Re-Branding an Icon | Abbey Road’s New Look

How to rebrand an icon. Relaunching the Abbey Road brand.


Being associated with The Beatles can have its advantages. At the same time this particular association, as iconic as it may be, also dates the Abbey Road brand and pushes it towards being a nostalgic heritage marque rather than a contemporary business that engages in cutting edge research and development.

A Brief History of Abbey Road

“I would just say that Abbey Road is the best studio in town; town being the world.”

Paul McCartney, 1982

Opened in 1931, Abbey Road is the oldest and one of the most famous purpose built recording studios in the world. Over the last 85 years they have produced a number of landmark records and made a significant contribution to music heritage and popular music culture. In 2015, Abbey Road rebranded to create a parent brand for its existing recording studios and to coincide with the launch of its two new departments; Abbey Road Red, and Abbey Road Institute.

The advances and democratisation of technologies, and the economic situation within the UK over the last decade have pushed some commercial recording studios into the decline phase of their life cycle, with those unable to adapt to the changing environment going out of business. Taking that into consideration, this analysis will focus on the rebrand in 2015, and will investigate the relationships between the brand’s heritage and future. It will also focus on the audience(s) the Abbey Road brand intend to target as users of their new services and platforms.

To effectively analyse the Abbey Road brand we must understand that their perceived status is directly linked to its historical involvement with other music brands. The nature of their core identity as a recording studio means that their finished product may be regarded by the public as the produce of other brands. Most notably, Abbey Road is heavily associated with The Beatles, and the Abbey Road brand image in recent years has reflected the artwork from the much celebrated album that bears the studio’s name, the designs utilising imagery symbolising the pedestrian crossing in their logo designs.

The Beatles are synonymous with the Abbey Road brand.
The Beatles working at Abbey Road Studios.

Narrative and Context

Abbey Road identify themselves as being “at the forefront of music creativity” since the studio opened its doors in 1931. Not only can the brand be associated with a significant number of landmark recordings, but they are keen to stress both their heritage and innovation, portraying a brand that is both built on a significant historical foundation in popular culture and a legacy of technological advancement and innovation. Breaking down the statement made on the Abbey Road website, its components can be divided into the two aforementioned categories:


  • Landmark Recordings; 7 of the 30 greatest albums of all time were created at Abbey Road (see Roy Shuker’s album canon)
  • Association with historic music
  • Association with historic music brands; The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, etc
  • The most famous and oldest purpose build recording studio in the world
  • Creation of film scores, including Star Wars


  • Technological breakthroughs
  • Association with current music brands; Adele, Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, etc
  • Invention of stereo recording
  • Creation of film scores: Skyfall
The Abbey Road brand is built upon a great musical legacy, having produced 7 of the 30 greatest albums of all time.
The Abbey Road brand is built upon a great musical legacy, having produced 7 of the 30 greatest albums of all time.

Brand Narrative

“I love Abbey Road because it has depth, back up, tradition and all those things.”

Paul McCartney, 1982

Abbey Road Studios are often referenced as ‘legendary’ and as an ‘icon’ when addressed in cultural and technical magazine articles. This status is part of a identity myth that consumers use to address identity desires and anxieties, and that carries a heavy symbolic value in the mind of the public.

The emotive statement from McCartney could have arguably been triggered by his career being entwined with that of Abbey Road, the studio having been the primary location for the production of a large portion of The Beatles’ album catalogue. By contrast, the emotional response for many others seems to have been formed through their connection with music recorded at Abbey Road; generations of music fans may have listened to works produced at the studios without knowing where it was produced.

Demonstrating the emotive response toward the brand, in part due to their associations with The Beatles, fans continue to write their names and leave written messages on the perimeter wall that surrounds  the studio.

The Abbey Road brand continues to attract fans, as see by their graffiti wall.
Music fans from all over the world continue to make a pilgrimage to Abbey Road.

The spirit of the brand is that of excellence within the field of sound production and technological innovation and a sense of connection with the legendary artists through their masterworks created with the brand.

Each paragraph within the statement references the old and the new. The balance that the brand is trying to achieve is to support the ability of the brand to change with the times, which necessitates a balance between innovation and conservation. Successful brand management requires two sets of techniques; those that aim at the selective appropriation of consumer innovation and those that aim to make consumers’ use of branded goods serve to reproduce forms of life that the brand embodies.

To summarise, the brand narrative is that Abbey Road is at the cutting edge of music production, constantly innovating, whilst rooted in its unique historical status in popular music culture.

Style and Tone

“It is impossible to separate the connection between The Beatles and the Studios which was cemented with the release of the Abbey Road album in 1969.”

Form, 2015

Form were recently engaged to re-imagine the Abbey Road brand with the remit of repositioning their strategy to create a new visual brand identity to connect with a wider audience. The iconic photograph taken on the zebra crossing that was used for The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ album cover is the most predominant image that appears in search results when the studio’s name is entered into Google. A relatively recent rebrand shown below as the previous brand logo (pre-2015) incorporates the imagery of the black strips of tarmac between the painted white stripes of the zebra crossing, and gives the impression of EQ or mix levels by varying heights of the black stripes.

The old abbey road brand image was representative of the iconic Beatles album and a graphic EQ

“Rather than ignore the crossings’ black and white stripes, we decided to deconstruct it and re-imagine it to celebrate a new era for Abbey Road.”

Form, 2015

The new logo set continues the black and white theme that is consistent with previous logos. The re-imagining of the black stripes has taken the form of a single black stripe that is suggestive of the distinctive parquet flooring prevalent throughout the famous recording studios complex.

The new Abbey Road brand logo.

Noticeably, this logo set differentiates the ‘Studios’ from the overarching parent Abbey Road brand, and allows for other sub-brands to be individually identified within the same brand family. The direction of the chevron formed by the black stripe moving across a three dimensional plane indicates the North West location of Abbey Road within London. The selection of red as the third colour is certainly a nod to their new music technology incubator, Red, named after the Record Engineering Development Department and their custom built REDD consoles made famous in their control rooms in the 1960’s.

The Abbey Road Brand Family
The Abbey Road Brand Family.

The new branding design seeks to maintain brand identity through its unique set of brand associations by continuing to incorporate elements of its heritage; the black and white colour scheme, and the addition of red to reflect the importance the brand places on their legacy of innovation. The semiotic distinction between the brand symbol and allegory is not archaic, instead relaying Abbey Road’s honourable pedigree.

Form commissioned graphic artist Patrick Thomas to further re-interpret their new logo design, the black and white stripes of the zebra crossing, and incorporate the new red sub-brand colour to generate themed patterns to be used across all communications.

The new Abbey Road brand in action, designed by Patrick Thomas.
Graphic artist Patrick Thomas re-interpreted the new image across the corporate branding.

Tonally, the branding is clean and professional, and the sharp contrast of the minimalist black and white imagery makes the studio feel cutting edge whilst holding on to Abbey Road’s pop culture roots in the 1960’s. The message is also intended for young to middle aged musicians aspiring to make a connection with the legendary artists that have come before.

The Name

The mythology surrounding the name ‘Abbey Road’ is supported by the social reality of the vast contribution the studio has made to both popular music and music recording technologies. Abbey Road’s direct association with The Beatles catalogue and the album of their namesake add weight to the myth. In effect, the success of artists within the culture industries like The Beatles and Pink Floyd that are linked with the studios have co-authored the brand. It all serves to maintain a social ideology which perpetuates the brand as an industry leader that is arguably unchallenged within the UK.

Brand Audience

Product Life Cycle

Abbey Road, as a brand, could be considered to be between maturity and decline when considering the traditional output of the business; recording bands in the studio, mixing multi-track recordings, and mastering mixes. Over the last two decades studios at the top end of the market have suffered because of the technological and economic factors ushered in by the democratisation and accessibility of recording technologies. In response to the changing environment, the brand has launched new products that take advantage of modern connectivity.

The Abbey Road brand added online mastering to their portfolio in 2009.Earlier this year, Abbey Road announced an upgrade to their online mixing and mastering services, making them more affordable and easier to use. The success of these new services has been underlined by the huge growth in user base both within the UK and internationally.

Consumer Profile

Arguably, the Abbey Road brand narrative presents both its heritage and innovation in equal measure and this serves to speak to two different audiences. The first group is the general public who associate the studio’s historical link with major artists, most preeminently The Beatles. The second group contains the prospective artist-as-client, sound production professionals, and businesses that require the services provided by Abbey Road as a sound production facility and technological innovator in the field. This second group may also have an appreciation of the heritage, but they are more interested in actually engaging with the activities of brand’s core identity as a site for sound recording and production.

Competing Brands

There are a number of commercial sound production facilities around the UK that can technically perform the same task as Abbey Road studios in regard to sound recording and production; CaVa in Glasgow and Rockfield Studios in Monmouth being examples of studios that can produce chart quality recordings. What their competitors can’t do is compete with the depth of heritage and heavily publicised contribution that Abbey Road has had in popular culture.

The added prestige of an album mixed and mastered at Abbey Road could be described as a self-expressive benefit that artists want to have ascribed to their own work, lending it the emotive benefit of a perceived connection with the studio’s impressive alumni of legendary artists. This is important because it builds an experience around a brand by creating an exclusive and distinct position in the mind of the audience.

The Abbey Road Brand Experience

Google presented a tour of Abbey Road Studios as part of Google Maps.

Retail and Public Spaces

The physical public space is the studio itself, located in the North West of London, which is generally inaccessible to the public. Recently, Abbey Road Studios and Google have won an industry award for their brand partnership for Inside Abbey Road Studios. The product they have developed allows the public access to the studios using a similar software interface to Google Maps Street View.

The most accessible retail spaces for Abbey Road are online. Their website provides a platform for all of its sub-brands, and an interface for Abbey Road Studios online mixing and mastering functions. The website’s online store continues the brand theme created by Patrick Thomas, and it has been incorporated onto products sold by the brand. Representative of the strong brand association, the store stocks Beatles merchandise in almost equal measure to their own. The shop functions as a way for consumers to engage with the conservation of the brand by buying into forms of life that the brand embodies. Other co-branding opportunities largely present themselves in the online storefronts of their collaborative partners like Waves and Native Instruments.

Abbey road brand merchandise.
The new branding and brand image can be found throughout the Abbey Road Studios online store.

Product Design and Packaging

The brand’s core business offers a range of services rather than physical products, identified within the sub-brands of the Abbey Road family. Coinciding with the rebrand Abbey Road launched a music tech incubator and an educational institute. The way the Institute is delivered to the audience through their web content is in keeping with the re-brand’s communication standards set by Form. This visual communication is apparent throughout the brand’s educational content which is delivered through the Abbey Road Institutes in Berlin, Munich, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Abbey Road Red, the abbey road brand's tech incubator.

Abbey Road Red is a tech incubator that assists music technology startups with projects and provides a platform for researchers and academics to study emerging technologies. The design of Red is such that Abbey Road forms the epicentre of research and development, in a scheme designed to foster relationships with the innovators today that also involves partnering with academic researchers to find good ideas and develop them further and take them to market. The presentation of Red follows the colour scheme and iconography associated with the brand.


Co-Branding, Partnerships, and Advertising

Co-branding opportunities serve to perpetuate the Abbey Road brand as a marque of quality that adds value through their perceived authenticity to the co-branded product. It would be impractical to analyse all of the studio’s co-branding partners, so this case study will only look at a recent partnership with Channel 4 and Volkswagen.

Volkswagen sought to promote their new Beetle, their goal to target the mainstream male audience between the ages of 30 and 50. Referencing the original Beetle that was immortalised on the cover of The Beatles landmark album ‘Abbey Road’, VW wanted to use the perceived authenticity and status of Abbey Road to add value to their new product.

VW’s involvement with Abbey Road aimed to re-affirm the association between the legendary Beetle and the rock and roll spirit it embodies. To achieve this, they worked with Channel 4 to produce a TV show called Abbey Road Studios: in Session with Volkswagen Beetle that followed the format of the successful Live from Abbey Road series. From the outset, the advertising for the show focuses on how people give meaning to the brand Abbey Road through their relationship with the music that has been produced there.

“I’m glad that it means so much to so many people from all over the world, you know?”

Paul Weller, 2010


The visuals of the advert blend the nostalgia and romanticism of ‘the studio’ and times past by featuring analogue and vintage equipment, and sequences including the new Beetle fitting in to the environment. Whilst the opening dialogue is referential to the heritage of Abbey Road, Paul Weller is preparing to tell the audience that it’s “important to know when to if not re-invent yourself when to move on”.

The Abbey Road brand is so iconic, legends like Paul Weller can't help but pay homage.
Paul Weller pays homage to the Beatles album cover with the new VW Beetle.

Using Paul Weller as the messenger also lends the message authenticity and a sense of cool. Towards the end of the advert, they reference the album cover which has so often denoted the studios brand identity by recreating it with Weller and a new Beetle.

The overall message of this advertising campaign and VW’s promotional activities reflect the innovation and conservation that is the underlying tenet of the Abbey Road brand and their brand management. It features elements of both time past and time future symbolising memory and desire.


It could be argued that Abbey Road’s symbolic value to the general public is largely co-authored by the massive and enduring popularity of The Beatles, the Studios being brought into the popular consciousness by their album that shares their name. On the other hand, it could also be argued that musicians and music enthusiasts may have a more wholistic relationship or perception of Abbey Road Studios given a greater knowledge of their brand identity through their commercial output.

The new look to the brand appears to be distancing itself from the album cover, hinting at their desire to present the Abbey Road brand as an innovative business looking forward rather than leaning on their heritage and an association with an album produced nearly half a century ago. That being said, the re-brand has retained the colour scheme and some of the symbolism that has stood for so long to represent a legacy of unparalleled technological advances in the field and their well documented associations with iconic artists.

In April 2016, the studios were presented an award for Music & Brand Partnership at the Music Week Awards for their work with Google on Inside Abbey Road Studios, indicating of the continued support for the brand by the professional recording industry. The wide range of projects undertaken by Abbey Road and their co-branding partners is indicative of the strength of the brand and the continued interest in their products.

In their book “How Cool Brands Stay Hot”, Van den Bergh and Behrer proposed five key elements that impact Gen Y’s perception of brand image and initiate brand conversations; coolness, realness, uniqueness, self-identification, and happiness. It would appear from this analysis that Abbey Road brand is able to check all of these boxes with their pop cultural associations, authenticity, unique heritage, engaged fanbase, and continued commercial success.


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Scotch Logs | E-Commerce Project

E-commerce project for Trend Differently, working with Scotch Logs. Paul Thomson Digital

Scotch Logs | E-Commerce Project

Paul Thomson Digital working with Trend Differently

Working with the team at Trend Differently, we were engaged to implement the e-commerce element of the Scotch Logs website. The project involved three depots around Scotland delivering goods purchased online to customers within a drivable radius, and there were different delivery pricing zones within those areas. It was a complex task because there were overlaps between areas and delivery zones, particularly between the Glasgow and Stirling depots.

It may seem like the easiest e-commerce option to set up, Scotland’s geography provides a number of challenges when it comes to deliver by radius. Travelling around the hills and through the glens, particularly in the Trossachs just North of Glasgow, 5 miles as the crow flies can swiftly turn into 15 or 20 miles by road. Each zone had to be broken down by radius, then by postcode to enter into the e-commerce software. This automatically tells the website owner from which depot the goods should be dispatched and applies the correct delivery cost to the basket for the customer on the website.

Paul Thomson Digital breaking down delivery coverage by radius then post code. E-commerce.
Due to the complexity of the task, delivery zones has to be broken down by postcode.

Woo-Commerce | Why it should power your E-Commerce Website

Woo-commerce is a tried and tested platform and plugin to add to your WordPress website. It’s well maintained, secure, stable, and it’s popular. According to Builtwith and clicking on the ‘The Entire Internet’ under the Switch Chart Data in on the top right, it currently runs on 42% of all e-commerce websites. The ubiquitous nature of this e-commerce platform means that there’s a lot of accessible support out there and there are plenty of extensions to customise your online store and add features.

Woo is also an incredible flexible e-commerce solution. Not every business sells and delivers physical products. Some sell their services as a subscription service, others sell digital products or downloads, online training courses and manage memberships. There are also 140 different payment gateways that can be applied to your digital storefront, giving you the greatest choice of any online shopping platform.

We’re here to help!

Paul Thomson Digital can provide you with the right marketing solutions for your business, from implementing e-commerce to Web Design. If you already operate an e-commerce website we can tailor digital marketing campaigns on Google Adwords search, display and shopping networks, provide digital remarketing solutions, and design and manage your social media campaigns.

Contact us for more information.


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Producing Effective Content | You say it best when you say nothing at all

Image of Peterson, "the Neighbor", peeping through his blinds. Screenshot taken from the video game trailer for Hello Neighbor. The game trailer is used in this article to demonstrate effective content.

 Producing Effective Content

You say it best when you say nothing at all

85% of video content watched on Facebook is consumed in silence. Let that sink in for a moment. We live in a digital age where there is a constant need for effective content. We need it to interact with our audience and keep them engaged.

Unlike YouTube or other click to access web content, users are generally browsing through their Facebook feed at high speed, only stopping for content that catches their eye, be it the tagline or bold image presented by the publisher. That, however, is only have the battle. Most users will give a video under 3 seconds to hold their attention before moving on.

Successful content publishing platforms like Now This and UNILAD know how to make the most of this almost retro phenomenon by producing effecting content. Their ads are designed to capture the attention of the view without needing to use sound. They attract the user and initially push the content using an eye catching, colourful still image and follow it with a call to action phrase directed at the viewer.

Hello Neighbor (Game Trailer) | 2015 | Now This

click to play

In this trailer Now This have presented the viewer with a shock statement to capture their attention “This game will use your mistakes to kill you“. By speaking in the 2nd person they have engaged the user and presented them with a potentially thrilling scenario. The following content has been produced with a text heavy narrative to deliver the narrative and features of the product.

But that’s not the only way to deliver a silent message…

Semiotics have been used by marketers for decades to subconsciously deliver messages to their audience through social and cultural subconscious constructs. In short, it’s a complex system of sensory experiences and gestures to which we have inflected locally with cultural meaning.

Unlike the Hello Neighbor trailer that relied on text to tell the story, semiotics can be a far more elegant way to make a statement and produce effective content. Of course, the additional benefits of exclusively delivering the narrative of the commercial through semiotics are not only the ability to form an emotional connection between the viewer and your product, but also the ability to distribute your message across language barriers without the need to overdub or re-caption the content.

VW “Old Lady” | 2010 | Netherlands


Here’s a Dutch VW commercial from 2010, delivered silently with no captions until the very end of the advert. The story is told silently; a father takes his son to buy a car from an old lady. Semiotically, that invokes the connotation in Western cultures that the car has been driven slowly and carefully and is unlikely to have engine damage or severe wear and tear on the mechanical parts. This commercial present an humorous antithesis to this common perception, and tells the story solely through visuals. Yes, the music is present, but it doesn’t need to be there.

In short, know your marketing channels and make content that meets the criteria of the platform and its audience. There’s nothing worse than sinking money into a message that no-one will hear. Paul Thomson Digital can help you get your message to your target audience. Check out our Digital Marketing Services for more information on what we can do for your business.


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What is Google Analytics and what can it do for you?

Google Analytics logo on a wordcloud background. The caption reads "What is Google Analytics and what can it do for you?"

What is Google Analytics and what can it do for you?

Monitoring and analysing data captured by Google Analytics is more than just tracking the number of visitors your website has received. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that allows website owners, administrators, and designers to capture, collate, and review data and metrics gathered from users visiting their website. This data will include demographic data about your visitors, from age and gender to geographic location. As users our digital fingerprints are everywhere and Google builds a profile based upon our digital history and consumption habits. It uses this data to inform you of the hobbies and interests of the users that visit your site. Using this data you can tailor your online content to the interests of your audience or even discover entirely new market segments.

Google can also provide you with the routes users have taken to reach your site, highlight the content they viewed, and even the devices they used to get there. By tracking the digital journey of users and customers as they navigate through your website you will be able to identify issues with the user experience and spot problem pages simply by analysing the online behaviour of your visitors. The data from your marketing funnel can be analysed and modified to improve performance, and you will be able to make informed decisions on the best way to improve your business. Click here for more information on our Website Services.

One of my favourite features of Google Analytics is the Real-Time dashboard. Last year I had a great time showing off this feature during a post-graduate digital marketing tutorial at the Kedge Business School. Google’s reports are continuously updated and each hit is reported just after it occurs. The students watched in real time as we lit up Marseille on the map with hits to the demo website. This feature means that, at any time, you can see how many people are on your site, which pages or events they’re interacting with, and which goal conversions have occurred. It’s a way great to observe the online reaction to your digital campaigns or new content.

Google Analytics Real Time Dashboard
You can see real time data including location, traffic sources, viewed content and conversions using the Google Analytics dashboard.

How can Google Analytics help me achieve my goals?

Broadly speaking, there are five types of websites; e-commerce, lead generation, content publishing, online information, and branding. Your website objectives may cover two or three of these elements. It is a great tool to monitor and analyse pay-per-click, social media marketing, and search engine marketing campaigns.

  • If you operate an e-commerce website then your primary objective is to sell your products or services. The data gathered by Google Analytics can help you improve sales and conversions, and it will record the performance of your website over time.
  • If your website is intended to generate leads then your goal is to collect user information by funnelling users towards a contact form or engagement with your company. You can use Google Analytics to test strategies and landing pages to identify the most effective lead generation method.
  • If you are a content publisher then your aim is to encourage repeat visitors and user engagements (likes, shares and comments on social media). In this case you will be focussing on the content that Google Analytics links to high user engagement and interactions.
  • If you want your site to be a hub for online information then it’s important to make sure that visitors are able to find what they are looking for. Google Analytics can help you identify navigation problems on your website by tracking user journeys.
  • If you want to use your website as a branding tool then your want to improve online visibility, awareness and loyalty. Much like content publishing, you will want to use Google Analytics to see if your site is being shared, linked to, and engaged with on the greater web? User engagement is far more valuable than simply the number of people who visit your website.

Crash Course in Google Analytics

Paul Thomson Digital offer a short training course on site that covers the basics of Google Analytics; how to set it up and link it to your website, how to read and interpret the data, and how to apply it to your online business model and website. Contact us for more details.

This training course is currently only available on site in Ayrshire, Glasgow, Inverclyde, and Renfrewshire.


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Take On Me | How Volkswagen market in different territories

Image from the Volkswagen commercial "feeling carefree", used in the Paul Thomson Digital article about marketing in different territories.

Take On Me

How Volkswagen market in different territories

How do VW change their marketing narrative in different territories? Today we’re going to take a look at the way the Volkswagen markets similar cars to a similar age and gender demographic across cultures and countries.

In this case we are looking at males in their mid-30’s, specifically white collar middle class caucasian men.

VW Jetta Commercial | 2013 | USA


In this commercial, VW have decided to focus on traditional American male aspirational values. The protagonist drives the Jetta, beats the bad guys in a race and wins the girl. It’s about excitement and living life to the full. Even the attitude of the main character in the workplace says that he’s more of a ‘work to live’ rather than a ‘live to work’ type. The message is that if you own this car you will live a more thrilling existence.

The creators have also attached music suited to the age group, A-ha’s famous song Take On Me, and produced graphics throughout the video that pay homage to the original music video from the 1980’s. Furthering the link with this iconic song, the commercial references the fact NO ONE can accurately hit the high note at the end. It’s contemporary yet nostalgic.

VW want to convey these lifestyle attributes of the character to make the Jetta appeal to the white collar male demographic between 35-45 because they want their target audience to identify with their product.

VW Polo Commercial | 2012 | United Kingdom


Across the Atlantic the focus is very different. Volkswagen are trying to appeal to the very same age group and social class as the American Jetta advert, but instead of aspirational values they have decided to appeal to our base instincts and motivate the consumer by portraying universal human truths in their commercial.

The story they have decided to tell is that of a father protecting his daughter as she grows from an infant into adult hood. In each scene he is shown to be nurturing and taking care of his child. He shields her from the rain, inflates her armbands at the pool, gives her his jumper when she’s cold, and looks after her when she’s sick. All of these semiotically signal to us that he is a caring father, but more importantly we would want to identify and ascribe those characteristics to ourselves. To further compliment the visuals, VW have used a song that repeats through the chorus “I’ll watch over you”.

Unlike the prominence of the Jetta in the American commercial, the contemporary VW Polo only features at the end of the commercial, forming a book end with the original model from the 1980’s at the beginning of the ad. Volkswagen built this story to ascribe those values to their vehicle; the Polo is safe and you can trust it to protect your family. These commercials show that we need to take into consideration the perceptions and values of the audience when marketing in different territories.

If you’d like to find out more about our digital marketing services and how we can help you speak to your audience you can contact us here.


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What are you trying to say?

Image of Walter White from Breaking Bad taken from the 2015 eSurance Superbowl commercials

What are you trying to say?

How effective are your commercials?

It’s that time of year again. The snacks are out and the beers are in the ice box, but those aren’t the only things we’ll consume during one of the world’s most viewed sporting events. Super Bowl halftime commercials are something of a tradition, many racking up millions of hits on YouTube and social media channels after the game. It’s a sought after spot. 1 in 3 households in the US will have the game on with audience figures well over 100m people, and big businesses pay big money to secure their place. So let’s look at how a pair of insurance companies spent $9m per minute engaging their audience…

Nationwide Insurance Superbowl Commercial | 2015 | USA


Nationwide wanted to tap into the family oriented and public service segments of the Super Bowl’s audience but their message didn’t quite come across the way that they had intended…

Ad Week branded the commercial a ‘social media nightmare’. Dead kids talking about their dreams that will never transpire is a bit of a buzz kill, especially when the audience are amped up for one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

“This spot is not intended to sell insurance, it’s intended to save children’s lives…”, said Nationwide CMO Matt Jauchius, “…and therefor the decision that we made, which is strategic, is to stage an intervention.”.

The company were [desperately] trying to spin out of the biggest flops in the history of Super Bowl commercials, and it was condemned by some as the worst of all time.

During the very same halftime commercial period, their competitors, eSurance released this commercial…

eSurance Superbowl Commercial | 2015 | USA


eSurance played a blinder. Featuring Bryan Cranston in character as Walter White (from Breaking Bad), they took a contemporary pop culture superstar, used his signature line, and applied it to their brand message… Sorta you isn’t you. They’ve told us what we need to know, eSurance tailor their product for the consumer. It’s an individual service. To top it all off, eSurance’s message was delivered in the right context to the consumer; a cool pop culture reference for a mass market audience.

The moral of the story? Speak to your audience in a language they have already bought into, and do it in an appropriate context. Check out our Digital Marketing Services or contact us to find out more about how your business can connect and engage with your target audience.

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