2002 Ipa Effectiveness Awards: Gold Award - John Bartle Award for Best New Agency - Fallon for Skoda

Article excerpt

BEST CHANGE OF DIRECTION - FALLON FOR SKODA.

For a long time Skoda was the butt of jokes by British motorists, but once the Velvet Revolution opened up the Czechoslovakian market at the end of the 80s, the brand started to change.

A partnership with the VW Group resulted in the Felicia, a model that picked up seven consecutive What Car? Budget Car of the Year awards. And despite continued ridicule sales rose in the mid-90s as Skoda attracted a strong band of loyal buyers.

Nevertheless, there was still a hurdle to overcome. Rejection figures were stuck at about 60% and the brand's image problem was becoming a commercial limitation.

With higher value cars about to roll off the production line, Skoda drivers needed to be able to hold their heads high. The Octavia was launched in 1998 and despite a pounds 10m advertising budget and flattering reviews, only 2569 were sold in a year.

Fallon picked up the account in 1999 and determined that Skoda had to address the prejudice against the brand if the new Fabia model was to be more successful than the Octavia.

The new strategy had to make people feel they could buy a Skoda without being mocked. Communications would target a mass audience, they would use big peaktime shows and posters rather than aiming for the select band of active car buyers.

The creative gently ridiculed people who thought that the brand was still poor quality. It portrayed a buffoonish diplomat on a Skoda factory tour, a know-it-all motorshow supervisor and a moronic car park attendant, all thrown by the evidence of Skoda's transformation. PR also played an important role persuading opinion-formers that Skoda really had changed, helping to create a more general impression of success. …