Monthly Archives: July 2012

The key to a brand experience of Olympic proportions

Gekko Field Marketing

For many Olympic sponsors, the quality of their staff on the ground will be all important once London 2012 begins, writes Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko.

For marketers across the country, this is the week that it finally feels like the Olympics is truly upon us, with Locog’s marketing blackout coming into full force.

As well as the detailed social media guidelines for athletes, there are now the 250-plus, intimidatingly-titled ‘brand enforcers’ taking to the streets to ensure that no unofficial advertising activity takes place within the exclusion zone, which stretches up to 1km outside the Olympic park.

Certainly for marketers, it’s an unprecedented crackdown on ambush marketing. For many sponsors who have paid enormous sums to feature, they have in the past found themselves infuriated as their gold medal moment is ruined by a savvy competitor skirting the rules (Michael Jordan intentionally covering up his Reebok logo in 1992 being a memorable example).

This edition, it is unlikely even Paddy Power would be so bold as to dare intrude.

While it has been made clear that the burden of proof falls squarely upon the shoulders of the athletes, it’s time for plan B for many brands who have invested so much of their 2012 spend in associating themselves with Olympians.

With a cooling-off period also in effect after any medal win, as well as advertising within the village limited, it seems that there’s only one real opportunity left for the select few brands lucky enough to be inside the Olympic Park to provide a true brand experience and create lasting emotional connections – the staff on the ground.

The list is exclusive, but brands such as McDonald’s, Holiday Inn and Acer will all feature staff of some kind within the Olympic village, which officially opened to athletes this week.

We’ve heard how McDonald’s monopoly on Olympic food extends even as far as chips, but how can McDonald’s make this opportunity of a lifetime count?

Quite simply, it’s vital for these brands to have an army of brand-ambassadors in their ranks, ready to give a flawless experience of the brand.

As interaction at the point-of-sale becomes even more diminished (see contactless payment), I think the Olympics will be another marker that shows the growing importance of what’s traditionally labelled as the ‘sales assistant’.

In order to fully exploit this expensive, but undeniably lucrative opportunity, it begins with recruitment (a hurdle that G4S hasn’t managed to successfully navigate).

Staff need to be better educated, more enthusiastic and more charismatic than ever before – not expendable drones drafted in as and when necessary.

To approach in such a fashion wouldn’t quite be suicidal, but certainly incredibly foolhardy.

McDonald’s, for example, is doing lots to change perceptions of its employment opportunities, and, especially considering the inevitable criticisms it’ll come under as a sponsor, it will need to ensure staff are a positive aspect, not a liability.

Its drafting of Wayne Hemmingway to design new eco-friendly, Mad-men inspired uniforms, indicates it knows where its money will be made and lost.

At Gekko, we’re working with Acer in a slightly different capacity, but just as important. As the official hardware provider for the London Games, Acer will be responsible for the entire IT infrastructure across the village – including branded lounges for use by athletes and technicians on-site to provide support where necessary.

This isn’t just about the brand experience, or preventing things from going wrong – these staff will have to ensure they embody the Olympic spirit, and promote the Acer brand in line with its Worldwide Partner Status and the Olympic Spirit; the responsibility that comes with biggest sporting event in the world.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s really about being the greatest ambassador for the brand and truly recognising the world stage you are performing on.

The athletes may be competing for gold, but so are the brands too and with the world watching, experiencing and relating to your product, whether it be visitor or athlete it’s all part of your Olympic journey and our job as marketers is to make it complete.

So it is quite the daunting task, but these brands can get a real head start on what’s looking to be the evolution of the retail industry as we know it. Point of sale, promotion, direct, etc, will all have roles to play, but it is the experience that is the future.

The term brand experience is debated daily, but brands need to really start thinking seriously about just who will be delivering that experience, within the Olympics and beyond.

Full article available:

Brand Manager of the Week: Mark Nicholson

Gekko Field Marketing

Mark Nicholson – Trade marketing manager, Digital UK


Describe yourself in three words.

Friendly, honest, fair.

How would you define marketing?

Giving people the chance to benefit from your product.

What would you be if you weren’t a brand manager?


What advice would you give someone starting their marketing career today?

Take your chances.

What attracted you to your current job?

Working on a campaign that would affect every person in the UK.

When was your finest hour?

Successfully delivering training for the digital switchover to every TV retailer in the UK (although this took longer than an hour, and I needed my friends at Gekko to do so).

What’s your greatest ambition?

To keep smiling.

If you were a brand, what would you be and why?

Post-it Notes. Clever, practical and you can stick me almost anywhere – I’ll do a good job.

What is your all-time favourite slogan?

‘Beanz meanz Heinz.’

What marketing trend is dominating your job at the moment?

Retail headcount reductions leading to time-pressure in store.

What are your hobbies?

Hockey, tennis and amateur dramatics.

If you weren’t you, who would you be?

Clive Anderson.

What makes you angry?

Email conversations instead of proper ones.

What is your favourite pub?

My house; the company’s good and the refreshments are always to my taste.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Liverpool beating Manchester United to win the Premier League (with me at the match); safe and secure future for my family; and more wishes.

What have been your best and worst freebies?

The best was when we flew customers to Euro 2004. The worst? An unsolicited, branded mouse mat.

What headline would you most like to read in Marketing?

‘Jargon banned from marketing meetings’.

Innovation ensures success

Gekko Field Marketing

Brands seeking to connect with consumers in person need to take a creative, integrated approach.  Marketing Magazine features Gekko’s work with Freeview


Brand Q&A: James Chambers, Freeview

What did you do?
To refresh the Freeview brand and promote the benefits of HD, we ran a campaign in key shopping destinations in the run-up to Christmas. Our stand attracted visitors via games and a photo booth, where they could receive a photo to keep. To drive data capture, we ran a prize draw for a 3D Blu-ray home cinema system donated by Panasonic. There were also sales demonstrators in nearby retailers.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
To cut through and distract people on a mission to shop. We used creative, fun ways to distract them and alleviate the Christmas-shopping stress.

Did digital play a part?
We used Facebook and Twitter to talk about the campaign.

Was there anything about your agency’s approach that contributed to the campaign’s success?
Its efficiency and imagination. The team just gets on with it, with minimum fuss.

Were you satisfied that it met your objectives?
Absolutely. We’re not about the hard sell, but creating empathy and understanding of the brand. The activity achieved this in spades. We gained very positive feedback from having a “face” to the brand, where people could ask questions and gain straight answers.

What would you improve about this campaign if you did it again?
Optimise the games. The photo booth was less popular than the hands-on games that younger kids could get involved with. We will be touring the country again soon with a new execution.


Agency Q&A: Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

What do you think was particularly innovative about the campaign?
The activities on the stand were simple, but effective. Anyone could have a go. This led to a higher rate of interaction and more opportunities to communicate key messages. Across three weekends, we talked to almost 60,000 consumers. More than 10,500, in all age groups, took part in the games and more than 17,400 branded balloons and sweets were distributed.

What advice would you have for other brands who might want to do a campaign like this?
The in-store sales demonstrators worked well. We liaised with store managers, supporting the team on the stand and selling Freeview products to interested shoppers.

Finding the brightest and the very best for Digital UK

Gekko Field Marketing

Locating staff with the right skills and attitude is crucial. Mark Nicholson from Digital UK talks to Marketing Week about Gekko’s involvement in delivering an outsourced team of trainers.

Marketing Week (MW): How hard is it to find good people for your marketing teams? How do you go about this?

Mark Nicholson (MN): We recruited a team of ambassadors to broadcast the Digital UK message to retailers and train their staff on the switchover. Finding candidates of the right calibre in London was very time-consuming.

The flexibility required of such a team working in different regions convinced us to outsource the recruitment and management to field marketing and training specialist Gekko.

MW: There is a trend for marketers to look outside their industry to find people, including from the data or digital sector. Is this something you are doing?

MN: When recruiting for field marketers for Digital UK, there is less of a need for candidates to have a traditional marketing background. Face-to-face roles are best suited to enthusiastic people who can quickly develop strong relationships.

MW: What is the benefit of hiring someone from a technical background into a marketing role, or vice-versa?

MN: While hiring someone with a technical understanding of digital TV would mean a quicker induction process, personal skills are more important. Generally, the technical knowledge required to perform the role can be learnt. It is far more difficult for someone to adopt or develop new communications skills.

MW: Can you give an example of the best internal training course you have run and explain why it was useful?

MN: The most beneficial course run internally for the Digital UK team by Gekko has been the ‘powerful presence’ training.

The course was designed to provide the team with enhanced communication and relationship development skills.

MW: What trends do you see happening in the recruitment of marketers in the coming years?

MN: When outsourcing the recruitment of field marketers, brands will be more involved in staff selection because successful applicants do have a significant impact on a brand’s personality.

Full article available:

Gekko wins competitive pitch for Epson

Gekko Field Marketing

Following a competitive agency review Gekko, the UK’s leading field marketing agency for the technology sector, has been reappointed by  No.1 printing and imaging brand Epson.

On behalf of Epson, Gekko is responsible for recruiting, managing and developing the Sales Support Representative (SSR) team with a host of training initiatives. The SSR team operate across Epson’s retail channel in the UK and Ireland.

This specialist  team supports Epson’s store engagement, acting as key Epson sales representatives and brand ambassadors. The team are responsible for supporting sales targets and increasing store staff engagement with the brand.

Dan Todaro, Managing Director, Gekko, comments:

“We are delighted to be continuing our working relationship with such an iconic brand. During the past five years, we have been extremely proud of delivering Epson a team of highly effective individuals, who not only understand the brand inside and out, but realise the impact they have on the company’s sales and profitability. I am confident that the SSR team have fulfilled an important role in assisting Epson become the number one printer brand in the UK”.

UK Marketing Manager, Epson, comments:

“It is great to be able to continue working with Gekko. The company continues to innovate and demonstrated during the pitch process how well they understand the consumer retail sector and more importantly how Epson engages with this sector.”

Full article available: