Marketing successes of 2003

Creative marketing that makes a difference is worth its weight in gold. The Prague Tribune found a few marketing concepts that stood out in 2003, due to original ideas and innovative approaches.

AT THE END OF LAST YEAR TNS Factum conducted its regular research on the topic, “The Czech Public’s Attitude Towards Advertising”, which confirmed the long-term trend towards oversaturation. So although some people try to avoid advertising, between 30% and 40% of the populace acknowledge that they buy certain items because of advertising. So what constitutes good marketing, that which elicits responses? The same research indicates that people mainly appreciate truth (49.9% of respondents) and trustworthiness (42.3%), but there is also rising demand for humor (38.4%) and originality (22.8%).
To come up with an idea that will stand out, catch attention, strengthen brand awareness and increase sales, is the dream of every marketing specialist. We ignored the industry’s annual awards for the best advertisements, instead trying to find for ourselves a few original marketing campaigns that caught the public’s attention last year. The criteria were simple: the whole concept must stand out due to its overall innovative approach to the given customer’s product or services, and its success had to be clearly measurable, in terms of sales or increased numbers of clients, for example.
Our selection was purely subjective, and we leave it to our readers to decide if the strategies on the following pages are truly exceptional. Will you find Česká spořitelna’s Student+ payment card, and the bank’s comprehensive marketing concept as remarkable as we did? Perhaps you will be more impressed by Renault’s innovative promotion, which tied environmentally-conscious consumerism to discounts on their new models. Then there’s Staropramen’s “good guy” approach, which served to strengthen brand awareness and loyalty. In the end, it should become clear that in the competitive world of marketing, creativity often makes all the difference

Radio Expres’s thousands of zeros

Basing an advertising campaign on a negative evaluation of your own operations is a rather risky strategy. Radio Expres has been successful with a daredevil step of this sort. The humorously conducted campaign built on self-deprecation turned out to be a clever move that has helped the metropolitan station to stress its difference from the mainstream.

Radio Expres began broadcasting two years ago, with a focus on good quality international pop. At the beginning of 2003 Mediaprojekt, a firm that measures stations listenership, published research results that showed zero listenership for Radio Expres. “We certainly didn’t believe it, since such a result is on the margin of statistical error,” says Libor Bouček, Radio Expres’s marketing and PR manager. But, based on these results, the station’s director wanted to change the program. The station’s employees revolted against the management and started to ask listeners for their support. “Proof that you are not zeros and support us,” they beseeched on the air. And people responded – by SMS messages, e-mails, and phone calls to the station. The slogan, “I’m a zero, I listen to Radio Expres,” arose spontaneously, and later served as the basis for an advertising campaign that was prepared in cooperation with the Leo Burnett agency.
The campaign employed a three-fold approach. First, the radio station itself solicited friends, singers and other celebrities to express their support with the recorded slogan. Next, posters were distributed depicting an “abandoned” or discarded radio and the slogan, “Give your radio another chance”. The third push came in the middle of April in the form of a “concert for all good zeroes” on Old Town Square, drawing an audience of nearly 10,000. Then the campaign shifted into a second phase – posters and billboards with the slogan, “Radio Expres, precisely what you want to listen to.”
” We invested 10 to 15 percent of our revenues in the campaign. A successful campaign usually becomes evident six months later, and around September we noted increased advertiser interest,” Bouček says. He believes that Expres has become one of the most dynamic stations on the market, targeting mainly listeners aged 20 to 32. “The station came to life, and now everyone is aware of its existence. Now the other stations see us not as outsiders, but as competitors,” he adds. Leo Burnett has presented the campaign at many foreign professional festivals, to highly favorable response.

High-flying discounts

If you received coupons for discounts in the McDonald’s fast-food chain between 3 February and 9 March of last year, you became a part of the “coupon full of advantages” campaign. Preparations for this Czech-made campaign took nearly eight months of cooperation with the DDB Praha advertising agency, and cost millions of crowns. The aim was to heighten brand awareness and gain entirely new customers at McDonald’s restaurants, thus increasing sales.

The company decided to launch a massive campaign that would reach a large portion of the Czech populace, so it was not focused on a specific group of franchise customers. “We didn’t have any clear-cut target customer in this particular campaign, that’s the difference compared to the other ones,” says McDonald’s marketing director, Pavel Pavlíček. “All sorts of people patronize our restaurants, so we tried to take maximum advantage of the campaign’s potential,” he adds. The booklets, each with ten coupons valid for limited periods, offered discounts worth a total of CZK 268 for certain combinations of products and were distributed to all households in towns with McDonald’s restaurants. In all, 1.7 million coupon books were printed. The campaign was supplemented by another, over the internet, in which visitors could get another six coupons. “We think our coupon campaign was a success – sales and brand awareness were both up. But I’d rather not disclose any specific figures,” Pavlíček adds.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), decided to take advantage of the extraordinary response to the campaign by declaring that every customer to bring in a McDonald’s coupon could also get a discount on KFC products. McDonald’s protested, and took the matter to court, but both companies eventually settled out of court.
McDonald’s currently operates 70 restaurants in the Czech Republic. Gross sales in 2003 amounted to CZK 2.73 billion, which represents year-on-year growth of 5.7 percent.

Buy a car, save a tree

As environmental talk heats up, Renault has started planting trees – literally – hoping to grow customers at the same time.

Renault Czech Republic introduced an ecologically-friendly Green Heart (Zelené srdce) campaign last summer as part of its new “développement durable” program, aimed at helping the environment and showing foreign firms can positively contribute to a host country. The deal was simple: a customer brings in an old car; Renault buys it; the customer buys a new Renault; Renault recycles the old car and plants a tree.
For Renault, the campaign, which ran from July to November, was a success: more than 1,300 vehicles were ordered, and plans were made to continue the promotion in 2004. But that was expected after Renault had similar success in Croatia where the campaign was first used two years ago.
” It seemed to us that this activity was not only interesting business-wise, but also very beneficial from an ecological point of view,” Jitka Skaličková, Renault CR’s public relations manager, said.
One aim of the promo was to get outdated cars off the road, which is a problem in the Czech Republic, as well as Croatia. Another objective: defend the environment. The campaign, run in cooperation with Lesy České republiky (Forests of the Czech Republic), even got the stamp of approval from the Ministry of Environment, which welcomed the project when it was introduced and called Renault a model to be followed.
Nice words for a car company trying to befriend the environment. However, Renault still knew price is the biggest part of the marketing mix – and the part that gets customers’ attention, especially those with lower salaries living outside of Prague. So Renault offered trade-in bonuses of up to CZK 60,000. And with Renault’s “Green Heart Leasing” program, new owners were driving off with monthly payments as low as CZK 2,300.
While parked once again in the number two spot in Czech car sales for 2003, Renault was first in car imports, leaving competitors green with envy.

Betting with the right cards

Almost two years ago, Česká spořitelna decided to develop a new product that would be attractive enough to allow the bank to keep its dominant share of the student accounts market. The bank’s strategy relied on a precisely targeted advertising campaign, strong brand partners, and a payment card with an unusual design.

The basic novelty of Česká spořitelna’s student plan, which was launched in April 2003, is the Visa Electron Student+ payment card, in linkage with a discount program under which business partners offer students paying with the card discounts ranging from 3.5% to 20%. “We select our partners, which include Ticketpro, Hudy sport, Palace Cinemas, and Olympus, on an exclusive basis within a given category,” says Marie Hešnaurová, the director of Česká spořitelna’s sales department. “It’s important for them to fit the selected target group. The brands must have sufficiently extensive sales networks, and they must enjoy a certain image among young people,” she adds. The promotional campaign included direct mailings, telemarketing, and print advertisements. It was conducted directly in schools and in media with an educational focus.
Student interest in the Student+ program exceeded all expectations. As of 31 December 2003, ČS had issued over 120,000 program payment cards, thus making the Student+ program one of the most successful launches in the bank’s history. According to ČS’s marketing director, Václav Kubata, the product’s success relies primarily on accurate targeting and the association with strong brands. “Other banks will certainly turn to the partner card concept,” he predicts. The emphasis placed on the card’s youth-oriented appearance was also a key factor. “The design has really been successful. At bank counters you could hear people requesting the card with ‘the snowboarder’,” Hešnaurová says.
Two more partners should be added this year to the existing nine. “Feedback from our business partners has been unanimously positive. The number of transactions using these cards is growing, and the students seek out their outlets,” notes Hešnaurová. Rostislav Sedliský, Hudy Sport’s marketing manager, vouches for this, saying that “nearly 9,000 customers took advantage of the 6% discount in our network in 2003.”


Photo: archiv

Entertainment for “good guys”

“Chlapark (Guys’ Park) is the logical continuation of the successful Beer Training Camps that were held in 2001 and 2002,” says Petr Ungerman, junior brand manager for Pivovary Staropramen. The event provided a complement to the firm’s summer advertising campaigns.

The Beer Training Camps (BTC) were inspired by a common theme of the company’s television advertising – a world of good guys and good beer. The creator of the concept for both the original BTCs and Chlapark is the Joe PR agency, whose creative team includes personalities from the now-defunct Limonádový Joe radio station and actors from the theater Sklep. The organizing agency even formed a band called “Guys from the Park” and, in cooperation with Staropramen released a single promoting the project. Ungerman has a simple explanation for why this “road show” concept was chosen to support the marketing campaign: “We want to offer a personal experience with the Staropramen brand.”
You could have met up on a weekend with the Chlapark road show at eight different venues in Bohemia and Moravia from May to September last year, and you would have been one of total of 65,000 visitors. Although the name Chlapark might lead you to think the event was for men only, it was actually conceived as family entertainment. So while gentlemen could quaff their beer at the longest bar counter in central Europe, children could enter soft-drink chugging contests. But the program certainly didn’t revolve solely around libations – a trampoline and activities like a rock-climbing wall were open to all, many bands performed, and there were team contests such as a slalom through bottles and a tug-of-war. Prizes including a tap and a thousand beers were awarded to the winners.
Staropramen commissioned the General Marketing agency to conduct research, the results of which testified to the popularity of the event among its participants. Among other things, the research showed that 85% of visitors rated the Chlapark event as above-average, and the same percentage also stated that such events suit the Staropramen brand well; (99%) of respondents said they would attend a similar event again; and 75% said that they liked the Staropramen brand better after their visits to Chlapark.


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