Normally at this stage distribution and manufacturing terms would be agreed and initial consumer focus groups would give feedback. At the same time, supermarket buyers would be told about the potential marketing support ­ there’s little worse than people trying to buy a product only to find it’s not available. It’s a costly process ­ product development, packaging and testing can run to hundreds of thousands of pounds ­ and is not an option for many smaller companies who have neither a reputation nor the cash. But, for those who are able, advertising is key to pushing their message: it should first encourage trial then establish loyalty. Also at this stage the designers review the initial brief to ensure they’re still on the right track. The target audience for the product is determined ­ a socio-economic group, for example ­ and advertising targeted to match. We’ve established that Caffeine Hitz is aimed at the growing cafe society’ because of its convenience, product quality and kudos. The Design Group team decides to target an ABC1, urban audience, because it reckons the product wouldn’t sell well in a rural environment. Account director Nick Lund says the job is to identify what the product represents so it can effectively deliver the message. “We need to let people know the product exists and then create a desire for it by giving it attributes that make consumers feel they would gain by buying it ­ for example, by feeling fashionable.” Only at this point can it be decided how to divide the campaign above and below the line so there is a good mix. From there, it’s a case of agreeing on which magazines and newspapers ­ both trade and consumer ­ to advertise in, and setting the tone of the ads to match each publication. In the case of Caffeine Hitz, trade mags like The Grocer are an effective way of raising awareness of new product launches with key buyers, while titles such as Loaded and The Face would be just right to catch our target consumer. However, Lund warns that care must be taken not to alienate other sections of the population, although there are those exceptions when turning some people off helps make a product “cool” to others. “And you can alienate them in a nice way,” he says. For Caffeine Hitz, the Design Group came up with three possible advertising strategies. One is tongue-in-cheek, targeting both men and women with general statements fitting a wide range of publications. These include: Sick and tired of work? Then open a coffee bar’ ­ although it was thought this would work better if the product were packed in a bar. The ads are easy to read, with white lettering on a coffee-coloured background, and use few, if any, illustrations, apart from the actual coffee beans. “We used humour, especially in the one that says Good news for addicts. We’ve found a loophole in the law’. It’s fun and a bit naughty,” says Lund. “And, with Decaf drinkers, look away now’, we’re trying to be hard-hitting and positively alienate non-coffee drinkers. The message here is that it’s a real experience. We used humour because chocolate is pleasurable ­ we’re urging people not to be serious.” But Lund concedes humour with universal appeal is hard to create. “You also must be careful you don’t offend.” The second campaign idea is The Hit Squad ­ a group of fictional men, like the Men in Black characters, who come to the rescue of people in need of a coffee hit. The ad strapline asks consumers: Are you on the hit list?’ Press adverts could run alongside a TV campaign in which the characters would appear at homes to help out flagging consumers with a caffeine hit, in the style of the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The campaign could also work on transport, including taxi doors with the title The Getaway Car’, and in the Underground with posters asking: Are you sitting next to a hit man?’ This could then be translated into real characters who could present prizes to travellers. Another idea for the Underground would be the colour coding of the lines corresponding with the coding on the packets (red for the Central line, blue for the Victoria line and Green for the District line) and display posters telling travellers: For a real hit…you’re on the right line.’ The third campaign idea adopts a more serious tone and perhaps has a broader appeal. Poster ads show a training shoe next to the product and ask: Why run to the office when you can fly?’ Another has Caffeine Hitz positioned next to a football with the strapline Sunday morning kick off’, encouraging football fans to try the product before playing a game. Clubbers are also targeted in an ad that could run in Time Out or Hot Tickets magazines, urging partygoers to use Caffeine Hitz as a quick pick-me-up with the words: Clubbing? Wake up before you go-go.’ The team finally plumped for the Hit Squad campaign because, as Lund comments: “It’s probably the best as it’s very current, and you can have fun with it.” These days it seems no product is launched without a healthy dose of PR activity ­ targeting the media directly in the hope of gaining publicity for the product. Emma Nicholson is associate director for PR company Brave, which regularly works with The Design Group and usually becomes involved in a project as early as it can. The PR team researches the market and holds brainstorming sessions to ensure it is working to the same brief as the designers and advertisers. “We talk to the ad agency, client and supermarkets all the time about how it’s going ­ you cannot work in isolation,” Nicholson says. PR aims to create maximum awareness of a product and encourage trial, and Brave suggested targeting journalists directly with Caffeine Hitz to encourage a mention in the review pages. The plan was to find out when writers experienced low energy levels and to send them an alarm clock set to ring at that time along with a sample of the product. Other elements of the campaign could be aimed at getting Caffeine Hitz into other areas of a magazine by creating story angles to match the section. Celebrity endorsement is considered a great coup (especially in the impressionable youth market), and a famous person seen using a product can do wonders for sales. Nicholson says: “People are swayed by endorsements ­ they are influenced by what journalists and celebrities recommend, but can be more cynical about advertising because they know those people are paid for their enthusiasm.” Key celebrities to target for Caffeine Hitz included Posh Spice and Radio One DJ Sara Cox. Surveys are another method of creating news. A good example would be to commission research that would, hopefully, discover we’re the most hectic nation in Europe, providing a hook to hang a story on. It can work regionally too. “Regional coverage not only allows an all-important name check, but it can also create opportunities to get vital product messages across to the target audience. “The aim is to get a Hitz spokesperson talking about the product’s benefits on the radio or in the press and so raise its profile,” says Nicholson. Because it is aimed at younger consumers, Hitz could be sampled in clubs, or in queues while people wait to get in. Competitions can also be effective and, in this case, a contest to find the most lethargic person in Britain could work. Sampling in the right environment can also work well in tandem with PR ­ it’s less sexy and less risky and should be a hit with busy commuters at train stations and in shopping centres. A Hitz Squad team could also rush Hitz products to office workers in need of an energy boost. Nicholson says: “We usually create an umbrella theme which ensures the campaign provides a consistent message to give greatest impact.” She says it’s important to give trade magazines essential product-related information in advance of the consumer campaign and keep them continually updated on consumer activity. “It helps retailers to decide where the product will sit in an aisle or category. “We want to create a relationship with the media. You must keep coming up with new angles to keep the campaign fresh. You also need to keep checking that you’re getting your message across, and you can alter your PR techniques as you go along.” She suggests continuing to blitz the media with new angles and stories along the lines of why we’re addicted to caffeine in the UK, or why we never grow out of chocolate. Response mechanisms such as hotlines or voucher redemption allow for regular measurement of its effectiveness. After the campaign has been running for a while, research is carried out on the awareness levels. And, finally, there have been occasions when a PR company has actually complained to the Advertising Standards Agency in a bid to stir up some controversy ­ but obviously Caffeine Hitz wouldn’t stoop so low… l Hitz is a hypothetical TDG project and does not relate to existing or current products or those in development {{COVER FEATURE }}