When Scoot chose to begin establishing Scoot.co.uk as a major Internet player back in 1998 they faced several problems. Their original telephone-based service had got off to a faltering start the year before – prospective customers had misunderstood the nature of the service that was on offer (many thinking that it was simply a free alternative to Directory Enquiries), and consumer brand awareness stood at no more than 5%. They also had a limited budget, compared with their competitors, with which to rectify the situation.
In order to launch their Net-based service effectively, Scoot.co.uk had to target two main groups - prospective site users, and prospective advertisers (businesses that would pay to be listed). These two audiences were recognised to be very different – the consumers would be mostly under 35 and reasonably Web-savvy, while the advertisers would be older and less techno-literate – but the budget would not stretch to two separate campaigns.
Since the primary aims of the planned advertising were the same for both targets – raising awareness of Scoot.co.uk, explaining its function, and creating a more positive image, Scoot decided to defy convention and use a single campaign to address both targets. It was felt that the best medium for the campaign in terms of reach would be the television – preferably prime-time television given the bipartite nature of the audience. Since Scoot’s launch campaign had been poorly received, localised testing of the ads took place before they were rolled out to all the TV regions.
CREATIVE: The commercials themselves were the brainchild of ad agency BMP DDB. Their brief was simple - as Sam Dias, Brand Economic Consultant for consultancy Brand Finance, points out, “Scoot were suffering from a lack of brand awareness, so it was very important for them to begin standing out from their competitors. Yellow Pages, for example, are seen as middle-class, comfortable, and conservative – they used the slogan ‘good old Yellow Pages’ for years. The best thing for Scoot was to go for something completely different – bold, exciting, and appealing to the younger ‘switched on’ users.”
BMP came up with Mr. Scoot – a man with a giant, cartoon-like, purple head on a normal, suited body. Depicted in the ads solving consumers’ problems, and thereby explaining the service on offer, Mr. Scoot was intended to become something of a mascot or spokesman for the company and, indeed, you’ll find him on the newly-improved Web site today. Playing to cheesy elevator music, the ads were funny, and all quite short – they were designed so that two or three could be shown in an individual commercial break. Of course, both the URL and the number for the telephone service were prominently displayed.
NOTES: As well as TV ads, the Mr. Scoot campaign consisted of newspaper ads and national radio and poster activity. Direct mail featuring Mr. Scoot was sent to London advertisers, and various downloads (screensavers, mouse pointers, etc.) were made available at the Web site.
The response of individuals to the ads was very exciting, Sam Dias tells us. First of all, it was clear that both consumers and advertisers now understood nature of Scoot. Three quarters of consumers and two thirds of advertisers reported awareness of the campaign after the first three months, and overall brand awareness increased dramatically. Surveyed consumers reacted very positively to the ads’ irreverent nature. And while some potential advertisers didn’t identify with the particular brand of humour, they recognised that their prospective customers would, and would therefore be more likely to use the service.
Usage of Scoot increased as soon as the campaign began. Econometric modelling across the period from March to December 1999 showed that an extra 1.7 million searches occurred at the Scoot.com site as a direct result of the Mr. Scoot campaign. Scoot received an extra 1.4 million telephone enquiries over the same period. These higher levels of enquiry have been maintained since, says Sam. The increase in the number of Scoot’s advertisers (and hence their increase in revenue) was equally impressive, we’re told.
COST: A total of £2.1 million was spent on the Mr. Scoot campaign. Sam Dias is quick to point out that, while this might not sound like a “limited budget”, it’s about a fifth of what Yellow Pages would spend on a campaign of similar scope and duration.
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