“I want ruthlessly consistent marketers, not creative ones” my VP said to the assembled room of global brand teams. 

There was a hush, then there was a murmur and when the beers started to flow that evening, there was more than a little “discussion.”

But as hard as that is for brand owners to hear, he was right.

Our job is to make our product easy to think of, find and buy.  One way to make your brand easier to think of is by building on existing memory structures, helping it come to mind more readily.  

We went back to Weetabix’s famous end line in 2017, which tripled the advertising ROI, re-connecting the brand with the latent memories of “have you had your Weetabix.” In the IPA-winning paper it was described as like finding a Rembrandt in the attic.

And if you can carry that consistency into all your comms, so much the better.

There are three levels of consistency.

  1. “Matching Luggage” - where each piece of communication is visually consistent.
  2. “Strategic” - like a creative idea in advertising.
  3. Or both.

Specsavers integrate brilliantly at a strategic level. They use one consistent creative idea to bring organisation to multilayered communications including TV advertising for core brand and NPD, press, OOH, tactical, sponsorship and local media.

It's not always been that way.  Whilst the "Should've...." advertising made its debut in the early 2000s, there was a short period (2006 - 2008) when the brand moved away from it. The result? Awareness dropped by some 25% or so. Happily for Specsavers this dip was more than recovered shortly after the famous slogan was restored.

Although Specsavers further lock their comms together with consistent use of a range of DBAs (logo, colours, end-line, narrative arc of ads), they're not fully matching luggage.

But the ads are so well integrated to such a strong creative idea, each one seamlessly drops into the campaign. They’re beautifully efficient and effective.

I especially love how they managed to include other parts of the business within the "should've gone to Specsavers" framework - the "Send supplies" ad is a classic, advertising their hearing aid service.

And when a brand's end line is adopted into the vernacular, you know you're winning.

All done in house. Fantastic work Specsavers.

Another great example that’s spanned decades, is Johnnie Walker.  Although I don’t see as many of their ads as I do for Specsavers (either they’ve not been on air as much, or I’m more in the camp of Specsavers’ target audience).

Diageo is ninja level with consistency.  And their Johnnie Walker brand is no exception. Their latest ad modernises the brand but is done in a way that is strategically consistent with their back catalogue.  Moving on, not off. This ad is a contemporary articulation of “progression” - vibrant, modern and set to a banging, attention grabbing soundtrack.  What's not to like?

But what makes them ninja level is how the work is strategically consistent across markets too, in a way which (I assume) is culturally relevant for those countries.

So, remember the story about my old VP in front of that room of global marketers? 

Fast forward 18 months, and the ruthless consistency he demanded across that global brand had delivered a 30% increase in advertising effectiveness.

As I said, he was right.

Gareth Turner, Diageo Global CMO Cristina Diezhandino and Specsavers MD - The Agency Nicola Wardell are among the brand leaders confirmed to speak at MAD//Fest London. Click here to get your early bird ticket.