Magazine article Marketing

Looking Back on '96

Magazine article Marketing

Looking Back on '96

Article excerpt

Believe it or not there was more to marketing in 1996 than loyalty cards, Bob Hoskins and Pepsi turning blue, although, at times, that's all we seemed to hear about.

One of the main themes of the year was brands expanding and broadening out of their core areas, acting aggressively to build their strengths and move into new markets.

Whether it was Sainsbury's opening a bank, Procter & Gamble introducing 'Every Day Low Pricing' or Birds Eye Wall's eradicating sub-brands, we saw companies acting to maximise and exploit the value of their core offering.

It was also a year of massive deals: Cadbury sponsoring Coronation Street, the Olympics and Euro '96 attracting record sums in sponsorship and, yes, Pepsi spending [pounds]198m to turn itself blue.

Next year should be just as interesting: the advertising war being fought in the run up to the general election will reach boiling point in the next few months and, if Tony Blair gets in, the industry could be set for some changes. Advertising, copycat products and cross-media ownership will all be under the spotlight.

But, for now, let's look back at the year that was...

It was a good year for:


Tesco set the pace for its competitors in 1996. Having overtaken Sainsbury's as the UK's top supermarket, it introduced a raft of marketing initiatives that set the agenda in supermarket retailing. The Clubcard was instrumental in helping Tesco take the lead, forcing David Sainsbury to swallow his infamous "electronic green shield stamps" words and spend [pounds]10m on launching the Reward Card in June.

Tesco countered its rival by extending the loyalty concept to Clubcard Plus, allowing shoppers to build up credit balances to be used in its stores. And in another move Tesco announced a deal whereby NatWest will open bank branches and kiosks within Tesco stores. Sainsbury's was forced to react by announcing it was going to create its own bank in a joint venture with the Bank of Scotland.


OK, so Linford was disqualified and South-gate missed, but 1996 was a cracking year for sport. Sport became a hot-ticket marketing vehicle like never before, with Euro '96 sponsors each shelling out [pounds]3.5m for the privilege, and worldwide sponsors of the Atlanta Olympics paying a record [pounds]25m each to back the event officially.

The vulnerability of such deals was exposed at both events. The Centennial Park bomb threw a shadow over the Olympics and was a nightmare for its sponsors who were left wondering if $40m could have been better spent.

At Euro '96, Nike spent [pounds]500,000 linking its marketing to the tournament and generated higher awareness than many of the event's official sponsors. Another non-official sponsor that laughed all the way to the bank was Green Flag, which paid [pounds]4m for a four-year sponsorship of the England football team and claims to have enjoyed [pounds]10m worth of media coverage. It raised its brand awareness from zero to 53% in the first two years of the deal.


BT's gargantuan ad spend paid off this year. According to ad agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO the campaign featuring Bob Hoskins generated an additional income for BT of [pounds]297m.

The 'It's Good to Talk' campaign was voted one of the most irritating ads in our survey, but it scooped the top prize at the IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards, proving that irritating ads can be effective.

And in our Adwatch of the Year table (Marketing, December 5), the BT 'Surprise Saver' campaign came top, scoring an unprecedented 96% spontaneous recall.


This year the alcopops market really took off and is now the British drinks industry's fastest-growing market, worth [pounds]250m a year. But the sector has not been without controversy, with watchdogs worried that alcopops were appealing to children.

One launch that tried to stretch the category too far was Thickhead, an alcoholic tangerine flavoured fizzy jelly drink from Carlsberg-Tetley. …

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