Emily Barley, Editorial Assistant, Warc
What marketing do to boost a brand weakness? A quick scout of Warc.com finds a myriad of challenges and solutions. Here I have highlighted five examples of how brands addressed a weakness – one address a logistical issue, Kmart's inventory problem, and the rest are all about people's perceptions. Weetabix is boring, McDonald's is low quality and Michigan is deep in industrial decay. Or are they? In Aldi's case, people felt distant, disloyal and embarrassed to shop with a discounter.
Read below to see how the brands addressed these challenges, and subscribers can click through for the full case studies. You may also like to explore more case studies on Warc via the Case Finder or Topic Pages.
Kmart: Ship my pants
Kmart, the US discount department store chain, had recurrent out-of-stock problems and since supply chain changes were impossible looked to marketing for answers. This campaign highlighted an existing free home delivery service in a humourous way, with the YouTube video going viral. The inventory problem was turned into a customer service win and led to growth in sales.
The Weetabix Week: Turning a barrier into a benefit
Cereal brand Weetabix was boring. The UK cereal market was fragmenting, and 'plain cereals' were the biggest loser. This campaign turned that weakness into a strength with the 'Weetabix Week' – a playful conversation emphasising versatility, and featuring real people's ideas of add-ins and benefits. Crucially, this built on the brand's existing well-known healthy messaging.
McDonald's Canada: Our food. Your questions.
McDonald's had the lowest food quality perception scores in a competitive fast-food market and its 'quality' claims were not convincing consumers. In this campaign the company addressed people's concerns directly by inviting them to ask any question they wanted via social media. McDonald's then answered these through a variety of means, including YouTube videos, some of which were then amplified on TV and in outdoor ads.
Michigan Economic Development Corporation: Pure Michigan
This US tourism organisation was fighting against negative press coverage that highlighted the poor state of its economy, led by the decay of its largest city – Detroit. Michigan's 'less developed' state was reframed as being 'less ordinary', with emphasis on an unspoiled natural environment and escaping everyday life. In contrast to other tourism ads that featured a range of activities, this campaign focussed on storytelling, bringing to life experiences in an emotionally engaging way.
Aldi: The Like Brands campaign
Aldi, the discount retailer, is one of the UK's biggest success stories and has experienced rapid growth in customers – including amongst the seemingly unlikely middle classes. But where did it start? Back in 2011 the unusual step was taken of featuring famous, quality brands in its ads that Aldi did not carry. These were placed next to its own brands, with the price of each – "Like Brands. Only Cheaper". This engaged non-customers and boosted the loyalty of existing customers, setting the company on its way to becoming the sixth largest supermarket chain in the UK.