How B&Q’s simple sales promotion became a market-shifting event
There’s nothing quite like the William Tell Overture to stop you in your tracks. That’s what B&Q was banking on when it released its biggest ever sales promotion campaign in October 2019. The music, better known to some as the theme from The Lone Ranger, provided the soundtrack for the DIY retailer’s ‘You can do it when you 3 for 2 it’ ads, resulting in sold out lines and a return of more than six times the ad spend.
Not bad considering the time from brief to delivery was a mere two weeks.
“When you hear the William Tell Overture, it’s upbeat and it makes you turn your head. It’s a track everyone knows but our competitors weren’t using anything like it.” explains B&Q’s head of advertising, Jamie Hewett.
Getting consumers to sit up and take notice was the first aim of the ‘3 for 2 it’ campaign. With so much media noise and distraction, plus a tendency to drift away from TV to second screens, B&Q needed a way to jolt viewers out of what they were doing. Created by creative agency Five by Five, this simple but compelling campaign went on to deliver one of the retailer’s most successful sales drives of 2019.
“Anyone can have a sale. We wanted our customers to know that ours was the biggest and the best. The campaign made that happen.”
Consumers rarely sit up and notice retailer promotions amid all the marketing noise, but with a stirring soundtrack, explosions of colour and playful use of brand codes, agency Five by Five’s creative achieved exactly that for B&Q.
“The client was aware that, first of all, there are a lot campaigns whose tactic is simply to drive quick sales. Then, there’s the fact that paint and flooring as they stand aren’t that interesting. You feel that no-one is going to pay any attention, and they’re going to reach for their phone instead. We wanted to stop people grabbing that phone,” says Five by Five’s senior copywriter, Neil Glasspool.
Once the music had set the tone, the ad couldn’t then consist of the standard DIY ad trope of the beautifully decorated ‘after’ shot: “A lot of these offer campaigns just have stock footage of a nicely decorated home. It’s bland, vanilla. If we could do something with product that’s aligned to music, then we can catch the corner of their eye, too,” adds David Craft, Five by Five’s senior planner.
The result was visuals featuring vibrantly coloured paint pots exploding in time to the music, and flooring tiles and laminate animated to represent a graphic equaliser. Glasspool adds: “It was ‘what can we do with the materials?’ Fun was a big part of it. It’s a bit counterintuitive to have exploding paint and it was kind of brave of B&Q to go down that route.”
B&Q’s Hewett adds: “The explosion of colour was great for us because that signified change. Summer into autumn is a transition period; it can be sad to leave the outdoors and go inside, but now it’s time for a refresh. It’s the right thing to do to put on an event that gets people moving and up off their sofas. The ad’s energy and pace stood out. How could we make this event feel exciting and make customers notice it? They have to feel good about getting going on a project.”
Jamie Hewett, B&Q
Playing with brand codes
While the campaign was primarily aimed at driving customers in-store or online during a limited promotional period, and before the Christmas season kicked off in earnest, it was about keeping up that overall B&Q brand salience too.
“The B&Q brand has a lot of heritage and, with sales-driven ads, not everyone who sees that price message is going to be ready to buy. But we don’t want to waste the opportunity to speak to people who might be interested so we kept leveraging existing brand codes,” explains Craft.
With such well-established cues, the retailer is naturally very protective of them and not keen to see them diluted in any way. However, on this occasion, there was a twist that was just too good to pass up.
“It was a no-brainer for B&Q to bring the ‘You Can Do It’ strapline back a few years ago but they didn’t flinch about changing it,” says Glasspool, speaking about the promotional line ‘You can do it when you 3 for 2 it’. “You can be quite subtle with it and keeping the B&Q orange square joins the dots for you. We were just fortunate the deal wasn’t 4 for 3,” he adds.
“You can overcomplicate these things, but the ‘3 for 2’ line was a clever idea, even when it didn’t have our brand name on it,” says Hewett, admitting he wondered how they’d not thought of the line themselves.
“The demand for the event was really high. Our customers realised this was a sale they couldn’t get anywhere else and it shifted the market into action. Going forward it’s made us think differently, strategically, about how we poke the market and make something happen. Anyone can have a sale. We wanted our customers to know that ours was the biggest and the best. This campaign helped us achieve that.”
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