[10] Non-publicity: “Ideas of value”

Just as a carpenter fixes everything with wood an advertiser does so with advertising and I think this is a mistake. Announcers are businessmen or managers who want ideas to help them sell more, to solve the problems of their business, ideas of product, marketing, segmenting… and on most occasions, advertisers only offer adverts in reply, when I think we have potential for much more, unique potential.

Everything changes constantly in any environment, which means that traditional solutions are useless for new problems. Furthermore, the best way to beat the competition is not always to be the best, but rather to be the first or the only one. In any case, what is needed are good, fresh, different ideas, and those of us who work in advertising have to perform continuous mental gymnastics to enable us to have such ideas beyond a simple commercial, leaflet or spot.

In this chapter I want to present a few of these ideas, ideas which are not advertising or promotional or direct marketing or public relations. I have baptised them as NON-PUBLICITY ideas as they are the fruit of our creativity, not in advertising but rather in solution-ideas in no particular category.

  1. In the 1990s, fruit consumption fell in Spain by 20%, whereas in the same period industrial, and particularly dairy, desserts increased by 20%. The displacement was clear, the replacement of some products for others was worrying for the health of the Spanish people and for the farmers’ business.

In this case, it was not possible to think of an advertising campaign as a solution to the problem, as the lack of union and vision of the producer sector and the lack of support from the Administration prevented a large national campaign to counter the enormous campaigns of yoghurts, crème caramels, etc.

Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: to create a foundation provided with a large press office.

Effectively, we thought that if we managed to be constantly in the media with valuable information on the different characteristics, properties and virtues of fruit and vegetables, with time we might make consumers aware that it is not possible to replace and apple with a yoghurt. A permanent press office, fed by the universities, was the IDEA and we got it going by creating the Fundación Sabor y Salud [Health and Flavour Foundation]. Today work is done with the Asociación 5 al Día and fruit consumption is now recovering, although there is still a long way to go.

  1. Spain is one of the European countries where fewest flowers are purchased. Moreover, this is a business that has very clear times (Valentine’s Day, all Saints, Mother’s Day, etc.) and finally, as it needs a lot of workforce, a great deal of production has left Spain.

In order to increase the consumption of flowers throughout the year, the sector has made some advertising campaigns and intends to make more. However, a large investment and a lot of time will be needed to see results, and therefore I think that these objectives will not come along this path.

Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: as it is necessary to create a non-existent purchasing habit, the solution is to create a business that makes it easy so that consumers do not have to go out for flowers but rather the flowers come to them each week.

In our cities there are thousands of establishments and places where the public is attended: restaurants, offices of all kinds, trades, hospitals, clothes shops, jewellers, professional offices, etc. and even private houses which, for a small amount each month and if the flowers are brought to them, would be prepared to contract their distribution and sale, and the flowers would only have to be changed once a week. This idea I gave to the sector’s business people was started up with the help of the Internet.

I now think that this solution could be used to give work to people in danger of social exclusion.

  1. We all know Almería’s importance in the world as an area that exports vegetables, but not everybody knows that the products from here have had problems of image in some markets, such as the German market, due to the abuse or incorrect use of pesticides. We were contracted to carry out an image campaign in Germany.

Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: first stop using the prohibited pesticides; second, be the region of the world that has most grown in biological control and, having achieved all of this (which was achieved), ask the most critical of the German media, the director of Greenpeace Germany, to agree to receive public recognition from the fruit logistics sector, given that his criticism had helped to bring about great change. Greenpeace congratulated the Almería sector on German television.

  1. The Utiel-Requena wine Denomination of Origin sometime ago asked us to prepare a campaign for the launch of a new product line, Vendimia Inicial, a highly acceptable young wine. The problem was that there was no budget and a launch needs one, or does it?

Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: as this was very much a Spanish wine, very local (Valencia) and we needed it to be seen, why not call for the collaboration of all establishments with shop windows in the Valencia shopping centre and ask them to put it in a visible place? The response was very good, many trades agreed to allow us to set up a display with three bottles (red wine, rosé and white) which they were then allowed to hold onto. With the little money we had, the action was motivated by rewarding the premises that had the wine in the most outstanding place and displayed for longest.

This is how one of the agency’s “own products” for customers was born: “ubiquity”.

  1. The Pharmacia-Animal Health laboratory launched a product for livestock infections which was much better than anything that had gone before. For several reasons it was a great solution, but sales were not going as fast as expected and nobody could say why.

Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: in Agr! we realise that the problem lay not in finding the benefit to be transmitted, nor in how to transmit it, but rather that no matter how well-developed the product was, it created incredulity, so we suggested that vets all around Spain (the main target) should carry out tests with it and that the result should be put on display in a large national congress. In this way, our target audience became a convinced prescriber and sales were activated (we have not had to be contracted any more since then).


  1. And finally, a solution-idea from our Agr! Publicity Division. The residents of the el Carmen district in Valencia have for years protested about the noise at the night at weekends because this is a place where people go out in the city. The “Amics del Carmen” Residents’ Association therefore asked us to make leaflets and posters in order to make the young people coming to have fun in the area more aware.


Solution-Idea of Non-publicity: a CD of noise. We believed that the leaflets and posters were not a very effective means in this place and at this time. The agency’s new creative team had the idea of recording the real, live sound at night in this area of el Carmen, in other words the actual noise made in the street, and of using the noise to bring out a CD under the title of Pure Carmen. The sound of dreams. The CD was distributed a week after it was recorded amongst the young people having fun in the street of the el Carmen district. Either at home or in their cars, they discovered that the first track played the noise, shouting and voices recorded and going on in the street and that in the second track, they were able to hear the phrase, “you have been able to change track, we haven’t”.

Other new non-publicity ideas that can be seen on the Agr! website are: “Solidary supports”, “Opera in the Market” and “Amnesty International”.


[09] The weight of the Spain country brand and the case of the cucumber

I have long commented this idea in different forums, the last time in a radio program on “Gestiona Radio”, on the past 14 February 2011.

It is well-known and can easily be seen that people get an image of brands, products, countries, people, etc. The question is therefore whether we can influence to create a positive image of the brand, social group, country or product we are interested in, or whether we can change it if the established image harms us. All communication professionals know that both things are possible.

As agr! has a division specialised in internationalising brands, we have seen that in many cases the image of Spain is a brake on our work and objectives and that this is very often due to clichés that fail to correspond to the truth or show a clamorous ignorance of our present reality. Having considered all of this, I thought of the need to create an international “Permanent network observatory of the image of Spain” that would permanently take the pulse of our image abroad and keep it always visible and positive.

I do not like to see how generally Spanish oil is cheaper than Italian simply because it is Spanish or a French wine is more expensive than a Spanish because it is French. I believe that it is time to put everything in its place and that our companies, when they export, should find support in the Spain brand and not an impediment. For this to happen we have to be united and receive the support of the public administrations.

My suggested action is the following:

Firstly, to determine the countries of interest for Spain and to segment them with economic, political, commercial criteria, etc.

Secondly, in Agr! or any company with an international network, I would create a work group whose mission would be to take the pulse of the image of Spain in each country and, at the same time, to maintain a high notoriety and a positive image. I would therefore begin by making a study of the starting point in the notoriety and image of Spain in each country, how the Spaniards are perceived, their products and services, what clichés they have, what knowledge, etc., all among the different segments of population of each target country: journalists, consumers, politicians, the young, business people, etc… I would also compile existing studies.


Thirdly, starting with the results of the above study for each country, I would set specific targets and strategies of action while creating two action groups: one of fast action and the other “in-depth”.

The first would work immediately before any problem that might affect our image. For example, there is the problem of the cucumber and after just a few minutes a crisis cabinet would already have been formed to control what appears on the net and, through its relationship with the media, might be capable of transmitting the idea that the accusations lack a basis.


Meanwhile, the in-depth team would be preparing to turn the situation around and see the problem as an opportunity to position Spain as the safest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world, as it is the leading supplier of these products to the most demanding European countries and food chains.


In the past, Agr! already proposed this repositioning to the fruit and vegetable sector. Furthermore, on two occasions we have very successfully solved similar problems for the pepper from Hortyfruta in Almería, and for strawberries from Interfresa in Huelva.


In order to draw up the strategies for each country, it is necessary to bear in mind all of the elements that facilitate or enhance our strengths and opportunities. For example, many of the countries that form part of the Business Council for Competitiveness are large investors in advertising in target countries, and those responsible for the Observatory in each country should know this and exploit it in the form of articles, reports, etc.


We must not forget either that at the present time we have a large number of popular figures in the international arena, moving in different areas and that there are also many anonymous Spaniards around the world who would be delighted to take part.


My advice would be to state in what we are leaders, where we are unique or better, in the environment of any facet or field and to use these data suitably to reposition our image. We have a lot to say: we are leaders in tourism, in organ donations, in wind power…, apart from being so in generosity, knowing how to enjoy life, in gastronomy, etc.


Fourthly, I would try to reach a single, strong concept of Spain and other secondary concepts with a real base. I would agree on these concepts with the different administrations so that they might all work along the same line. I would perform a pre-test of all of these concepts and we would get to work right away, for an omnipresent image of “Spain” that is strong, well-selected and managed is sure to have a decisive influence on the choices and the price that millions of consumers around the world are willing to pay, and on the decisions and opinions of politicians, analysts and foreign journalists.


And fifthly, I would ensure that the Network Observatory is managed by professionals of private companies. A single company, internationally established, by tender and for four years. The embassies, tourist offices, Instituto Cervantes, etc. would play a constant role of collaboration stipulated by the government of Spain.


[08] The brands and their value

A program of commercial communication, or in other words, incorrectly and colloquially an advertising campaign, is a trip that we undertake from one place to another place more desired in the image and purchase motivation of our brand.

If we manage to make the campaign effective and reach the new place, our product is supposed to be recognised by its brand and will be more competitive than before the advertising campaign was made.  Our product will therefore be chosen by consumers more often than before, leaving the product of the competition to one side, or they will be prepared to pay more for it.

Advertising increases the perceived value of a brand as it highlights rational values (such as the fact of having more flavour) and emotional values (such as being a product from the country itself).

This can be seen in the fact that almost all categories of products that are most sold and have a better price have a better-known brand and with a better image, generally associated with continuous investment in advertising, press conferences, promotions, relational marketing, etc. I say generally because there are cases (few) in which the brand has achieved great notoriety and image without a large investment in advertising, but in which the communication has been by word-of-mouth or the massive presence of the sign in all cities, etc., such as the case of Zara or Mercadona.

They say that the origin of the “brands” lay in the need for a farmer to distinguish his animals from the neighbour’s, for the neighbour’s livestock were not as well fed and cared for as his.  He took an iron and “branded” all of his animals and managed to make his livestock sell at a higher price.

A brand is therefore something helpful, something that talks about what is good (or bad) in a product both when it is seen and named.

The experience of satisfaction or dissatisfaction when consuming a product is memorised in our minds and related to the brand.  However, sometimes, and above all in the primary sector, what “brands” a product is not its brand (understood as its label), but rather other distinguishing physical attributes such as its shape, colour, spots (as in the case of Plátano de Canarias), pack, price or place of sale, all of which are referents that serve to distinguish and locate the product we want.

Other times, the brand says nothing, neither good nor bad, and this usually happens because in a world where almost all large consumer product categories have one or several well-known brands investing quite a lot in advertising, a brand that does not do so and does not have a product that distinguishes it sufficiently, will find it difficult for the end consumers to memorise it. The consequence will be that the consumer will treat this product as a general product, without noticing its brand.  One example; try to ask a housewife how many brands of pears and yoghurt she knows.

A product that sells to the end consumer in a larger quantity and more expensively than the competition has a great added value in its brand and in the agency that has helped it to build a great ally.  But we cannot forget that the brand is not a value in itself, but rather a mere communication or support of the product’s true intrinsic differential value (its flavour, naturalness, properties, origin, etc.).

However, sometimes the brands fail in their true function of helping the consumer and everything we have said does not happen.  When this is forgotten and the perceived value of our product brand is fattened with advertising and sold more expensively (amongst other things due to the cost of advertising), particular quality is no better than that of cheaper products, the brand no longer offers any value to the consumer and has stopped fulfilling its mission. In this case, value is only offered to the producer or manufacturer and then, when this occurs, no name or distributor brands logically appear, such as “Hacendado”, high-quality products at a lower price, which is a true value for consumers.

However, this is not always true either and I say this as a consumer of distributor brands because the large companies make very large investments in innovation and product development and, at least in new developments, offer something truly different and interesting for consumers.  The distribution has to wait and copy, and this is not always possible or is not always done well.

Furthermore, a bad experience in one brand is transferred to all products that bear the same name. Likewise, these distributor brands destroy wealth when, thanks to the force of distribution, they use certain products to generate commercial traffic and offer such low prices that, as in the case of oil, they leave farmers without margin and unable to look after the land and the trees that must be preserved for forthcoming generations.

It might be possible to conclude by saying that if a large consumer product is unable to maintain a differential advantage that represents a value for the consumer, it will see its market share diminished by the distribution brands, which will act as natural regulators of the mercantile ecosystem by preventing the survival of brands that only give value to the manufacturer and nothing to the consumer.  This is something that as a consumer I find very good.

However, as human beings are very complex and their purchase motivations are not only rational, the manufacturer and their marketing and communication department have to find the paths to avoid this terrain. One might be continuous innovation, as people are curious and like to try things that are new.  Another might be to relate the brand to emotional values, because let’s not forget that value for money is not always what determines the purchase.

A brand may be chosen out of favour, because it gives confidence, because I am accustomed to it, for a change, to be distinguished or to feel that I belong to a group, amongst other emotional reasons.  We can see this by making a blind test of the different brands of cola and seeing the percentage preferences, which we will compare with those given when the consumers can see the brands, and which are sure not to coincide.


[07] Basic initial information for a campaign to be effective.

Continuing with the previous analysis and supposing that the best agency has already been found, now it is time to meet the agency to give them the basic information so that they can start work. This is what in our sector we call the briefing, which, as the word indicates, must be brief, although I believe that it should only be brief for the creators and not for the strategists. I prefer to give too much information rather than not enough, even though it might be brief.

A summary of the advertiser, the product, the brand, the previous communication, the competition and above all of the consumer; a summary that should be synthetic, effective, clear and complete. These are the ingredients used by the agency to present the strategy, the creativity and the media. If the customer’s goals require other commercial communication disciplines to be used, we will have to provide the professionals of each discipline with a specific kind of information. In this article, I include the specific briefings of each discipline, although certain concepts might be repeated.

I recommend advertisers to start work with a meeting between the experts of the agency in each discipline, as required by the investment and the campaign: strategy, publicity, media, relational marketing, on-line marketing, promotional marketing and public relations.

If we do not want to leave anything in the air, the necessary information will be:

1.       For developing the strategy.

This briefing is the basis of the whole of the agency’s work. In agr! we have developed a document to rigorously gather this information: this is the infostrategy.

A.- Market

  1. What is the real and potential market volume and the current spread?
  2. How has the market evolved in recent years?
  3. In order of importance, what are the main parameters in this sector for being competitive?
  4. How is the market segmented?
  5. What governmental regulations are to be borne in mind in this market?

B.- Company-Customer

1. What is my market share?

2. How have I evolved in the last four years? Why?

3. What are my principal strengths and weaknesses?

4. What is the most important thing for the company at the present time?

5. What are my marketing goals and strategies?

6. What is my position with respect to the competition in terms of price, quality, service, variety and location?

7. In what are we first, unique or different?

C.- Competition

1. What is the main direct and indirect competition?

2. Which are my most dangerous competitors and why?

3. How has the competition evolved? Why?

4. What are the competition’s principal strengths and weaknesses?

5. What reasons might consumers have for choosing the competition?

6. What are the competition’s goals and strategies?

7. How will they react to our actions?

8. In what way am I different from the main competition?

9. How is the competition positioned in terms of price, quality, service, variety and location?

D.- Consumer

1. What do consumers most appreciate in these kinds of products and services?

2. Who purchases, who decides on the purchase and who prescribes it?

3. What percentage of my customers purchase habitually and sporadically?

4. How can the consumers be segmented?

5. What recent market studies have there been?

D.- Communication

  1. What is the ranking of brand awareness?
  2. What percentage of the market knows my brand?
  3. Of the above, how many have bought my brand?
  4. What image does my brand have in the market?
  5. What is my positioning?
  6. What is the image, notoriety and positioning of the main competition?
  7. What campaigns or actions have been made in the past, with what budget and with what results?
  8. What is the competition doing best and why?
  9. What marketing and communication actions have been done? What has worked most and least well?

2.       For relational marketing.

  1. At the present time, what is the purchase information available for each product category (family, subfamily,..) and since when has it been available in the customer purchase database?
  2. What is the socio-demographic information available for segmenting: percentage of data qualified by fields of information (date of birth, studies, profession, etc…)?
  3. Basic data from the customer base: new, active, inactive, abandonment. How have they done the last segmenting. How have they identified an inactive, an abandonment or a VIP? How has the frequency, regency or the monetary amount being weighted?
  4. What was the contact plan of the last quarter? What rough results can they give us?
  5. Have you used any data-mining tool? Which and what for? Internally or externally?
  6. Are incentive plans or actions carried out with the salespeople in relation to the results of the card? If so, which?
  7. Are you using the in-depth geomarketing information related to the customer database?
  8. Do you have a study of the perception of the image and satisfaction of the brand and the basic attributes of centres where merchandising is sold, collection, service, card..?
  9. Has any incentive program by purchase volume been made in the past?

3.   For media.

1. Principal target.

2. Core target/other audiences.

3. Campaign period.

4. Areas.

5. Seasonality.

6. Campaign pieces believed to be necessary.

7. The competition: what are they like, who they are, what do they do, price policy and market/consumer policy.

8. Precise definition of the product and its attributes.

9. Business/brand/product strategy.

10. Marketing goals/strategy.

11. Communication goals/strategy.

12. Brand positioning.

13. Communication background: historical.

14. Lessons learnt.

15. Environment: market, sector, tendencies, possible new competitors, other data.

16. Media evaluation: Vgr: how the campaign will be assessed, level of response vs. branded.

4. For on-line marketing.

What is your principal objective on the Internet? To generate database? Notoriety? Sales?
What is your target audience? Do you know with what purpose they connect and what pages the most visit?
What is your current on-line presence? Do you have a website? And are you present in the social networks? Have you developed a previous digital communication strategy?
Is your product or service correctly positioned in the main search engines?
Do you know what on-line marketing actions your competition is carrying out?
Do you know what is being said about your brand, company or service on the Internet?
What budget do you have for the actions?

5.       For press office and public relations.

1. What is the background of your external communication?

2. Do you have a consumer market study? And one for positioning?

3. Is there any background in internal communication?

4. Are PR actions carried out such as attendance/organisation of events, fairs, congresses?

5. Is there a spokesperson? Is there a habitual relationship with the media?

Specialised? Local?

6. Are specific actions carried out for the media: presentation of results, press conferences, breakfasts,…?

7. Is there a procedure for crisis communication?

6.       For advertising.

These are the essential elements:


1. Advertiser and product or service.

To provide key data on the company, the category and the product or service and on the main competitors, including details of the communication channel and provision of data on the brand image, describing the principal advantages (real and/or emotional) of the product and comparing it with your competition.


2. Goals of the campaign.

Is it a launch? Of a relaunch or a repositioning? Of a campaign to reinforce a certain marketing goal without changing the positioning?

3. Description of the target audience.

Describe the target audience both from the demographic point of view and, if possible, from its habits and behaviours. Supply data from the investigations made, including information on the product brand awareness and its competition, qualitative data regarding the perception that consumers have of the product before the campaign.

4. Positioning required for the brand.

Once the campaign has been made, how should the consumer perceive the advertised product (what do they know, think and feel)?

5. Priority messages.

List of the messages that have to be communicated by order of priority, accepting that each advertising piece can only communicate one principal message.

6. Timing, planning and budget.

Include a production calendar specifying the date proposed for the agency to make the presentation. Decide whether the campaign is only for the media, whether it includes the point of sale, promotional elements, direct marketing, materials and events for the sales team, public relations, sponsorships, etc. Then indicate the geographic area of the campaign. Whenever possible, clarify whether the campaign must take into account a possible extension to other geographic areas (for example for reasons of copyright). Is the campaign going to be implemented in interactive media?

7. Responsibilities.

Indicate the name of the principal contact of the customer and their availability. The agency must assign a person responsible for the project.

8. Legal and social aspects and other important data.

Must the campaign foresee legal considerations or self-regulation restrictions? Do sensitivities regarding registered trademarks have to be taken into account? Are there ethnic or social sensitivities with this product or in a certain area of distribution? If it is considered to be useful, include cases of successes and/or failures in this category of products, giving the reasons why they have occurred.

9. Additional information of interest.

Any other information will be included that might be relevant for the later work of the agency.


[06] Suitable selection of the agency

In this chapter, I will analyse how to choose an agency and the first thing I will consider in this point is that there is no right agency, but rather the best one for a certain customer or project. To find the best one, the Spanish Advertisers Association along with the Spanish Association of Advertising Agencies reach agreements on procedure.

The first thing that has to be thought is that selecting an advertising agency is not something that can be taken lightly, as advertising expenses are generally high but, what is much more important, the return on investment may vary a great deal depending on how things are done. What’s more, even the best agency in the world will need two to three years to give the best of itself, you have to wait.

The general rules of the selection process agreed by the mentioned associations are:

  • Equity: Equal treatment and opportunities for all participating agencies, without giving privileged information.


  • Confidentiality: the agency will respect the confidential nature of the information provided by the advertiser in preparing the proposal.
  • Intellectual property: the advertiser will respect the intellectual property of the ideas presented by the agency that are not finally taken on. If an idea from an agency not winning is to be used, its remunerated use by the customer may be negotiated.
  • Commitment: the will to establish a medium-and long-term relationship that will bring greater stability and efficiency in the work.

With respect to the steps to be followed to find the best agency, the agreements between the two associations establish:

1. Defining the basic characteristics of the agency we seek. We need the following information:

  • Analysis of the role that advertising is going to play in the marketing mix of our company.
  • Precise definition of the role of the agency.
  • Decide whether the line of the previous communication is to be followed.
  • Possible collaboration with another company or communication group.
  • Geographic needs.
  • Needs of size and structure of the agency.
  • Need, as the case may be, for the agency to have an international network.
  • Required experience.
  • Circumstances that can cause conflict, competing products or customers.
  • Importance of the account in the agency.
  • Languages required.
  • Necessary specialisation in terms of sector and technique.
  • Specialised companies or services that the agency group must have and which might be important at this time or in the future.


2. Agency market analysis.

2.1. Analysis of the objective data.

The aim of this pre-selection is to find which agencies on the market cover the needs reflected in the agency profile. In order to achieve a first list of agencies (the Long List) an exhaustive analysis is needed of the objective characteristics of the broad agency market. To carry out this analysis we must have all of the necessary information through two valid paths:

a)      Personally make the market analysis.

  • Analyse the professional press, the yearbooks and other publications.
  • Identify advertisements that are attractive and relevant.
  • Contact other advertisers and ask for their agencies.
  • Use the associations to find out about the agencies and their experience.
  • Check the records of the most important awards in creativity and effectiveness.
  • Ask for credentials from the agencies (although this might break the necessary discretion of the process).
  • Other methods.


b)      Require the services of a specialised consultant, which must provide:

  • Updated knowledge of the market.
  • Extensive information on the agencies.
  • A pre-selection methodology.
  • Broad experience in selection processes.
  • A guarantee of quality, ethics and confidentiality.

If a good agency profile has been drawn up, the Long List will be formed by a number of agencies of between ten and fifteen. If the resulting list is too long, we must add elements to limit the agency profile to allow us to cut back on the number of candidates.

2.2. Qualitative analysis.

Having defined the Long List of agencies, we must go further into their work, their teams, their successes and try to know their updated reality (because we are enormously dynamic and changing companies). This qualitative analysis will lead us to reduce the list of agencies, and once more we will have several paths available to do this:

  1. Finding out personally.
  2. Direct consultation of the agencies.
  3. Use of a consultant.

Our work will have allowed us to reach a small list of agencies: the Short List. Depending on the final type of selection, this list will have three agencies if we are going to put out a tender, or up to six if the selection is to be made from personalised presentations.

3. The selection.

3.1. Direct choice.

There is a chance that the above analyses have already shown us which agency must be ours in the coming years. If this is the case, we will choose it by direct choice.

If we are still unable to decide, we must resort to one or several of the following phases:

3.2. Personalised presentations.

As an intermediary step, it might be interesting to receive personalised presentations from a maximum of six agencies, the best from those of the Long List, and visiting their offices. The Short List or list of finalists will be drawn up from these six candidates.

It is therefore possible to assess elements of personal relationship which, although they must not be primordial, do have a certain importance and need to be assessed fairly.

In these presentations, the agencies must show us the following:

  • Their updated credentials:

–          Size.

–          Number of employees.

–          Management team.

–          Principal shareholders.

–          Offices.

–          Accounts won and lost in recent years.

–          Prices achieved in recent years.

–          Complete list of customers and brands for which they work.

–          Related companies.

–          Services offered.

–          Latest audio-visual and graphic work (reel and book).

–          Any other information that might be useful.

  • Their interest in our account.
  • The interrelationship of services from other companies of their group, if any.
  • Their experience and/or that of their teams in our sector.


We might optionally also ask them for:

  • A suggested remuneration of our account.
  • The presentation of some success cases in which the agency can prove their professional efficiency or their experience in similar accounts.
  • A presentation of the agency’s economic situation and solvency.

These meetings, in which the work the agency will do for us is not shown, are usually very useful and make it much easier either for us to choose our agency or to select the bidders in a restricted test.

3.3. The tender.

The list of agencies for this phase must not include more than three, four if the advertiser’s present agency also takes part in the selection process. There is no advantage in falling into the temptation of extending this list.

The agencies must know the number of participants and whether the present one is included. If the process of the tender and the names of the participating agencies are confidential, the advertiser must inform them in writing.

The tender may be strategic, creative or both.

Whatever the kind of tender used, these are the basic requirements for carrying it out:

a) Prepare a clear briefing.

Including all necessary information for the agencies to compete under satisfactory conditions. It must be clear what the agency has to do in order to take part and what information is provided to them.

b) Inform the participating agencies.

Notifying them of the number of agencies called and whether the process includes the present agency.

c) Definition of the levels of finish.

Specify the level of finish expected for the campaigns, especially for television campaigns, whether only one storyboard is expected or animated models of the advertisements. Clarify, if necessary, that better finishes than that required will not gain extra points.

d) Give the decision-taking criteria.

Make the key evaluation elements on which the final decision will be based clear in the briefing (ideas, strategies, creativity, services, media, etc…)

e) Specify the required services.

Clearly break down the services that will be required from the agency (to this effect, it will not be bad to attach the profile of the original agency).

f) Inform on the economic data.

Indicate the form of remuneration and the planned contractual terms.

g)  Establish a realistic calendar.

Give the agency sufficient time to prepare their presentation.

h) Remunerate the tender.

i) Allocate the key teams.

On both sides, makes the teams that would collaborate in the future development of the account responsible for the tender.

For the advertiser it is fundamental that all people who are going to take part in the decision-taking process are at all of the presentations.

j) Define a spokesperson and give equal access.

The advertiser must make it clear in the briefing which person in their organisation must be addressed by agencies looking for answers to queries and seeking clarification.

Guarantee all agencies the same ease of access during the preparation process. Realistically estimate the time that the development of the tender will take up among the advertiser’s staff in answering doubts and requests from the agencies.

k) Establish a system of assessment.

An objective assessment system must be established in the preliminary phases for judging each presentation, without being carried away by the perceptions of the time.

l) Allocate time to the presentations.

Give sufficient time for a full presentation (between two and three hours is usually enough).

m)   Concentrate the presentations in time as far as possible (the same day, two consecutive days). Draw up the order of presentation and make the presentations preferably in the agency’s offices.


n) Identify those attending.

Inform the agency of the names and posts of the members of the advertiser’s staff who are going to attend the presentation. From the agency, the team that is presented must be the same as the team that will do the work if they are finally allocated it.

o) Decide quickly and inform everyone.

Do not prolong the decision-making process excessively. The ideal thing is to inform the winner within one week following the round of presentations. Report the decision both to the winning and all other agencies on the same day, and issue a press release after this.

p) Return all materials, respect intellectual property and confidentiality.

At the end of the process and once a decision has been taken, the advertiser will return all materials that the unsuccessful agencies have presented. If the advertiser wishes to use an idea of one of the agencies that failed to win the tender, they must agree with them on a price for its use and never use it without their consent.

Both parties will hold confidential all reserved materials brought to light for the tender.




[05] [5] Positioning the brand to be competitive.

The theory

When we think of the Volvo make and compare it with others, the image and the word that comes to mind is “safety”, for this is what distinguishes it.

But what happens when I think of fruit and I compare them with the rest of the replacement products: artificial desserts, snacks, etc. What comes to my mind? Or when I think of apples in general in comparison with bananas, or when I think of a specific brand “Plátano de Canarias” against “Chiquita”, what words or images come to my mind? I am talking about positioning, a term so widely used as it is little understood, but fundamental in marketing. In fact this is a strategic decision that is taken before doing any kind of advertising.

Today, any marketing or communication professional has to reflect on the concept of positioning if they want their products to win the battle of being distinguished from the competition and becoming the benchmark for their potential customers.

This has been the case since Al Ries and Jack Trout conceived the concept in 1986 and published it in one of the historic books of marketing, “Positioning, the battle for your mind”. Since then it has evolved and been enriched, but it has also been distorted, partly because there is no academic consensus either on its definition or on its use. All of this does not imply that it is clearly separated when it is ill-used and that the positioning is considered a key and central idea of marketing by the principal thinkers in such matters: D.A. Aaker, G. Hooley, P. Kotler, M. Porter, etc. We see an example in the fact of how the positioning of the Spain brand for wine and oil takes away a great deal of value in many international markets and leaves us behind France and Italy, respectively. It is necessary to know what positioning should be chosen and how to achieve it before starting a hypothetical advertising campaign to reposition the Spain brand wherever it is needed.

To understand what the positioning is in the conquest of minds, it might be good to think of what happens in the process of conquest between men and women or vice versa: the first thing we do is to catch the other’s attention, and so we will try not to be just one more and to be distinguished in something. Once we have caught their attention, the second will be for there to be attraction and not rejection. This depends on what has been used to create this distinction (we saw this in the previous article). To get this right, I will first have to know what the opposite sex thinks, desires, appreciate and rejects as far as I can, and I will therefore discover two things: who I can please and how. What the positionings of the word or image that women would use to define me after my attempted conquest will be. This naturally happens the same the other way round.

In fact the most widely used acceptance of positioning is “to take over a word or image in the consumer’s mind”. If the whole process has been done well, we will have connected. On the level of our products, if we do the positioning process well, the word or image the consumer will have will exemplify our value proposal in a simple way, it will be something relevant and will not have previously been “taken” by my competitors, it will be unique. In a single word, we will have a unique value proposal (“safety” for Volvo). Although after this, in the advertising, we might express this proposal creatively with a phrase.

The positioning is something desired at the beginning. It is the image we want consumers to have of us when they compare us with the competition. The curious aspect of this process is that the consumers, whether we like it or not, are going to form an image of our brand, product or category of products spontaneously, as everything that the senses perceive communicates: the product itself, its appearance, price, quality, place of sale, the type of consumers to purchase it, word-of-mouth opinions, etc. and they are going to compare it according to their beliefs and values. Therefore we are interested in influencing with everything we have in our hands to be able to communicate and direct the process, so in the meantime the positioning will become reality. All of these factors creating positioning must therefore be consistent and coherent with the chosen value-attribute with which we want to be distinguished. Of course in all of these factors, if the advertising is consistent and massive it will make our brand better known, and secondly, if the message is correct, it will transmit the desired positioning. It is therefore crucial that advertising must be built on a well conceived, solid and well defined positioning.

If we want to position ourselves badly, we can do three things:

We can try to have an unsustainable positioning, when we would like to be something that our product is not. We can attempt a wrong positioning by focusing the consumers’ attention on a characteristic of our offer which is not the most important characteristic for them or in which the competition excels us. And we can choose an indistinct positioning, one that is the same as many of my competitors to which I just add “more or better”.

For the positioning process to be done well and these errors not to be made, I suggest a simple three-step process.

First step

This first step is a summary of my previous article on distinction in which a decision is taken on the basis of in “what” I am going to be distinguished. It is necessary to have as complete a global view as possible of three things: the beliefs, values and desires of the target audience; the offer of the competition and replacement products, and; the strengths or attributes which distinguish my product.

The base of the process is the consumer’s knowledge. It is necessary to explore the ideas, beliefs and values prior to a communication, as this is the area where we are going to move and it is not possible to impose or implement anything on this level as it would lead us to certain failure. I remember a chairman of Intercitrus who said in order to sell more oranges, the publicists had to make people peel more oranges and eat them. I suggested that if most of the consumers preferred to squeeze the oranges, and to peel and eat tangerines, why didn’t we explore this route. He answered that it was because the Spanish farmers strived and spent a lot to achieve the prettiest oranges.

So then we must think: who are Spanish oranges competing against; against the Moroccans, against tangerines, against apples, and against yoghurts, against a little of each of these and with what intensity, who does most harm?

The offer must be analysed broadly considering all of the products no matter how far they are from satisfying the same kind of desire or need. Can a medlar be positioned as a beauty product because it purifies the blood and this can be seen in the skin? It can if it really achieves something in this area and the proposal is of value to a wide segment of consumers, women for example. This example may seem extraordinary, but it is what I suggested to Callosa d’en Sarrià.

Finally, in this first step it is important to know the details of the offer itself, all of its characteristics, properties, curiosities, etc. as this is where our distinctive strengths must stand out.

Second step

Once we have a clear view of our distinctive points we have to ask, in what context and on the basis of what distinction are we the best option for our possible customers? This gives rise to the positioning in itself.

For example, in such a mature market as shower gels, when the strategists analysed the tendency and needs of the consumer in their search for bringing out a new product, they realised the proliferation of gymnasiums in recent years and the fact that people shared the showers.

In this context, why not bring out a gel that would protect the skin from infections, which would keep it healthy, and they presented Sanex. In a little time they became the market leader thanks to this new context.

Another example, when all watches competed on the base of time, their precision, luxury, etc. along came Swatch and was presented in a new context, fashion. It triumphed.

Seeking the context in which our product is the best option also requires a lot of information, quite a lot of imagination and sometimes bravery. Bravery to be the first and only one to take a place that already existed but which others were unable to take or unable to see and therefore to mark the attributes of most interest to us for others and consumers.

Third step

The last step in the positioning process consists of communicating our value proposal in the right context in a way that is simple, and if possible, popular, understandable and creative, “Sanex, healthy skin”. This is the creative expression of the positioning and is no longer the work of strategists, but rather creators. Good strategy and good creativity are the two faces to good advertising, effective advertising.


And now we are going to reflect, for example on the positioning of fruit and vegetables analysed as a whole and individually.

In the case of fruit, each fruit is different, has its colour, shape, flavour, texture, properties and different uses and therefore they cannot all be positioned in the same way and in the same context, as is usually done, for they all want to be the number one in healthy properties, which is also something that cannot be communicated.

Each characteristic gives them an attribute. Therefore they will all have to be studied and we will have to see which of them considers consumers most and see whether it beats the competition. After this work, we will see that some fruit have the attribute of peeling easily, others of purifying the blood and beautifying the skin, others of preventing colds, others of being consumed easily in the form of juice, others of being refreshing, others energy giving, etc.

For instance, the banana cannot be positioned in the context of energy and the same thing done with apples for two reasons: one of the two fruit will have better reasons for being in this position and leave the other out of place and second because the consumer is being confused. All fruit are selfishly interested in each one holding its place, a unique place which is also the most appropriate.

With respect to wine or oil, it is not the same positioning for wine in general, quality wine, wine with the nomination of origin, DO Calificada Rioja, Spanish wine, organic wine, etc. The positionings of generic products or national products must be brought and not exclude any specific one; they must solve problems that affect everyone and give value, especially among the private brands, which in the end are those that sell and all of this requires study and reflection.


To position or reposition a product correctly and increase its competitiveness, the key is to analyse in which context and on the basis of “what” my product is the best alternative. It is therefore previously necessary to make a good study of the consumer and the competition, to have a clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of my product and to compare them with the strengths and weaknesses of my competitors and the desires and needs of target consumers. To build a positioning of private or geographic brand such as “aceite de España” in the mind of a brand’s consumers takes a lot of time and money. Therefore to do it badly, to make a mistake and not to choose the right one is doubly dramatic for what it costs and for what you fail to achieve.


[04] [04] A smart distinction.

Although I am going to use fruit and vegetables by way of example, the theoretical base serves for any agricultural food product.

The two paths to be competitive.

When it is said that the product is more competitive, it is because for some reason or other the purchaser or consumer chooses it over its competition. This, Michael Porter, one of the great masters of business strategy, believes can only come from two origins: having lower production costs than the competition, enabling cheaper sales; or having some distinctive characteristic that makes this product unique, the first or the best in offering “something” significant for purchasers or consumers, something they recognise through the brand and which is reported to purchasers through commercial communication, which is not always advertising.

These are M. Porter’s two large general strategies for being competitive, the strategy of costs and the strategy of distinction, two strategies which are exclusive in principle (although Porter says that it is also possible to be competitive by focusing on a market segment), but that the Spanish sector, with the present concentration of commercial distribution, will have to be able to combine.

We have no other path.

At this stage, everyone knows that in Europe, apart from a few exceptions, it is very difficult and risky, if not even myopic, to invest in the fruit and vegetable sector to be cost competitive in a globalised economy and competing with nearby developing countries (without forgetting China). Furthermore, this competitive path implies that the prices we achieve will depend excessively on offer and demand and not on other intrinsic aspects of the product or the producer that give value. In this competitive environment where the most important thing is the price, products are bought and sold as generic: “apples”, “potatoes” or “watermelons”, and the brands are only known on the level of wholesale.

Furthermore, the present challenge is not to sell the whole of production and to be top of the ranking in the number of tons exported, but rather to sell at prices that pay for our farmers and commercialisers. Otherwise, if we continue along the dangerous path of dropping the sale price via costs, we will ruin our farmers, spoil our lands, plants and quality and may not manage to be more competitive, as products can always come from other regions or countries selling “the same” but cheaper.

Therefore and as a conclusion, we must not sell “the same”, but given the present European commercial distribution, it is necessary to have good prices but at the same time to fight for a bonus. It is key to be distinguished from the product and this means entering the world of R&D+i, of corporate social responsibility, of respect for the environment, of traceability, etc. and all of this has to be communicated and capitalised through our brands, so advertising is a strategic investment in the future as it is responsible for transmitting our distinction to the buyers and consumers.


Starting the process of distinction, analysis of the product-consumer-competition triangle:

The first thing that has to be decided in this process is in “what” we can be distinguished which gives value, but we must first know clearly “to whom” we wish to give value.

Therefore, on the one hand we will have to know what this “who” appreciates and requires and, on the other, we will have to be realistic about the capacity of our products to satisfy them. If after the pertinent studies we find something significant that we can develop or which our product already has and which might be appreciated by our purchasers and consumers and is not equalled by the competition, we will have started the process of distinction.

These two decisions, in which we are going to be distinguished and to whom or what market we are aiming are decisions of strategic marketing which imply defining the “strategic positioning” and the “market segment”, both of which are questions that condition the decisions of operative marketing with regard to the product, quality, price, distribution and communication. All of these must be coherently aligned.

To get all of this right, we must resort to a triangle of study and reflection:

On the first side of the triangle we will analyse our product, not as producers but as “marketinian” creators, looking beyond what is obvious, without limitations and conditions, bearing in mind what our target audience appreciates and what the competition provides at all times. In the case of Plátano de Canarias, what was a fault or a weakness for farmers and commercialisers, the spots on the skin, was a possible strength for me, a guarantee of origin, of flavour and the external appearance for identifying these bananas of which only 15% were labelled at the time.

The second side is followed by studying the competition and this changes depending on the competitive area that is contemplated.

For example, in agr! in the case of the fruit and vegetable and agricultural food sector, we contemplate four environments or competitive levels. These levels in turn define the types of promotional campaigns that can be done in the sector, and which in Agr! we call sector campaigns, generic campaigns, geographic campaigns and private brand campaigns.


  • If we contemplate the food sector on the first competitive level, these compete with all artificial desserts such as yoghurts, ice creams, crème caramel, etc. and the vegetables with new fourth and fifth range products. We will call the promotional campaigns on this level sectoral campaigns, an example of which is that carried out by 5 a day where they promote the consumption of all of the products of the fruit and vegetable sector.

For these campaigns to work and prevent the fruit and vegetable from being displaced by their competition, a great deal of investment and time is needed on the one hand, and to get the message right on the other. Investment and time require the unitedness and vision of the whole sector, something which does not happen. And getting the message right requires professionalism.

  • On the second level, a certain kind of fruit, oranges for example, compete to be chosen on the line with the rest of the fruit: bananas, pears, etc.

The campaigns on this level are called generic campaigns, as they make no mention of any origin or brand but just generally of the fruit in question. An example of this are the campaigns carried out by the inter-professional associations such as the inter-professional association of Spanish olive oil.

To be effective, a great deal of investment and continuity is also needed in each country or region in which it is done, as this is aimed at the whole population and lasts several months a year. I do not know any case in which this is fulfilled. Media investment is usually ridiculous to be effective because it wants to be in too many countries at the same time, because it wants to be politically correct and does not have the opinion of media professionals. In any case, as a general rule the appreciation positioning or argument which can be transmitted by a generic product is not sufficiently “strong” to achieve significant increases in the price or sales, unless the sector products have improved a great deal and this has not been reported, or we are faced with a new product.


  • On the third level, one type of fruit or vegetable of specific geographic origin – Almería, El Jerte, Marruecos or Chile- competes against the same kind of fruit or vegetable from other regions and brands. Oranges from Valencia against others from Egypt, for example.

We will call the promotional campaigns on this level campaigns of geographic brand. These types of campaign already show the concept of brand and the generic communication disappears. The geographical origin operates as a brand and therefore transmits the distinctive advantages with respect to other equal products of other origins.

Almost all of the geographic promotional campaigns are aimed at distributing but, due to lack of budget, few massively and continuously reach the end consumers. An exception might be Rioja wine, Plátanos de Canarias or Walnuts from California. When a geographic brand decides to approach the end consumer, these campaigns are usually very effective, amongst other reasons because they find no advertising from the competition on this level and because the geographic brands are more specific about the benefits that the general or sector brands.

  • On the fourth level a brand of one type of fruit compete against other brands of the same type of fruit (although the same brand may cover several fruits or vegetables) Fontestad Oranges against Solita Oranges, for instance.

On this level, we will call the promotional campaigns private brand campaigns and here a brand that is the property of some company or cooperative is promoted. There are few private brand advertising campaigns aimed at the end user (Chiquita, Fontestad, Zespri, Chico, etc.) and they are also usually very effective and ensure that the products sold under these brands fetch better prices than all of the others that fail to invest in communication.

The same company or sector can find competition on the four levels and can benefit from promotion on the same four levels: Fontestad advertises its brand of citric fruits, is interested in citric fruit from Valencia being promoted and the general consumption of citric fruits increasing, and finally that fruit consumption should increase over artificial desserts. On each of the four levels, there is a different strategic argument of attack and defence that has to be discovered and used.

The third side of the triangle is followed when we have decided what our target audience is to be: wholesalers, retailers, purchasers or consumers; what they think, what they want, what they appreciate, how many of them there are, who and how many know our product or brand, what their opinion is, etc. Market studies will be necessary to know where we are starting from in notoriety and image and where we are able to go with our strengths.

This is a key decision, for it is not the same to compete on the level of intermediaries (the habitual target in our fruit and vegetable sector) than on the level of the end consumer, for as we consider different things we will be obliged to develop or to focus on different competitive advantages that will have to be reported.

There will be more or less competitive companies or brands for a distribution purchaser, depending on their own values. These values differ from those of the end-user because more importance will be given to punctuality in service, seriousness, innovation, etc. whereas the consumer will focus more on values associated with the product: the origin of the fruit, the guarantee of flavour given by the brand, of respect for the environment of the farmers producing it, etc.

NB: in agr! we divide the brands of the fruit and vegetable and agricultural food area depending on two variables:

a)        The level on which it is known:

b)        The owner of the brand:

a) The level on which it is known:

Consumer brand: this is the brand of a certain fruit or vegetable known by most consumers on the markets where it is commercialised. When they are asked about some brand of this kind of fruit or vegetable, they generally name it and even associate it with the values forming the distinctive position. In other words, we are faced by a brand of fruit or vegetables which is known, such as the case of the Danone brand.

Distributor brand: that which is known by most distributors, whether these be wholesalers or retailers of the geographic market where it is commercialised and by practically no end user, incapable of remembering it or naming it. For the end-user, this kind of brand is no more than an adhesive on the product in question; in other words, they are purchasing a generic product according to its appearance and price, that which can be seen. If said fruit or vegetable has a distinctive value that is important for the consumer, such as the flavour, the origin, the fact of having no waste or belonging to a socially responsible company, but this value is not visible like the good appearance, it cannot be reported and therefore assessed and paid for. Examples: Morriña Bananas or Pardo Oranges, do you know them?

b) The owner of the brand:

Geographic brand: this is a brand owned by or whose use is permitted to a group of farmers and exporters related to the same geographic region, a region which gives its fruit and vegetables particular characteristics which the purchaser and end consumer are supposed to appreciate: Walnuts from California, Plum Dates from Ribera del Xúquer or Cherries from Jerte.

Private brand: this is one that belongs to an owner, company or cooperative and which may or may not be under the umbrella of a geographic brand: Chiquita, Fontestad or Morriña.

A geographic or private brand may certainly be distributors or consumers and vice versa.

Both the geographic and the private brands are no more than a promise of what the consumer is going to find. Before buying or consuming a product, consumers have expectations, criteria of value that define what is important to them as purchasers or consumers and what they believe to be quality. Having made the purchase and/or consumed the product, the good or bad experience will remain in their memory and the brand identifying the product will be related to it.


[03] [03] The importance of starting with a brand view and a strategic communication plan to be effective.

Continuing with the Canary banana sector, we will see that in order to achieve our notable results, it has been decisive to start with a view of the positioning we wanted to achieve and apply a strategic communication plan that has passed through different stages, which were the following:

1945-1992: The banana, a commodity

In this stage, in order to protect the sector and compensate it for its distance from the Iberian peninsula, the only bananas that could be commercialised in Spain were those from the Canary Islands (approximately 400,000 tons).

Therefore the only marketing objective at this time was to achieve the best possible price, and as the competition was only with other fruit, the communication goal focused on presenting the banana as superior. To do this, the strategy lay in it being positioned as the fruit with most energy with commercials in which Tarzan or Mowgli, the main character of The Jungle Book appeared.

In 1992, with Spain’s entry in the European Community, the frontiers opened to bananas from Central America. For the first time the Canary banana had to compete with others.

The more expensive Canary bananas had always been the largest and the prettiest and purchasers therefore identified quality with large size and good appearance. This was logical, but could be a serious problem: the new Central American bananas were larger, prettier… and cheaper.

The sector therefore found itself in a difficult situation for which it was not prepared, and the forecasts pointed to between a 20 and 30% drop in sales, forcing the price down.

At this delicate time, the Association of Organisations of Banana Producers of the Canary Islands (Asociación de Organizaciones de Productores de Plátanos de Canarias – ASPROCAN) confided in the strategic communication plan we presented from agr! and which considered a global solution which included ideas and solutions that were not at all conventional, beyond advertising. This change marked the beginning of the second stage.

1992-2000: Repositioning

In 1992, as a marketing goal the sector asked agr! to continue selling 100% of the production, which was limited by the Common Market Organisation to 400,000 tons. An annual budget of 2.4 million Euros set up entirely by the sector was put aside to do this.

To achieve this professional challenge, our first communication goal was that consumers should be able to distinguish our bananas and then prefer them.

But how and why were they going to prefer them? The strategy we considered was to reposition them; starting by giving up the positioning of the banana as a general fruit (which also favoured the Central American banana) we started a process of differentiation using a geographical brand, “Canarias”, which we would give a competitive, distinctive positioning with respect to bananas of other origins.

After months of strategic planning, analysing the product, the market and the competition, a positioning was chosen based on two large advantages: one rational, its better flavour, and another emotional, that it was ours.

However, this positioning was faced by three problems that had to be overcome as soon as possible in order to win the battle:

1) Flavour and origin are not visible attributes and require the brand in order to communicate them. They need a labelled product and at that time the sector hardly labelled.

2) The flavour was something that consumers had never been able to appreciate, for they knew no other bananas to be able to compare.

3) Consumers identified quality with size and appearance, not with flavour.

We therefore had a threefold challenge: we had to conceive “something” to make them distinguish; something to make consumers prefer Canary bananas when they were able to compare them, which would change their beliefs about what quality was.

In seeking this “something”, we went beyond advertising: we found an idea that connected directly with consumers and answered the triple challenge that faced us. This “something” was the small marks that always appear on the skin, their “spots”.

This was a solution that turned a weakness, the small size and the appearance, into a strength. The spots became the guarantee of the origin and flavour of the Canary banana. Consumers no longer needed labelled bananas to be able to distinguish and identify the Canary origin and flavour.

We suggested a well-known prescriber to do this, one who was capable of changing beliefs. This was Karlos Arguiñano, the chef most highly respected and followed in Spain at the time.

By combining advertisements with Arguiñano in which he highlighted “the spots” and the origin with other more conceptual aspects in which we highlighted the importance of the flavour, we began to achieve our objectives.

Using this concept of “non-advertising” we began to change the attitudes and beliefs about what consumers had considered quality up to the time. We taught them to look out for the flavour, to give this more importance than the appearance and to recognise Canary Bananas from their spots.

In the first two years, the foreign bananas rapidly appeared in Spanish shops and sold 150,000 tons, but after this our strategy and creativity started to take effect and in 1995 sales of foreign bananas fell to 10,000 tons.

Encouraged by these results, we suggested going one step further and daring to make a direct comparison between the Canary and foreign banana, and in 1995 broadcast one of the first comparative commercials in Spanish advertising. Continuing with this more offensive creative strategy, we suggested something that would be decisive: the use of communication to have Central American bananas called by the name given them in their countries of origin: “banana”, to distinguish them from the Spanish “plátano”.

In 1996, the foreign fruit sold in Spain was put on sale as “bananas”, thus leaving the name of “plátano” exclusively for the Canary version of the fruit.

Thanks to this repositioning strategy, in the year 2000, 87% of shoppers were able to distinguish and preferred the Plátano de Canarias. What was most important was that all of the production continued to be sold and at a price 20% above that of the banana.

2000-2005: Market expansion

Having come this far, we found ourselves with three circumstances that made us change our perspective and expand our horizons:

1) We had achieved a large preference for the Plátano de Canarias.

2) The artificial desserts were coming in and taking market share from fruit.

3) This increased the pressure on the banana market, as the limits disappeared on banana imports and the remaining customs levies were lifted.

We therefore recommended the customer to start a third stage where the marketing goal would be to increase the market for this fruit.  If we managed this, Plátanos de Canarias would be most benefited as this brand would have much more purchase preference.

To do this, our communication objective was that consumers should prefer Plátano de Canarias to artificial desserts and the rest of the fruit.  In the first case the communication strategy would be to position Plátano de Canarias over artificial desserts as a truly natural product, and against the rest of the fruit as the one that gives most energy.

In this third stage, the disciplines taking the lead to increase the demand are below the line. Agr! uses practically all of them together: promotion for wholesalers, promotion and point-of-sale, marketing show in shopping centres, marketing show on beaches and in villages, direct marketing to paediatrics-nurseries, etc., digital marketing, public relations and sports marketing; without forgetting appearances in series, programs and sponsorships.

The results between 2000 and 2004 exceeded our expectations.  According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, banana sales increased by 33% and the price paid by consumers 24%.

At the end of this third stage, Plátano de Canarias therefore had three large communication strategies:

• That of flavour over other bananas.

• The natural side with respect to artificial desserts.

• The energy side with respect to other fruit.

And together they created the virtuous circle of the Plátano de Canarias communication, which is able to answer the three possible competitors depending on circumstances.

2006-2012: Alternating

In 2005 the fourth and large stage was started in which the strategies would be alternated to increase the distinction and preference over foreign bananas with others to increase consumption of bananas over the remaining fruit and artificial desserts.

For example, in 2006 and 2007, distribution tried to take advantage of the preference of most consumers of plátanos, by calling the banana of the “Central American plátano” and by importing small bananas. To solve this, we resorted to the strategy of flavour and the creativity with a slight tone of humour, where strange “platanormal phenomena” confused consumers in the supermarket.

In 2010, our constant observation of the peninsular market and its competition helped us to detect a tendency which drove us to invest in increasing banana consumption once more.  Our present form of life requires us to find food that is easy to carry and consume, but which is also healthy. What we call snacks, such as smoothies and serial bars have multiplied their sales. So we decided to take advantage of this market trend and use the characteristics of Plátanos de Canarias (easy to carry and peel) to position them as the most natural snacks.

Finally, in 2011 and 2012 the objective was once more to brake the foreign banana and the strategy was to highlight our strength: the flavour, and striving to give it the necessary value.  We showed this in an emotional commercial where a Canary Island farmer shows his grandchildren that anything that is worth achieving in this life is difficult to get.

From 1992 to 2012 we have built a strategic, coherent sequence of communication because we had a clear view of the brand.  As a result, on the one hand we have made ASPROCAN one of the most awarded advertisers for the creativity and effectiveness of their campaigns, but above all we have achieved a great value and preference for their brand: according to the study made by Emer GFK in 2012, almost 90% of consumers prefer Plátano de Canarias and 87.7% are prepared to pay 30 cents more per kilo.


[02] [01] A real example of assessment of advertising efficacy

As an advertiser, it is important to know whether one is fulfilling the role of advertising in the marketing mix, collaborating in increasing sales and prices, or in other words, how to know whether our advertising agency is doing it right or wrong. There is no better example here than the Plátano de Canarias advertising campaigns.


One of the great objectives of the Plátano de Canarias Producer Organisations Association (ASPROCAN) is that the whole of the production should be sold each year and at the best possible price.


Achieving this depends on many factors and not all can be controlled from ASPROCAN, there are obviously “uncontrollable” external factors that can influence whether or not all of the Plátano de Canarias are sold and at a good price, such as the production and offer of bananas at a given time or the appearance of seasonal fruit.


However, there are other internal factors where the sector and Asprocan can intervene more, such as the volume produced, the volume sent to the peninsula, the prices at origin, the quality of the product or the advertising. This last factor is one more of many, and we will try to ensure that this has a positive influence on whether all produced Plátano de Canarias are sold and at a good price.


To understand the extent to which advertising can help to achieve this, it is necessary to know all the variables that can affect the price to the farmer, the most determining of which is the relationship between the offer and the demand. This market law is only escaped from, and only to a certain extent, by products that have managed to be distinguished from the competition with a renowned, appreciated “premium” brand.


Consumers are willing to pay more for these products thanks to these brands. These brands, their notoriety and the good image can only be achieved if our initial product really excels over the competition in something appreciated by consumers, based on the right, constant advertising.


This is clearly seen in examples from our horticultural and fruit sector, such as the Chiquita bananas on the German market, Marlene apples in Italy or the Zespri kiwis in Europe. All of these brands invest constantly in advertising, are sold at a higher price, are leaders in their markets and are not so affected in their prices by the ups and downs of offer and demand.


This does not mean that advertising is made and their sales and value increase automatically, for at least two or three years are needed to obtain the first positive results, as long as everything is done well. In other words the minimum necessary and sufficient investment must be made in these years with good planning and purchasing of media, the target must be hit with creativity and the communication strategy must be well-chosen.


In order to determine whether a producer or sector has done it right with their advertising, in marketing the concept has been established of the “value of the brand”, which informs us of the advertising efficacy achieved in the medium and long term. This value is determined by the percentage of consumers of a product who have been persuaded to buy this brand and how much more they are willing to pay for it than the competition.


In order to know whether the advertising that agr! has made for ASPROCAN is working and how well, and whether the Advertising Commission has done its job properly of setting targets and choosing proposals, it is only necessary to see how many Spaniards prefer the Plátano de Canarias and how much more they are willing to pay over the others, and to multiply this amount by the kilograms sold each year.


The ASPROCAN Advertising Committee periodically commissions independent market research to see how these results are going, just as all large advertisers do. At the present time, ASPROCAN commissions out this study to the German multinational GFK and the 2012 results are the following:


A. Nivel de preferencia hacia Plátano de Canarias: los resultados de preferencia alcanzados por la marca Plátano de Canarias son difícilmente superables, alcanzando ya el 89,7%.

B. How much more are you willing to pay for one kilogram of Plátano de Canarias?:

87.7% of those interviewed are willing to pay more than 30 cents/kg for a banana with a better flavour!

As the advertising continues to do its job better, the Plátano de Canarias “value of the brand” will increase. This will make more people willing to pay more for our bananas and therefore move us away from the low prices bananas achieve when they flood the markets, which is something that drags down the prices of Plátano de Canarias. Furthermore, this information must cause reflection in the sector, which should not compete at times of surplus by lowering the price beyond this cushion of 30 cents with respect to other bananas.


Furthermore, these good results are not the result of one campaign, but of several that have worked well over time. Therefore, the Asprocan Advertising Committee in each campaign controls to what extent the advertising targets for the year have been met. In this second area of annual control carried out by the Advertising Committee, three parameters of efficacy are measured:


First it is checked whether the campaign has been seen sufficiently by our target audience (in the 2012 campaign the target are housewives). To do this, what was planned and what has been achieved with the planning and purchase of media are assessed. A good campaign serves for nothing if it is not seen. The 2012 results were optimal:


Secondly, it is checked whether the campaign has gone down well, for if acceptable levels are not achieved, no attention is paid even though the commercial might be put on many times. The message fails to get through, and therefore it does not work.

The 2012 results in this area are excellent, for 85% of those surveyed like our campaign a lot or quite a lot, when a positive result would be an average 75.8% according to the statistical checks of the studies made by GFK:


And the third parameter of efficacy is the communication strategy. In other words, the message implicit in the creativity must increase the “value of the brand”, the positive willingness to choose it and pay more for it. In this year’s strategy in agr!, the emotional path was chosen, which consisted of transmitting a value: that everything that is worthwhile is hard to get, thus stressing how hard it is to get the flavour of Plátano de Canarias. This also gave very good results:

As can be seen, if things are done better in advertising each year, it gives results in the medium-long term by increasing the “value of the brand” and making more people willing to pay more for our Plátano de Canarias brand, which has recently achieved strong backing with the transitory approval of the Protected Geographical Indication (Indicación Geográfica Protegida – IGP) Plátano de Canarias, which will open up new opportunities.


Furthermore, in order to ensure that prices do not fall much at a certain time (increase in production or expected fall in consumption) sporadic promotions are made at the points of sale, with incentives to push on commercialisation. When the incentive is over, the motivation ends, but the “value of the brand” always works. We have seen that these kinds of promotions are important, for example, at the long weekend in the first week of December to ensure that prices do not fall after these dates.


Without knowing how the efficacy of advertising is measured and what its role is in all of the marketing variables, it is impossible to give a serious judgement on its importance and efficacy. With this reflection, I hope to have contributed to making a correct and necessary assessment of the work of advertising both in the long term with the “value of the brand”, and in the short term with what is achieved on the advertising level in each campaign.




[01] [00] The four steps for an advertising campaign to work

Here we will see what must and can be done a priori to be effective. In agr! we have built a simple methodology based on the natural process we all follow when we interact with advertising.


First step: ask with rigour.


Drawing up the commissions that agencies receive (briefing) correctly and without committing any of the four habitual mistakes is something that must be done by the advertiser.


To be able to talk about efficacy, it is first necessary to talk about goals. This is something that is obvious, but which unfortunately not all commissions received by agencies define clearly. The marketing and communication goals have to be specified with figures. If we do not do this, we will make the first mistake.


As I will explain later, an advertising campaign cannot be considered successful or valid simply because a post-test shows that it has been liked or many people have seen it.


The first thing will be to set targets to be achieved with a certain strategic and tactical approach in which communication will be one of the elements to consider; the agency will therefore only be responsible for the communication targets in this mix. In other words, if the sales fail to work because the distribution, the product quality or price are not right, there is little that advertising can do.


Marketing goals generally seek to increase sales or the price, to achieve market participation, to introduce a new product, to penetrate a new market with our product, etc. On the other hand, the communication targets can be to support a brand launch, to report the qualities of a general product, to make a brand better known by consumers or that it should transmit values that encourage consumers to buy it, etc.


To say the amounts and percentages that we want to achieve with our marketing plan, we will analyse the sales and prices of the previous years, the market trends, the strengths and weaknesses of the product at the time and the threats and opportunities that the market gives us. We will broadly analyse the competition and the consumer and finally, we will set targets that the agency, on the communication side that corresponds to it, will assume as its own. In this way, the communication will help the remaining elements of the marketing mix to achieve the goals in a pre-set time and with a certain budget.


Generally the quantitative and qualitative goals for communication will be based on the degree of brand awareness (notoriety) and the image and positioning we start with before doing the advertising campaign.


And here the second mistake can be made. Practically all managers in any sector know the sales of the previous year, the prices that were achieved, the new products that were launched, etc., which makes it easier to be able to quantify the marketing goals for the following year.


However, very often in my professional life, I have seen that there are very few managers who, before starting an advertising campaign, know where they are starting in something as basic as the percentage of real and potential customers who know their brand, the values with which it is associated or the opinion that is had of it. Unfortunately, there are few companies and organisations that know the degree of notoriety or the image values at the beginning, and without these we will not be able to know what has been achieved in the past nor will it be possible to set logical communication targets for the future.


The third mistake that can be made is to set unrealistic or simply impossible marketing or communication goals, given the characteristics of the competition or our product, due to the insufficient amount of budget allocated, the shortage of time available, etc.


In order to start to be effective, advertising requires a minimum  amount of time and money to achieve coverage, precision, repetitions, etc. It will not be enough to have products that have something that makes them better than the competition if we fail to communicate this as often as needed to the right people and with the right supports.


Finally, the fourth mistake that can occur in a briefing is to confuse the goals with the strategies. Very often this is just a problem of the writing or the structure of the document; however, as we already know, one of the keys to an effective campaign is the correct choice of the communication strategy, and this is a meticulous job which, if the advertiser is unwilling to do it, must be left to the agency.


An agency with a good communication strategy can consider itself to be fortunate. Strategy, along with creativity, is the most important added value that an agency can give an advertiser. In fact today the main advertisers choose their agencies according to strategies and leave the creativity for a second level, sure that the winning agency will find the best creative idea.


If the advertiser predefines their strategy, the means and the disciplines, they leave no opportunity for the agency to make other proposals to achieve the goals and fail to get the most out of their agency and their investment in advertising. It is in the awareness of the product and the competition, in their experience in the sector, where the advertiser’s orientations are fundamental for their agency’s communication proposals to be effective. Therefore what I recommend is at least to ADD, and leave the strategies open to improvements by the agency.


Assessment: to make sure the briefing has been drawn up correctly and that no mistake has been made, no one better than the advertiser’s agency responsible for working with it. An honest preliminary meeting will suffice.


Second case: that the campaign should be seen.


After starting work the first thing the agency will do is to ensure that my target audience can see the campaign, and especially that they can see it in the place, at the time and on the right support a minimum number of times; if my target audience, customer or consumer fails to see, read or hear my message, or does so far fewer times than is necessary for it to be recalled, failure is assured. To excessively dilute a campaign to reach more countries or to stay longer is to throw one’s money away. A certain geographical and time concentration is needed for the campaign to achieve its purposes.


The disciplines it uses, my message’s support and the time for which it appears determine the agency’s strategy. It may be a press article, a large event, a commercial in a football match or a direct marketing event. This is determined, amongst other things, by the nature of the product or service, its positioning and the mix of communication disciplines (advertising, promotion, direct marketing, and public relations) that will be used to take the planned message to my target audience.


If, as is usual in campaigns with large budgets, the strategies contemplate the use of the large mass media (press, radio, exteriors, television), then it will be the planning and media purchasing agency that decides on what medium, when it must be used and with what intensity to effectively reach my target audience.


Everything can be quantified beforehand and everything achieved can be seen later. We must and can make sure that our target audience will have the chance to see what has been achieved. In fact we must and can make sure that our target audience will have the chance to see and interact sensorially with our campaign. The agency must be required to make a previous analysis of what is going to be achieved with all of the disciplines in terms of number of appearances, mailings, interviews, coverage, frequency, GRPS, OTS, etc.


Assessment: in order to guarantee that the media plan ensures that my target audience will see my campaign sufficiently in the right period, I recommend contracting a good media agency. Only these have the necessary technology to carry out the work correctly. Then there is always the possibility of comparing the proposals of several media agencies.


Third step: what catches one’s attention.


We therefore ask the following question: is it sufficient for a campaign to be effective that our target audience can see it? It is not. It is necessary, but not sufficient. That they are able to see it does not mean that they “see” it. The responsibility for our campaign does not go unseen and comes down to CREATIVITY.


If our commercial, radio or press ad, direct marketing action, etc., fails to catch our attention among the thousands of ads, we will once more have only gone half way.


How much money is wasted on advertising if it is not done properly! To see this, think of the advertisements you remember of the approximately 4,000 that you might have seen yesterday if you live in a large city and consume the television, radio and press media in Spain.


Everyone knows what has to be done to avoid going unnoticed, but few manage it: good creativity is that which surprises us, excites us or makes you think. Everything but leaving you indifferent. You do not necessarily have to like it to be struck by it, but your mind and heart have to be “caught”. If you do not do this, the message transmitted by creativity will not reach its target.


Assessment: Once the agency has finished its advertising materials and before they are published, a pre-test can be made to see how they affect our target audience. After the campaign a post-test can be made to see how it has worked.


Many professionals do not believe in the usefulness and objectivity of the pre-tests, some even consider them negative,  they believe that very few of the advertisements considered the best in the history of advertising would have come to light if they had seen them. Two factors take credibility from the pre-tests, one is obvious in the case of pre-testing a television commercial with a model made with storyboards. An opinion is asked for on a material, drawings, very far from what the final result will be, a marvellous commercial. It is like comparing eating a paella with reading its ingredients.


In my opinion, pre-tests are essential when the product is going to different countries or when a new product is to be launched.


The second factor is the unnatural surroundings in which people submitted to the pre-test distort their reactions and opinions. To go further into this delicate subject, I recommend one of the best books I know on advertising: “Truth, lies and advertising”, by John Steel.


Another thing are the post-tests performed after the campaign, which are necessary if we periodically do advertising and we want to know what works, what doesn’t and why.

For advertising: we will have a Research Institute and will measure:


–          The spontaneous notoriety, which is the important kind, the suggested is less important.

–          The understanding of the message to see whether what has been understood is what we intended.

–          What is most recalled from the commercial.

–          The level of persuasion with respect to other advertisements, etc. If what we have made is a promotion, what we will measure is:


In sales promotion we will assess:


–          The percentage of consumers /target that we have addressed with the promotion as compared to the total number, giving absolute figures.

–          The percentage of those who have taken part in the promotion with respect to those contacted, also in absolute terms.

–          The cost of the promotion per participant.

–          The increase in sales during the time of the promotion and the months following as opposed to the same the previous year.


If we have made a press office and public relations, we will measure:

–          The number of appearances as a result of our mailings and contacts.

–          The different types of supports.

–          The times of appearance.

–          The quality of the contents.

–          The notoriety of the news.

–          The coverage in the areas of influence.

–          The evolution of the notoriety and the positioning in public opinion.

–          At PR events; the number and profile of the people attending and the number of prescribers involved.


In any case, beyond the recall and reactions our campaign causes, if the media plan, the choice of disciplines and creativity are correct, our brand’s notoriety will have grown, more consumers than before will know it and will be able to take it into account.


A relatively easy way to achieve notoriety is with a lot of investment in media, but if our budget limits us here, which is the normal thing, we still have the correct choice of disciplines and a large, even risky, creativity.


However, another thing is that the attention that we have managed to draw to our campaign translates into purchase intention, so let’s look at the fourth step:



Fourth step: the message should motivate a purchase.

Is it sufficient for a campaign to be effective that it should have been liked, that it should have been seen and remembered by the majority of a target audience? No, once again. This is the final step, the time of truth, where the notoriety gained with the creativity must be transformed into true persuasion that positively influences the leaning towards our brand.


The responsibility for achieving this lies mainly with the strategy, with the decision of “what we are going to say and show” in our brand or product communication and what reaction we are going to cause in the target audience.


To get it right we have to think a little about in what competitive environment my product with the chosen attribute is the best option, which will generally mean addressing a certain market segment. This is the essence of the strategy with many ingredients: study, creativity, professionalism, experience and common sense.


Sometimes “the content” of the communication which arises from the strategy exceeds the “form” or creativity in its ability to catch people’s attention thanks to how new, original or even obvious the message is.


Other times campaigns that are very striking fail to work. There are generally two reasons behind this: because the creativity is so powerful that the message is “eaten”, and even the brand of the advertisement (many people remember large creative advertisements but not the brand nor the reason why this product was to be bought) or because the chosen value or attribute fails to make our product the best option in the considered environment.


Assessment: At the end of all strategies comes a choice, or in other words a discard. From the different attributes of our product, one has to be chosen.


Is it possible with a pre-test to assess what the value will be that will most motivate the purchase and see whether we beat the competition in this value? If this information is accompanied by experience, common sense and intuition of the strategy, it is possible.


In any case, in order to assess whether strategy has worked we must see two things: how the image of our brand has evolved after the campaign, seeing whether it approaches the required positioning and whether the message transmitted in the creativity is really that which has caught the target and whether the message translates into purchase intention. This is seen by the post-tests made by market research companies and how sales have evolved. In the end, if sales have evolved better than in other years, the objectives have been achieved and the only variable of the marketing mix that has changed is the communication and not the product, nor the price, nor the distribution, nor the market environment, nor the competition, we can say that the communication has been responsible for the increase in sales. The media plan, the choice of disciplines, the creativity and the strategy will have worked simultaneously. Everything has to work, which is why it is so difficult to turn advertising expenditure into a good investment; however, when it is achieved, it is the best investment.


Finally, we have to measure the medium-long term efficacy achieved by the accumulation of advertising campaigns using the assessment of the “value of the brand”. If the agency with its experience and work has managed to define a long-term brand view and a strategic communication plan to achieve the view with the correct use of the different communication disciplines, the value of the brand achieved with time will be high, and therefore too the return on investment made in commercial communication.


This value is defined by the percentage of consumers who prefer my brand at a certain time and how much more they are willing to pay than for the competition