Western Union a global Villager

Agency/Media Company: MediaVest Worldwide Client: Western Union International Team: Brent McKenzie, vice-president, group media director Timing: January 1999 to December 1999 Best Use of Out-of-Home: Second Runner-up (tie) The Background Western Union International is the largest money transfer...

Agency/Media Company: MediaVest Worldwide

Client: Western Union International

Team: Brent McKenzie, vice-president, group media director

Timing: January 1999 to December 1999

Best Use of Out-of-Home: Second Runner-up (tie)

The Background

Western Union International is the largest money transfer company in the world. It has built its franchise on a reputation for trustworthiness, dependable service and superior knowledge of the details of international transfer.

For Western Union, Canada is a fairly typical market. The competitive set comprises various smaller operations, as well as alternative vehicles such as postal services, shipping companies and banks. Typically, these competitors attempt to gain ground by leveraging price advantages against Western Union’s premium position.

Within Western Union’s vast target are several subgroups, consisting of immigrants to Canada who have left family and friends behind, and wish to (or are obliged to) send money back home. This potentially high-yield group formed the target of the campaign.

The objective was to conduct a campaign against this target that would enable Western Union to (a) enhance its image as ‘the best, most trusted way to send money home,’ and (b) mine key promotional opportunities on each individual’s personal calendar, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s day, birthdays and national holidays. The campaign was driven by the insight that people are naturally more trusting and accepting when familiar things make them feel ‘at home.’

The Plan

Western Union’s plan was wholly three-dimensional. But its unique centrepiece was an out-of-home component called ‘The Western Union Retail Program,’ which employed a new media concept, trademarked Villager(tm). Developed by MediaVest, Villager(tm) combines in situ sales and promotional tools with a uniquely complex delivery methodology.

It was this new media concept that made possible a genuine grassroots program. Its two signal strengths were: (a) It was located where each ethnic minority shopped, and (b) it was administered by local shopkeepers in their own languages and styles.

The program incorporated a ‘Take One’ brochure mechanism, executed in ethnic-specific centres by representatives who were not traditional Western Union agents. Shopkeepers in some 300 locations were contracted to display and manage customized Western Union message showcases.

Key to executing this complex plan was the recruitment of project co-ordinators. These were individuals well-known either to the target group or to the shopkeeper ‘agents.’ They were selected based on their track records in dealing with markets of their own ethnicity. Each was a member of the ethnic group being targeted – they spoke the language and were seen as trusted ‘kin-folk.’

Based on research, six major ethnic centres in Toronto were identified. Within each of these, the responsibilities of the project co-ordinator included: the identification and selection of retail outlets; the distribution and replenishment of the relevant literature; and the continuous and visible display of the showcase hardware. At key times of year, the co-ordinator was also responsible for heavying-up reminders of the target’s reasons for sending money home (Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas and so on).

A combination of transit shelters and outdoor posters was also used to stake out each ethnic centre with language- and culture-specific messages. Transit shelters formed the perimeter, while 10 by 20 posters provided emphasis on each corner, and the in-store program filled in the middle. The result was virtually 100% coverage of each of these hard-to-reach ethnic groups.

Western Union’s traditional media choices were also executed. These included radio, television and print – and, as in the past, steps were taken to bind the brand image to various interests of the target groups (through sponsorship of soccer broadcasts on TLN, for example, and radio spots promoting the company’s support of Caribana).

The Results

In every way, the program exceeded projections. Transactions were up 18%, revenues were up 10% and audience-reach levels set new highs. Equally important, the program has become an equity. There are now 300 locations in six ethnic centres, plus a network of project co-ordinators – all intact and poised for Western Union’s next effort.

A precedent-setting model for marketing to ethnic communities, the program is now being adopted by Western Union in other markets. It has already been expanded to Vancouver, and will be executed throughout the U.S. in 2000. There are also plans for a test in Paris this year.

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In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.