Sumegha Rao considers how brands including Tesco, Churchill and NHS England harnessed the power of disruption, innovation and unexpectedness to truly stand out.

It is estimated that an average person is likely to encounter between 6,000 and 10,000 ads every day.

In a crowded, vociferous environment in which brands are out-shouting each other, what does it take for a brand to reach more consumers, grab their attention and get them to consider the products and services on offer? To most, the answer is simple – channel integration.

However, channel integration in itself is just part of the answer.

This is where the concept of receptivity comes in. To make channel integration effective, the brand has to engage consumers at touchpoints where they are most responsive to brand messages, and are likely to act on it positively. If you connect the dots of receptivity across all your touchpoints, channel integration will be seamless and will make it easy for consumers to engage and immerse themselves in the totality of your brand experience, whenever and wherever they wish.

With this as the foundation, brands can harness the power of disruption, innovation and unexpectedness to truly stand out. These three winners in the 2020 WARC Media Awards Effective Channel Integration category are proof of that.

Tesco: Tesco during the COVID pandemic

COVID-19 turned lives upside down, including the way people shopped. With a reduced number of trips to the supermarket, Tesco rose to the challenge of reassuring shoppers of their safety by switching the audience strategy from a core family focus to reassuring the entire nation.

With an increase in media investment and SOV, Tesco made safety its primary message and ran a multi-media campaign to tell shoppers about safety initiatives such as ‘elderly hour’, ‘National Health Service hour’, and social distancing.

To build emotional resonance, Tesco used its brand platform ‘Food Love Stories’ as an enabler of connection when the nation was at its most disconnected. Tesco reflected how food was connecting families, albeit in new ways, and reminded people how they could still make the food they love to make for the people they love.

To make the message work harder and be more receptive, it went a step further by identifying emerging behaviours such as an increase in search for recipes online and designed communications to be bespoke and engaging. ‘Dedications’ showcased people – including celebrities – cooking dishes in celebration of loved ones they couldn’t be with. Festive dedications around moments such as Easter and Ramadan, coupled with contextual targeting, maximised reach, talkability and positive PR.

Churchill: Breathing life into an old dog

British insurance provider Churchill took the brave decision to go big or go home. In a highly transactional and commoditised category, to reinvigorate a dowdy old proposition into a young, relatable and modern brand was no easy feat, but it was the only way to future-proof growth.

It started with the correct insight: research indicated the world was increasingly stressful for hard-working British families. These consumers recognise the importance of insurance but want it to be one less thing to worry about.

Armed with this knowledge and the word 'chill' in the name, Churchill gave consumers what they needed the most – occasions to chill, both as a family and as an individual. The brand realised TV would be the biggest contributor to awareness, but pushed audience receptivity further by owning “cozy family evenings in front of the TV” and creating a 'Chill Index'. It pinpointed when families were watching TV together, were likely to be relaxed and likely to watch throughout ad breaks, and this helped bring real-time optimisation to Churchill's TV planning.

Meanwhile, during school runs, Churchill's ad-break takeover on radio replaced advertising with soothing music, thereby turning the journey home into yet another occasion to chill.

With a Spotify partnership, audiences could receive a score on how 'chilled' their personal music playlists were, and could share the score on Facebook, and receive recommendations to ‘chill-ify’ their music selection – in all, giving everyone more reasons to chill in their busy everyday lives.

NHS England: We are Nurses. We are the NHS.

During COVID-19, we all witnessed the outpour of love and support for the NHS. However, before the pandemic, indifference better captured the predominant attitudes to the overstretched, underfunded and largely thinning workforce. The NHS was fighting for survival, haemorrhaging nurses, and required a critical image makeover to inspire the next generation of nurses to apply.

This denotes a survival story of how the NHS used the integrated channel approach to break every recruitment category norm it had followed to date and make a triumphant turnaround. From a demographic-led target group of school leavers, it expanded this by rethinking audience not by life stages but through an attitudinal lens – those who are most likely to be ‘receptive’ to a noble profession. This was important because not everyone cares about care. It requires key behavioural traits such as optimism, altruism, open-mindedness which are intangibles beyond money.

With a sizeable new audience, the integrated channel approach set out to transform consideration from passive to active. Using insights captured in research, the NHS targeted emotional barriers – fear of failure as a deterrent to applying. This was addressed by dramatising the extraordinary stories of real nurses who put themselves on the frontline every day, and how the journey of caring for others helped them overcome their fears along the way.

Bespoke creative served to specific audiences drove relevant consideration and personalised CRM eased audiences through the application journey, overcoming application anxiety.