Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Findus understands consumer needs - launch frozen Pasta Gratin kits

Findus is creating new smart meal solutions for Swedish families who experience the 5-6pm 'hell-hour' need for quickly prepared and reasonably healthy dinner needs.

Their latest launch are two innovative Gratin dinner kits, one pasta gratin, and one Taco gratin. Home made Tacos (swedish style) are the Swedish favourite meal no. one - so perhaps this is a fairly expected move...

I was pretty pleased to see these two products by Findus. Yet again Findus shows a focus on being innovative when it comes to ensuring that consumers keep shopping the frozen categories - as fresh makes inroads also in Sweden, albeit at a very slow pace in comparison to many other, larger markets. These products are perfect for the cash-rich, time-poor families of today. And the 'cooking kit' with two seperate components that you simply mix is just a dream for mothers and fathers who want to feel like they've done some cooking (hmmm we all need to fool ourselves sometimes to feel satisfied with our role as parents...)

So, great work Findus, mums and dads are likely to shop this product if it's available and at a reasonable price. And hopefully the taste and quality will make both mums, dads and kids happy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crisp maker OLW taps into Fredagsmys insight to conquer Swedish crisp market

Swedish crisp maker OLW's choice to tap into a strong emotional insight proved a good strategy. OLW has now taken the throne as the king of the Swedish crisp market with a 39% market share. The insight that sits at the back of the Fredagsmys campaign taps into Swedes need for 'cosy, lazy family time' on Friday nights, after a tough and stressful working week. The key ingredient in the campaign is the song 'Fredagsmys' which, in all its 'geekiness', have become incredibly popular. It has been played more than 1 200 200 on Spotify! And the social network following has also been strong with more than 190 000 members in the Facebook group 'We love Fredagsmys'. See the ad below - a show of different Swedes who all love Fredagsmys.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why brand characters?

Well, that is the question that I asked myself as I read the ‘name three popular brand characters’ thread in one of the many Linked In groups that I follow. We’ve all come across famous brand characters as we meet brands advertised and promoted. There are the really famous ones like the Michelin man, the Duracell bunny and the Andrex puppy. And there are the local ones, in Sweden we have the Tele2 sheep and the rather annoying Boxer guy Robert…

So what’s the point of them then and why do companies bother? As I can see it there are a few strong advantages of creating brand characters:

To emphasise a relevant, differentiated benefit
Brand characters are often chosen because they are the advocates of a benefit that the company in question wants to own. In the case of the Tele2 sheep, Tele2 must have come to the conclusion that ‘different due to cheap’ was the most important benefit to emphasise, and… hurrah. The agency came up with the idea that cheap and sheep were connecting words that one could easily play with… and since differentiation is also a key benefit of Tele2 the black sheep was born! The Duracell rabbit is another great example born from the same logic.

To create a holder for storytelling
Brand characters are the perfect holding devices for storytelling. And advertising agencies, at least in Sweden, seem to love to create long (way too long!?) running stories around brands. One example in Sweden are the characters in the ICA commercials. ICA Stig and his colleagues play in a long-winding soap-opera. Personally I’m a bit tired of those ads but because the characters are recognised, the costs are covered by brand owners and the format is so incredibly engrained in people’s mind I’m afraid they might just last forever… ICA Stig goes strong. A favourite of mine is the Ipren man, a made-up character that supports the brand message and new innovations. I enjoyed seeing the Ipren guy in a new settings in the latest ad which I’ve written about before.

To create recognition and ad brand recall
Lastly brand characters are great tools to create brand recognition and brand recall. When you’ve got a brand character strongly associated with a brand, all future communication that clearly displays that character will act as a snapshot reminder of the brand and its benefits. So if you only see a few seconds of an ad you might miss out on the message and the brand logo but at least the actor i.e. the brand character will serve to effectively remind you of the brand. Tele2 very clearly displays its black sheep in all sorts of consumer facing communication whether its TV ads, print, digital or packaging. You surely cannot miss the sheep – cheap connection however hard you try.

I believe these three reasons are the key reasons why we see more and more brand characters supporting the message of brands. There are of course also some issue if you choose this path – and I will get back to those asap. But for now, I hope the above makes some interesting reading. And do let me know if you think I’ve missed out on some additional fantastic benefit of creating supporting act brand characters. Bye for now.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calsberg Sweden launch Falcon Autumn Lager

In the next move to position Falcon as the beer for 'genuine men' Carlsberg Sweden have recently launched Autumn Lager, a darker kind of lager, lightly roasted and with a hint of chocolate.

This appears to be the next move to strengthen the Falcon brand positioning clearly to its target group of 'genuine men' which I personally trust to be a well-researched and clearly defined target group described as mature, self-confident, grounded 30-50 year old guys with a strong presence. Or something close to that at least... This group is also likely to be interested by international beers and beer culture so this is also an important move for Carlsberg to strengthen the local brand Falcon against the tough and growing international competition. The recent launch comes with a short ad focussing on building awareness for the new launch, but still with a strong message connected to the new positioning. See the ad here.

Another issue for Carlsberg is to define and communicate different positionings for the local brands against the Carlsberg brand. The proposition in the world of Premium must be unique for both Carlsberg and Falcon brands, where each brand should be targeted at a specific segment in the market. With the latest moves by Carlsberg it seems like they've got a clearer plan in place now for how to work with their different brands. I'm looking forward to next steps!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Magnum - a well managed brand

According to the Unilever website there are over a billion Magnum ice creams sold every year. That's a significant number of ice creams! A few days ago I spotted the Magnum Minis collection that was recently launched in Sweden. Now, I am a bit of an ice-cream snob so while I'm frustrated by the less than tempting ingredient list of Magnum I still find the lovely little chocolate mini ice-creams absolutely deliciosly yummy looking...

I would say that Magnum is one of those brands that I think Unilever really manage in style. The brand was launched in the UK already in 1987 and it claims to be the first widely available hand held indulgence ice cream in the UK. Since then, Magnum has extended the brand family with nice additions like my favourite Magnum Almond as well as other lovely ideas such as Double Chocolate (1996), Double Caramel (2000), Yoghurt Fresh and Magnum Intense (2002). I also loved the limited editions titled '7 Sins' (2003) and '5 Senses' (2005). Both were well executed great campaigns with brilliant supporting communication.

The new addition to the Magnum family is apparently Magnum Gold with front figure tough guy Benicio del Toro as the supporting frontman. Sweden is perhaps a too small market for Unilever to bother with any big TV ad expenses, but see this ad from UK and you get the feel for what the Magnum Gold launch is all about.

So what do I like about Magnum? Well, I think that in terms of innovation, concept development and communication it is an incredibly well managed brand. It's all about being the almost sensual ice-cream indulgence - and the new launches support that brand proposition full on. And through the new concepts Magnum manages to stay connected and relevant to its target audience. Great work Magnum!