Noel Leeming has invested roughly $5 million into revamping its offering in a move that will see the company’s 77 stores emblazoned with a new logo and reconfigured to reflect some key changes.
To announce the repositioning of the brand in the market, Noel Leeming has released a series of three TVCs that have come as a pleasant addition to a category that is usually inundated with shouty advertising focused on sales and products.
The three 30-second spots, conceptualised by FCB and shot by Finch, feature a solitary actor delivering a stream-of-consciousness styled speech on a product while the camera zooms in on his face (each clip was a single shot, and all three were filmed on the same day).
Given that the ads are unashamedly irreverent with descriptors such as ‘mummy daddy time-maker’, ‘55-inch family glue’, and ‘blender of destinies’, it’s somewhat surprising that Noel Leeming has taken such an unconventional route.
“It’s quite different for the category to do something distinctive,” says FCB executive creative director Regan Grafton. “And the client was really brave. They actually wanted to feel a bit uncomfortable about what we were going to present. And we presented some other concepts that were also more bizarre, but to their credit they went with it. They understood that they needed to do something distinctive. They put a lot of trust in the agency.”
Interestingly, these sentiments echo with those of brand expert Marty Neumeier, who at the recent ‘StopPress Presents’ event pointed out that most successful brands made marketers and consumers feel uncomfortable when they were first released on the market. In explaining this concept, he used the example of the Aeron office chair, which despite being considered ugly, weird and bizarre upon its release, went on to dominate its market.
This insight serves as one of the key premises of his new book ‘The Designful Company,’ which argues that brands need to be ‘good and different’ in order to succeed. And a point he makes often is that advertising alone doesn’t define how a brand is perceived by individuals; there has to be something more on offer.
FCB’s head of planning David Thomason concurs with these sentiments and says that Noel Leeming’s willingness to change various aspects of its offering has allowed the company to become the market leader in New Zealand.
“It’s great to have a client that actually wants to change stuff, because you get a lot of clients that just want you to produce a new campaign,” says Thomason. “And they think that will have a dramatic effect on the business, but they don’t change. This is the opposite way around. Our client Tim [Edwards], the chief executive at Noel Leeming, has made a whole lot of changes right from the ground up.”
In addition to refreshing the logo, Noel Leeming has also introduced Tech Solutions and Open Learning centres, a pair of educational services that help customers make better use of products that they have purchased from the stores
According to Grafton, Tech Solutions is a service that assists customers in connecting and setting up their devices, while the Open Learning service functions as a class that customers can join with the aim of learning more about using a new purchase.
“The primary thing is that you choose to go to Noel Leeming in the first place because the experience goes beyond that transaction,” says Thomason. “So the big picture from Noel Leeming’s point of view is that it’s seen as a complete service and not just a sell ... They don’t just send you out of the store in the box.”
This point of difference has been carried across the new campaign with the tagline ‘Maximise your Machine,’ which aims to remind consumers that Noel Leeming gives consumers a means by which to take full advantage of products bought from one of its stores.
FCB has previously used a similarly didactic approach for Mitre 10 in launching the ‘Easy As’ campaign, and Thomason says that there are definitely some parallels between that example and what Noel Leeming is doing now.
“With Mitre 10, their main competitor just goes on about price and product,” says Thomason. “Mitre 10 have got a huge advantage in the ‘Easy As’ initiative, where the company takes you all the way through to make sure you make the most out of it by actually completing a job. They just want to leap ahead of the competitor, and I think this is the equivalent: Noel Leeming is now taking a leap ahead of Harvey Norman, because it is now more than a place where you just go for transactions.”
Thomason says that the inspiration for the campaign came from the stories of people who had benefitted from Noel Leeming’s learning resources in the past.
“I think the category didn’t have much emotion associated with it. So to get our heads around this and show that [there was emotion] in the stores but not in the marketing, we collected all these stories from the open learning centres. There were all these beautiful stories, but one of the most memorable stories was of a Korean grandmother who was learning to use an iPad. And during the session, they set up Skype and called her grandchildren. It was the first time she had ever seen her children in real life.”
Thomason says that while this informed the brief to some degree, FCB didn’t want to present such a serious message for the rebrand—which explains why the agency went for the trio of quirky spots instead.
And while FCB conceptualised the campaign to reposition the company, Thomason attributes much of the credit to Edwards, who he says had the foresight to take a risk.
“If you spend time inside a retail organisation, it takes balls to do that because they’re driven by weekly sales. So you have to have someone that has a bigger vision to invest in something that’s not going to pay off this week, but maybe in six months.”
Edwards has described the updates to Noel Leeming’s branding as an evolution rather than a revolution, saying that the core principles that have given the company success over its 44-year history have been retained.
“Everything about what Kiwis love about Noel Leeming is still here, but we’ve taken a major step forward into the future of technology and home appliances to make it easier to try out, experience, understand and enjoy,” he says.
The new brand retains the name 'Noel Leeming' and the highly recognisable red and yellow livery, but design has been updated to reflect that things have changed. And while Edwards says he is excited about the change, he admits that it wasn’t easy.
“Change is a hard thing,” he says. “Retailers are all about rhythm, and FCB did an amazing job of taking us to an uncomfortable place by showing us a wide range of different options.”
Edwards says that the rebrand would not have been possible had it not been for the input from the Warehouse Group. He says that the company’s insights and know-how have proved helpful in guiding Noel Leeming through its current rebrand.
In 2012, the Warehouse Group also changed its look and positioning in the market, a move that proved so successful that the company picked up the 2013 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Award in the retail category. More recently, the retail conglomerate also rebranded Warehouse Stationery by redesigning virtually all aspects of the brand, which was first launched in 1991.
Since acquiring Noel Leeming in 2012 for $65 million, the Warehouse Group hasn’t effected many substantial changes to the look or positioning of the company.
That being said, Noel Leeming did enjoy some success at the Beacon Awards this year for its ‘People’s Stories’ campaign, which picked up best in show, as well as three golds in retail/e-tail, best collaboration and most effective campaign.
While the campaign created in collaboration with TVNZ, APN and The Radio Bureau looked very similar to a standard retail campaign, it was in fact shot in just six hours on location, before being approved and broadcast on television.
Despite the success of this campaign, Edwards says that some consumers at a recent PR activation in Queen Street questioned why Noel Leeming had been so quiet in the market in recent months. However, this apparent silence has not interfered with the company’s financial performance.
According to the Warehouse Group’s 2013 annual report, Noel Leeming has performed well since it joined the group, with the company registering sales of $390.7 million, an operating profit of $11 million and a same-store sales growth of seven percent.
But, as evidenced by Good Guys’ recent departure from New Zealand, the electronics market is becoming increasingly challenging due to consumers now having a vast array of online options.
And in launching a rebrand with a strong didactic and personal push, Noel Leeming is not only establishing a point of difference from the bricks and mortar competitors but also from those that reside in the online realm.
Client: Noel Leeming Group
GM Marketing - Maryanne Smith
Marketing Communications Executive - Sarah Affleck
Senior Account Director: Brodie Lawry
Account Director: Michelle Koome
Head of Planning: David Thomason
Planning: Carl Sarney
Executive Creative Director: Regan Grafton
Regional ECD: James Mok
Copywriter: Matt Williams
Art Director: Freddie Coltart
Head of Content: Pip Mayne
Agency Producer: Monique Hawkins
VSFX Designer | End frame: Jared Yearsley
General Manager, PR & Activation – Angela Spain
Media Director: Terri Collier
Media planner/buyer: Sarah Bymolt
Production company: Finch
Film Company: Finch
Director: Jae Morrison
Producers: Jimena Murray | Andy Mauger
DOP: Duncan Cole
Designer: Kirsty Clayton
Editor: Tim Mauger | Julian Currin
Grade: Pete Ritchie | Blockhead
Online Editor: Andy Timms | Beryl
Sound Post: The Coopers of Franklin Road
Engineer: Jon Cooper
Producer: Pen Cooper