Stoppies 2017: Spark shines as Brand of the Year

In August, Spark rolled out its ‘Little can be huge’ campaign that celebrates the huge wins that can come from a series of little victories. It was designed to make New Zealanders consider all the victories Spark helps them to achieve but looking at Spark’s own brand work over the past year, it’s also a fitting ideology. 

In the last 12 months, it’s taken on the naming rights of Spark Arena, formed a partnership with Netflix, reduced New Zealanders to tears with a heart-warming Father’s Day spot, cut the ribbon on its final Boroughs court, introduced an unlimited mobile data plan and moved its email customers from Yahoo to Xtra Mail. 

Clive Ormerod

Clive Ormerod, general manager of customer and marketing, says those campaigns, as well as those from last year including the formation of Spark Lab and sponsoring The Spinoff’s music section, have been about putting a platform in place that allows it to set up a brand that’s sustainable for the long term.

And for its customers, it’s about building a brand that they can feel and believe plays a meaningful role in their lives or businesses.

“As a brand, how can we help you in your life? How can we help you and your business be better protected, better connected or better entertained?” says Ormerod. “That’s the bigger ambition on that we as a team are working towards.” 

With so many campaigns to roll out, it sounds like no easy task to stay on top of it all and Ormerod credits his team who are empowered and driving for the best outcomes.

“What does the customer want? How is the market moving and as a brand? How can they play an active role in New Zealanders lives and businesses?” are all things his team are always asking themselves.

Also helping to get the campaigns into market is planning, and Ormerod says his experience from prior roles, including Nike, has taught him the importance of having confidence in his plans and his ability to execute them well.

“You can have an awesome strategy, but if you can’t execute against it, it’s not really worth much.” He adds that plans also need an element of flexibility to allow for changes in the market and consumer expectations. 

But no matter how careful the planning, there is the potential for things to go awry and while it may sound risky, there can be a silver lining in how you respond and put it right. Ormerod gives the example of the move to Xtra Mail, which saw Spark seek permission from its customers to switch them over from Yahoo. Despite an eight-month project designed to guide customers through the transition on, feedback showed some customers were let down by not having their queries or mailboxes handled as they would have liked.

Spark then worked to put it right and Ormerod hopes the way in which it did that was a good reflection on of the brand’s ability to pick up on things quickly and the level of expect on it places on itself to deliver great customer experiences.

“We are always mindful we are not going to get it 100 percent right and our opportunity is how we deal with it and pick it up.” 

Looking into the future, further opportunities lie for Spark as it moves into the new year and continues to build on the campaigns its put to market this past year.

“’Little can be huge’ is a platform we see for the long term so you’ll keep seeing us telling emotional stories and delivering awesome experiences linked to that.” 

  • This story originally appeared in the Special edition of NZ Marketing magazine to celebrate the Stoppies.

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