Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Give your marketing a sporting chance

With the summer now fully in motion, sport is truly on everyone’s minds and if it’s not, you will be forced in some way to back “Our Greatest Team” in the Olympics. From television to chocolate, clothing to fast food, the Olympics have created a massive marketing bubble and you just try and escape it!

That is the influence of marketing, like it or lump it its everywhere! I think I am more aware of it this year than any other. It probably started way before I realised, but the first time it really hit home was in the build up to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

A right Royal re-brand

First up was a rebrand with a bit of a twist, when Unilever changed its classic yellow lid and label on its iconic Marmite pots, replacing it with a red top and a union jack logo. This rebranding machine went a step further with a name change to Ma’amite, in quirky homage to the Queen. 

Hot on their heels with their very own ‘royal rebrand’ was bread maker Kingsmill, whom aptly re-branded their bread Queensmill. This promotion, however only ran for two weeks, as they probably took the view that any longer would risk confusion, and dilution of the brand.

Love it or hate it (see what I did there) these are great examples of the creativity, interest and anticipation that, amongst other things marketing can create.

Since the Jubilee, marketing teams across the world having using sport as a key leverage for their product or service. With Euro 2012 warming things up we saw the typical Nike Vs. Adidas campaigns, added to this clothing retailer H&M got a piece of the action by using David Beckham to flog some underpants.

Marketing Aces

From one sporting tournament to another, the 2012 Wimbledon Championship was packed to the rafters with British expectation and interest. It’s no revelation that marketing plays a major part of Wimbledon, however what was most impressive this year was with the likes of HSBC, Robinsons and Evian and their integration of social, digital, print (packaging) and television mediums in well-constructed and engaging marketing campaigns. 

From ball suppliers, to being the official ice-cream or wine of a tournament, you can’t help but realise that sport is big business. In some quarters they say it has gone too far, and it’s more about making money out of the sport rather than supporting or promoting it. Just look at the brilliance of Bradley Wiggins at the weekend, who’s winners jersey was plastered with so much sponsorship it could have been mistaken for another colour rather than yellow (maybe ‘Sky’ blue?).

Overstepping the mark

Recently there is an opinion that marketing has over stepped the mark, using a more aggressive ways to engage with consumers. Rightly or wrongly the 2012 Olympics Games has come in for similar criticism, with Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan asking what message does sponsorship deals with the likes of McDonalds send across

When attending the Chester leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, I couldn’t help but be hit by the sheer marketing force sponsors Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Shouting over speakers and handing out flags, did give it a great carnival atmosphere, but was it too much?

Bold or Brilliant 

That said there have been some marketing campaigns associated with the 2012 Olympics, which I have to admit have really hit the mark.  One of the most interesting and possibly most bizarre campaigns is British Airways ‘Home Advantage’ - which actively tells us “Don’t Fly”. Tongue and cheek or not, it is certainly a brave marketing decision.

This campaign centred around a great television advert of a BA plane driving around the streets of London, whilst also being supported by a heavy online and social media presence.

See a plane go down your street?

The BA 'Home Advantage' campaign website allows you to enter your postcode to see the plane taxi down your street, how cool is that? 


What can we learn?

With over 100 years of Olympic Games marketing, I am sure that we can all learn a lot from their marketing strategies and well executed campaigns. No, not jumping on the latest band waggon but:

  • Being not afraid to be daring sometimes
  • Integration of your campaigns
  • Being creative at all touch points
  • Not underestimating the power of social media

Now there go, there are no excuses now. We can all achieve gold in our marketing.

Too cheesy? I think that is enough.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Outreach, simply reaching-out? (Part 2)

Welcome back!

 Following on from my last blog post on Outreach at the University of Chester
 it struck me that it is okay me telling you about all the great and the good in which Outreach has been setup to deliver, but what does this mean to the students we work with? The school pupil or college student, what is the real difference for them?

Our team are geared up to change perceptions, raise aspirations and ultimately change lifes. Sounds a little dramatic, maybe even slightly hollywood, but really it is true. Hey, don't take my word for it, ask joe! 

But who is Joe I hear you say (and how can I read you mind)? 

Well more on my telepathy skills in a latter blog, but firstly to Joe...

To explain Outreach, let’s meet Joe

Say hello to 'Joe'
Joe is in Year 6 at a primary school, within a 'low socio-economic area'. This is an area classification of an area, which looks at an individuals economic and social position in relation to others, using income, education, and occupation as a means of measurement. His parent’s never went to university, and he is the oldest of his siblings. He achieves very good grades, and hopes to become an astronaut when he’s older.

Now Joe, would be classed as coming from a ‘widening participation’ background (WP for short). There may be barriers to him progressing through the education process to higher education, such as his parents being concerned about ‘debt’, or even a perception that university is only for 'posh' people. Sadly, this is still a perception that some people have about University, as well as further education in general.

What does this activity look like?

What universities are being asked to do, which previously was the responsibility of organisations such as Aimhigher, is to work with students like Joe, to make sure we breakdown some of these barriers.
It's obviously easier said than done, but it often includes:
  • Getting students to have an awareness of what university is
  • Providing them with an understanding of the different types of institution there are
  • Taking students on visits to University campuses
  • Getting current students to go out and talk to them about their experiences
Primarily, it is for them to see that the world is open to them as much as possible. From personal experience, some of the events we have run for primary school kids have been the most enjoyable days at work I’ve ever had. Their ability to continually question their surroundings, as well as an insatiable appetite for knowledge, is something I’m sure we wish we all still had!

WP Activiy (Purple) hand-in-hand with SCL Activity (Turquise)

Back to Joe…

As he progresses to his local secondary school, he begins to go on more trips to different Universities, where he’ll have taster lectures in subjects he may never have studied before. He may even have people from universities coming to speak to his class about making his choices at GCSE, as well as at A-Level.

Throughout this, Joe is developing his understanding that there is more than just one University, there are a number all specialising in different subject areas. His school is also mindful how parents perceptions of university, and therefore a number of weekend visits are arranged for parents to see what the opportunities are at these institutions.

When Joe gets to Year 11, he still wants to be an astronaut, so begins to ask the people at school what A-Levels he should choose. They recommend a variety of options and one of their local university’s actually offer a degree in Astrophysics, so the teacher liaises with them in regards to their entry requirements when it comes to A-Levels, and what specific subjects they require. During this year the school has also invited a number of local universities to attend their parents evening, including a talk on student finance which enables students, and their parents, to get a much better understanding of it’s all repaid, and what support is on offer.

Joe progresses through to his local Sixth Form College and begins to achieve successful grades in all of his subjects. Throughout Year 12 there are activities being arranged with universities and Joe attends a local UCAS fair at the end of the year. Here he finds out there are a range of different universities offering Astrophysics. He puts his name down to be sent a prospectus, and his soon invited to attend a range of Open Days, where he finds his perfect University, where he then applies through the UCAS process, and gets his place.

Meet 'Joe Bloggs'

Now, Joe is obviously a figment of my imagination, but he perfectly sums up the balance of widening participation and recruitment.
In Joe’s particular case, widening participation allowed him to make the decision of what he wanted to achieve. Once he progressed to sixth form, and attended HE fairs, he became part of the recruitment cycle (feel free to read Adams blog for a better explanation of this).
Throughout his younger years, the activity Joe was engaged with was focussed on breaking down barriers, in particularly concerns over finance, decisions at 16, and of course his parents views.

There are infinite amount of variables which will impact on this entire process (Has Joe got good enough grades? Does he need a degree to achieve his potential?) but hopefully Joe’s journey will shed a little light on what one student’s journey could look like, and where we fit into it.

And finally...

Personally, I like to see widening participation, as well as outreach, as the first leg in a very long relay race. We may make initial contact with many students at different ages, but at certain points, they become a possible applicant to HE, and hopefully, we get a student who decides University is the route for them (this is where Marketing takeover). In a lot of cases, the activity undertaken through our WP work has led to students applying to our university. Alternatively, there may also be students who make the decision that University isn’t for them, but as long as it’s an informed decision, without any misunderstanding on fees or costs, (or ‘posh-ness’), then that will always be part of ensuring that every individual can see it as a possible option.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What a difference a day makes

No, this isn’t a blog about the popular song as sung by Dinah Washington, but rather a blog about our forthcoming Open Days in October.   In a service led industry where our product is intangible in nature and, to a great extent, consumed at the same time as it is produced, Open Days have always been an important marketing tool for showcasing what we can offer prospective students.  However, it could be argued that the recent rise in tuition fees means that the role of Open Days is now more important than ever, with prospective students scrutinising every aspect of this investment closer than ever before.  A number of universities have already reported Open Day attendances increasing as a result of this.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Olympic Games Logo

Living in the North West of England, and traveling around Britain, I’ve been seeing the logo of the upcoming 2012 London Olympic Games more and more around the UK, on TV, in the press and all the related advertising as the date draws closer.

As a graphic designer I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the design trends in Olympic logos have evolved over the years. Noticeably, the logos seem to have changed from a monochromatic trend to a more multicolor approach in recent years.

Logo design seems to have been streamlined to simpler and cleaner shapes. This article features every logo from the summer games from London – Summer Olympic Games 1948 to London – Summer Olympic Games 2012.

London – Summer Olympic Games 1948 to London – Summer Olympic Games 2012

Which is your favorite logo and what do you think of the logo of the upcoming London games?

Thank you reading,