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Part 2: Butlins' head of communications and The Drum Marketing Awards 2013 chairman Jae Hopkins talks strategy, social media and compers


By Stephen Lepitak, -

January 22, 2013 | 6 min read

The first part of The Drum's interview with Jae Hopkins, head of communications for Butlins heard her discuss the brand's new marketing strategy, it's use of social media within its marketing communications. Here Hopkins continues the conversation, highlighting the value of Facebook and competitions, as well as discussing her expectations as chair of this year's The Drum Marketing Awards judges.

How do you convert Facebook Likes? What do those mean to you?

It’s interesting because everyone talks about quality versus quantity but the only solution on social is to get both. If you have quality stuff but you’re not talking to anyone then it’s completely pointless. And if you have loads of people that you’re not saying anything useful too then that’s also pointless. We have a constant content roadmap where we ensure that on Facebook, everyday we’re putting up one post. We don't was too much to avoid filling up people’s newsfeeds. Our content roadmap is such that in each week we ensure that there is something that is genuinely useful to parents and mums in there. We want something that will just make people smile. We ensure that there is something that will tell people about the product on our resorts, we ensure that there’s a competition for people to enter every week and we ensure that there is something that displays one of those brand tenants that I mentioned earlier too.

Why do you use so many competitions within your activity?

With the Advent calendar (see part one), that was entirely about quantity and getting people to like us for followers. A lot of people might try to criticise and say ’you just get compers’ but you know what - Compers are mainly mums. They are who we want. That’s fine if we get compers. That is exactly who we want. We are very lucky in that the demographic of your regular competition enterer is usually a mum. If we have competitions where you win a holiday or kids toys or tickets to a family show or those kinds of things, it’s mums who enter. They are our target audience. A lot of the competitions we run on Facebook we’re running with partners so that’s about contra deals and us saying that if we run this competition, will you run this promotion for us and we’ll run it on our Facebook wall and we’ll also put it into our magazine for our guests and we’ll put it on our website. That gives our guests value that they are entering a competition that we have resourced with a partner and it increases our engagement with our guests as well.

What can we expect to see from Butlins during 2013?

We’re opening a new Splash Waterworld which is very exciting and we’re looking for a partner to do that with. We’re also looking at doing a bit of experiential as well as we believe that by taking the Butlin’s brand out to people is one of the ways that we can overcome the negative preconception that people have about the brand. We also plan to have the biggest year ever. We’re very lucky that even in a recession every year we’ve had growth in our profitability. We started investing eight years ago and we’ve seen constant growth and we plan to grow again this year.

Will you always be compared with what’s come before for the brand?

Maybe, but children and teens have no preconceptions about Butlin’s. They’ve seen it on the telly, they’ve heard that they’re their friends and when they go they love it and tell everyone that.

It tends to be once people get to the stage of being of an age where they remember Butlin’s as it was in the Eighties and Ninties when it was owned by the Rank Group and it hadn’t been heavily invested in. It’s not a myth that Bultin’s went through a couple of decades of not being at it’s best, it’s the truth and it takes a long time to rebuild faith in a good British brand. We’re doing it though, we’re meeting the challenge at the moment.

The reality is that when we get people into our resorts, or we get a brochure in their hands or we get them to our websites, they can see that. The evidence is absolutely there for them and we’ve got loads for them. We’ve got a new website, we’ve got loads of 360’s on it so that people can go and look and feel like they’re in the resort and see the menus for themselves because seeing is believing.

What do you hope to see from this year’s entries at this year’s The Drum Marketing Awards as chairman?

I really want to see properly integrated campaigns. There still aren’t lots of good campaigns that integrate the power of social with traditional marketing and PR and really take hold of all of that. That’s partly because people split budgets in a way that makes it very difficult to integrate and indeed a lot of marketing departments are set up in a way that is slightly siloed. I’m really interested to see that and to see creativity and also evidence of value for customers rather than talking about price or offers, which in the current economic climate we’re all doing. The things that really evidence the value of that service for customers which will make them feel like they want to buy into that brand.

Hopkins will act as chair of the judging panel for the 2013 The Drum Marketing Awards later this year.

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