My name's Andrew and I started my career in Sales Promotion - there I have said it and it doesn't feel as grubby as some will ha...

Blast from the past


My name's Andrew and I started my career in Sales Promotion - there I have said it and it doesn't feel as grubby as some will have you feel. But it does feel like a World away from what I do now .....but strangely still very relevant. The reason for the nostalgia is that last Thursday I had a trip back to the "belle époque" of Sales Promotion with firstly an invite to the launch of Colin Lloyd's book "Beyond Redemption" (see image) and secondly a reunion of my old agency (now defunct) Interfocus. The evening was great fun with lots of old faces and catching up made 10 years ago feel like only yesterday - good times and forgotten friends.....

Anyway less about the past and more about the present - the point of the post is that it got me thinking about why when sales promotion was so successful and helped create an industry worth £26.5 billion* in financial year 2007/08, a staggering figure in comparison to the UK advertising industry spend of just £18.6 billion did it became such as dirty word especially when it is the basis of so much of the work that we (in the broadest sense) do today.

Over the years the reasons I have heard range from the lack of science to the blunt nature of the tool and the lack of sophistication or control over the outcome - indeed as one of the CEO's I have worked for used to always refer SP to dressing up as a clown with big red nose and feet !. I can't disagree entirely with any of these assertions but I think Colin sums my feeling up well in his book when he says “Sales promotion is one of the most powerful tools available to the world’s companies. It is a dynamic sector that pervades the marketing process, influences brand propositions and touches almost every citizen in the UK dozens of times a year". Indeed it is a fact that we have become a promotionally reliant society through the last few years with all companies relying on principles and mechanics of good old fashioned SP to drive interest, traffic and sales - just look at the variety of campaigns over the last few years with SP at their heart from Walker's "Do us a Flavour",to Tesco Clubcard and Orange Wednesdays.

Of course there is an argument that all this is "just marketing" and SP sits alongside clever channel selections now and better creativity to gain public awareness and interest but I think this misses the point, the reason that SP was so successful in the 80's and 90's is due to the creativity it demanded and exhibited - just remember the classics from Tango Man, to win a house with Heinz, to the Hoover Free flights promotion - most are in Colin's book. Indeed I think he perfectly sums it up what he calls "the exhilaration of creative entrepreneurialism"

And I guess this is my point the marketing World is a very different place to what it was 20 years ago but the fundamental principles still apply and you can do a lot worse than looking to SP to understand and learn how creativity is the still the foundation and the SP industry of the 80's and 90's had it in droves !

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