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Stop Overthinking It: Why Retailers Can Learn from Our Chicest Psychopath

The Influencers 562 Add to collection

INFLUENCER: Michelle Gilson from TBWA\London digs a bit deeper into the hit BBC thriller for some practical tips

Stop Overthinking It: Why Retailers Can Learn from Our Chicest Psychopath
With the epic Killing Eve coming to a close, much of the water cooler chat has been about how the series epitomises a new era of female-empowered TV. But read between the lines and this assassin is funding a love of designer goods with her kills. This offers up some killer lessons for retail marketers. 

1. There are no high interest categories, only high interest moments

We are all susceptible to gorgeous products, we didn’t know we needed, on a whim. Just look at Villanelle’s lust for an Italian designer bed throw, midst murder. We are all guilty of using phrases like ‘super fans’ or talking about retention or loyalty. But as the published brains like Sharp, Binet and Field have evidenced, campaigns which aim for lots of weak relationships with new customers are far more effective than campaigns which aim for strong relationships with existing customers. Which leads to the next lesson…

2. Go broader: Retail gives us the power to be whoever we want to be

Eve might be a modest MI5 agent by day, but she transforms into a totally different person in a Helmut Lang sheath dress. Ditch the ‘target’ consumer. Don’t listen to what people claim they do or claim they think in polite focus groups. Don’t use segmentation too tightly. Definitely don’t stereotype. In the morning I’m clean eating and by night I’m having a chocolate bar. In the words of Chaka Khan, I’m every woman. Indeed.

3. For penetration, try a gifting strategy

If birthday gifts and wedding gifts are an all year-round pain (sorry, I mean joy), why does gifting rarely make the brief? John Lewis cottoned on to it and have increased their comms effectiveness year on year for five years according to the IPA Awards. But perhaps go for something less teary and more chilling? Eve reminded us the emotional impact a gift can have with a note on good stationary, “sorry baby x”.

4. Offer escapism through social    

Everything from Villanelle’s Parisian pink bathroom (complete with gold taps), to her champagne stocked fridge, to her giant balloons, to her three-tier birthday cake, means she doesn’t just have a life of crime, she has the life of a globe-trotting influencer. The show tapped into all the things which young women fantasise about on their favourite Instagram channels and Pinterest pages. Instagram Stories is the fastest growing format (I know I’ve certainly fallen into a hole and re-emerged hours later). Retail is the perfect category to capitalise on this new form of escapism.

5. Be disruptive in your category

We talk about distinctiveness a lot in advertising. At TBWA, disruption has been our philosophy for 30 years. This series has felt like a TV revolution, because of that very reason. It does everything differently to most shows. It paints female characters as multifaceted, and psychopathic. The very first scene in the very first episode shows Villanelle tipping ice cream down a little girl, after initially looking at her broodily. Nothing about this show is as you’d expect. Audiences loved it. People can’t stop talking about it. We can only learn from it. 


Michelle Gilson is Head of Planning at TBWA\London.
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TBWA\London, Fri, 02 Nov 2018 14:38:29 GMT