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At MI we accelerate growth for challenger brands, working collaboratively with our clients to deliver immediate impact and sustainable growth. This concept is not new, but its highly effective when executed well. We see it exemplified by leading brands every day. Our team is always on the lookout for the latest inspiration from innovative brands, agencies and media owners adopting the “accelerate growth” concept. On this note, we wanted to share some of the lessons we’ve learnt from brands along the way. 

Our New Business Director, Nicole Allan, is going to kick off the series with an oldy-but-goody: Direct Line’s The Fixer. 

Marketing Insight: how Direct Line took on price comparison sites 

In 2013, Direct Line’s position in the market was faltering. With the increasing dominance of price comparison sites, its ‘come to us direct’ approach wasn’t having the same pull. One effect of price comparison sites on the insurance market was that they were forcing a race to the bottom. Price alone was driving consumer behaviour and brand loyalty was hard to build. 

Understanding that joining the race to becoming the lowest priced insurer wouldn’t turn around its decline in revenue, Direct Line decided to focus on brand, instilling a new brand direction across every element of its business. The brand understood that consumers don’t spend their days dreaming about the events when they have to call up their insurers. In fact, they turn to insurers in a moment of need when they just want their problem to be fixed. With this marketing insight in mind, Direct Line decided to reinvent itself as ‘The Fixer’ brand. 

Media Innovation: introducing Winston Wolf’s ‘The Fixer’ 

Working with creative agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, Direct Line looked to the ultimate Fixer, Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf, to sell its new ‘We’re on it’ brand proposition to consumers. The campaign launched in a 30-second TV spot opening with the line, “I’m Winston Wolf, I fix problems”, with Harvey Keitel’s character shown fixing a range of customers’ insurance problems. When it launched, Direct Line Group’s then marketing director, Mark Evans, commented to Campaign Magazine, “The idea of being a ‘fixer’ is a re-frame of the role of insurance. Rather than believing that we can ‘protect’ our customers, we simply want to make their problems disappear with as little hassle as possible.” The TV ad was supported by activity across geo-synchronised OOH, mobile & radio, direct mail and social media.  

This fixer mentality wasn’t just about the external advertising campaign, but about a real step change in how the business operated internally and for its customers. Direct Line decided to go nation-wide with its #DirectFix campaign, using social listening to hear the gripes of the nation and fix their everyday problems. Evans told the story of one Direct Line staffer who, “picked up a tweet from a customer complaining he couldn’t watch a boxing match because his television hadn’t arrived. He drove home got his own television and delivered it to the customer.”  

That same year, the UK was hit by devastating floods with Carlisle being one of the worst hit areas. Direct Line diverted its team and delivered over 100 #DirectFix boxes containing everything from portable phone chargers to treats for children to those customers affected by the floods.

Accelerating Growth: what lessons can we learn? 

In the year following the launch of its ‘We’re on it’ positioning and Fixer campaign, according to Hall & Partners 2016 Ad and Brand Tracker, Direct Line became the most distinctive brand in the market. It was also voted the most empathetic company on Twitter by the Harvard Business Review. Most importantly, by January 2015 Direct Line had halted five consecutive years of decline and reversed the business’s overall revenue, a year ahead of target. 

In today’s economic climate, the results of Direct Line’s Fixer campaign are a worthy reminder that consumers will pay a premium for the things they care about. It also highlights the important role the marketing team can play in making a step change across a business. By fostering a culture where innovation is reality, not just empty words, Evans said that the marketing team, “gained stature with our CEO and we certainly have a bigger share of voice across the company.” 

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We are excited to announce our involvement in the digital marketing course at the Claude Littner Business School (CLBS), University of West London (UWL).

Our CEO, David Sequeira along with the data & digital teams will be educating students on media business strategy, the role of a media and planning agency and working effectively to deliver for clients. We are also joined on the module by data technology solutions provider, Onepoint and Daniel Levine, Founder & CEO of Tryb with expertise in content creation and influencer marketing.

We’re privileged to have been asked to participate in something which gives our team the opportunity to share our specialist digital marketing knowledge, a keen focus area for our agency as we continue to push forwards with digital innovation. It is brilliant to have a hand in introducing exciting future talent to the industry who one day may end up being digital leaders themselves. We value the importance of giving back as a business as part of our corporate responsibility strategy .

The course is run by university tutor, Colin Webb who has had an influential and entrepreneurial career in media, holding various Non-Exec, CEO and MD roles building businesses in media across FMCG, Healthcare, B2B and Financial Services sectors globally, among other ventures.

Other members of the MI team will be joining David to deliver specific sessions and workshops across a range of specialistic topics. The course will go into depth on improving reach via digital channels; optimisation, selection and integration of digital channels and developing data-driven digital channel optimisation plans. The aim is to provide students with real life experience to build their career profiles.

 

David comments “Being involved in this new digital marketing module at UWL is valuable for MI. It reminds us why we do what we do and it gives me and the agency the opportunity to give back by sharing our knowledge and experience. It’s going to be exciting to see students engage, hear their ideas and see the journey they’ll go on throughout.

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A month in and there’s already a dynamic outlook for the year ahead in the ad industry. As an agency we have forecast some interesting themes which will shape the work we are doing with clients and the journeys we choose to take new clients on. Here’s three trends which have caught our attention over the month of January that we think will have some influence this year.

Private equity interest in media and advertising businesses

In the current economic climate with high interest rates and ongoing inflation, we’re seeing a potential shift in investor focus towards our sector. The media industry is known for being low in capital requirements but high in cash generation, making it attractive to private equity investors.

But why the sudden interest from private equity? Well, it’s pretty simple. Businesses that generate cash consistently and don’t need a lot of capital are particularly appealing when borrowing costs are high. Private equity firms are recognising this and are actively acquiring companies in our sector to create larger, more competitive entities.

The appeal of cash-generative businesses becomes even more apparent in a high-interest-rate environment, where leveraging debt is a common investment strategy. Private equity firms typically bid for companies, borrow the rest of the money, and then aim to quickly repay the debt to maximise returns. And to do that successfully, you need a business that generates reliable cash flow.

So, it’s no surprise that private equity firms are becoming increasingly interested in what we have to offer. Our sector’s adaptability to digital trends and innovative solutions in content creation, distribution and advertising technology make it an attractive investment opportunity. However, there are challenges such as regulatory scrutiny and competition from tech giants that investors need to consider. Overall, the media and advertising sectors are seen as lucrative investment opportunities for private equity firms looking for high returns.

 

Brand experiences – what’s sparking interest

There’s been attention drawn to some compelling trends in consumer brand experiences, in a recent report shaped by market intelligence tools, social listening and AI audience profiling.  There are themes to draw out from some of the findings which range from being fun or useful to being human and playing into what the industry has been talking about early in the year at various predictions events.

One brand experience trend is referred to as “Kidulting rules”. It’s an experience that allows adults to indulge their inner child and access a state of mind that takes them back to their childhood, offering fun, nostalgia and prompting an emotional connection. It’s quite an interesting advertising technique given the pressures on people in today’s tough climate and allows a sense of escapism.

Then there’s “The age of AI”. We hear AI mentioned daily and it’s impossible not to talk about how it could revolutionise many things in our industry, one of which is brand experience. There’s risk involved of course and advertisers need to act with caution, but there’s also many benefits to be had, particularly when defining yourself against a competitive market using data and measurement to access key insights.

Additionally and very importantly, “Bringing ‘human’ to B2B” encompasses a shift towards B2B advertising becoming more relatable. We know emotion is important in the storytelling of a campaign and B2B brands are now recognising that this strategy can work well for them. It’s helps build trust, relatability and it makes something which could be quite cold and corporate, personal. On the theme of bringing emotion to a campaign, connecting with audiences and feeling human, MI recently  for our client Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) with Good Agency, shedding light on Motor Neurone Disease and the effect it has on lives and families. Titled “The Love Inside,” it’s a campaign we’re immensely proud of.

 

The evolving AV landscape

The digitisation of traditional TV poses a significant challenge in planning, buying, and measuring AV campaigns, requiring media experts to adapt to changing consumer behaviours.

It’s apparent that TV advertising is changing as more people use CTV, live and on-demand platforms. These platforms are transforming how ads are delivered, offering more personalised and interactive experiences. Streaming services allow advertisers to target specific audiences better using data, and they can now incorporate interactive elements like QR codes and second-screen experiences to engage viewers. This shift from traditional TV methods to more tailored approaches mirrors strategies seen in digital advertising. It’s a topic at MI we’re plugged into and have provided thoughts on recently.

However, linear TV remains important, especially for certain advertisers. At MI, we recognise the value in traditional TV and use it to client’s advantage when it’s the most effective choice for their strategy. Linear TV still offers broad reach and diverse demographics, making it suitable for brand awareness campaigns aimed at a wide audience. Linear TV combined strategically with digital campaigns will increase overall reach and frequency across platforms, a strategy we excel in executing for our clients. Also, advanced analytics are increasingly used to measure the impact of linear TV ads and refine targeting strategies. Advertisers leverage these insights to create more relevant and effective TV ads, ensuring that linear TV remains relevant and effective in the digital age.

 

Sources:

The Media Leader – PE Article  

Campaign – Top 10 brand experience trends 2024

The 2024 Advertising Landscape: Key Trends and Strategies for Media Buyers | LinkedIn

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Appointment comes alongside two promotions within the data team.

As featured in Campaign’s Movers & Shakers update today, MI Media has appointed Jack Glover to the new role of senior data analyst to support the increasing volume of data analytics and modelling work the agency is undertaking for clients including The Children’s Society and Kindred.

Alongside this appointment, MI Media has made two internal promotions. George Hobday has been promoted to Head of Digital and Data, taking the lead on the strategic direction of MI Media’s data solutions for its clients. Femi Allen has been promoted to Data Analyst in recognition of the work he has done in integrating clients’ first party data into MI’s measurement solutions to improve insights into the impact of marketing activity on clients’ businesses.

Reporting into George Hobday, Glover will lead MI’s development of improved data architecture, bolstering the existing team’s modelling capabilities to improve efficiencies in data analysis.

Glover joins MI Media from OMD UK where he was responsible for delivering insight from marketing mix models to brands such as McDonalds, to aid strategic planning around marketing budget allocation and resource distribution.

David Sequeira, CEO, MI Media said, “Robust data analytics has long been integral to clients’ marketing strategies. Jack joins the team with a proven track record of translating complex data sets into actionable insights to drive reactive and strategic marketing decisions. Together with George, Femi and the rest of the team, we’re perfectly positioned to evaluate media activity’s impact on business-critical metrics and empower marketing teams to make better-informed media decisions faster.” 

Glover said, “I’m hugely excited to join the team at MI Media. I believe in the power of leveraging data analytics and machine learning for marketing purposes, something MI has placed at the heart of its strategy for 2024. Already I have seen the effects of the great employee recognition and supportive team environment that MI prides itself on and look forward to continuing the hard work of the team here.” 

Student’s from Langley Academy School join us to get an insight into the media industry

On 15 November we participated in the IPA’s Advertising Unlocked Open Day to showcase a career in media and advertising to the next generation of talent.

It is the largest industry-wide “Open Day” in the UK and a fantastic initiative from the IPA that we are delighted to be a part of. Advertising Unlocked introduces new, potentially unconsidered career options to school and college students, and provides agencies like MI with an audience of diverse talent.

We had the privilege of The Langley Academy school/college based in Langley, Slough joining us for the day, at our offices in Southwark.

We had a full schedule planned for the 12 students, including a deep dive into offline and online media channels, working on a demanding media brief and getting the opportunity to ask questions about the industry and career paths in a Q&A.

It was a brilliant day hosting the students, witnessing their drive and enthusiasm. We had a total of seven presenters from MI leading discussions across all parts of the business. We hope the students were inspired and we could contribute to their knowledge in the media industry and maybe we will see some of them in the future!

 

“Thanks so much for today, it was great and we very much enjoyed our time with your friendly, welcoming team! The students were very interested and learnt a lot about advertising and marketing; they enjoyed the tasks and engaging with the team and took on board the practical and useful careers advice. We would highly recommend this experience to others!”

Ruth Turner
Careers Officer