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Breaking through the deadlock of the IT services industry with a truly creative campaign

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By Awards Analyst, writer

December 5, 2022 | 6 min read

True won at The Drum Awards for B2B 2022 for Best TV or Video for its ‘Long live the XLA’ campaign for Acora. Here, we find out what went into this successful work.

acora

A still from Acora and True's XML campaign

IT services provider Acora needed to break away from the category pack. Agency True’s campaign helped it do just that.

The brief

For too long, IT services have been governed by Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that simply define which services the provider will deliver and to what level. But when an SLA is in place, there’s no requirement for the service provider to innovate for its customer.

Acora, a previously unknown IT services brand in the UK with big ambitions, intended to shake up the status quo and put its name on the map by unveiling a new, game-changing service: the Experience Level Agreement (XLA).

The idea

‘Long Live the XLA’ was a call to arms for professionals to stand up against sub-par SLAs and demand more from IT service providers. The creative platform leveraged hero v villain tropes, featuring a charismatic and commanding leader who used wit and humor to inspire action, with the SLA vilified as repressing businesses.

The campaign targeted professional services, such as law firms and financial services institutions where the time of the end user is a high-value premium. The strategy was to go after C-level business heads within these organizations, instead of the traditional approach, focusing on IT decision-makers alone.

For the first three months of launch, the team prioritized driving reach and awareness through addressable TV, display advertising, paid social and digital out-of-home. Strategic investment in podcasts, paid search and YouTube complemented this focus, building on this early interest by switching tactics and using learnings to reach and retarget lookalike audiences. To capture key accounts within the sector and ensure category reach, it introduced account-based marketing (ABM) approaches.

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The results

Since the advent of the campaign, XLAs have taken on a life of their own, beyond Acora. Experts and analysts from Gartner, Forrester and IDC have incorporated the term as the new norm throughout the industry, proclaiming the ‘Death of the SLA’. Gartner stated, “Experience level agreements (XLAs) use self-healing analytics and AI-based automation services to transform the experience of users and enhance business outcomes”.

At a brand and business level, search volumes for Acora increased by 140%; its share of category searches more than doubled (an increase of 2.18%). With the share of search proven to be an accurate proxy for market share in IT services, this equates to a £4.7m ($5.7m) uplift in sales revenue in just four months. The idea challenged the complacency of the competition and asked the audience to reconsider expectations, creating salience and conversations in offices around the UK.

With the significant lack of investment in creativity in B2B (particularly in the IT service sector) it was a bold and refreshing move for a mid-market IT company to invest so much in the production of a single video execution. The results vindicate the company's decision to make the move, providing a 456% ROI in just four months.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for B2B 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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