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Foster’s ‘Top Trumps’ direct marketing mail campaign

Foster’s ‘Top Trumps’ direct marketing mail campaign

Best practice from EHS Brann.

The Challenge.

In a struggling market, alcohol brands around the globe are faced with the ongoing challenge of engaging with customers, not necessarily to raise profits, but merely maintain sales levels. The last couple of years have seen many major brands posting bleak financial figures, and so to buck the trend, alcohol manufacturers have to be more creative and clever when communicating with their target market.

With this in mind, Foster’s challenged EHS Brann to create a direct mail campaign to engage the brand’s key target audience of 18 to 30 year old males in the UK. The aim of the campaign was to generate talkability about Foster’s and ultimately generate sales.

The Strategy

EHS Brann was tasked with creating materials that recipients could interact with, with creative that reflected Foster’s’ above-the-line ‘shadows keep your pint cool’ proposition so as to avoid diluting the Foster’s messaging.

With this agreed messaging, EHS Brann set about understanding what the key ingredients are for a good night out. The reasoning behind this being that if Foster’s can facilitate a good night out there is a greater chance that the recipient will choose to engage with the brand. Working with other Foster’s agencies EHS Brann identified three contributing factors to a great night out:

1. It has to be random
2. There has to be lots of banter
3. Nobody is going to judge me

At this stage the activity was firmly aligned with the brand and EHS Brann possessed a good understanding of how it could make Foster’s more relevant to the lives of the recipients. The next stage was to develop the materials, and it was decided that each communication had a number of functions, including:

1. Reinforce the brand equity
2. Encourage interaction
3. Drive sensible consumption
4. Facilitate the banter
5. Make the brand relevant

Delivering each of these objectives to the core target market was a considerable challenge. Young working men are a notoriously hard audience to engage and keep interested, and have proved over time to not respond readily to prompts, such as responding to surveys or entering competitions.

Understanding that particularly challenging audiences require a specially tailored approach, EHS Brann decided to strip away all the usual considerations surrounding direct mail campaigns.

Recipients were therefore not asked to redeem a coupon or log on to a microsite, for example, with EHS Brann focusing solely on the type of things that would get their attention and create some laughs. With the target audience firmly in mind, it was decided that playful adult humour was a sure fire way to get recipients engaged.

As such, EHS Brann created the Foster’s ‘Shadow Master’ activity pack – a direct mail pack and a card game all in one. Playing cards were produced to create a Top Trumps-style interactive experience, and due to the target audience it was decided that a cheeky and risqué subject matter would prove most engaging.

Each card had a shadow image of a sexual innuendo, with a list of five scores to enable players to compare and rate each card. Shadow images included things such as a ‘cock’, two ‘lovely puppies’, ‘the Brazilian’ and a ‘knob’. Rather than being gratuitous the humour was in the innuendo, but the campaign is still regarded as the cheekiest EHS Brann has ever produced.

The Results

To measure the success of the ‘Shadow Master’ cards, tracking panels were put in place to record the results of the initial 16 week campaign. Four groups of recipients were recruited and asked to keep a diary of the type of lager they drunk over a 16 week period. Three of the groups received the pack after week four and two of the four groups were monitored – one that had received the cards, and one that hadn’t.

Factors that were monitored included consumption and consideration of the brand, and a panel of 18 to 35 year old lager drinking men – Foster’s’ core target market – was set up judge the results and compare one group against the other.

The success of the campaign can be measured in numbers, and the uplift generated amongst the mailed group. Penetration, or the number of people drinking Foster’s, was up nine per cent, and share of lager for the brand – consumption of Foster’s compared to competing brands, such as Carlsberg and Carling – was up six per cent. Brand loyalty also improved, with the number of people naming Foster’s as their brand of choice up 16 per cent.

In addition to these impressive figures, the results revealed that consumption was up a massive 19 pints over the course of the campaign. Put another way, recipients of the pack drank at least one extra pint of Foster’s a week. In a market that is in terminal decline this additional consumption sees the brand bucking the market trend.

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