Hula Hoops - emphasising the core values of the brand
A United Biscuits case study

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Page 8: Focusing the advertising

In preparing to advertise there was certainly no shortage of data on who buys, who eats, where, when and why.

However, this identified a difficulty for advertising in the shape of the brand's breadth. Hula Hoops are consumed by different people for different reasons. In developing the advertising strategy therefore, there was nervousness of being too selective for fear of weakening other parts of the market share. On the other hand, the advertising was desperate for the classic 'single thought' to inspire an idea. It was therefore decided to embark on a planning process of four stages:

  • Selection of creative target market
  • Finding the core benefit
  • Inspiring the core idea
  • Inspiring the executions
  • Selection of creative target market

Although Hula Hoops has a broader age profile than other child oriented snacks, the advertisers' agency and Client's recognised that a tight focus was essential if a strong idea was to be found.

The agency felt that the best area on which to focus would be the 13-15 year olds. This group was old enough to be 'aspirational' for younger children without straying into the exclusive world of teenage advertising. By focusing on this group it made it possible to appeal to the child in everyone.

  • Finding the core benefit

Research was carried out to identify the core benefit of the product for consumers. The resulting evidence indicated that the majority of Hula Hoops benefits derive simply from its shape. The product is not just potato - it's air as well! The ring shape is the secret of its finger play, its crunch, its feeling of substantiality, even the way it breaks down in the mouth into a satisfying potatoey eat.

This core benefit was therefore expressed as 'everything stems from the shape'. To drive this message through into advertising it was necessary to link the shape to specific benefits.

  • Inspiring the core creative idea

Much energetic work went into creating exciting ideas. Of course, lateral thinking approaches were used. One of these involved making some flat Hula Hoops using water and a microwave oven. The results were inevitably some of the least appetising and dullest food items ever created!

However, they proved to be the catalysts for - the idea! .......

If Hula Hoops are not round they lose everything - their identity as well as their product appeal. This area appeared to be exciting - one that was opened up by an unconventional approach to creative development.

Instead of carrying out concept testing, groups of 13-15 year old boys and girls were invited in friendship pairs to become part of the creative briefing. Creative teams were encouraged to help 'moderate' the discussion and explore what the Hula Hoops shape meant to them. Several expressions of shape were discussed and it was clear the best was: 'You can' change the shape of Hula Hoops'

This target group of consumers actively objected to a change of shape, and when it was highlighted, reminded consumers what they personally enjoy most about the brand. This also meant that communication would work most effectively if the specific benefits remained implicit.

To sum up the idea, the creative team coined a succinct and positive line:

'Hula Hoops, they'll be a-round forever.'

*This is now the most widely recognised endline in crisp and snack advertising.

  • Developing the executions

The creative team quickly identified the potential fit between this core idea and comedy duo the Self Righteous Brothers - Frank and George Doberman. Who better to say 'Oi...No, you can't change the shape of Hula Hoops!'

The teenage 'consultants' whom the advertising agency used provided insights into the type of humour they liked and why. The Dobermans (as opposed simply to the comedians who play them) really tap the mood of this age group, who are at a stage between conformity and rebellion. The brothers almost uniquely combine both elements. Their humour is 'edgy' enough to appeal to younger teenagers but sufficiently close to the tradition of British comic situations to have broad appeal.

Three executions were created - Edmonds, Minogue and Venables. The slight digs at these popular 'institutions' add both breadth and stature to the idea. The advertising agency rightly believed that 'Oi....No!' had lots of potential for mimicry and would quickly become part of popular folk culture. The expression also began to appear in the tabloids, on TV and on radio. The 'Oi...No' was then used on a series of 6 sheet posters supporting and extending the TV presence.

The advertising campaign proved to be an outstanding success. The net result of the advertising and other promotional activities was to raise the overall market's understanding of the brand, its core values, and its principal benefits.

United Biscuits | Hula Hoops - emphasising the core values of the brand