Scania's business director talks about the brand's new marketing strategy

Following Scania's appointment of thinkrla, The Drum speaks to the client's business director, Tim Pugh, about the plans for the future marketing for the brand.

What are you plans for developing the marketing of Scania now that you have brought in thinkrla?

The background is that we have a reasonably strong brand that has been in the UK for a long time. We pride ourselves as being one of the leading players in the truck, bus and coach market but we have also recognised that the market is evolving and changing and we have been doing a lot of activity over the last couple of years to move our business forward to reflect that. For example, at the core of what we do is our product and always will remain our core vehicle product. We have extended the range of services that we provide around that into our customer base, everything from driver training to tail lift services to management. That is due to recognising that the business is evolving and moving forward. Clearly the market, like so many others, is under pressure and what we’re looking to do is to reinforce our position in that marketplace to create a safe and stronger stance that reflects the range and quality of the services that we provide to our customers.

Our relationship with our previous ad agency was always very positive over the many years and they deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way that they have helped us position ourselves in the market place but we felt that inevitably the right thing to do was to develop a new look. We reviewed what we were doing and we thought that was a healthy stance to take. We were looking for an agency which could work with us given those changes within the market and how we wanted to position ourselves and move ourselves forward.

What were you looking for when you set out to find a new agency?

It was combination of things really but really it was about finding an agency which broadly had an understanding and was able to achieve a good understanding of the marketplace. That’s not to say that we were looking for someone who knew heavy trucks, but we were looking for someone who understood automotive, who understood the mechanics in terms of our sector and who were really able to get under the covers of us as a business and understood what was going on in the market. They would then have to take that and represent that from a marketing perspective and I know that’s a very obvious statement but that is exactly what we hope thinkrla will bring to the party. And we were also specifically looking for a really integrated agency, which is not what we had previously, but also an agency which would raise our game in terms of our ability to extend our range of marketing activity going forward.

Is there any particular marketing medium that you intend to focus on?

We are looking to retain our presence in terms of media from an above-the-line perspective while we’re looking to enhance and improve what we do around more direct marketing activity both from direct mail and email/digital activity. Digital is certainly part of that and in the medium to longer term, we certainly see social media activity and digital type activity being critical to our sector. The industry in which we sell is probably not at the forefront of people’s mind, but this is certainly something that is gaining momentum very rapidly and we want to be a part of that.

How difficult a thing is it to engage with people then, as it’s not an industry that people will come to. It’s more of interest to people with an interest. How do you hope to reach new consumers?

You’re right, buying a bus or a coach, or an engine. It’s not a discretionary purchase. You don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘what I need is a nice, shiny new red truck,’ it’s based upon hard made decisions. We’re actually taking a long term approach towards our customer relationships, we have a whole mix of activity from the marketing campaigns and programmes to softer activity. We do a lot of customer events, customer contact activity. We look to create a proper relationship with our customers. Something we talk about is the Scania Experience which encapsulates the way that we operate as a business and is about having a quality product which we believe in as an organisation, while we also focus on delivering a quality experience for our customers. So they know the back up and the level of support they get from our organisation and they know the way that we see things through and we try to reflect that, not only in the service that we provide and the running of our business, in the selling and servicing of vehicles but also in terms of how we engage with customers at events or activities or in meetings.

How do you plans on incorporating social media into your plans then?

We are active in the areas you would expect around Twitter and Facebook, but for us it’s something we need to be a part of. There is a tremendous brand following for Scania. It’s one of the fantastic things about working for this organisation, there are a very large group of people who love all things Scania, and in that sense we’re doing things in the right way. In that sense we’re doing all of the sort of things that you would expect, but at the same time we have a very diverse marketplace that we sell into.

We also recognise that from day one we’re not going to switch everything over to social media because that would exclude a vast proportion of our marketplace, so it’s important that we keep that complementary mix. There are plenty of customers and it’s a business that is about personal relationships. It’s a mix of talking to people face-to-face, receiving letters from us on the right occasion, inviting them to events and activities that you run to people and supporting that is also having a social media presence as well. We’re very cautious that we get that balance and the right mix and to be fair to thinkrla, they were absolutely on the money with that approach. We put out the challenge of asking agencies what they thought we should be doing and some people were much stronger around that activity in terms of the mix of proposals that were put forward, but rla were spot on. So in terms of social media, yes we need to be there and we have to do more with it, but we’ll not run away with ourselves until the marketplace is really ready for it and that’s what we think is right for our audience.

We will be doing a lot more and it’s something that we work with our colleagues in Sweden on. There’s a passionate core of people who love Scania and everything to do with Scania, which makes life a lot easier, but we need to make sure that we engage with them.

What will be the first thing that thinkrla will be working on?

The first thing will be the launch of a new advertising campaign, so we’ll be working between now and the end of the year on all of the activity. It won’t be a sudden flick of the switch on 1 July where everything changes although we will be changing our advertising. They are already doing some work for us on a major event we have coming up. We run an event called The Young European Truck driver which is all about Scania’s commitment to road safety. It’s a major global event and we have the UK finals coming up on 26 June where we are expecting several thousand people to come along. It’s a major event at the National Heritage motor museum, and so RLI are already working with us to pull together a marketing campaign to promote that, but the real wave of activity will come through later in the year. But the way that Scania will be seen in the market will change pretty fundamentally as a consequence.

It’s also important to say that one of the strengths that RLA brought to the pitch and what we liked is that we will change. What you see will be very different to what we have at the moment, but they have retained the integrity of what we have as a brand at the same time. We’re not throwing the baby out with the bath water and I think that getting that balance is important for a business like our’s that we get that balance right. That will begin rolling out at the end of this year, or the beginning of next.

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