The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Sometimes The Audience Finds You …

So I recently read an article on the UK distributors of Danish store, Tiger.

Tiger is often referred to as ‘Posh Poundland’ as it sells all manner of stuff.

Anyway, in 2005, a husband and wife – with no business experience whatsoever – decided to pour all the money they had into buying the rights for the brand in the UK.

They openly admit it was very difficult and they made many mistakes but 11 years later, they sold it for an estimated 40+ million pounds.

So far so good, but what really interested me was something they said at the end of the interview …

How brilliant is that.

It’s also a great lesson in thinking about your audience.

Too often, our industry defines audiences by the segment we believe are the most likely to want to buy our brand/product.

While that makes perfect sense, the problem is we are often end up being pretty generalistic in who we define our audience to be … often because our clients are petrified of putting limitations on their sales potential. The other problem with this broad audience approach is that it tends to end up being the audience for the whole category, which means we end up pitting ourselves directly against our competition.

What I love about this Tiger example is – albeit by lucky accident – they realised their was a very specific segment who were attracted to this product. A segment that liked it for reasons beyond what was expected, and yet was something that actively drove them to buy.

Now I admit it takes balls to do this.

It also takes absolute honesty.

And confidence.

But when defining audiences, it’s always worth remembering the motivations for purchase are often very different to what we would like to think they are. Of course we know this, but when in front of a client, it’s amazing how often we either temporarily forget or simply choose to ignore.

By being absolutely open to who could/should be interested in our clients brands, we not only stand the chance of making work that truly resonates with a particular segment, but one that automatically differentiates you from the countless competitors all trying to steal your share, which is why I still love the V&A London museum ad from the 80’s, where Saatchi’s [in their absolute pomp] realised the thing people liked most about the place was the cafe, which led to them running ad’s with the bravest ‘endline’ you may ever see …

20 Comments so far
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Great story. Great post. Great campaign. You ended this week on a high Robert.

Comment by George

You’ve had a really bad day haven’t you.

Comment by Rob

Love the V&A story. I’m not sure if it took more balls to present that campaign or to buy it.

Comment by Bazza

when saatchi were a fucking force to be reckoned with.

Comment by andy@cynic

Unsurprisingly, it was when Kevin Roberts wasn’t in charge.

Comment by Rob

This is why I visit blogging’s Poundland.

Comment by John

more fucking like the reject shop.

Comment by andy@cynic

why didnt you ever have that sort of fucking insight campbell?

Comment by andy@cynic

Because we never had a client trying to sell bad Mona Lisa prints in a frame. Otherwise I would. Maybe. Ahem.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

I had forgotten about the V&A campaign. Wonderful stuff.
Fascinating story about the Mona Lisa frame. A good reminder that there are many streams of logic.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yes … too many times the logic used by business is the one that is the most convenient for them to buy, not the one that is the most truthful for the audience you want to engage. This is why you need planners. Good planners.


Comment by Rob

yeah planners. the fuckers who would have said they should talk to students or low income renters because theyd want to make their shithole look classy. i can see the prop now, “tiger lets you feel like you live a champagne life on beer money” or some other fucking bollocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Tiger lets you believe you’re not filling your existential emptiness with tat.

Comment by John

I always knew you would make a good planner Andy.

Comment by Pete

I am going to be quoting the Tiger and museum stories for a long time. Thanks Rob.

Comment by Pete

Paul showed me a campaign he’d been working on for V&A . It was lots of arty pictures with headlines like “Vivacious & Alluring”, “Visceral & Arresting” etc.
Very Paul.
He asked me what I thought.
I said ‘boring’.
He said ‘I know. What should I do?’
I said ‘what’s it got that would appeal to a Sun reader?’
He said ‘it’s got a great cafe’.
I pondered for a bit and, came up with the line ‘an ace caff with quite a nice museum attached’ I only meant it as a joke, not a real ad but Paul loved it.
I then wrote a couple of headlines and went back to New York.
I don’t think I wrote all those V&A ads, I can’t remember which ones are mine.
A few days later I phoned him from New York and said ‘I’ve got a better idea.
The picture is a picture of Tom Stoppard and Jerry Hall gazing at a nude male statue and both looking at his dick. The headline says “Tom & Jerry & Victoria & Albert” .
Then there’d be ‘Janet & John & Victoria & Albert’ with Janet Street-Porter and some politician for writer called John etc. But Paul said “No, I prefer the ace caff.”
I said “they’ll never buy it” but I was wrong.
Maurice Saatchi went in person and sold it to them.
There was a huge outcry with questions in the House of Commons, loads of press coverage.
The media spend was tiny but the furore it created was worth millions.
I have met V&A people who were horrified by the campaign but, like the ‘Pregnant Man’ which only ever ran once in a paid space, it got huge awareness for no money.
Also at that time the V&A had a much more fuddy-duddy image than it has now.

Comment by John

This only makes me like it more.

And the “what would make a Sun reader want to go ” is phenomenal in terms of driving fundamental change. Much better than the Jerry Hall/Tom Stoppard thing and that’s quite good.

Comment by Rob

As a business it shouldnt matter why things are getting sold just that they are. You have to be able to adapt to your market. I went to the V&A this summer and the caff was good. Thanks for the post.

Comment by historyoftelephony

I disagree.

Of course sales are the measure of your business success but to not know – or care – for the reasons behind the purchase means you are ultimately operating on luck or hope rather than constructing a sustainable business.

That said – as Tiger and V&A show – dealing in honesty or ego is a vital part of understanding who you are appealing to or how to appeal to them.

Comment by Rob

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