I really do put that *&%$ on everything!

Coming out of Charing Cross station this morning I was delighted to be presented with a free sample of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Now for those of you who don’t know, Frank’s Red Hot is a brand of pepper sauce that works on just about everything. Milder than Tabasco, it doesn’t blow your head off, but just adds an extra something to any savoury dish. I recently discovered it in my local Sainsburys and I’ve been addicted ever since. My wife actually thinks I’ve ruined my tastebuds because of it.

Considering that, I was very pleased to see this new ad campaign from Frank’s

This campaign just brought home to me something that I’ve known for a while but have only really been putting into practice recently – that often the most important role of advertising is to engage with loyal supporters rather than acquiring new users. My good friend at Mediation (see left) once ran a debate where he stated that THE ONLY role of advertising was to reward and engage with loyal users. At the time he was shouted down, but I have to say I’m starting to agree with him.

Take this Franks example. I first became aware of their campaign on the radio earlier this week whilst doing DIY on my kitchen. I was more excited than is reasonable to be about a radio ad saying “I do, I do, I do put that shit on everything”. I proceeded to tell my wife about it and then look it up on the internet and found the US TV ads which I “Liked” on my Facebook profile. Suddenly in my head I went from being a weird bloke who put pepper sauce on all his food to being part of a club of weird blokes and one potty mouthed granny who put pepper sauce on all their food.

Then when I received two free sachets at Charing Cross this morning, I received them with glee and put them straight into my bag, then when I got to work I gave one to a colleague who I know likes spicy food and I’ve told at least 4 or 5 people today about it.(I told you, I’m weird) Suddenly, this ad campaign has changed my relationship with this brand. It has changed me from being someone who just consumed a pepper sauce product regularly to someone who is a now a Frank’s Evangelist. I’ve now discovered that the person who sits next to me is also a lover of Frank’s but until this campaign came around I’ve had no reason to bring it up so lived in tragic ignorance of the pepper soul mate to my left.

OK, maybe I’m getting a bit too excited about this, but to a certain extent it has turned my perception of the role of certain comms channels on it’s head. I would always assumed that the role of product sampling was to get new users to try a product – surely it wasn’t about generating loyalty with existing consumers, but certainly in this instance, I believe that the primary benefit to the brand of this sampling activity will be the effect that it has on loyal users. I struggle to believe that many people will douse their favourite food in an obscure condiment just because it was handed to them at a tube station, but I do believe that there will be a number of people like me who now feel empowered and enabled to tell their friends about their dirty little habit and even pass them a sample – even write a blog that at least one person might read.

I believe that this principle applies to a great deal of advertising. Most people’s true brand perceptions are formed by their hands on experience of that brand. Trial drives awareness more than awareness drives trial. Therefore often the role of advertising is actually to enable fans of a product to crystallise their existing opinion of a product and feel comfortable both consuming and recommending it rather than creating the perception in the first place. This is starting to seem more and more obvious to me, but it simply isn’t the way that any of my clients talk about the role of communications at the moment.

OK, Food geek out!

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