Case study: Farewell to the wretched excesses of TV advertising

Case study: Farewell to the wretched excesses of TV advertising
As an advertiser, the ‘promised land’ has always been TV.

As an advertiser, the ‘promised land’ has always been TV. That’s the place where the ‘big brands’ play yet traditionally this is not a place for the fiscally faint hearted. ‘Big ideas’ tend to equate to very big budgets.

Vanessa Winning, Head of Marketing, UDC Finance; Simon Healy, TVLowCost

That was until TVLowCost rode into town. Originally launched in France and then expanded through Europe, the USA, Australia and now New Zealand, this integrated and proprietary methodology is proving to be somewhat the death knell for budgetary uncertainty. Currently the Group is represented in 10 countries, with over 110 clients, and produces over 250 commercial campaigns per year.

TVLowCost was spawned in New Zealand by ad man Simon Healy. While the ‘indoctrination’ is nothing like McDonald’s Hamburger University, considerable time was spent with the French founders in order to gain an understanding of how the overall process works. He admits, just quietly, that if he had the opportunity to ‘rebrand’ the concept he would most likely change the orientation.

“Something may have gotten lost in the translation for the ‘TV’ component of the offer is really the last part of the process albeit an essential one. I might have dubbed it Campaign Low Cost as it is an integrated offer that ticks all the boxes of a properly managed and executed undertaking.”

Included as ‘standard’ in each of a series of packages are strategy, multiple creative concepts, focus group pre-testing of concepts, pre and post omnibus research, high quality production, insightful media planning and buying across all free to air and Sky networks. And, but wait there’s less, all of this is at a fixed price with no hidden extras and guaranteed performance. It is also a collaborative approach with client input all the way.

Offshore, some very weighty brands such as Heinz, Unilever and Bayer have embraced the approach. The initial ‘sell’ in New Zealand was based on overseas successes yet over the last two years brands such as UDC, Frucor and Morning Fresh have given a local flavour to trade off.

Simon believes the approach is a viable and creative solution for brands that want to punch well above their weight and that particularly wish to drive sales.

“Fat, expensive ad agencies can’t, or won’t, deliver what we offer as they’re protecting high margins. From our point of view you know you’re onto a good thing when your industry gives you flak especially when you’re leading a revolution and a paradigm shift is involved.”

Especially when the outcome is providing an affordable route to get small but big thinking brands onto New Zealander’s favourite medium—television.

“Despite media fragmentation—much of it to Internet—TV still leads the way in average time spent viewing – in 2009 the average Kiwi spent 4.15 hours watching TV everyday* compared to a worldwide average of 3 hours 12 minutes. New Zealanders are amongst the heaviest viewers of TV which remains the best medium to reach consumers. (* Source: AGBNielsen research)

“Everyone talks about social media being the ‘big thing’ for customer engagement and the like but if you want to move product, and secure distribution through key accounts, TV is still the ‘drama’ that does the job.”

Their more boutique and brand tailored approach, he says, also outperforms the previous benchmark for value and ROI—the cookie cutter or masthead style—in terms of value, likeability and consumer response.

One client that has been transformed by the ‘fixed price/no surprises’ proposition was subsidiary UDC Finance, part of ANZ New Zealand. In the early part of 2010, UDC Finance ran a two week, moderate weight TV campaign. It was followed by a low weight maintenance campaign. In the first 4 weeks of the campaign, awareness more than doubled and their position as first choice and those actively considering their service significantly increased. Their position on these measures was maintained above original levels throughout the maintenance campaign.

Vanessa Winning, Head of Marketing, UDC Finance, says that the initial lending campaign contributed to a significant increase in new lending . The campaign got UDC’s message of having money to lend into the market, while still focusing on UDC’s underlying strengths in the finance industry. Since then she has come back for more...costing less...with another campaign that has achieved similar solid bottom line business results.

“UDC had been involved with Simon via his other ‘hat’ Spawn Advertising, which had been the incumbent agency for a number of years. Our budgets are such that traditional television advertising was never on the agenda until TVLowCost came into the frame.”

The media placement component seemed good value for money, said Vanessa, but she admits to being somewhat intrigued as to what sort of creative and production solutions might be presented.

“They came up with five quite different creative directions so I had a number of options I could present to our board. The ideas were very simple but also very effective and gave us the means to portray our brand in an innovative and memorable way.”

Vanessa also works across a number of different parts of ANZ New Zealand business so has always had a ‘hands on’ approach to working with an agency but says the accountability and openness of the TVLowCost approach is refreshing. More importantly she says that ‘opening the door of possibility’ for smaller budget, more niche operators to get onto the screen in a way that is true to their brand, not someone else’s, is a winner.

For more info on TVLowCost contact Simon Healy on 09 309 4080 or

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