Gluing into the Business
Virgin Media Business Limited is a telecommunications provider specialising in providing services to businesses, a subsidiary of Virgin Media. VMB has relatively strong awareness in the public sector. However, enterprise spontaneous awareness was running at 15-20%, whilst SME was 13%. Historically, VMB has been comprehensively outspent by its rivals in the sector, predominately BT, and consequently VMB has not been the first choice of SMEs. Low engagement with the corporate website meant the challenge was to overcome cynicism to the value of VMB to businesses – a purpose above and beyond its commercial goals. Hence, #VOOM was created to accelerate UK businesses in a dynamic and highly networked way.
Gluing in the Idea
The campaign objectives were to increase awareness of VMB within SMEs, drive traffic to the website, increase engagement with the brand, develop the database of new customer contacts and grow business leads. Additionally, the plan was to develop a creatively led strategy that generated content assets for the website through a combination of Paid, Owned and Earned media. The idea was for #VOOM Pitch to Rich to be created as a platform for businesses (both start-ups and established companies) to promote and share ideas as video pitches. The ideas would then be judged by the public through a web based voting mechanic, with the ultimate goal of pitching personally to Richard Branson at a live event to win a share of a £1 million prize fund.
Gluing in Media Owners
Video content was produced as a personal and revealing insight to Richard Branson and his reflections of key moments in his life, both good and bad. The key message was that all businesses face fearful moments but ‘Fear itself is an Energy’. This was expressed across seven different video executions as a call to action for SMEs to submit their business ideas. The paid media activity was planned in conjunction with the creative development in order to drive maximum awareness amongst SMEs via placement in contextual and relevant advertising environments, a number of which were created by media partners specifically for the campaign.
The content included a three-minute film, originally intended to run exclusively online. However, the impactful nature of the films enabled collaboration with broadcasters to create a unique advertising environment that was perfect for the SME target audience. Although traditionally commercial free, we worked closely with ITV and Channel 4 to develop specific event-style breaks for the launch of the campaign in their live national news shows on March 24th, the first-time major peak time news has been owned in this way. The three-minute film was launched that evening on C4 with a specially recorded introduction from the broadcaster and followed up later that evening on ITV with a one-minute announcement commercial in the News at Ten. The transmission times of the launch commercials were pre-promoted through three different 10” teasers in SME targeted programming during the week leading to launch and 30 second trailers created for the business audience within YouTube. This was further supported by video on specifically chosen outdoor digital screens on the day of launch, targeting both SMEs and journalists.
Longer term national exposure was provided by a 48 sheet outdoor campaign, over 1200 sites planned by postcode for proximity to SMEs and a separate six sheet campaign targeting Tech City in London. This was supported by bespoke content partnerships online created within the YouTube and Unruly video distribution platforms and a content integration initiative with AOL, including the Huffington Post. We also created a B2B cross-promotional partnership with LinkedIn, Virgin Group channels and companies including Seedcamp and The Accelerator Network.
On radio, we collaborated with both LBC and Talksport across a range of sponsorships, press ads in Sport magazine, presenter mentions and peak time shows created for #VOOM (The Business Show on LBC and The Innovators Series on Talksport). The shows were specifically related to business issues facing SMEs and featured well-known sports personalities who were entrepreneurs in sport and business. Content was also distributed across VMB channels with the activity running up until the live Pitch event on June 26th, streamed in real time via www.virginmediabusiness/pitch-to-rich
Gluing Together the Ecosystems of ITV/C4/LBC and Talksport Radio and DOOH
Planning began in October 2014 with the creative produced in February 2015. The first teaser commercials appeared on TV and YouTube from March 17th. Radio exposure launched in conjunction with broadcast teasers along with outbound contact via VMB database and ran until the live finale on June 26th. The Launch News events went live on March 24th with a further promotional 30 second commercial on TV to drive participation from March 25th. Awareness was extended in a targeted, two week, 48 sheet outdoor campaign from March 30th and a public relation campaign with PR NewsWire. To stimulate engagement up until closure of first stage voting on May 21st, the ongoing online and on-air campaigns ran in conjunction with a series of live events running across April in Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Voting on shortlisted businesses from June 2nd – June 16th was supported through social media and Virgin channels, voting on a People's Choice award promoted up until the live finale.
The Business Results
2.8m visits to the website since launch, more traffic in a single week than the entirety of 2014, and website traffic growth from 2,000 daily site visits pre-campaign to 165,000 daily site visits during the campaign. 2,657 individual business pitches submitted with three quarters of a million votes recorded and more than 600,000 email addresses collected. 2m views of launch video on YouTube and over 800 mentions in press articles, over 50% generated by the entrants to #VOOM with over half a billion social media impressions. Daily conversations about VMB grew 89-fold and negative sentiment fell to just 1% of all comments. £5m worth of media value was generated, leading to a 50% growth in business leads.
The campaign was awarded a B2B content marketing award for best SME-targeted award and was repeated in 2016 on an even greater scale with Channel 4 as the solus broadcast partner. The live finale was filmed in front of an audience of 700 people and a judging panel comprising Sir Richard, Tyra Banks, Sara Blakely, Marcus Butler and Virgin Media MD Peter Kelly.
Scott Wilkinson - Head of Acquisition, Brand, Content & Digital, Virgin Media Business, said: "This campaign has been an absolute game changer for us – externally for brand awareness and preference. But also internally for the belief in the power of B2B Marketing."