Umbrella campaigns maximize message, media investment

Campbell Soup Company is one of the most recent marketers to unfurl its umbrella with a new campaign from BBDO Toronto. The work translates Campbell's traditional quality, goodness and 'good-for-you' brand message into one more relevant for today's consumers while also looking back to its heritage. The campaign re-introduces the brand's well-loved icons - the chubby-cheeked Campbell Kids - who were first introduced into Campbell advertising in 1905 and were reprised in the early 1950s as part of the company's 50th birthday.

Campbell Soup Company is one of the most recent marketers to unfurl its umbrella with a new campaign from BBDO Toronto. The work translates Campbell’s traditional quality, goodness and ‘good-for-you’ brand message into one more relevant for today’s consumers while also looking back to its heritage. The campaign re-introduces the brand’s well-loved icons – the chubby-cheeked Campbell Kids – who were first introduced into Campbell advertising in 1905 and were reprised in the early 1950s as part of the company’s 50th birthday.

The campaign’s umbrella brand message – Campbell soups are part of a healthy diet – is the overarching theme for individual television executions that highlight benefits such as ‘a full serving of vegetables in every bowl’ and ‘only 125 calories and three grams of fat.’

One 30-second spot is currently on air with a second to launch Sept. 10. More executions are currently in testing and will roll out over the rest of the year. The same theme message – and the Campbell Kids – will be leveraged over Campbell’s in-store messaging as well as Internet, public relations and other communications efforts.

Kristi Knowles, marketing director for Campbell Soup, expects that the recognition of the ‘Kids’ by the boomer generation and the appeal of the cute and cuddly characters to uninitiated younger groups will make the healthy eating umbrella message even more memorable to viewers.

‘The biggest benefit [of an umbrella campaign] is the message we put out, by having the same sort of creative idea throughout each of our [commercials]. It makes the Campbell’s message so much bigger and more easily interpreted and understood by consumers – as opposed to fragmenting our message and advertising spend,’ says Knowles.

‘Each execution hits a specific insight that’s a little bit different but the main takeaway we’re looking for from consumers is healthy eating. Having one campaign and one idea helps consumers ladder up to that one big benefit we’re trying to convey.

In deploying a campaign focused on its range of products, Campbell’s is not alone. Many marketers use such strategies to their advantage in order to maximize brand messages and media investments.

While bundling products under one umbrella can improve efficiencies as ad budgets are cut, marketers say these types of campaigns have more to do with building brands than saving production costs.

Umbrella campaigns are used first to establish a brand promise; reposition a brand; change consumer perception or build brand awareness; and secondly as a foundation for individual brand, benefit or product messages to spin off in separate executions or media vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. of Canada recently launched its new model season with a campaign from Young & Rubicam of Toronto that features ‘Umbrella,’ a portfolio spot that brings all of Ford’s brands under the banner, ‘Expect More.’

John Farquhar, president and chief creative officer of Y&R, says this campaign is about establishing a core proposition, a stake in the ground for what Ford stands for. In this case, he says Ford is bringing out products and new technologies that consumers can expect more out of.

‘We wanted to do an umbrella spot that really stated all that. It allows us to catalogue all the vehicles, show them involved in different situations but be able to get five or six vehicles within a 30- or 60-second spot, which you can’t do with a product spot.

‘We do the umbrella spot and then individual product spots such as a Taurus execution fall out of that. They become the fulfillment of the promise you’re making in the umbrella spot.’

Farquhar says it’s a cost effective way of putting several vehicles in one execution but that the weakness is, with only three or four seconds per vehicle, umbrella spots don’t allow full development of the proposition and benefits of individual products.

While it’s a good method for throwing weight behind one message for a specific period of time, he doesn’t recommend it long-term because, particularly with a high-ticket and emotional purchase like a car, consumers need to understand features and benefits of each product as well as what the company stands for.

Farquhar says when putting together an umbrella campaign, the promise or theme-line has to be a basket that all ideas fall into, it can’t exclude anything from a strategic and executional standpoint. ‘You can’t say this holds true for everything but one product we have out there. Make sure it’s sustainable across the entire product line. It has to cover off a wide spectrum of people, mentalities and reasons for buying. It’s got to be pretty broad.’

Brother International Corp. (Canada) turned to umbrella advertising when challenged with the task of educating consumers about the breadth of product the company marketed.

Martin Featherston, VP of marketing and sales for Brother, says that in focus groups consumers might be aware of some Brother products such as sewing machines or typewriters, but were surprised to find out the company marketed such a wide range of business machines.

The new campaign was designed to change that.

After assessing that most of Brother’s products – aside from its sewing machines – were designed for the same purchaser and end user, Featherston says bundling them all under one umbrella campaign was a natural.

‘It’s most definitely a brand building exercise but there are cost savings. Everyone has limited budgets these days and [umbrella campaigns] are a very efficient way to tell everybody what we have without doing separate commercials for different demographics,’ Featherston says.

‘You’re talking about millions of dollars as well. As we all know, to have an effect, someone has to see a commercial many times for it to impact that they’ve seen it in the first place. If you start dividing that up in all the different product categories, into doing different commercials, the message gets washed out. [Umbrella campaigns] are a good way to saturate the awareness and get the point across.’

The result of Brother’s strategy is ‘Work Group Solutions,’ a 30-second TV spot from Cormark MacPhee Communications Solutions of Toronto, which takes viewers from small workgroups to boardrooms showing the company’s array of solutions for increasing productivity and efficiency.

‘Work Group Solutions’ has been placed on virtually every televised sporting event with the spot running three to four times on each occasion – with support in business magazines and POP material. The campaign launched in July and continues into next year with new executions being added as it progresses.

Featherston says when considering bundling a large amount of product into one spot, his team was inspired by an extremely effective effort from Honda Canada that aired last year.

The Honda campaign tied the full range of product together into entertaining and imaginative 30- and 60-second spots. The first execution, called ‘Cabin,’ featured a man using everything from a Honda snowblower and car to a lawnmower and boat motor. It was created by Rubin Postaer & Associates of Santa Monica, Calif.

The second execution launched in May 2000 came from Ambrose Carr Linton Carroll of Toronto. ‘Engine Manufacturer’ illustrated why Honda is the world’s largest engine manufacturer, showing Honda engines via Formula 1 and CART racecars, motorcycles, cars, lawnmowers and trimmers, and electric generators.

Tony Vander Baaren, account director on Honda at ACLC, says because it’s an umbrella spot, ‘Engine Manufacturer’ has gotten a lot more exposure than expected.

While ACLC has handled the Honda and Acura car business for several years, it doesn’t have the lawn care or motorcycle account.

Those divisions requested the spot be run in the programming slot they’d purchased. So rather than airing on general programming used by the automotive division it reached specialized markets through sports programming such as car and motorcycle races on cable.

Sprint Canada is using umbrella advertising to reposition and change the public perception of the company with a print, television and radio campaign from Toronto’s Vickers & Benson Arnold.

Deni Baschiera, VP account director on Sprint at V&B Arnold, says when Sprint came to Canada eight years ago, it was a residential long distance provider but the product offering has outgrown that branding.

‘[The umbrella campaign] is not about cost, it’s about getting people to understand that Sprint is a provider of a wide range of services. It’s about managing consumer perception.

‘Consumers don’t just buy a product, they buy a brand. In [Sprint's] case we thought the brand was publicly misunderstood because it was perceived as just local and residential. The product offering and range of services outgrew the original brand.’

The campaign that launched in June uses the tagline ‘How will you choose to communicate today?’ to illustrate that Sprint is in the residential and business market with local, long distance and Internet services.

Baschiera says bringing all the services into one campaign was supported by consumer research indicating that in the telecommunications sector, people are willing to have more of an all-inclusive relationship with their service provider.

‘It’s about making life a little simpler, having fewer and deeper relationships. The consumer simplifies life a bit and feels they have more leverage and more clout with their provider.’