When Emily Crisps bought some outdoor media space in December 2019, it did so thinking April would be the perfect time to run its first outdoor advertising campaign.
The scale-up snack brand had envisioned a bustling, sunny bank holiday Easter Weekend with people out and about in parks, barbecuing and eating lots of crisps.
After realising the reality was going to be very different and the campaign wouldnt be seen by many consumers at all, the marketing team moved quickly to turn around four new ads calling out their marketing misfortune.
Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon. Typical, one read. Another: Hmmm Maybe we should have made a TV ad instead.
Nurture Brands, which owns Emily Crisps, Rebel Kitchen, Ape and newly-acquired Primal Pantry, had originally bought the media as part of a scheme run by Clear Channel that gives SMEs a reduced rate on outdoor media buys.
I said [to Clear Channel] I dont want my money back, I just want to make sure it works for us, explains Nurture Brandss managing director, Adam Draper. I said to the [marketing] team, we have this opportunity to do it but no ones going to see our communications.
We know from an outdoor perspective, compared to a normal campaign this is going to have a lot less eyeballs.
Adam Draper, Nurture Brands
The original campaign was centred around the idea that the whole market eats boring potato crisps and that most brands copy Walkerss red, green and blue styles. That led to the creation of a campaign called ditch dull, eat bold, which Emily will still run when the lockdown is over.
We didnt want people to think we were making light of coronavirus and calling it dull, says Draper. I would have said lets wait and not do anything rather than run that campaign.
It took Emilys marketing team and creative agency less than a week to turn around the new campaign.
I said, as long as its positive-spirited and not against government guidelines, as long as were not trying to encourage people to go out if were going to take the piss out of ourselves and say weve had a bit of misfortune with timing, then Im happy to do it, says Draper.
The whole thing has to be truthful. We have booked media, we cant get out of it, weve got media to do something with, and thats our situation. As long as we look truthful and not like were trying to capitalise on the coronavirus, because thats really disingenuous, then great lets do it.
Clear Channel had reservations to begin with, arguing the posters were essentially saying out-of-home media is ineffective and pointless in the current climate. Emily believed it would work because it would show both itself and Clear Channel in a self-deprecating and humorous light.
Were not saying outdoor isnt a great media channel, what were saying is given this is the most unprecedented situation since the Second World War, lets have a bit of fun and say, isnt it fun that were trying to advertise when no ones walking around?, Draper explains.
Sometimes youve got to go online to go offline. Sometimes the stuff you do in the real world then makes people want to see it online. Sometimes you might buy out-of-home and that is what gives you the social currency to go on to the digital channels and really perform.
The campaign is currently running on digital six-sheets across the UK, with Emily sharing photos of the outdoor ads on social media with the #stayhome hashtag.
We know from an outdoor perspective, compared to a normal campaign this is going to have a lot less eyeballs, Draper says. But given the circumstances he believes it will create more impact and get more cut-through than the original creative.
Because its so relevant and its of the moment and its having a bit of fun, he says. People want a bit of humour right now and thats what will allow this campaign to resonate.
Once we run our new campaign and everyones back to square one, youre competing with everyone else and everyones coming back to their usual campaigns.