At the end of the last century, around this time of the year, a restaurant appeared in a pretty Black sea town. Time passed day after day, year after year, and restaurants mushroomed somehow unnoticeably, covering the entire Bulgarian territory. The professional interference of PR and Marketing became a must when the growth began requiring control and cultivation. To this end, following a difficult pitch, an agency was engaged to ensure the proper brand development. Unfortunately, the team did not have much time and had to make an outdoor advertisement proposal almost immediately.
Do you remember those pocket devices which companies like Casio released on the market right after the first calculators appeared? Somehow unnoticeably, a brand new market came into being between the personal computers and some of the pioneers in the console games. Brands and games started mushrooming and moved the nucleus of contemporary entertainment business with the speed of light. If someone has played quest, which can loosen your imagination to the utmost, he can easily answer the question why some games turned into bases of a brand new culture not only on the game market, but rather in the way we communicate and share our emotions.
Not long ago I visited an exhibition of Picasso and then I headed to another exhibition of two creative comrades. I was still trying to absorb the white and black impressions of the Picasso brand, when an elderly woman with slightly bored expression on her face popped up in front of me. She started with: “Hello, I am from the X sociological agency, we’re making a survey about TV commercials…”. Professionally deformed that I am, I responded quickly “No, thank you”, but the lady went on almost as fast as I did “…if you spare about two hours of your time for group discussions, you will get a Milka chocolate as a reward”.
Every project may flow wonderfully if things happen on friendly terms. Through the years I have come round to the opinion that it is great madness to play in two teams - Assignor and Assignee. In most cases this hinders work and development. The moment this pseudo wall falls, the picture obtains a new look. Three years ago I got a call from friends of mine with whom we have worked together on more than one project, and said: “We are nominated for a big movie festival, and we don’t have a website of the movie”. Next morning we were sitting with a cup of coffee and cigarette, ready for the pre-premiere review.
The salty snacks market is one of those which I have studied with pleasure and for which I have realized more than one project. In the middle of 2003, after having worked in an advertising agency, I crossed to the other side as a Brand Manager in a marketing department, and at the end of 2004 I was on the third side as a Client-Service Director. Actually, this triple point of view taught me many subtleties, part of which I’m going to share in these lines. A previous article reminded me of that matter related to the demolition of a ME2 brand platform and the building of a new brand over the same foundations. Every process of demolishing and building takes time, and this particular project took about three years.
In 2002 a company with traditions in production of potato and corn chips - Intersnack, popular with its world-known brand Chio, purchased the production and the local brand Chipi. Owning about 30% from the salty snacks market and over 80% of the chips segment is more than a serious market achievement. At first look it seems wonderful, but considering 2 brands of similar targeting - men and women between 20 and 30 years of age, having a dynamic lifestyle with consumer habits “on the go”, it is almost impossible to achieve a bigger market share. There is always a sufficient quantity of solutions! A main move in the repositioning of the Chipi Chips brand was below the line activity with revolutionary for its time approach in the FMCG market, namely - instant monetary wins (money in-packs). With this “bomb” we achieved 75% sale growth as compared to the previous year and substantial growth in distribution. Along with this move we started working on a new package design, new logo and new target audience, with which later we entered in focus groups. We wanted to attract the family audience - 30 - 40 years old and those who love Bulgarian cuisine and traditions. In Bulgaria, the top of mind association for natural clean potatoes is restricted to roadside merchants who stalk on the mountain roads in the autumn.
Since a game has been played by advertising agency and marketing department, it is much easier to find balance between creativity and sales. One of the advertising business old men has said:”Nobody’s watching TV to see your ad”. This thought was much stronger when television was at its dawn, not its decline. At the time when torrent revolution and online videos hadn’t started to overflow the entertainment business and I had been playing for several years behind the scenes of an advertising agency and marketing department, I took part in a project related to a brand which had been known in the market for years and for which I had worked on both sides, and in the given case I was exactly in the middle. The client had signed a contract for the exclusive presence of his range of products with the biggest film distributor in Bulgaria, holding a chain of cinema halls and video stores. It was about building up a consumer habit - Chips and Movies.
Yellow or golden? They’re both pretty much the same to me, but when it comes to brands competing in one and the same branch, the matter is more of a “Coca-Cola or Pepsi?” kind. During the last two years quite many players entered the business directories and guides field. At present the leader in the market are Yellow pages and Golden pages, as the latter are by default placed in a slight image shadow. I’ve known the first ones’ representative for years and he’s among the few friends of mine who like to work at night like me. Several months ago we chatted about the ability to lead or to follow the way. An infinite philosophic theme that you can dwell upon for hours over a nice coffee and aromatic tobacco with utmost pleasure. The history of telephone directories with yellow pages started at the time of the most renowned detective of all times and will soon celebrate its 130th jubilee. Yes, my thought brought me right there, to the recesses of the so called ME2 brands, to my former experience with such cases and positioning based on traditions. “Imitate or Innovate?” is one of my favourite cliches in marketing, which I decided to clean from the dust for this project and add some character to this specific search in the yellow-golden guides.
Have you ever heard of an Account Executive? This is the attractive position they give to all freshmen in the advertising agencies which includes coordinating a mess of several dozens activities happening between rushed clients, spaced-out artists, focused media planners and a ton of financial paperwork. In the end of 2001 I joined Ogilvy & Mather in such type of position and one of my first projects was Zagorka Gold.
Positioning and communicating a brand in a market of young and dynamic people is not an easy job especially when the client’s portfolio includes brands like Heineken, Amstel, Murphy’s and 4-5 more local brands. On top of this you add the portfolios of the two other strongest world beer leaders, some alcoholic mixed drinks as well as a whole additional universe of all cool brands popular among the young status seekers and then you get a good idea about the task. One of the toughest details was that for many years this beer was known under the name Zagorka Gold to one generation, and now the company wanted to bring up only Gold for people like me. The umbrella brand Zagorka, the elder brother Heineken and the Brewinvest corporation had to keep a low profile, an approach that has been used by many customers before. And so… to summarize… Local Premium segment representing 1.5% of the total market volume and 3.6% of the market value… approximately 700,000 people target market, 25 to 30 years old, men and women, progressive and expressive. The brand to them needed to have the emotional appeal of … “it demonstrates my personal sophistication, status, success and refined style” but the naked truth was closer to “am I cool enough to drink Zagorka Gold, instead of some of the world brands from the Premium segment (Stella Artois, Grolsh, Carlsberg, Beck’s, Tuborg, Corona etc.)”
I’ve always thought that the key to the successful advertisement is in the ability to get into your target market’s skin, but at this time I was drinking really cheap liquor on the streets and the brands closest to my heart included Volcom and Burton, and I couldn’t care less about what kind of beer I was drinking as long as it was cold enough. While seeking sufficiently emotional meaning combined with a sexy and fashionable taste we concluded that we needed people with unique charisma who would be the opinion leaders in their communities. A fashion model from the cover of a lifestyle magazine, chocolates and alcoholic beverages promoter, a face control person from a popular night club and a Mig-29 pilot… 4 people, 4 print layouts, 4 outdoor layouts… Go 4 Gold!