There’s a joke which does the rounds in my house quite regularly stemming from my housemate’s exclamation that she ‘sees the world through media eyes’. This punchy statement was made without a hint or irony but a lot of innocence, as a 16 year old after her first ever media studies lesson. Since then, it has been held up as point of ridicule which she frequently cringes at. My point is that whilst I wouldn’t want to be quite so Nathan Barley about it, working in PR I feel I do have an awareness of a brand’s attempts to target consumers. As a result, whilst I’m genuinely interested in advertising and PR campaigns, I can be a tad cynical about the impact they will have on me as a consumer and can’t remember the last time I was consciously aware of an advert affecting my behaviour. That was until last week, when I went out and bought something, inspired purely by seeing an ad campaign.

It was a humble packet of the mint with the hole, the Polo. Polo hadn’t launched anything new, it hadn’t rebranded, it hadn’t done anything to alter the product I’ve bought and enjoyed in the past. But I was compelled to switch from my usual chewing gum, to a packet of the mints.

The campaign which caught my attention was very simple, centred on the question ‘Are you a sucker or a cruncher?’ A little Googling uncovers that this campaign is the first big advertising push Polo has done for 10 years and is targeted at medium to light buyers which make-up 80% of their customer base. The campaign was ‘designed to focus on emotional reasons for buying the brand by re-establishing its quirky, fun and playful personality rather than the rational thought process of the need for fresh breath’.

I’d have to say that they achieved this. I was compelled to buy a packet because of the element of participation the campaign suggests. Was I a sucker or was I a cruncher? I wanted to find out.

A bit more searching uncovered a Facebook presence to back up the campaign. Fan pages were built to form communities of‘suckers’ and ‘crunchers’, each attracting around 28,000 fans. The pages show a relatively good level of engagement and are very active, but out of curiosity I thought I’d see how my usual breath freshener of choice faired on the old ‘book. Wrigleys Extra has over 140,000 fans.

But does this matter? From my point of view, the campaign succeeded at its most fundamental level of changing my buying habits. But the people behind the campaign wanted to rebuild an emotional attachment and building a community around the brand is an important route to making this work long term. Only Polo’s sales figures will really be able to answer this, but in this case did an old school tactic of simple advertising trump more modern routes to success? My guess would be that in the short term yes, but once the current ad campaign ends, the lack of a sizeable community of online fans to carry on the conversations may prove a disappointment.

@AJGriffiths

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