In 2014, Noel Leeming took a break from the regular retail approach of shouting about price and product to revamp its brand and launch a platform that focused on explaining what the items in store—and their underlying technology—enabled.
This repositioning cost the company around $5 million, and it is now looking to build on this investment by rolling out a series of new spots that again focus on telling the stories of the products.
The second big brand campaign since the rebrand is led by a TV spot that features a customer using a range of products in order to stream golf.
Noel Leeming chief executive Tim Edwards says that it while it might seem easy for the tech-savvy consumer to download an app and stream a show, this isn’t the case for many golf fans.
“The way golf is served up has changed. You used to be able to watch it on free-to-air, but now it’s only available digitally,” Edwards says. “The target customer is typically an older or retired customer, so they’re newer in the technology space.”
Edwards says the point of the campaign is to show consumers that staff at Noel Leeming are “passionate experts”, who are always on-hand to provide service advice about the products sold in its stores.
“The services aspect of our business is one of our best kept secrets. And it’s absolutely time for that to come out of the box. And I think tying this together with our products is going to land tremendously well.”
In addition to running the ad on television, Noel Leeming will also be running a native editorial and, perhaps taking a leaf out of Mitre 10's book (a fellow FCB client), a series of YouTube video clips.
“We’ve taken two traditional TVCs, cut them in more of a documentary style and made them around 40 seconds, so we can do more with them in the social environment. Then, we spin that into the native editorial piece. And on the back of that, we also have 15 snackable ‘How to’ videos.”
All of this ties into Noel Leeming’s overarching service narrative, which is not only important in the battle with the usual foes—Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and
Dick Smith—but also in terms of establishing a point of difference from the the myriad websites that now sell electronics goods online.
“You want to be super sure that when they come into the physical side of the business that it’s not going to be a replication of what’s available online,” says Edwards.
“I’ve got this beautiful picture, which I often show at our annual conferences, of a young girl on a swing outside, and the caption at the bottom says: ‘Not available online’.
Edwards says that in many ways this shift to providing a better in-store service precedes the rebrand.
“We’ve been working for five years on this, and we’ve been able to test and learn. And we’re really starting to get some great feedback from our customers. An example would be that we now get more compliments than complaints from mums, and you don’t hear that in retail. It’s harder to take the time to call and make a compliment, because at the end of the day, you don’t expect anything in return.”
Asked whether he thinks the rebrand and the change in approach was worth the $5 million price tag, Edwards doesn’t hesitate in his response.
“Definitely,” he says.
“If you go back two or three years ago, we were sitting at around the 20 to 25 percent share of the New Zealand electronics market. But we’re now sitting in the 30s or the 35s. And I’m proud as punch.”
According to Noel Leeming's financial figures, sales for the 2015 financial year amounted to $665.6m with same-store sales increasing by one percent for the year. Total sales increased by 7.3 percent.
He explains that the value in the rebrand wasn’t only about changing the way the brand looked to customers.
“The customers were probably the second ones to get the benefit. Where the change really happened was for our team, because they got a new uniform, a new logo, everything was modernised and we were able to focus on one brand in a highly competitive market. We were really able to reinvigorate the network.”
These comments resonate with those recently made by VW general manager Tom Ruddenklau who, in speaking about the emissions scandal, said that change for the organisation had to start with the staff.
“We’ve got an inside-out strategy on this,” Ruddenklau said. “Volkswagen Germany delivered us a newspaper article and told us to place it in all our major metros. It basically said, ‘We’re sorry.’ And I said, ‘It’s all very well that you apologise to the public, but what about my team? What about my guys who have worked their blood, sweat and guts out? And you want me to apologise to people who aren’t customers or my team?’ The first step is my team. The next step is my dealers. Then it’s our existing customers.”
In the latest iteration of the ‘Maximise your machine’ campaign, Noel Leeming has also focused the attention on staff, including them in the TVC and online executions.
“These stories have come out of real customers,” says Edwards. “They’re not fanciful. We went to our team and asked them to tell us their experiences, and we picked two of them.”
This creative approach is a significant—some might say safer—divergence from the previous spots that featured an actor reciting a somewhat mad script about the electronic products sold at Noel Leeming.
While Edwards admits that the creative process has changed (as have some of the creative people, with executive creative director Regan Grafton moving to Ogilvy) he says this is to be expected in the marketing industry.
“We’re one of FCB’s original major accounts,” he says. “People will come and go, and hopefully the connection is not about an individual, because if it is, then we’re in trouble … We definitely haven’t taken a backward step. If anything, we’ve had some nice, fresh thinking.”
On the topic of creativity, Noel Leeming currently finds itself in some legal difficulty with IT infrastructure and support organisation firm Network Agents on account of the similarities between their logos.
Edwards would not comment on detail given the pending court case, but he did say he’s disappointed.
“There’s no benefit in us copying anyone. If anything, what we want to do is be more unique,” he says.
“I’m supremely confident that what we did was appropriate at the time."