Frozen food brand Birds Eye has reframed its strategy around greater creativity and turned around the business as a result, according to marketing director Steve Challouma.

And he considers creativity in the broadest sense, which goes far beyond the traditional ad. “That’s still the foundation of the creative platform,” he said, “but as a brand leader, you have to consider creativity across the whole suite of activities that you manage.”

You can have a great advertising idea, but if “your media choice is crap, then you’re not really exploiting it”, he told the recent Creative Excellence and Effectiveness event organised by Cannes Lions, WARC and MediaLink. “You’re not reaching your consumers in the right way.”

Similarly, the brand experience has to match the brand promise: “It is in the interdependency between these different elements of how consumers interact with your brand that value is created,” Challouma added. (For more, read WARC’s report: The importance of creativity in reviving the Birds Eye brand).

He acknowledged the many barriers that stand in the way of creativity, from risk aversion and box-ticking to costs and measurement (as an aside he mused on setting up a new metric: ROCI – return on creative investment).

But brands and agencies can work together to reframe creativity in order to drive better performance, he argued.

Underpinning all this is a requirement to develop a culture of creativity where ideas and risk are encouraged. “And that needs to start from the top, whether that’s bravery in your creative idea, your media choices; each team has to find its own voice.”

Challouma has spent the past couple of years pushing Birds Eye in this direction. Carrying on as before wasn’t really an option, he pointed out, since the brand was declining at 8% to 9% a year.

“We opened up in terms of media mix, we refreshed our assets, we got the right balance between short-term and long-term media.” Where three-quarters of the business had been sold on price promotions, that is now down to half.

And the business has begun to turn around, with 4% growth in 2018 compared to the food category average of 1% to 1.5%.

“We’re a much healthier, more resilient business,” Challouma said. “So this stuff can work. But it all started with a strategy and then being open to creativity.”

Sourced from WARC