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A new A[P]SOTW assignment: persuading Kiehl's to invest in communications

Opinion, 04 June 2013

Warc has again teamed up with the AP[S]OTW - or the Advertising [Planning] School On The Web to give it is full title.

This excellent initiative, run by a team of senior planners from across the world, poses challenges for up-and-coming planners and marketers. It's a chance to show off your ideas in front of a seriously, seriously senior line-up of judges.

We're lending a hand by carrying and promoting their challenges here on the Warc blog, offering some free content to help people's thinking (see below for that) and hopefully highlighting some of the ideas that come out of them.

(You can view the previous challenge we helped out with here).

Now, over to Gareth Kay for details of the new assignment...


This is an exercise in the often overlooked art of defining the problem to be solved and therefore the role for communications. It's a simple challenge we're setting:

Imagine you are at your desk and your phone rings. 

It's the new CMO of Kiehl's, a wildly successful brand of stripped down cosmetics.  Retail stores around the world.  Acquired in 2000 by L'Oreal.

Success has been built through great word of mouth and their habit of giving free samples for you to use or pass along to friends and family.

There has been little, if any, 'traditional' paid advertising.

But sales have slowed. The CMO believes it's time to invest in marketing communication. He wants your agency to tell them - and the management team - if you believe they should invest in marketing communication and why.

You have no more than 10 minutes on a conference call to make your case. Your answer to this question will determine whether conversations continue. They are talking to 12 more agencies. What would you say?

The assignment is to share your talking points/argument in no more than a one page document. We will be looking for clarity and conviction; interestingness and rigor. Send entries by the contact address on this blog by the end of June. We'll pull together a group of judges (hopefully including Rob, Andrew and David from WARC) to get you feedback soon after - this will be posted!

To help you, the kind people at Warc (one of the best resources of intellectual capital about brands and advertising) have offered up free access to some useful articles. You can access:

Peter Field and Les Binet on short term and long term effects here.

A piece on L'Oreal embracing digital here.

And a piece on the briliant BBH Yeo Valley campaign here.

About the author

Advertising [Planning] School On The Web enables up-and-coming planners, marketers or anyone with an interest in comminications to get feedback on their ideas from some of the best in the business.

The idea is simple: every few months, one of the planners behind A[P]SOTW issues a challenge. A panel of judges including these same planners and other esteemed marketers then read, review and give valuable feedback on the proposals they receive, and award a prize to the best submission.