Major advertisers turn to umbrella branding

16 November 2009

LONDON: Major advertisers including Unilever, Heinz and Sony are all placing an increased emphasis on umbrella branding as part of their communications strategies, as they seek to emphasise values going beyond individual products or services.

Heinz, the food manufacturer, has recently launched a £5 million ($8.3m €5.6m) marketing campaign in the UK based around the tagline "It has to be Heinz", with its ads featuring a number of its goods.

These include Tomato Ketchup, Beanz, Salad Cream, Spaghetti Hoops and Cream of Tomato Soup, with the hope that this approach will have knock-on benefits across its portfolio.

Giles Jepson, its marketing director for sauces and soup, said "by focusing on our umbrella brand, we are able to give all of our products central focus on advertising and not rely on trade promotions in stores."

"The Heinz brand is greatly cherished by the British people … We wanted to remind them of our core products and maintain that relationship through this umbrella branding approach," he added.

Tesco, the British retailer, has expanded its operations from focusing on grocery to areas like mobile phones and financial services, but has retained a consistency of tone and content when speaking to current and potential customers.

"Our brand is centred around the quality and service customers want and have come to expect from Tesco," said Richard Brasher, its commercial director. 

"We use this brand on own-label goods because it is our way of extending that trust and helping our customers have it all in an uncertain world."

In a similar fashion, Sony has sought to adopt a more unified message across its range of mobile phones, games, films and consumer electronics, in the form of the proposition "make.believe".

Matt Coombe, its general marketing manager in the UK, said "everything we do now runs under a common identity; people know Sony and they believe the brand values of the master brand."

Rather than its previous "fragmented and disparate" model, this initiative means consumers "feel reassured about what they are buying. The umbrella branding gives us a meaning, not just a logo," according to Coombe.

Unilever has also started to feature its logo in all of its advertising, as part of an effort to raise awareness of its corporate brand, having announced an intention to follow this path earlier this year.

Paul Nevett, the Anglo-Dutch group's vp of marketing, foods and ice cream in the UK and Ireland, said the FMCG giant wanted to "replicate" the company's "internal pride" with shoppers.

As part of this process, the owner of Knorr and Axe has conducted regular surveys asking consumers to name the top parent brands in the CPG category, finding that it has moved from fourth to first on this measure since the start of its umbrella campaign.

"The Unilever logo is now a mark of quality through its greater presence, which reassures consumers. They can relate to it and look for it, creating a 'halo effect' for all our portfolio of brands," Nevett added.

By contrast, Coca-Cola is one example of an organisation that is continuing to employ highly distinctive ads for each of its brands, something it argues is required by the variety of products it sells.

"There is not much natural cross-over. So it makes commercial sense for us to focus our efforts largely on our individual brands and leverage our assets where there are opportunities to do so," Cathryn Sleight, its UK and Ireland marketing director, said.

Similarly, Stephen McGill, UK marketing director for Microsoft's Xbox, expressed reserva

Data sourced from Marketing Magazine; additional content by Warc staff