Headline | September 14, 2015

City AM: Rescuing brands from oblivion

Paul FramptonHavas Media’s Paul Frampton talks whisky and consumer apathy

IN THE battle for customer loyalty, brands are realising that, to market a product, they must do more than thrust it in front of potential consumers.


According to Paul Frampton, chief executive of Havas Media UK, curating interesting, even educational content, and delivering it in ways which feel personal, are the keys to capturing an audience. Overseeing the strategic output for clients like Nationwide, O2 and the BBC, Frampton understands the importance of messaging. Describing himself as a “frustrated journo who tweets 30 times a day”, he tells City A.M. why content must become more meaningful.

What difficulties are brands facing?
You’d be surprised how little people care about brands. We conducted a global survey and found that three quarters of us wouldn’t care if a brand vanished tomorrow. But despite its record on welfare and tax-evasion, Amazon is important to 70 per cent of people, and that’s because it provides a better service than anyone else. It offers thoughtful suggestions about what we might want to buy, and Prime provides overnight delivery ­– services other brands can’t match. Starbucks, on the other hand, has a huge presence on the high-street, but only 27 per cent would care if it disappeared.

Even Facebook recognises that it still has to develop its brand-story, which is why it has been investing so much in TV, print and out-of-home recently. It wants to be a brand which is real and close to you, instead of a monolithic, faceless company.

How can companies foster a better relationship with consumers?
Building a brand into a rich experience can be hugely beneficial, and our research shows that sport and music are what people are most passionate about, so these are fertile areas. We’ve recently launched the #WearTheRose for O2, which aims to get the UK behind England for the Rugby World Cup. The company is allowing “Priority” customers to access England rugby shirts; lots of content is being seeded through social and video channels – it’s a campaign which is trying to create a movement. And that is valuable.

When you watch sport on a screen, the audience is somewhat detached, but in a stadium, you are part of a collective experience. And if a brand can stand out at these occasions, it taps into something emotional, and establishes a real connection. We’re encouraging fans to hold up their mobiles in support of the England team and make the campaign go viral around the stadium. Events like the Rugby World Cup provide a captive, engaged audience, and clever brands can capitalise on that and make content happen.

What are the next frontiers for social media advertising?
Reactive campaigns on social media are very important now, and social is being put front and centre of most campaigns. It’s clear why. Not only are there huge amounts of data to be picked up from the social space, but there is the opportunity for brands speak to customers on a personal level.

We recently ran a campaign around Father’s Day for Pernod Ricard’s whisky brand, Glenlivet, where we found a startup which provides gifting through social media, and allowed anyone to send a sample of Glenlivet to their dad with a personalised message, populating this message with photos from Facebook. Glenlivet was able to get thousands of samples into the hands of potential customers, and not just those who had come across the promotion. It was a thoughtful and effective way of targeting.

The problem is that, in the digital space, creative still isn’t being tailored enough. We now need to work out how a programmatic kind of machine-learning can be applied to social media, so we can issue the right message at the right time to the right person.

As the internet of things proliferates, what will brands learn from the data?
As people get used to the idea of wearables, advertisers will be able to tailor messaging around moods, which is a very exciting prospect. But a world of connected devices poses an opportunity for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, which have been in the dark before now. Because FMCG products are sold in grocery shops, customer data stays with the retailer. But if some nappies, for example, left the shop with a digital ID on them, the manufacturer would be able to understand the life-cycle and usage of those nappies better.

Interview by William Railton on City Am