, this is M&S food) – you’ve turned DIY into an object of visual desire, something to be admired, celebrated, ogled. Something to be proud of – i.e. playing right into the sweetspot of your brand positioning…(we’re proud to put) our name on it.

Personally I think that M&S’ recent food work is a vast improvement as it has the same emotional out-take but without the overt Nigella-style food-pornification element…and the scope to be parodied so extensively.

Thanks again Wickes


Dear Sudocrem

Sudocrem LogoDear Sudocrem,

Thank you for being an iconic brand that’s on the move.

Too often category leading iconic brands rest on their laurels, failing to capitalise on and leverage their equity – they’re known for being good at one thing and that’s good enough for them.

But not you.

You’re not satisfied with being the category defining grey-pot-with-white-gunk-in-it-that’s-good-for-nappy-rash-and-some-other-stuff-too and I thank you for being a great example of a brand that’s not just sitting back, comfortable with business as usual.


I want to thank you for your new ad, the very clear takeout from which is that you’re no longer just a nappy rash brand, but now a brand for all sorts of everyday skin scrapes and scratches.

Aside from being a clever little parody of that famous scene from Jaws (a reference which I suspect might be sadly lost on many people), this ad states very clearly that you’re no longer just for babies’ bums.

Of course people have been using you for much more than nappy rash for many years (i.e. as an antiseptic healing cream) and indeed your packaging has said as much – Eczema, Surface Wounds, Minor Burns, Acne, Bed Sores etc.

But it’s great to see you embracing and making a virtue of these alternative usages and applications.

And it’s a notable change in direction from what you’ve been communicating in the very recent past, which firmly consolidated the perception of you in the Nappy Rash trench.

Secondly, I want to thank you for your recent innovation.


Sudocrem Mousses Logo




A bold but logical step into an adjacent category and of course leveraging all of Johnson & Johnson’s skincare expertise…I don’t know what ProDerm Technology is, but it sounds good, just what my kids need.

And thank you for taking on a triple innovation challenge

  1. Going into a new category (sun protection)
  2. With a new format (sunscreen mousse)
  3. Requiring consumers to adopt a new consumer behaviour (as in “Wayne, will you ask the nanny to mousse baby Klay, ‘cos I cannot reach from my sunlounger?”

I admire your courage and self-belief.

And thank you for your previous innovation – a skin care cream.

Sudocrem Skin Care Cream

sudocrem skincare for grown ups


Thank you for broadening your frame of reference, overtly going after a new target consumer and underlining that you’re about so much more than Nappy Rash.

If it had been me, I would have done the Mousses first and then the Skin Care Cream, but that may be being overly strategic and purist about things.

No doubt you had loads of adults using Sudocrem anyway, so it made sense to develop a product specifically for them, the chances of picking up new users and incremental volume significantly outweighing the inevitable cannibalisation effect.

And who doesn’t want incremental volume?

I do have a slight question mark in my mind about what sits at the heart of the brand at the masterbrand level – the big idea that ties it all together and sits above the Antiseptic Healing Cream, Mousses, Skin Care Cream sub-ranges, but I suspect that will come in due course and I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks again


Dear Andrex

Andrex LogoDear Andrex,

Thank you for making me slowly recoil from my TV in a way which only usually occurs when I’m watching Embarrassing Bodies or David Attenborough when he’s got the snakes on – I didn’t think that a brand would be able to manage that, but you have done it with your truly hideous “Scrunch or Fold” campaign:

Some people (aka total nutters) may think this is “brave”, but I think it’s awful.

I mean really very, very bad indeed.

W. T. F. are you on, dudes?

Cadbury’s Creme Egg “How do you eat yours?” was fine – all pretty jovial stuff.

Cadbury Creme Egg

But “How do you wipe yours?” (which is in effect what you’re asking people) is not. Not at all.

And you want them to bother going online to Vote for their preferred method?

And who the hell “scrunches” anyway?!

Andrex Scrunch or Fold

Just because some people that you paid to talk to you in a research group – or more likely depth interview – told you about how they configure their loo paper before commencing upon the dreaded but unfortunately necessary act, DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE REST OF US WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT!

Puppies fine. Other people’s @rse wiping tactics. Not fine.

And talking of people, what an abhorrent bunch of grotesque caricatures you have chosen to represent your heinous conundrum.

I pretty much hate them all, but the Martini sipping lady is the worst of all.

In the words of one blog I read she’s “a character straight from hell, a woman so depraved and overly sexualised that she even tries to turn wiping her arse into an erotic escapade.”

And please don’t give me any “all publicity is good publicity” / “think of the column inches” / “we’re trying to create a debate, some buzz around the brand” / “we’re trying to break down barriers and taboos” nonsense.

Noise should not be confused with music.

On a different topic, your Andrex Washlets product, as a concept, make sense to me.

A flushable baby-wipe for grown-ups. OK, I get it. And no doubt there’s a decent market for this type of product.

Terrible name incidentally (the previous incarnation Andrex Fresh was infinitely better) but I can get over that.

Andrex Washlets

But you seemed to have totally lost the plot again when it comes to the communication. The Clean Campaign “journey” – fronted by Dawn Porter and with its very own YouTube Channel and Facebook page – is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Words desert me.

Please, please can I never ever go in the Washlet Wagon. Ever.

Thanks again.


Dear McVitie’s


McVitie's Logo

Dear McVitie’s

Thank you for prompting me to think about Me-toos with your Breakfast Porridge Oats biscuits:

McVitie's Breakfast - Porridge Oats

It appears that Kellogg’s are on the case too with their Nutri-Grain Breakfast biscuits:

Kellogg's Nutri-grain Breakfast Biscuits

And all because of a brand that no-one (in the UK at least) had heard of until a few years ago.


So what’s going on?

Well, according to The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2012 (it’s a cracking read), Kraft’s Belvita brand is now worth £45m and growing at over 70% per year.

Any sensible Marketeer would what a piece of that action, wouldn’t they?

Of course I could have been thanking Carling for their Stella Cidre looky-likey Carling British Cider:


Or it could have been BMW with their new 6-Series Gran Coupe which very clearly fills the slopey-rooved-4-door-sporty-looking-executive-car gap in their portfolio created by the Mercedes CLS, followed by the Audi A7, and the VW Passat CC:


Me-toos through and through.

But what’s wrong with that?

It strikes me that some Marketeers have a patronising tendency to look down on Me-toos or at least to talk about them in pejorative terms, which, at the risk of getting overly Freudian, may be born out of the dreaded childhood/playground accusation of being a “copy-cat”:

  • Can’t you think up your own ideas? 
  • It’s a blatant rip-off
  • It’s a shameful case of jumping on the band-wagon
  • Etc

Actually I think the negative attitude towards me-toos is driven by shaming feelings of:


  • Envy – “I wish we’d thought of that first”
  • Self-interest – “My boss won’t be too happy to see a competitor brand steal a march on us”
  • Differentiation myopia – “My brand must be different at all costs or else I’m not doing my job properly and will deserve the low esteem in which my Differentiate or Die minded colleagues will hold me in”


But if there’s a market, if consumers are spending their money on products that a brand is well placed to deliver but which they don’t currently produce, then why wouldn’t the brand go after it?

Even if they’re only doing it to make life difficult for the Me-one – aka “deploying a competitive blocker or harrasser” – surely it’s worth having a go? Surely it’s better to be on the band wagon than nowhere near it?

OK, McVitie’s (and Kellogg’s for that matter) you might have made slightly more effort to make your packaging design more distinctive (I smell research group influenced design here – although the somewhat weak counter-argument is that Belvita have already established the Breakfast Biscuit semiotic / category codes (i.e. yellow) and that you’ve got it right), but fundamentally, I believe you’ve done the right thing.

You’re a big brand known – in fact loved – for your biscuits.

There’s an emerging sub-segment, that a previously unknown competitor has all to themselves.

You should get after it and who cares if you didn’t think of it first.

Consumers certainly don’t care (at least won’t in about 2 minutes) and ultimately, they’re the ones that pay the bills.

You’re entirely right to have chased after Belvita and I suspect that you’ll all establish a reasonable share as (if) the category continues to grow, innovate and mature.


And finally, thanks McVitie’s for reminding me of the rant I had about the ineffective nature of your Passion for Baking strap line when I was thanking San Miguel here – you’ve saved me the trouble of working myself up into another rant on this beautifully blue-skied January day which is giving every indication that Spring is on the way – hurrah!

Thanks again