Be Bold & Brave To Win Customers

Size and spending power does not make you invincible in marketing. In this week’s episode we learn from a true expert who specialises in promoting challenger brands and leading them to steal valuable market share from large brands and market leaders.

James Rostance speakers with Chris Cassell, MD of White Label to learn the lessons involved in winning when you’re perceptively outgunned by much larger and better funded competitors.

This will be of particular interest to start ups as the approaches covered will be hugely relevant.

Content Covered:

  • The ultimate strategy for when you’re perceptively outgunned by much larger and better funded competitors
  • What typically prevents brands and agencies from using this strategy
  • Golden principles to help you to success
  • Advice and guidance for effective campaigns
  • Campaign example of a challenger brand successfully claiming market share

– Hi, I’m James Rostance, and welcome to The 414. Each week with some of the greatest minds in marketing. And joining me today is a man who’s work you’ll almost certainly be a fan of. As he was the marketing lead in the team responsible for making Prosecco the global phenomenon that it is today. He specialises in super-premium drinks brands and as managing director of White Label, it’s my pleasure to introduce, Chris Cassell. So Chris, you specialise in the promotion of challenger brands who need to steal market share from market leaders. And what I thought it’d be quite cool to find out is, what do you consider to be the most effective strategy for when you’re perceptively outgunned by a much larger and better funded competitor?

– Use size as your advantage. Because the biggest weakness that bigger brands have is that because of their size they need to appeal to everyone. And appealing to everyone appeals to no one. So, don’t try to fight them on their territory. You can be more divisive, you can be more polarising as a smaller brand. And really that’s the magic of smaller brands.

– What typically prevents brands and agencies from delivering work that is more brave, and as you say, more polarising?

– I think the thing that I see most both inside agencies, with brands, is that they make decisions by committee. And when you do that, you strip away all of the things that you’re excited about that idea in the first place. So, I think one way to avoid that is have one key stakeholder who’s job it is to look after that idea through the process. Because feedback is good, robo-strategy is obviously good, but you can’t let that tie you down. It needs to be part of the process, not something you’re tied down to.

– Do you have any principles that you recommend and like to follow, which helps with this process?

– It’s about living your values. You have to really live and breathe your values because if you don’t live and breathe them in everything that you do then really, having the values in the first place is just virtue signalling. So, bravery and really sticking by that really makes that come to life. And it connects with audiences. And without it, it just doesn’t mean anything.

– What would you recommend as a guide to help keep you on track and deliver a campaign that is brave but not watered down in any way?

– I think it comes down to believing in that idea. Believing in the power of the idea, why you liked it in the first place, and what you found exciting about it. Because if you remember all of those things and really believe in that process then that’s gonna come to life in the end product. And often what I see is people trying to prove the idea will work when really the freshest, the best, the newest ideas, there is no benchmark. So, you’re not gonna be able to prove it. You just need to, you need to take a leap of faith and believe in the idea.

– So, what would you say is your favourite example of a campaign that you’ve delivered that successfully embodied all of these principles?

– So, Laphroaig is a big, peated, smoky whisky. And we realised that the reality is, with a big, peated, smoky whisky, some people will like it, some people won’t. And instead of shying away from that, and just focusing on the positives, and just talking about how wonderful the liquid was, we chose to show people trying it, often for the first time, and then really captured the really visceral reactions to the liquid. So, we showed good, bad, confusing, ugly, we showed all of those reactions. And the beauty of it was that by doing that, by showing the negatives, it made people, if they hadn’t try it, have to form an opinion on that liquid. Have to give it a go. And it really drew people in.

– So what would you say is the danger of brands not being brave in their marketing?

– Really, for me, it’s two fold. So, the first thing is, that you’re just gonna be producing work that no one cares about. And I’ve never seen that in a brief, that’s never the intention, right. So, that’s one thing. The other side of it, is that you’re gonna open yourself up to scrutiny. You know, if you’ve got strong values, but don’t follow them through with bravery, people are gonna not trust that. Again, you’re gonna get yourself in a sticky situation.

– Chris, thank you so much for joining us.

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The 414 EXTRA

This is where we get the chance to look a little deeper into the most interesting elements of the content that we’ve just covered in the main show.

Chris talks further about the hurdles that can get in the way of delivering campaigns which are truly effective in stealing market share from market leaders.

He also talks about whether this approach can also work for larger brands!
And he covers explain why it’s important for a brand to mean something and speak to consumers.

– Hi, I’m James Rostance and welcome to The 414 Extra. So this is the part where we get to dive a little bit deeper into the content we’ve already covered in the main show and I’d like to start just by asking could you explain a little bit more about the hurdles, that can get in the way of delivering the types of campaigns that you like to champion.

– Yeah, I think one interesting issue is the burden of proof and both for clients and for agencies, more and more, we’re asked to prove that an idea works and actually if you think about the way that most people interact with campaigns, especially when it comes to content and above the line pieces, a lot of people share those on dark posts, so they’ll take a picture of a billboard, they’ll take a picture of, or they’ll share a video on WhatsApp, a group of friends and they’ll all discuss that, that’s something that we’re never ever going to be able to analyse, because obviously it’s all dark, it’s all in, the modern equivalent of a talk in a pub and so asking people to prove brand new, fresh ideas, that people have never seen before is kind of impossible, so there’s a real balance between, you know, getting the strategy right, getting feedback, but not being so tied down by it, that you don’t actually do anything in the end and I think that’s gonna be something, that gets worse and worse and worse as people interact with campaigns in different ways.

– So is this about then, having trust in your creative director or agency to–

– Ultimately yes and you know, that’s something that, if you’re looking at the kind of client-agency relationship, that’s something that both people need to work on, work on that trust, it’s not just on clients to trust their agencies more, you know, you need to earn that trust, you know, trust is earned. But yeah, at some point, if you believe in the idea and you’re excited about it in the first place, you know, you need to collectively take that leap of faith together and trying to prove it often just strips the kind of essence away from the idea and when you do that, that’s when you get ideas that aren’t brave and ideas that really no one cares about, because they’re just lowest common denominator and that’s never been exciting.

– Well, could taking a brave approach ever work for larger brands and if so, what sort of approach should they take?

– Well, the answer is yes, in one word,

– Yes.

– I think it can work, but I would push it a little bit further, I think it’s something that they have to do more of, rather than just something that could be one of the things that they employ, I think they all need to be a bit braver. I think a good example is the beer industry, so the beer industry is being kind of eroded by craft beer coming in and being a lot sexier, or a lot more exciting, a lot more brave and bigger beer brands, I think there’s a good example of Budweiser in the US losing their top three spot a couple of months ago and that’s partly because they’re just trying to appeal to everyone and what does it say about you, when you walk into a bar and say, oh, I’ll have a Bud, it doesn’t really say anything, because it’s just so ubiquitous, whereas if you walk in and say, I’ll have, you know, a craft beer and you know a little bit about it and you can get excited about it, it’s much more interesting and it says something about you, when you order it, the values are stronger, because they’ve been a lot braver in their production, braver in their communications, so actually that’s a good example of an industry, a whole industry, where bigger brands need to be a lot braver, otherwise you know, they’re gonna be in trouble.

– So how important is it then for a product or a brand to say something about you, in your opinion?

– I think that’s really important, because I think more and more, that is why people are choosing different brands, there’s very few industries now, where we don’t have a lot of choice and especially something like the beer industry, you know, there’s so much choice, so many new brands that actually people are navigating that by picking the brands that say something about them and craft beer brands is a shortcut to many things, depending on the brand, but an interesting localism, an interest in the flavour, all of those things, that instantly when you order something, it signals who you are and what you care about and not being brave, it’s very hard to create a brand, that says something about you and gives you that.

– Chris, thank you very much for joining us today.

– Thanks.


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