BBC Interview the Marketing Magician over the OXO Question
November 12, 2009
The Oxo story is a prime example of how to generate a story during the “silly season”, which the media are almost bound to use.
Oxo has been around since about 1910 and will soon celebrate its centenary. During the 1914-18 war it was used in battlefield rations and has since been a kitchen mainstay used by housewives throughout the UK. In the1980s and 90s it starred in a series of TV adverts that focused on a family with actress Linda Bellingham as the mum.
People get terribly emotive about Oxo; as is indicated by the number of people commenting on blogs and phoning radio stations. The reality is that Oxo’s owners, Premier Foods, are onto a winner. Announcing the story now, during the “silly season” ensures them media coverage. If people are positive about the change it will no doubt go ahead. If the consumer is negative about the proposed change then no doubt Premier will say it has listened to its customers and will keep the original shape. It is a win win situation for Premier; loads of media time at little cost and whatever the outcome they win.
If the shape does change to a cross there is yet another angle Oxo can play. In a few years time it can relaunch “Original Oxo”. Another win!
The New Oxo Advertising Campaign
At the same time as it announced the new shape Oxo Premier also announced the fact it was to relaunch the TV adverts. The twist in this part of the story is that they want to use real people rather than actors and are asking families to submit short videos. In this way they engage customers in the product even more. This is clever stuff; loads of media coverage without too much expense.
So what else did we discuss on air. Well from the outset the BBC interviewer suggested that Oxo were rebranding and I had to disagree. Oxo are only changing the shape of the cube to a cross. The Oxo brand will continue. This lead us onto the fact that in some cases companies do rebrand and we mentioned companies like Royal Mail that rebranded as Consignia, the Marathon chocolate and peanut bar that became Snickers and Norwich Union Insurance that has recently become Aviva.
Marathon bars were a UK brand and were renamed to align with worldwide Snickers branding in 1990. In May 1998 the story went around that owners, Mars, were about to rebrand yet again and return to the original Marathon brand. Yes, relaunching the original brand has been done before! Mars have since re-registered the original name as a UK trademark and there is currently a campaign in the UK to get the bar renamed to Marathon via an online petition at BringBackMarathon.org.
This rebranding game can be very productive when the media are used to give it a boost.
Rebranding Went Wrong For Consignia
But rebranding can also go wrong. Royal Mail’s rebrand as Consignia won the approval of the politicians when it launched in March 2001, but it didn’t win over the customers and 14 months later in June 2002 it was dumped.
Having discussed the above I felt compelled to finish the interview with a few words on Oxo. The Oxo PR team are doing a great job. They’ve got the media working for them and it seems like everyone is talking about Oxo.
How Could Media Releases Help You Grow Your Business?
Now pause a few minutes. Think about how you can use the same tactics to get media coverage for your business. Oxo has done me proud because as a consequence of their campaign I have been on the BBC again. Being on air has given me an opportunity to add copy to my website and to send out a newsletter. It has also given me copy to add to social and business networking websites like Twitter and Ecademy. This has all come on the back of the fact that I have spent time sending out media releases and have built a rapport with the media. You can do the same if you send out media releases on a regular basis and my challenge to you is to send out at least one media release in the next week …and at least one per month thereafter.
For more information on how to market and build your business give me a call.
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