Looking at the numbers

Andy from Pump, a great ad agency I'm working with in South Africa, is a source of great stories on brand growth. Here's one such story, about the power of business data as a source of creative inspiration. It comes from Dave Trott's blog here.

"Brand is only one of the possible ways to sell. But, as far as most planners are concerned, it’s now the only way that anybody buys anything. You’ve heard the expression: 'when the only tool you’ve got is a hammer, every problem look like a nail.' Well, most planners only have one tool, so every problem looks like a branding issue. They don’t even consider the business problem.

Let me give you an example. When AMV had to repitch  for Sainsbury’s (supermarket), they sat down and discussed branding issues. How could they change the brand to attract more people into the store? It was depressing because the brief from the client was to increase Sainsbury’s turnover by ₤3billion over the next two years. And, however much you change the brand, you’re not going to attract ₤3 billion of business away from your competitors.

Then a young planner said: 'Forget the brand for a minute, and look at the numbers. Sainsbury’s has 14 million store visits a week. That’s  three-quarters of a billion stores visits a year. If we can increase the value of each store visit by an average ₤1.50, we’ll have increased revenue by ₤3 billion over two years.' And because she said that, the 'try something different today' campaign was born. That’s the sort of planner I, and every creative, want to work with."

[If you don't know it, you can see an example of the Try Something New Campaign here. It encourages shoppers to try out new food, or new ways of adding a twist to ones we all know.]

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This really is music to my ears. Right from the start back in 2001 our philosophy has been "brand-led business". Exactly as Dave Trott describes above, the one and only reason for anything in marketing is to sell more stuff. And you need to be clear about HOW this growth is going to come in order to write the marketing briefs. In the case of Sainsbury's, if the brief was to attract new shoppers, then "Try something new today" might not have been the best idea.

A previous post on the same lines looked at the clear growth brief used on Axe to get to the campaign "Spray More, Get More". Again, this idea came from data diving first, to discover that young guys in Argentina used more product per occasion as they sprayed it all over, not just under their arms.