Free Now: standing tall with its advertising campaign launch

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To combat reduced advertising spend during the pandemic, Savanta’s head of media Shaun Austin explains the essentials package created to help industries return to an even keel and help marketers to clearly demonstrate their advertising value

The impact of the past 20 months has been devastating for many businesses, with the retail, hospitality and travel sectors being hit the hardest and having to shut or alter the services they offer.

Inevitably, marketing and advertising spend was immediately slashed by many, and limited to essential spend only.

However, as we entered H2 2021, we saw advertising spend bouncing back, with GroupM’s mid-year forecast predicting a 24% increase in the UK advertising market – a major improvement from the previous forecast at the start of the year. GroupM also recently highlighted that global advertising spend in 2021 was up 37.5%.

As advertising started to return across 2021, especially off the back of a relatively tough economic period where budgets were tight, there was a need to demonstrate the value of advertising spend and the benefits that businesses were seeing.

As part of budget pressures, market research spend was also threatened, with a demand from clients to deliver faster and cheaper insights for those who didn’t want a full-service approach.

Here at Savanta we introduced a suite of essential products to address these needs.

Free Now: getting clear on campaign objectives

In September 2020, Free Now relaunched their UK brand. As part of this relaunch, they ran a six-week campaign across TV, VOD, radio, print, out-of-home (OOH), digital and social. With an emphatic focus on London, the new campaign brought to life the brand promise (feel free, move freely) while communicating the unique service proposition of having black cabs and private hire vehicles together on one ride-hailing app for the first time. The final campaign featured a ‘50ft woman on roller-skates,’ which used the creative device of roller-skates (one a black cab and the other a PHV) as a metaphor for the freedom and control that Free Now provides.

However, at the end of the campaign there were questions around whether the campaign could have worked harder, whether the proposition was being clearly understood and if the benefits were clear to audiences. Therefore, before the second burst of activity, Free Now wanted to ensure that the creative was clear and compelling and would ultimately generate the maximum return on investment.

Savanta were appointed ahead of the second wave of the campaign to help identify any changes that needed to be made to the campaign so that Free Now’s creative and media agencies could adapt their strategies.

Our Essentials Creative Test was the perfect solution to quickly validate and understand the creative, with the ability to test creatives, measuring stand-out, memorability, messaging and branding clarity, as well as strength of engagement and persuasion and call to action. Crucial for Free Now was to:

Validate whether the ‘50ft woman on roller-skates’ creative metaphor was understood and found appealing

Understand the impact on consumer behavior

Explore the overarching message and claim benefits

We were able to identify key areas of weaknesses enabling Free Now to optimize the creative ahead of the second burst of campaign activity. This included helping to strengthen branded cut-through at the start of the ad, and dialling up the benefits of the key messages that are trying to be conveyed to help them land more effectively.

Once the campaign was relaunched, the next stage was to measure the impact of this second burst of activity using our Essentials Campaign Evaluation tool.

Results showed that the refined creative had helped to drive top of mind awareness for Free Now amongst their target audience. Brand love had almost doubled over the course of the campaign, and in turn this was generating discussion and advocacy around the brand, improving the competitive positioning across key metrics.

The reason we were seeing key positive uplifts from the campaign was due to high levels of recall – two in five of the target audience had seen the TV campaign, with the poster being seen by a similar proportion. In addition to this, the refined creative scored well on being ‘easy to understand,’ ‘told me something new’ and ‘well branded’ – statements that were a key focus from the creative testing research.

Our essentials product range offers pre-templated questionnaires with results combined in an easy-to-read dashboard, providing a summary of the key metrics along with a full set of data tables. Products are designed to offer a simple, low-cost, high-value alternative to traditional research and insights. The same quality and rigor you’d expect – just fuss-free, fast and flexible. Find out more here.