Advertising and other forms of communication tools in the marketing plan play different roles and are in their own ways effective in pursuing and attracting customers but one common purpose they fulfill is to build and increase brand equity and effectively position the brand among the consumers. Reflecting upon the customer based equity model, one comes to find that the marketing communications have a big role to play in building up brand equity through brand awareness; points of parity and point of differentiation for the consumers for the brand; giving out positive memory associations with the brand for the consumers and building a stronger relationship of the consumers with the brand with connections and resonance with the brand that is unique in nature (Biel, 2000). Along with establishing the desired positioning and knowledge association with the brand, marketing communication programs can provide incentives eliciting the distinctive customer response that paves way for brand equity. For Bulldog, a well-crafted marketing communications can do wonders for building a strong brand image, position and equity among its target customers: the men. But the challenge is to incorporate the right communication methods in the communication mix to make the overall marketing communication plan effective. The company may have to move ahead of the traditional Television advertising and look ahead for new forms of mediums that can prove faster communication and attraction of the audience. Therefore, for the selection of the tools to use in the plan are based on a selection criteria and each assessed using the importance of SOSTAC model. The flexibility of marketing communications comes in part from the number of different ways that can contribute to building the brand equity of Bulldog. At the same time, brand equity would help marketers determine how to design and implement different marketing communication options. The paper will discuss the role that marketing communications can play for building the brand equity and brand image of Bulldog Brand, the importance of the SOSTAC model for the various elements in the communication mix of the marketing plan, whether the emotional connection as proposed is effective in contrast with the rational association that the brand has been previously building and finally how relevant the Wharton’s article about the future of advertising is for the marketing of Bulldog Brand.
Marketing Communications Theory and Models
Marketing communications refer to the tools and methods employed to inform, convince and attract consumers about the benefits that the company has to offer to the consumers in the form of products or services (Bowesox, 1992). Marketing communications speak for the brand delivering the message that the brand entails through its performance, which once communicated to the consumer effectively brings them on the purchase decision and further to build strong profitable relationships (Kotler and Keller, 2005).
Marketing communications perform a major role in the overall marketing of the brand and offer a direct communication channel with the consumers. Through marketing communications consumers get to know about the product, what it does and how it can help them solve a problem as well as where to obtain it. Also, marketing communications deliver information about the company and creates goodwill for it in doing so (Kotler and Amstrong, 1999). Companies also use marketing communications to establish connections and associations with places, people and celebrities, events, experiences and emotions (Norgan, 1994).
In order to produce an effective marketing communications mix, it is essential to first identify the target audience, followed by determining the communications objectives which can be related brand awareness, brand attitude, brand purchase intention, or category need. Then after these two steps we develop the communications with either informational appeals that elaborate on the product’s performance or transformation appeals that elaborate the non-product related benefits (Bowesox, 1992).
Being introduced in a time of stiff competition and changing marketing scenario, Bulldog is to incorporate the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications in its marketing plan. Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is an evolved concept of marketing communications which takes into account the holistic importance of marketing communications, and not considers the communications plan as a separate function. It makes use of the added advantage of building up a plan that has integration with all communications (Kotler and Keller, 2005).
Building up a marketing communications has its own challenges. Skillfully designed and implemented marketing communications programs require careful planning and a create knack. Some useful tools may provide Bulldog some perspective.
A number of different models have been put forth over the years to put forth over the years to explain communications and the steps in the persuasion process. Bulldog’s marketing communications have to be infused with the consideration of the following steps: (1) exposure, where a person must see or listen to the message; (2) attention, where a person must take notice of the message being communicated; (3) comprehension, where a person must understand the message being delivered; (4) yielding where a person must react just as expected by the marketers; (5) intentions, where a person must intend to respond in the expected behavior tha the communication was planned for; and (6) behaviour, where a person must actually act in the expected behavior directed by the communication.
Each of these steps has to occur for a consumer to be persuaded. If there is a shortfall or failure in any step along the way, then successful communication will not result for Bulldog brand. From an advertising standpoint, the ideal ad campaign for Bulldog would ensure that: (1) the male target audience is exposed to the right message at the right place and at the right time; (2) the creative strategy for the advertising causes the consumer to notice and attend to the ad but does not distract from the intended message that the brand is a male brand with the persona of loyalty and masculinity; (3) the ad properly reflects the consumer’s level of understanding about Bulldog; (4) the ad correctly positions Bulldog in terms of desirable and deliverable points of difference and points of parity; (5) the ad motivates consumers to consider purchase of Bulldog; and (6) the ad creates strong brand associations to all of these stored communications effects so that they can have an effect when consumers are considering making a purchase (Percey, 2008).
Now, the discussion rolls towards the amounts and kinds of marketing communications necessary to gain the customers. Economic theory suggests placing pounds into a marketing communication budget and across communication options according to marginal revenue and cost. For example, the communication mix would be optimally distributed when the last dollar spent on each communication option generated the same return. Because such information may be difficult to obtain, however, other models of budget allocation emphasize more observable factors such as stage of brand life cycle, objectives, and budget of the firm, product characteristics, size of budget, and media strategy of competitors. These factors are typically contrasted with the different characteristics of the media.
Marketing Communications Tools for Bulldog Brand
The marketing communications plan comprises the following modes of communication.
Advertising is a paid medium whereby presentation and promotion of messages and ideas of goods and services can take place with financial investment from the companies.
Television – It is a powerful medium of advertising which allows for sight, sound and motion to reach to the audience on a broad level. All UK households have televisions, and the amount of time that television sets are on each day, on average, is a staggering seven hours. The wide reach of TV advertising translates to low cost per exposure. From a brand equity perspective, TV advertising has two particularly important strengths. First, it effectively and vividly demonstrates product attributes and persuasively explains their corresponding consumer benefits. Second, TV advertising can be a compelling means for dramatically portraying user, imagery, persona of the brand, and other brand intangibles. For this reason, TV remains to be an effective medium for Bulldog (Mandese, 1999).
In designing and evaluating an ad campaign, marketers for Bulldog would have to distinguish the message strategy or positioning of the ad from its creative strategy. Designing effective advertising campaigns is both an art and a science: the artistic aspects relate to the creative strategy and the brand claim information the ad contains. Thus, the two main concerns in devising an advertising strategy are as follows: (1) defining the proper positioning to maximize brand equity; and (2) identifying the best creative strategy to communicate or convey the desired positioning (Edell, 1990).
Wharton presents highly relevant ideas that Bulldog can use and incorporate in its marketing communication plans. But there are certain additional evolutions in the advertising scenario that also need to be considered. The media environment has changed dramatically in recent years. Traditional advertising media such as TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers seem to be losing their grip on consumers. After the dot-com crash and subsequent hangover in the early 2000s, marketers returned to the web with vengeance, pouring $18 billion into internet advertising in 2005. Although web advertising jumped 20percent during this time, spending for TV ads remained a lot (Smith, 2008).
The prognosis for TV advertising going forward is not necessarily good. With more cable companies building TiVo like digital video recorders (DVRs) into their digitals in the set boxes, household penetration of DVR in the UK was expected to jump to 33percent by 2008. One survey found that almost three-quarters of users of DVRs frequently or always skip over ads when watching recorded programs. Increased fragmentation from the proliferation of satellite and cable channels is only exacerbated the problem.
Although media rates have continued to climb, viewership and readership for some key demographics such as teenagers continue to slide. The results of Forrester research survey of online 12-17 year olds revealed that 94% owned a game console of some kind, two thirds considered themselves to be active gamers, and more than 50% of males said they “ would rather play video games than watch TV” (Wilson, 1998).
Paid search services from Yahoo! And Google have exploded to become a $3 billion industry. Consumers are actively creating and sharing content online as consumer communities and blogs have been created on virtually all topics. Seventy two present of teens exchange instant messages (IMs) each day and 64 million UK residents use some type of IM application. Cell phones are becoming a critical devise for far more than phone conversations. Wharton also gives due credit to social networking websites in their captivation of a mass audience. For Bulldog this presents a rather effective medium to reach out to interactive males who search for brands online to associate with their personalities (Keller, 2002).
This changing media landscape has forced marketers to revaluate how they should communicate with consumers. Bulldog has to do the same. However in the new computer era, the future of television and traditional mass marketing advertising is uncertain. In 2004, Procter and Gamble CMO Jim Stengel gave a sobering report to the advertising industry. Stengle pointed out that although new media were now abundant, marketers and agencies were not using or measuring them sufficiently. He noted how 90% of P&G’s global ad spending was on TV in 1994, but one of its most successful brand launches in history, for Prislosec OTC in 2003, allocated only about one-quarter of its spending to TV (Albeny, 2008).
Other advertisers have stated they will eventually bypass ad agencies via interactive shopping channels, CD Rom catalogues, multimedia kiosks, and online services. Nevertheless, at least for some, the power of TV ads remains. As one advertising executive put it, “Nothing competes with prime time television when it comes to communicating with a mass audience. Other mediums can’t entertain and inform in the same captivating way” (Lodish, 1999).
Radio is a persuasive medium: 96% of all British 12 years and older listen to the radio daily and on average over 20 hours a week. Perhaps the main advantage to radio flexibility – stations are highly targeted, ads are relatively inexpensive to produce, place, and short closings allow for quick responses. Radio may be effective for Bulldog, but cannot be used as a the major medium.
Print media offer a stark contrast to broadcast media. Most important because they are self-placed, magazines and newspapers can provide detailed product information. At the same time, the static nature of the visual images in print media makes it difficult to provide dynamic presentations or demonstrations. Another disadvantage of print advertising is that it can be a fairly passive medium. Bulldog is already employing this medium which is quite effective to pursue further.
Direct Response - In contrast to advertising in traditional broadcast and print media, which typically communicates to consumers in a non-specific and nondirective manner, direct response uses mail, telephone, internet, and various other forms of non-personal means to communicate with the consumers to generate favorable responses. Direct response can take many forms and is not restricted to solicitations by mail, telephones, or even within traditional broadcast and print media, and can prove effective for Bulldog as it can communicate directly with its male audience, with features such as those relating to natural masculinity that the brand relates to.
Websites – the main advantages and disadvantages to marketing on the Web are the low cost, and the level of detail and degree of customization it offers. By capitalizing on its interactive nature marketers of Bulldog can construct Web sites that allow any consumer to choose the brand information relevant to his or her needs or desires. Interactive marketing can thus pave the way for solid relationship building. In creating creative online information sources for consumers at Bulldog website, marketers can deliver timely and reliable information.
Sales promotion is a mix of various monetary and non-monetary benefits that are offered on an short term basis to increase sales by encouraging consumers to purchase (Station, 1994).
Events and Experiences
Sponsoring events is a very emerging promotional tool that has high potential for marketing success for the companies. These offer the companies to establish a direct contact with the consumers who attend the event. Companies finance various events that relate to the benefits that they offer to consumers through their brands, which in turn allows them to increase their brand recalls. Bulldog can utilize event sponsorships to build an effective brand image of masculinity where its mascot can be displayed (Crimmins, 1993).
Relevance of SOSTAC
The elements which are most crucial for Bulldog in the marketing communications plan in the SOSTAC model are: strategy, tactics and action.
This has been already developed for the brand, which is targeted at males and positioned based on the natural ingredients it offers the males. This strategy is used as communication objectives for the marketing communications plan. The strategy includes the target market, segmentation, positioning and the targets to be achieved. The communication mix is entirely based on the strategy thus has high relevance in the communication plan as it gives direction to the entire plan (Norgan, 1994).
The Tactics element of SOSTAC has the major role to play in the marketing communication plan for Bulldog as it defines the means and tools to bring to reality the strategy set forth earlier in the marketing plan (Kotler, 2005).
Action defines how and when the plan is to be implemented by detailing numbers, dates and action plans. Without this the plan would be incomplete.
Emotional Connections with Consumers Vs Rational Elements of the Brand
It would be wrong to say that since the brand is for males it need not have any emotional association to be developed with the target market. The brand has its own brand persona, which is loyalty and the true means of masculinity which improves the natural male look. Thus, as well as communicating the rational elements of the brand it is essential that the brand communicates its brand persona and develops an emotional association with the target market. Emotional association allows a stronger brand loyalty and relationship to be developed with the customers. Males do have emotionality not similar to women of course but slightly different in transition. Males are seriously involved in the brands of cigarettes and technological gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops and various different types of software. Since Bulldog is a brand with personality it can easily develop emotional association with the customers. This can be effectively executed through advertising to infuse such association into the minds of the audience.
For Bulldog, a well-crafted marketing communications can do wonders for building a strong brand image, position and equity among its target customers: the men. But the challenge is to incorporate the right communication methods in the communication mix to make the overall marketing communication plan effective. Marketing communications perform many functions for the consumers. Consumers can be told or shown how and why a product is used, by what kind of person, and where and when consumers can learn about who makes the product and what the company and brand stand for, and consumers can be given an incentive or reward for the trail, or usage. Building up a marketing communications has its own challenges. Skilfully designed and implemented marketing communications programs require careful planning and a create knack. Some useful tools may provide Bulldog some perspective. The major means of communication which the brand can use are advertising on the television, print, billboards and radio. Other than that online medium is a fast growing medium which the brand can also use to effectively communicates the message that the brand of Bulldog is to entail. It would be wrong to say that since the brand is for males it need not have any emotional association to be developed with the target market. The brand has its own brand persona, which is loyalty and the true means of masculinity which improves the natural male look. Thus, as well as communicating the rational elements of the brand it is essential that the brand communicates its brand persona and develops an emotional association with the target market.