Primark and The Third Alternative

Working in conjunction with design consultancy burst*, Primark wants to create an integrated branding campaign for its P.S. beauty range.

burst* works with Primark to name, brand, package, as well as photograph and direct the video art, to move the Primark brand in a new direction.

Primark chose to call the range P.S. to carry the implication of a “perfect accompaniment to any outfit,1 with the view that it would concentrate on their fashion-forward consumer target audience

Courtesy of burst*, the three categories of cosmetics, skincare, and accessories that come with the offer of the range “all have their own identity.2

"brights," and "glams," in Primark's P.S. range.

“brights,” and “glams,” in Primark’s P.S. range.

Fran Théanne, head of creative at Primark, says: “I am delighted with the outcome of this campaign. As a result the High Street will really know that Primark is in the business of beauty products at amazing prices.3

 

Used in-store and on the brand’s social media channels, the high street retailer also commissioned burst* to create specialist promotional video material. The video contains material that makes use of vibrant and bold looks created by artist Maxine Leonard using items from the P.S. range. Primark commissioned photographer David Oldham to shoot the video. “The look and feel of the video has been designed to appeal to a young, fashionable and fun-loving audience,4 writes Gillian West for The Drum magazine.

 

As you might know, P.S. stands for “postscript,” which means an additional remark at the end of a letter, after the signature. The video by David Oldham makes use of a pallete containing “pastels,” juxtaposes these with “glams,” mixes them up with “brights,” and brings them all together to create a colourful picture that appeals to girls who love the rock look, or whichever look they want to create for that matter. The buzz-word is “love.” It might evoke the cliché, P.S. I love you, appealing to that thing which girls love about make-up, what it can do for their appearance.5

 

Kasia Rust of burst* says: “Creating such a young and energetic campaign with so many different elements was a challenge, but it was one that we’ve really enjoyed. We’re really proud of the work and very happy to see it appearing in stores and online.6

 

The Third Alternative

Natural ingredients help to make beauty products by Lush Cosmetics the ethical choice against Primark’s new brand. Lush chose to combine their cruelty-free ethos with a range of make-up that “matches psychological needs to which color cosmetics you should wear,” writes Nikki Hess of The Examiner. The range, Emotional Brilliance, comprises 30 lip colors, eyeliners, and eyeshadows that correspond to colours that represent emotional states or moods. Nikki Hess adds further, “It’s a collection focusing less on what’s trendy at the moment and more about what best fits you and your mood.”7

Different times correspond to different moods and Lush playfully helps the consumer determine the mood by suggesting certain emotional states, such as Glamorous or Confident, which correspond to the various different colours on offer. This implies that by wearing the colour you subscribe to the meaning of the word and let that define how you feel. It works a subtle marketing tool but it doesn’t necessarily negate the meaning.

Lush's "Emotional Brilliance" range relies on colours corresponding to emotional triggers.

Lush’s “Emotional Brilliance” range relies on colours corresponding to emotional triggers.

It also works under the assumption that we can alter our attitude or behaviour. Renowned Strategic Behavioural Therapist, Lady Kennedy, helped to bring about the creation of the Emotional Brilliance range by consulting with Lush who enlisted her expert help. Lady Kennedy makes it her speciality to deliver people from one state of mind to another, notably better, through a process of what she calls “mind care.”8

To the beauty-minded consumer, Nikki Hess says: “The Liquid Lips colors range from hot pink to bright red to a neon-ish purple. They use Lush’s softening Ultrabalm as a base, plus plenty of vibrant pigment. You can wear these shades of lipsticks straight from the bottle for a brighter look, or you can soften the look by applying them with a lip balm.”9

Lush Cosmetics takes care to use natural ingredients, for instance, cupuacu butter to help set its make-ups, and jojoba oil or almond oil with a rose petal infusion to help set the base of the make-up and give it fragrance. In using only natural resources Lush appeals to people who feel that their priority as consumers must contribute to an industry that creates eco-friendly products. Hess gives antecedence to Lush’s environmentally friendly work when she says, “All the makeup in the Emotional Brilliance collection is vegan. All the makeup comes in clear glass bottles so that you can easily pick your hues as well as how much product you have left. You can recycle the bottles, or wash them and reuse them for something else.”10

1West, Gillian. “Primark launches P.S. beauty range with a helping hand from burst*.” www.thedrum.com 28 February 2014. Web. Accessed: 28 February 2014. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/02/28/primark-launches-ps-beauty-range-helping-hand-burst

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Oldham, David. “Introducing ‘P.S. Love’ Make Up Range | Primark.” YouTube.com 04 February 2014. Web. Accessed: 28 February 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx22v-wBSZg

6West, Gillian. “Primark launches P.S. beauty range with a helping hand from burst*.” www.thedrum.com 28 February 2014. Web. Accessed: 28 February 2014. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/02/28/primark-launches-ps-beauty-range-helping-hand-burst

7Hess, Nikki. “Truly brilliant color: Lush’s Emotional Brilliance collection.” http://www.examiner.com 20 July 2012. Web. Accessed: 13 March 2014. http://www.examiner.com/article/truly-brilliant-color-lush-s-emotional-brilliance-collection

8Ibid.

9Ibid.

10Ibid.

 

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Starbucks and the Third Alternative.

When we think of Starbucks, we think of “coffee house.” And of course, that description fits the bill. Yet, the rise of Starbucks to its current global status makes it a corporation. From its simple beginnings as a single store on Pike Place Market in Seattle, Starbucks rose to level of corporation with coffee houses in over 55 countries. As a corporation, it prides itself on perfection, through both customer service and providing whole bean coffees bought from top of the line producers.1 As well as different blends of coffee, some customers say it feels like dining in a European cafe and that they feel attracted by the exclusive imagery that the brand portrays.

Visual imagery plays a key role in how we perceive brands and how they affect us. So how does Starbucks generate a visual image in the mind of its customer? Its mission statement from its inception at the outset and right up until the present day remains the same: to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”2

We can see from this simple objective that as a company Starbucks wanted to revolutionize the entire surface area of its potential reach but we notice that the advancement of their product via increased exposure placed as its priority the individual. From this mission statement we can see that it takes the values of the individual and marries them to collective ideals and attempts to capture these sentiments by appealing to the human spirit, through nurture and inspiration.

As consumers, we only pledge to consent to a brand if its values align with our idea of what we would think of as a good product. Starbucks cannot simply appeal to nurturing the human spirit through inspiration unless its consumer base feels inspired by the types of coffee that Starbucks produces.

We can ascribe the popularity of the Starbucks brand to its authentic and genuine practices: from the sommelier to the barista, Starbucks buys the best Arabica beans from Asia, Africa, or Latin America and “bring{s} out the balance and rich flavor of the beans through the signature Starbucks roast.”3 By having a signature style the brand appeals to the individual. Along with creating an exceptional cup of coffee, Stabucks took that appeal to the individual and created a sense of “togetherness” by making its coffee house into “a neighbourhood gathering place for meeting friends and family.” In doing this, Starbucks fulfilled its mission statement of reaching both the individual and the community.

Starbucks marries to its name as a registered trademark key elements such as iconography and a colour scheme.

The famous Starbucks logo, The Siren, came from a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid.

The famous Starbucks logo, The Siren, came from a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid.

 

The famous Starbucks logo, The Siren, came from a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, “a seductive mystery mixed with a nautical theme,”4 that captures “the seafaring history of coffee and Seattle’s strong seaport roots.”5 The Siren represents the archetypal muse of inspiration that forms part of the Starbucks brand’s core message.

Starbucks’ use of the color green appeals to our coneptions of nature, which relates to coffee in the sense that it grows in the natural world. Green’s properties of restfulness, its soothing qualities, and its health-giving effects goes hand-in-hand with coffee’s revitalizing effects along with the relaxing effect of enjoying a cup in a cafe.6

Starbucks’ brand values go further beyond merely visual imagery: they create equality, sustainability, as well as ethical employability.

Now let’s consider things obversely. The status of the commodity accelerates in pace as brands grow in popularity.

AMI Press reports that Howard Schultz, the venerable founder and chief brand architect of Starbucks, “fears that the company’s brand is being ‘commoditized.’”7 User-experience commentator Rebecca Horton says that Starbucks’ “{b}rand look and feel is synonymous across chains … making it feel uninspired and commercial,”8 which may well confirm some of Mister Schultz’s concerns. So we see the way in which a brand can market itself as authentic and genuine but how this perception changes if the brand homogenously saturates the market.

This notion of market saturation can lead to the consumer perception that Starbucks serves a ubiquitous “mass beverage” that takes away from the experience of what Howard Schultz called the “romance and theatre”9 of a visit to a Starbucks coffee house.

Rebecca Horton tells us how Starbucks communicates its brand identity. The Twitter communique of which Starbucks wrote, “We like to run wild sometimes,” not only conveys the business of their staff in serving you their customer but runs synonymous to the feeling associated with coffee and the hectic pace of contemporary working life. Starbucks’ ran a message that ran along the sides of a selection of their coffee mugs which read “It’s true, we love you!” Idiomatically, Starbucks invokes the collectivity. They use both “we” and “you” as plural pronouns to communicate that idea of neighbourhood participation that they so want to maintain as central to their core message.10

We can see that the way Starbucks communicates its brand and the way people perceive it can both differ or acquiesce. A brands reason for existence relies on this acquiesence.

Ecommerce completely changes the face of the way that brands, like Starbucks, can increase sales and achieve a return on investment through their advertising campaigns. The effects of networking and globalization means that “retailers are no longer required to compete with stores on the other side of the street but on the other side of the country.”11 The latest marketing initiative from Starbucks makes use of the digital platform to offer a reward scheme. It hopes to pull consumers closer to the Starbucks brand, whilst at the same time distancing itself from their competitors.

Over the Christmas period, Starbucks took its offers and targeted them to demographics according to geographic locations and also “experimented with personalised promotions.”12 As with the latest Coca-Cola campaign, Share A Coke, Starbucks contemporaneously followed suit by appealing to consumer identity. Its latest television advertising campaign wanted to stress that “Latte,” or “Espresso,” does not necesseraily apply to the average coffee consumer. Starbucks decided to manipulate the idea that current market conditions can make the experience of the consumer seem impersonal somehow. And guess what? Just like Coke, Starbucks comes up with the answer. Instead of usernames, reference numbers, or IP addresses, these identifiers of commerce, Starbucks develops the customer relationship by replacing these anonymous identifiers with the name of its customers. This idea of placing the consumer on a first name basis removes any ambiguity in the experience and increases the level of trust.13 The addendum to the TV ad, “We’re Starbucks, nice to meet you,” reinforces the notion of plurality and relationship.14

Starbucks now plans to exploit the ubiquitousness of mobile phone technology as one of the forefront innovators in m-commerce which sees the mobile device as a point-of-sale for the order and payment of beverages. To quote Howard Schultz once more, he said: “We are just beginning to appreciate the full magnitude and possibilities of the Starbucks mobile payment platform opportunity. Holiday 2013 was the first in which many traditional bricks and mortar retailers experienced in-store foot traffic give way to online shopping in a major way. Customers research, compare prices and then bought the brands and items they wanted online, frequently using a mobile device to do so.”15

Does this potentially innovative move come at the cost of making the brand’s perceived identity more impersonal, as user-experience commentator Rebecca Horton implies, or should it not matter, since as a corporation Starbucks want to legitimately increase profits? The m-commerce innovation certainly makes Starbucks yet more accessible, but in a world dominated by the digital medium how can we know whether such a move will not alienate some consumers? Starbucks strikes a mean balance between the in-store personalised experience and the omnipresent mass communication initiative with its links to reward. It certainly covers all bases, anyway.

The Third Alternative

Branding without advertising relies solely on word-of-mouth from customer experience. In a world where global corporations such as Starbucks turn the coffee into a commodity we can only find the third alternative independently. This takes the “local coffee shop brand” out of the context of advertising through mass communication. Independent coffee houses make use of all the same channels of social media that Starbucks do but instead of focusing on increasing profits transnationally they work locally, reinforcing their consumer base by relying on people who build up trust with their brand and return again and again to a product that they have a love affair with.

Local coffee houses like Manchester’s North Tea Power can affect more of a romanticism with those who go to taste their coffee, more so than chains like Starbucks, since they offer a unique brand experience. For example, along with its connoisseur-ratified coffee, North Tea Power appeals to a niche market through its clever name; it relies on the exclusivity of its name to build up its image as the only coffee house of its type. (We should note that Starbucks began the very same way: the only one of its kind, with a unique name, taking pride to produce consumer-approved coffee from the finest beans.)

NTP relies on word-of-mouth to assert its integrity and maintain its authenticity.

NTP relies on word-of-mouth to assert its integrity and maintain its authenticity.

 

Let’s see how North Tea Power manages to create this sense of romanticism and exclusivity by looking at the way its lovers endorse the place and product.

Tom Hiskey, aka Mr. Cosy, blogs about all kinds of different coffee. Hiskey writes that North Tea Power “leads the way” in helping to create an artisan coffee scene in Manchester.16 This suggests that, due to market saturation by the very likes of Starbucks, the artisan scene gains recognition for offering the alternative whilst at the same time could struggle to compete with the likes of a major brand. As we may well find a Starbucks on every second street corner in today’s metropolis, North Tea Power’s location adds to its brand values. “Located in the city’s cool Northern Quarter, North Tea Power is unexpectedly hidden away…”17 This air of secrecy adds to the North Tea Power brand’s charm, evoking the image of a quaint, hidden gem. By choosing what we know as a “cool location,” in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, it puts North Tea Power on a need-to-know basis with its clientele.

Without the requirement or need to conform to a “house style” that runs synonymously across a chain of stores North Tea Power can maximize its brand identity through its use of a distinctive hallmark style. Hiskey confirms this when he writes about the ambience inside the shop: “Inside there is a stylish mix of eclectic furniture, stripped wood, industrial light fittings, well-thumbed Penguin books and fresh flowers.”18

North Tea Power does great coffee, with up to three different blends, they help you discover your choice by explaining their brewing methods, and, for the coffee-snob, their brew bar consists of all the relevant coffee brewing paraphernalia. North Tea Power also uses beans from Has Bean to create a signature blend, the hallmark of any good independent coffee house.19 This expertise gives us the right impression that independent coffee culture goes hand-in-hand with this artisan approach, to create the best experience, and to foster this love affair that appeals to the taste of the afficionado. The afficionado drinks their cup of Joe!

Tom Hiskey blogs for cosycoffeeshops.co.uk who, in their article entitled Top 10 Coffee Shops in the UK, 2014, list North Tea Power as the 7th best coffee shop in the UK.20 As well as word-of-mouth, local consumer fidelity, and great artisan coffee, independent coffee shops can get picked up by the likes of national news media. Daily broadsheet, The Independent, lists North Tea Power as 1 in 50 of the best national coffee houses. The Independent newspaper enlisted the help of Dale Harris, wholesale director at Has Bean coffee suppliers, who said: “This is a beautiful café in the northern quarter of the city. The staff are warm, the espresso is exceptional and you’ll never want to leave.”21

So, we come to conclude from our perceptions of two successful coffee brands, one working independently and the other corporately, that coffee remains a commodity contemporaneously. Yet, the artisan approach remains the true spirit of a great coffee experience and unfortunately for Starbucks, the maximization of sales comes along with the intensification of the brand image. By employing a softer brand, North Tea Power keep a certain integrity, but this doesn’t necesseraily negate Starbucks’ authenticity. Reward systems and marketing approaches can work to strengthen a brand and maximize sales as long as they don’t cheapen the experience.

1Tsirelman, Oxana. “Starbucks: the Rise of a Global Coffee Chain.” arbitrage.com Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://www.arbitragemagazine.com/general/starbucks-the-rise-of-a-global-coffee-chain/

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Murray, Steve. “So, Who is the Siren?” Starbucks.com 05 January 2011. Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://www.starbucks.com/blog/so-who-is-the-siren

5Ibid.

6Cherry, Kendra. “Color Psychology – Green.” About.com Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/color_green.htm

7Anon. “What Starbucks Taught Us About Branding.” athenaintl.com Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://www./news/articles/what-starbucks-taught-us-about-branding/

8Horton, Rebecca. “Brand Identity Analysis: Starbucks and NYT.” slideshare.net 27 November 2012. Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://www.slideshare.net/rebeccaeliz/brand-identity-analysis-starbucks-and-nyt

9Anon. (2014)

10Horton (2012).

11Joseph, Sebastian. “Starbucks digital offering set for caffeine shot to stir global sales.” marketingweek.co.uk 2014 January 2014. Web. Accessed: 29 January 2014. http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/food-and-drink/news/starbucks-digital-offering-set-for-caffeine-shot-to-stir-global-sales/4009226.article

12Ibid.

13Voyager25823. “Starbucks new TV advert, UK.” YouTube.com 10 March 2012. Web. Accessed: 30 January 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19r4I70fZRU

14Ibid.

15Joseph (2014).

16Hiskey, Tom. “North Tea Power, Manchester.” cosycoffeeshops.co.uk 06 August 2013. Web. Accessed: 31 January 2014. http://www.cosycoffeeshops.co.uk/uk/north-tea-power-manchester/

17Ibid.

18Ibid.

19Ibid.

20Hiskey, Tom. “Top 10 Coffee Shops in the UK, 2014.” cosycoffeeshops.co.uk 01 January 2014. Web. Accessed: 31 January 2014. http://www.cosycoffeeshops.co.uk/top-10-coffee-shops-in-the-uk-2014/

21Watson-Smyth, Kate. “The 50 Best coffee shops.” independent.co.uk 04 January 2013. Web. Accessed: 31 January 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/food-drink/the-50-best-coffee-shops-8435980.html

 

Coca-Cola and the Third Alternative.

So what do people want the most out of life? If one said “happiness,” many others would agree, for sure. In 2009, Coca-Cola rolled out its Open Happiness campaign. Including the dispensation of the soda pop classic Coke vending machines, known as Happiness machines, also dished out freebies like sandwiches, flowers, and pizzas. In one instance a Happiness machine in Singapore required a hug for it to give a reward while one in Belgium required dancing to activate the giveaway.1

What does this say about marketing if a major brand like Coke expects its consumers to hug a machine? Coke wants to bring us happiness in return for our love. Like any marketing strategy it relies upon the transaction: a transference not only of our money but our emotion. The sense of reward attached to the Open Happiness campaign, in which Coke rewards its consumers for their consumer choice, brings about brand loyalty where people manufacture their consent to buy Coke over and above any alternative in the future.

With advent of social media, Coca-Cola generated more goodwill towards the brand by making video footage available on YouTube that went viral to millions. If we discuss any notion of consent with regards to the consumer we can view this spectacle as somewhat democratic. The consent of many contributes to a “critical mass” effect whereby Coke creates, or should we say effects, an entire consciousness of subscription. If Coke gives the people what they want then people vote Coke. Democratic principles go hand-in-hand with the principles of capitalism because of this right to choose.

One of Coke’s most noteworthy campaigns Share A Coke gleaned a massive global response for the brand resulting in a 7% increase in sales from its inception in 2011. The media surrounding this campaign created impressions that rose to over 18 million.2 This idea involved personalizing the Coke experience and direct audience participation came about through the consumer opportunity to order a Coke bottle with a name attached to it. “{T}raffic on the Coke Facebook site increased by 870%, with ‘likes’ growing by 39%.”3

The Share A Coke campaign which reached millions through the use of people's names, penetrating the idiocosm of the consumer.

The Share A Coke campaign which reached millions through the use of people’s names, penetrating the idiocosm of the consumer.

Brand identity occupies the domain of the idiocosm: that is to say that a brand can and does, effectively, communicate to the very psychology that underpins our own verbal communication. And what better way to tap into that potential than to market to us directly by name? Not only did the Share A Coke campaign achieve this remarkably well but it also took advantage of simple human social relations. “Share a Coke with Daniel,” not only appealed to Daniel to subscribe to the campaign and enjoy the product but it also appealed to network of human relations that belonged to Daniel. Like the happiness example we looked at above, Coke went to the next level to examine the theme of friendships and how a brand could take exploit that as a theme and gain entry even into the psyche of our social circle.

The simplicity of a personalized name appearing on the side of a Coke bottle had predictably good ramifications for the extension of social media coverage, the target audience doing a lot of the work themselves. Daniel takes a photograph of his Coke bottle that features his name on the side so that Daniel can “share” the novelty of his personality through the brand image on all of Daniel’s social media platforms. Ultimate consent manufactured. People just did it. It goes without saying then that the best marketing campaigns work with this kind of assumption that inclusivity can reach people more effectively. People want to share their worlds with each other and what unites comes from what we see as popular. In this case, the Coca-Cola culture.

The contradiction in terms slogan “just add Zero,” formed part of the recent relaunch campaign of Coca-Cola’s Zero brand. It built upon the aspect of friendships that featured in the Share campaign and it looked at increasing its reach through the notion of multiplication. The slogan “zero changes everything,” implies that by simply adding the number 0 as a suffix it increased value by a factor of ten.

The television advertising campaign, that Coca-Cola aired on 13 January 2014, wants us to believe that if we add a Coke Zero to our experience then we go from sharing our experience of ourselves to experiencing it tenfold with 10 others. Speed, a notion we can associate with a thrill, also features in the advertisement with the same suggestion, that if we add Coke Zero we go from 10 KM/H to 100 KM/H thereby increasing our thrill. The Zero in this particular brand of Coke alludes to it not containing any sugar which may seem like somewhat of a paradox: surely regular Coke’s combination of sugar and caffeine would increase the “speed” associated with drinking the product, but this is neatly left out. Instead, Coke Zero aims to increase your perception of everything all by adding all but nothing. Absolute naught. How queer! But two sister multiply to twenty of their friends, a party of an hundred multiplies to a festival of one thousand.4 This shows us that Coke’s reach always increases through advertising and a successful campaign in branding. The executives, art directors, and copywriters know this well already so they work on the strength of the awareness of Coke’s reach and marry this to the contemporary effects of social media’s ability to make something like Coke Zero spike by going viral.

Coke Zero came about in 2006 but since then its rise in popularity makes it “the second best-selling brand in many markets … in the soft drinks category.”5 By relauching an ad campaign Coca-Cola reintroduce the brand image in order to place it at the forefront of the mind of the consumer. The cyclical nature of advertisement investment by Coca-Cola reminds us that, even though we have consumer choice, we can choose Coke. (Despite vying for market share where they can outbid Coca-Cola in distribution rights Pepsi seems much less of an alternative to the dominant Coke. “What’ll you have?” asks the waiter. “Coke,” replies the consumer. “Is Pepsi OK?” responds the waiter. “Sure,” replies the consumer, but Pepsi as an alternative to Coke comes across as merely “OK.”)

In advertising, we notice the visual imagery the most, if not on a subtle level then perhaps on a subliminal level. The symbol lives in the realm of the archetypes. The infamous psychoanalyst Carl Jung tell us that: “The archetypes are the great decisive forces, they bring about the real events … the archetypal images decide the fate of man.”6 Coke Zero uses the symbol of a red circle. The circle evokes the primal, a simplicity, and a wholeness or completeness, all of which we can recognize for what it evokes. Coke uses this recognition pattern in association with its Zero brand, the circle also representing the factor of the number. Since the circle dates back to our furthest conceptions of symbols, when used in advertisement visual imagery to create a brand image, it lives in the archetypal world, floating around in our collective unconscious just waiting for recognition. After the fashion of our imagination. The archetypes “arise from unconscious instincts that governed our behavior long before civilization papered over and obscured them, and they therefore teach us about what it means to be human on the deepest level.”7 So even a simple representation such as a red circle can affect consumer behavior, Coca-Cola relying on the symbol’s recognizability, as opposed to its obscurity, which reaches to deepest levels of our psyche.

Brid Drohan-Stewart, marketing activation director for Coca-Cola in Great Britain, says that their advertising platform “Just Add Zero,” goes beyond mere sloganeering and turns into what he refers to as a “life philosophy.”8 What this man means when he says this relates to Coke’s aspirations to fuse their brand into peoples way of life, making it a lifestyle choice. Sure, you can choose what you buy, but why merely buy when you can participate in a lifestyle? Coca-Cola markets this lifestyle as “adventurous” and refers to it as a philosophy because it strikes a common ground with people who want to maximize their lifestyle whilst at the same time not compromising it since they can choose the healthier option to regular Coke.9

The Third Alternative

Multinationals like Coca-Cola yield such a large turnover that they can afford to utilize funds to create these kinds of vast marketing campaigns. The small, independent brands largely rely on word-of-mouth, or press coverage, or even promotion through association to other independent retailers who can stock or sell their product.

If companies like Coca-Cola strategically reintroduce their brands with new campaigns tailored to coincide with new trends that arise within their target audience then how can the smaller companies that offer a refreshing alternative compete for visibility? Botanical brewing company Fentimans do this by appealing to your curiosity. Curiosity increases visibility more subtly, but it does do the trick and creates a brand image for their Curiosity Cola labelled drink that delivers a unique flavor in the same way that Coke does. After all, consumer taste plays a major part in consumer choice. Fentimans rely on this notion of “taste” when it comes to reaching their target audience. Naturally, we imply a double entendre when we use the signifier “taste.” Fentimans cannot reward its consumers in the same way that Coke’s Happiness machines can but those who opt for Fentimans Curiosity Cola (whether out of curiosity or not!) experience the purchase of taste, in both senses of the word, the unique, botanically brewed flavor as well as the recognition of choosing an upmarket brand that contributes to an ethical cause.

Fentimans appeal to the consumer's "curiosity," in order to lure them in to trying the alternative.  The brand also uses the leitmotif of "yesteryear" to evoke an image of the traditional, effecting the time-honoured, loved, and trusted.

Fentimans appeal to the consumer’s “curiosity,” in order to lure them in to trying the alternative. The brand also uses the leitmotif of “yesteryear” to evoke an image of the traditional, effecting the time-honoured, loved, and trusted.

Through contributing to an ethical cause by opting for Fentimans Curiosity Cola over Coca-Cola and choosing a recipe comprising more natural and sustainable ingredients than Coca-Cola meant that the Fentimans brand, Curiosity Cola in particular, achieved publicity from the more left-of-centre press such as The Guardian newspaper who labelled it “{t}he world’s best cola.”10 Fentimans describe their Curiosity Cola in the following terms: “This curiously invigorating recreation of colas from yesteryear is made using infusions of the finest herbal ingredients.”11 We can pick out two key things concerning Fentimans brand image strategy here: 1) yesteryear. While Coke modernize to move with the times and constantly reinvent their brand image to appeal to younger and younger audiences, Fentimans choose to stick with tradition, emphasized by their company slogan “faithful to the originals”12. Fentimans want us to see their product in the same way that they conceived it in the beginning, est’d as a “mom and pop” operation in 1905 which takes us back to an image of what the culture surrounding soda pop looked like in the early twentieth century; 2) its botanical brewing process. As consumers, Fentimans allow us to consent to choosing the hallmark of the botanical brewing process. On the product description page of their website Fentimans show absolute transparency with regards to their product by listing the ingredients and nutritional information as pertinent to the appreciation of their drinks’ consumption. Transparency fosters a relationship of trust between consumer and producer and it terms of branding it can only give rise to a greater sense of loyalty; customers will return again to their loved and trusted brand. Coca-Cola employ a more surreptitious strategy with regards to their product information, one of the ingredients cryptically listed as “natural ingredients” doesn’t tell us as consumers what exactly that consists of. Coca-Cola want to protect their special formula by making their recipe a trade secret whereas Fentimans open up to the consumer about the brewing process and utilize this as a unique selling point.

All advertisements want us to subscribe to their narratives. Fentimans approaches its current campaign through the medium of storytelling. In December 2013, Fentimans launched a YouTube video entitled A Time Honoured Fashion of Yesteryear that focused on a narrative that describes Fentimans’ history, its origins, along with its botanical brewing process. Fentimans want us to view their brand image as a time-honored family tradition passed down from generation to generation.13

Fentimans beverages, a century old

A step in the past and an eye on a future yet untold,”14

One particular slogan that features in the Fentimans branding image goes: “no exceptions, beware of imitations.”15 This reinforces the uniqueness of Fentimans, and, like the discussion we had about the dominance of Coca-Cola over Pepsi, Fentimans achieves brand autonomy by presenting its recipe as proprietary to the Fentimans family.

Whilst promoting this brand image of family history in order to capitalize on the connotation of tradition, Fentimans reaches out to its target audience by showing us the origin of its ingredients; Juniper sourced from Romania, Rose Oil from Bulgaria, Ginger Root from China, and Lime Leaves from South East Asia, et cetera. This reveals that Fentimans appeals to middle class values, with the intent that their message will resonate with people who share a set of principles that relate to fairtrade ethics and such like. This kind of ethical appeal, coupled with a “home-made” image, means that Fentimans can charge a higher price for a bottle of Curiosity Cola than Coca-Cola can charge for a bottle of their regular Coke. We must bear in mind that it costs a mere 18 pence (11 cents) to produce a bottle of Coke.16

There exists a dichotomy in the Fentimans advertising strategy: one that straddles both the past and the future respectively. The video entitled A Time Honoured Fashion of Yesteryear juxtaposes the old botanical brewing process with the new method. In the same way that Coke manipulates its strategy to meet newer trends within its target audience, Fentimans seeks to show how a “yesteryear” brand operates in the present day.

It all comes down to taste but without the option of a third alternative what choice would that give us?

References

1Moth, David. “10 inspiring digital marketing campaigns from Coca-Cola.” Econsultancy.com 05 August 2013. Web. Accessed: 23 January 2014. http://econsultancy.com/blog/63175-10-inspiring-digital-marketing-campaigns-from-coca-cola

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Nourizadeh, Nima. “Just Add Zero.” YouTube.com 13 January 2014. Web. Accessed 23 January 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Lm4oiLzJs2g

5West, Gillian. “Coca-Cola invests to relaunch Coke Zero brand with new campaign ‘Just add Zero’.” www.thedrum.com 09 January 2014. Web. Accessed: 23 January 2014. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/01/09/coca-cola-invests-re-launch-coke-zero-brand-new-campaign-just-add-zero

6Jung, C. G. Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice. New York: Vintage Books. (1970): p. 183.

7Mlodniow, Leonard. Subliminal: the revolution of the new unconscious and what it teaches us about ourselves. London: Penguin. (2012): p. 8.

8West (2014).

9Ibid.

10“Our Botanically Brewed Beverages.” Fentimans.com Web. Accessed: 24 January 2014. http://www.fentimans.com/soft_drinks

11Ibid.

12“Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages.” Fentimans.com Web. Accessed: 24 January 2014. http://www.fentimans.com/welcome

13Fentimans Drinks. “Fentimans // Botanical Brewing: ‘A Time Honoured Fashion Of Yesteryear’.” YouTube.com 04 December 2013. Web. Accessed 24 January 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Qm8oCrbCGRQ

14Ibid.

15Ibid.

16Nestle, Marion. “The real cost of Coke.” www.foodpolitics.com 04 February 2010. Web. Accessed: 24 January 2014. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/02/the-real-cost-of-coke/