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How B2B In-House Agency of the Year Bullitt Group overhauled marketing of Cat phones

Bullitt has held the global mobile device license for Caterpillar for over a decade.

Bullitt won ‘B2B In-House Agency of the Year’ at The Drum Awards for B2B in 2021. In the most challenging year yet for a crowded and fragmented mobile phone market Bullitt Group, global mobile licensee for Caterpillar, undertook a complete overhaul of the Cat phones marketing approach. Read on to learn more about its hugely successful transformation.

In the most challenging year yet for a crowded mobile phone market Bullitt Group, global mobile licensee for Caterpillar, undertook a complete overhaul of the Cat phones marketing approach.

The tactical appointment of Christopher Lockwood as Chief Brand Officer, the inertia of brands in the construction space and the catastrophic impact of Coronavirus on retail, created the perfect storm to jumpstart the Cat phones brand & marketing organization and to overhaul its total output.

Central to this was a new multi disciplined in-house creative studio team, built, structured and resourced towards the perpetual creation of content and campaigns. They worked to inject color, confidence and strength, to develop bolder brand identity and more compelling narrative to standout. The overhaul of the teams’ total output was also driven by using smart video production, concentrating on digital transformation and ensuring year-round programmatic media.

We divided the studio to cover Creative/Design/Digital/Ecomm/Media/Press/Go To Market/Production and Partner Relations and then recruited accordingly, hand picking talent for cultural fit as well as experience. Singular creative leadership from Christopher Lockwood who has spent the bulk of the last 10 years helping large global brands would be central to the success of the approach.

We work collectively on everything on a cross discipline project basis and come together at least once every day to discuss work, ideas, and to overcome blockers.

The body of work in the entry video represents 12 months of work via a team of nearly 20 people working together every day to achieve our goals.

Challenge & Opportunity

Bullitt has held the global mobile device license for Caterpillar for over a decade and is responsible for every element of the design, manufacture, sales, marketing and aftersales for Cat phones.

All activity must align to core Caterpillar brand values, be easy to recognize, and understood in multiple languages and regions (65+ countries and 75+ global operators). Scale limitations however meant that Cat phones’ digital platforms and retail capabilities were under-developed and previous ad executions tended to focus on discreet campaigns for singular devices, and assets, tone and brand values varied from territory to territory, resulting in a confusing mix of images and messages.

Irrespective of the pending impacts of Coronavirus; the sheer volume of mobile manufacturers at the beginning of 2020, the limited number of true technological-firsts available for new products and the resulting, poorly-differentiated brand marketplace (with B2C and B2B and Mobile Operator brands often competing in the same tight space), all meant that Cat phones needed to attempt something fairly radical, as a greying niche B2B player, to pull themselves above the noise.

The return of the Founders to the business in late 2019, the tactical appointment of Christopher Lockwood as Chief Brand Officer (with experience of building bespoke content teams), the ‘Bob the builder meets black and yellow’ inertia of nearly all brands in the construction space (Caterpillar, Stanley, DeWalt, JCB, roadside chevrons everywhere etc.) and the catastrophic impact of Coronavirus on bricks and mortar retail in the first half of 2020, created (in a positive sense), the perfect storm from which to jumpstart the Cat phones brand & marketing organization and to overhaul its total output, on all products and platforms.

Objective

To compete, David & Goliath style (resource, budgets, and scale), as a niche B2B challenger brand in this overcrowded space where our products could too easily be dismissed as ‘thick, ugly, pieces of plastic, just for builders and of no real interest to everyday consumers’, we needed to quickly:

  • Build In-house creative studio (designers, producers, writers, film-makers, animators, social creatives, front and back-end programmers, media, e-comm, UX/UI experts)

  • Act like a B2C brand in our communications style and approach

  • Inject color, confidence and strength to develop bolder brand identity and more compelling narrative to achieve brand standout

  • Showcase and bring to life a rich variety of users (First Responders, Nurses, Delivery Drivers, Firemen, Farmers etc.)

  • Establish mass appeal through a role in culture

  • Use smart video production techniques to create considerable volumes of world class content (with less than considerable budget)

  • Increase global awareness through intelligent and targeted digital and programmatic media techniques

  • Optimize 40+ regional websites and enhance digital product & retail experiences

  • Perpetual marketing - considerably larger volume of ‘Journey-Mapped’, multi-format Marketing Content

Overall Studio

We built a multi-disciplined team (each bringing unique set of skills and experiences) that could work closely together to effortlessly and endlessly create everything Cat phones needed to support the rest of the business, local marketing and channel teams in 60+ markets and to feed the everyday requirements of our entire digital, communications and sales ecosystems.

From supporting launches at leading Operators (Telekom, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Verizon), to Channel Customer’s needs (Brodos, TCCM, Ingram, Cernotech, Earl & Brown), to retail point of sale (Media Markt, Amazon, Argos), and eventually end consumer; there is a vast requisite array of collateral, packaging, advertising, digital & social content and promotional material essential to build awareness, be liked, clearly understood and considered as a dynamic contender.

Strategy

Our overall strategy involved treating B2B consumers exactly like traditional consumers who increasingly find most things in a selection of feeds or through direct search. To succeed in this world we would need fresh knowledge & approaches, much larger volumes of more cost-effective content, new skills, improved data, optimized processes and to evolve our messaging from advertising-only, predominantly product-led content to a more empathetic narrative.

The team would now have to be structured and resourced towards the perpetual creation of content, and editorial-style creative decision making. Creating content on a constant basis, building and sustaining audiences and intriguing and pleasing them again and again over long periods of time is completely different from stop-start discrete campaign creation and production. Strategies, insights and purpose would need to be more long-termist. Themes, to be broader and stories able to be built in layers over time, with the potential to be revisited and considered from a variety of perspectives. Budgets would need to stretch further and sustain 12 months of activity a year.

Singular creative leadership would be central to the success of the approach and would come from Christopher Lockwood, Chief Brand & Marketing Officer (who has spent the bulk of the last 10 years helping large global brands - including M&S, Unilever, Nike, and Siemens) in order to drive the requisite change, to commission the right content, to build studios and production processes, to make content culturally relevant across different markets, to allocate appropriate budgets, to reduce the unit production costs, to collaborate with partners whilst maintaining its effective role within global marketing and brand activity.

Unique In-House Team Structure

We carefully divided the studio into teams that cover Creative/Design/Digital/Ecomm/Media/Press/Go To Market/Production and Partner Relations and then recruited accordingly, hand picking talent for cultural fit as well as experience.

We work collectively on everything on a cross discipline project basis and come together at least once everyday to discuss work, ideas, and to overcome blockers.

Without the time and money exhausted on constantly managing a suite of different external agencies we are able to be joined up, reactive and nimble in our output.

Results

12 months on we have a happy team of nearly 20 people working together every day to achieve our goals. They create a considerably larger volume of content (with a night and day change in quality and effectiveness) than ever before at the same overall production budget.

Our sales teams and commercial partners all over the world are delighted by the new look and feel of our entire ecosystem; “feel so much more confident when I go into meetings now” “Our new video content really turn heads”

  • CAT “only one of over 100 licensees actually pushing our brand forward!”

  • Telekom Deutschland “enabled us to reach the optimal target group in an emotional and gripping way, which was reflected in strong performance”

  • On back of new energy from redesign have been adopted and ranged by some of the largest US Carriers (T-Mobile, USCellular, Southern Linc)

  • Channel Partners & Operators (BRODOS, TCCM, CERNOTECH, INGRAM) “delighted with your new content” “great stand-out” “really strong new image” “a cool rugged brand at last” “never had comments in our feed just about content before”

  • Significantly increased exposure and engagement by aligning data-driven targeting with compelling content

  • 12 months - 4 product launches – 9 major campaigns – 25 EMEA markets – 260M impressions

  • 1,168,401 incremental clicks to catphones.com

  • 300% growth in site traffic YOY

  • which generated 280,000 qualified prospects to our retail partners sites

  • constant optimization reduced CPC (from click to referral) by two thirds within 6 months - whilst click through rates doubled •

  • emotional holiday video achieved 27M plays @90% completion

  • diversified messaging achieved 255% increase in engaged female traffic & significant growth from new verticals

  • 60% increase in traffic from iPhone users

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for B2B. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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