How Australia watched Specsavers and Married at First Sight tie the knot, fast
Specsavers head of marketing and planning, Shaun Briggs, needed a big brand hit to kick-start life after COVID. MAFS was hardly love at first sight. But it quickly grew – literally – as the brand, its agency AJF Partnership, and Nine’s Powered creative unit delivered a bespoke integration within weeks. For Briggs, “it’s been an eye opener”.
In the year we’ve just had, people who should – and would – have gone to Specsavers couldn’t and didn’t. So as COVID restrictions eased, the firm needed to start 2021 with a big bang. Hitting “huge audiences” fast was critical, according to head of marketing and planning, Shaun Briggs.
Married at First Sight, while not immediately obvious to the brand, ended up becoming the perfect match: If you’re getting hitched Vegas-style, you need chemistry and a clear view of what you’re getting into. That goes for brands and media tying the knot as much as people.
Once the concept hit home, Briggs says committing to partner the tent-pole program was more informed investment than big bet.
“We’re a big player in the market and we need a big audience. It wasn’t the most obvious property to partner with,” says Briggs. “But when you take our ‘Should've Gone to Specsavers’ creative idea and consider can we apply that in an appropriate way, the answer was, well, yes we can.”
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Do the MAFS
Once the brand had run the numbers – audience and financials – “It wasn’t that difficult to get through [management approval]. Once we got to the creative idea and how we could bring ‘Should've’ to life, it actually became quite an easy process through the business,” says Briggs.
“By showing that MAFS was big reach, right time of the year, right days of the week, it ticked a lot of boxes. Then, by showing that the numbers added up and we weren't overpaying, it really wasn't that difficult.”
There’s a lot of equity built into the Specsavers brand, “and we’ve built that up by delivering a lot of ‘Should’ve’ campaigns and sponsorships over the years,” says Briggs. “So there’s trust [from management] that we know what we're doing, that we're not going to risk the brand.”
But what was different this time around was that Specsavers locally was given the nod to create a bespoke, integrated TV ad specifically for the show.
TV made easy
Specsavers creative usually comes out of the UK. Briggs was initially unsure that there was time to create something bespoke for the show that ticked all required boxes – and would be as good as anything from London.
Given the short timeframes involved, Briggs admits there was some nervousness around throwing together Specsavers’ new creative agency, AJF Partnership, with Nine’s internal creative unit, Powered.
“I really thought it was going to be a tight ride back and so did the rest of the team. But actually it was easy,” he says.
“It was a good brief, and I think ‘Should've’ is fertile creative territory, which is very helpful as well. But between Nine and AJF, everyone understood what we were trying to achieve.”
The two teams quickly delivered three concepts, with one that stood out, says Briggs.
“We had one or two rounds of feedback and amends, and then we were into production. So I would say it was seamless, everyone got it. I think the guys at Nine absolutely understood what we're trying to achieve and quickly understood the nuances, and that made it really easy,” he adds.
“I should have been probably less surprised given all the production that Nine does, but part of you gets a little surprised that they were able to get there so quickly.”
Creative eye opener
Briggs was pleasantly surprised at Nine’s creative capability.
“That’s definitely something for all of us to remember. I spend a lot of media money and I probably don’t think enough about the other elements and where you can get more from it,” he says.
“We’re maybe a bit too quick to say, ‘Well, we’ve got a creative agency already,’ and you get a bit of a blind spot. But in this instance, we’ve shown ourselves that it’s not necessarily the best way to get the work done. The production capability meant we could go really fast, yet everything was done to an exceptional standard. So for me, it was definitely an eye opener.”
Watching results roll in
While brand campaigns can only be measured over the long term, Briggs says the early signs are good.
“This was very much a brand play for us. But we’ve had a great March. We have had some really good website traffic, up 6-7 per cent on January, with a higher proportion coming from direct and organic. And March was very good from a top line perspective as well,” he says.
Ahead of running an assessment of the MAFS execution next month, it’s hard to pick out a single element of its marketing mix in driving that growth. But Briggs says he’s feeling confident, given the buzz the campaign has created.
“We've got 400 stores across Australia and New Zealand, a couple of million people go into the website every month. They are such big numbers that it's hard to pull out one thing, but everything works together,” he says.
“People were definitely talking about it. We had good interaction on our own socials. There was a buzz within the office."
“I think it had an impact at the right time of the year – and with the numbers we saw, for the first time in a long time, I was eagerly waiting for the ratings to come through. You're looking at them and thinking, I can see these results in the numbers.”
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