The £500K club: How three brands disrupted their categories

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Initials look at three different brands and consider their distinctive advertising efforts.

What unites a British TV channel, a French car and a Spanish gin?

Well, they’re all proud members of the £500K Campaign Club – meaning they are used to working with campaign budgets at this level, whether that’s the annual investment or one that happens multiple times a year. As a result, they all recognise the fact that smaller than average budgets need bigger than average thinking.

To dig a little deeper into this, we’ve pulled out the key lessons from three quite different campaigns for UKTV, Peugeot and Puerto de Indias, to demonstrate how they really made the most of their budgets.

Each campaign was grounded in a deep understanding of the brand’s real challenges, true insight into category and consumer dynamics, and a strong feel for how modern media markets work.

Use bare-faced cheek (UKTV)

Despite a tiny budget, UKTV channel Dave had big ambitions: to prove its mission of “bringing wit to the world”. The solution was to identify a high-profile event that would attract a large and passionate crowd, playing off that passion with the cheeky humour that characterises the brand.

When the Tour De France visited London, it attracted millions of fans. Working with Dave, we created the Tour De Farce, campaign below, which manifested in a group of seemingly professional cyclists (complete with shaven legs, faux pidgin English and fake sponsors) pretending they had become separated from the main race. They sped around London in their own little peloton, asking people for directions, pleading with taxis to give them a lift, and generally capturing the amusement of passers-by.

The icing on the cake was when a policeman, believing they were real competitors, escorted them onto The Mall and over the finish line.

Whilst the activation was important, what mattered more was the content created and the social conversation it sparked. The campaign generated features on ITV News and Capital FM, as well as significant online coverage. It was a perfect example of media that money can’t buy, and all for the price of a single TV spot.

Meet an audience in its native environment (Peugeot 208)

In preparing the launch of the 208, Peugeot knew it needed to re-assert the model’s relevance to drivers in their late 20s. Working with Initials, Peugeot had the courage to think a little differently. The Let Your Body Drive campaign (below) was kick-started by an unbranded video being seeded on to YouTube. The film featured internet sensation Dubstep dancer, Marquese Scott, dancing to the yet unreleased track “Feel The Love” by Rudimental.

When interest heightened, the brand followed up with a national roadshow to showcase the car to consumers. At each destination, the 208 stand was brought to life with street dancers performing to the Rudimental track which had by now gained massive public popularity.

All elements of the activity directed consumers to view the video in full and upload their own ‘Bodydrive’ video. Everyone who participated was entered into a prize draw to win a week in a VIP villa in Ibiza with seven friends.

This seamless integration delivered outstanding results: the video went viral, attracting four million views; the Rudimental track reached #1; five million people visited the campaign site; and, most importantly, Peugeot broke its decade-long record for advance orders. By meeting its audience in their natural environment, Peugeot was able to create content that felt relevant and authentic.

In practice these principles for success can, and should, be applied to those with slightly bigger budgets too. The following campaign is one such example.

The importance of single-minded creative (Puerto de Indias)

Hailing from Seville, Puerto de Indias is the original strawberry gin. It’s the number three brand in its home market, but relatively unknown beyond Spain.

In a category saturated with predictable, indistinguishable pink semiotics, the solution to cut through came in the form of a black strawberry. In combination with the line, “It’s not pink, it’s Puerto”, this iconic image immediately established the brand’s determination to stand apart from the competition.

The black strawberry was an omnipresent anchor to a multi-touch campaign that put a premium on the non-conventional. It appeared front and centre at the official launch event, on influencer platforms, and in street-level guerrilla activity in high opportunity areas, as well as trial-driving promotions at select bars that stocked the brand.

The rewards of ambition

These three campaigns are all very different, but they share some important traits. First, each brand was determined to fight its own battle by challenging and subverting category norms. Having found an idea they believed in, they followed it through with courage and conviction. There was no hint of creative compromise.

Next, there was a high degree of orchestration. All resources were focused on a single goal, and all activity leant into a single creative theme. What’s more, each of these brands kept things fast and fluid. Whilst they had a clear end-goal in mind, they were agile enough to jump quickly on emerging opportunities.

These commonalities aren’t coincidental, we believe they are fundamental for any brand that needs to find smart ways to beat the odds.

James Willoughby, Director at Initials.

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