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TFM 2019: Branding, Gen Z & Data — A conversation with award winning record producer & Downing Street advisor Kevin Tewis-Allen

Fri 30 Aug 2019 | Kevin Tewis-Allen

Sam Tidmarsh sits down with TFM 2019 speaker Kevin Tewis-Allen, award-winning BBC Radio 1 producer turned Downing Street marketing advisor, to discuss the importance of branding, marketing to Gen Z and measuring impact through data-driven insights

Kevin Tewis-Allen kicked off his glittering career photographing international pop group Five Star. A few years later, he was appearing behind the camera himself, hitting #7 in the charts with his first hit record. Despite the long and “soul-destroying” hours, over his musical career Kevin built up a catalogue of 13 top ten hits and 7 number one singles and was awarded BBC Radio One Producer of the Decade 1990-2000 by DJ firebrand Pete Tong.

It turns out that knowing “what makes an audience go crazy in a nightclub” is not too different from the marketing concept of understanding the needs and wants of your customers, profitably. In fact for Kevin the fundamentals of “creating the product from scratch and being commercially successful” aligned with the cadence of his production days – the difference was simply academic.

From then to now… you’re volunteering as the CMO at Street Soccer Foundation. Is that a completely new challenge?

Spending 16 years as a creative was amazing. But I didn’t want to be one of those crusty old folks. So to become like Alan Sugar, I needed to understand law, finance, projects, people, teams, leadership, all the other parts that makes you become a well-rounded CEO. My dream is to be a kick ass CEO who can do both sides of the coin: the creative and the commercial elements. So that’s why I went and got a CIM degree (MBA level) in the city. It served me very well because I can have really creative conversations with product teams whilst also having a really great CFO relationship without using too many marketing terms.

[Street Soccer Foundation] approached me to see if they could help boost the Facebook campaign they were working on to raise money. They already had a 100 percent success rate with just two full time staff, so I said to them, why don’t I come aboard as your CMO for free, forever and help you become a national charity? Two years in, they now have 17 Premiership football clubs signed up and an entire programme of commercial partnerships- they’re doing very well.

It’s a really cool project.

It’s so rewarding when you see a disadvantaged teenager who doesn’t have a home yet, let alone an educational career. Then 10 weeks later they have a job and a house. It’s just mind blowing!

It’s about building up a relationship with people, a community?

When you have a 100 percent success rate, you need to celebrate it! So my first job was to immediately change the positioning of the foundation to ‘we change lives through football’ — something much more inspirational. We don’t go asking for £100. It’s a very different conversation from the outset. The first thing people do is say when we meet them is wow, how can I get involved? How do you do that? It’s about the right questions and demonstrating how we add value to socially good causes rather asking someone for money – which is what everyone else does. It was a very deliberate brand positioning strategy.

It’s very different from what you were doing before.

Well in 1993 I created Winston the Churchill Bulldog who you still see on TV. So I was 19 when I created him, I was doing marketing long before I was even aware I was evening doing it. My friend Jackie worked at Churchill car insurance in Kent, and she put this brief out for creative agencies in London, she said they can’t nail it, would you like to give it a go? The brief was that they had no female car insurers on the books and they wanted a female friendly brand but also they must remain very British as part of their heritage.

So I came back with a puppy. He was called Winston and he goes “oh no!” A nodding dog on the back of a car seat and a cartoon. Nothing about car insurance, it’s a puppy that every girl will love… and it won!

Well you definitely did! It’s so well known.

Yeah, so 27 years old, he’s still smashing it. So Street Soccer Foundation was very similar to me, it was just about how is what makes the business stand out from the rest. So the dog, music, UNILAD, UNIDAYS, Street Soccer Foundation, Printt, 10 Downing Street, all just doing the same thing, just how do I get the brand noticed in the best way quickly and make it sustainable. That’s when the creative CMO steps back into the commercial arena.

At the heart of it is the creative – focusing in on one idea

I call it superior brand positioning. You just take your business from zero and try to make it hero, in the most meaningful way possible. Sometimes it’s a bit costly, sometimes it costs nothing, it depends what the aim of the business owner is.

Did you focus on the creative at UNILAD?

They wanted someone from a creative background, who’s done music, video entertainment and they wanted somebody who’d been a head of marketing and also dealt with creative agencies and corporates – ta-da, that was me. They had about 20 million followers at that point. I helped them grow a lot in that year in fans and revenue..

I helped UNILAD reposition as a ‘brand safe’ trusted editorial partner that brands can safely advertise with. We really got behind some amazing socially good brands and causes.

Why Millennials and Gen Z?

Every brand in the world, whether you’re Coca Cola, Apple, Microsoft, they try and get people in [these age brackets] as quickly as possible. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if a brand can get an 18 year old to love their brand quickly they will be with them for 20-25+ years. So they are the hot market. By 2020, they will control 40% of UK GDP. That’s why brands like Misguided at the moment are all over Love Island, doing anything they can to be younger, be cooler, be fresher. That’s where I come in to say… that advert is rubbish, it just doesn’t talk to them.

So how do you talk to them?

Product benefits. Take Huawei, right? Right now all of the main stream marketing Is much less about the phone tech and all about how cool the photos are you can take with it. So it’s about focusing on just one key benefit of having the product. That’s going to appeal to a lot of Gen-Z as they are not brand loyal.  And the proof is in the pudding they have sold their campaign on just one killer USP.

On the subject of mobile, is this the best way to reach Gen Z or millennials?

So they’re spending about six hours a day on their mobile phone. A lot of that is during work. But they’re very mobile friendly. In purchase decisions, they see something off Instagram – swipe up and buy, a lot of Amazon purchases are also done on the mobile phone. A good example is Missguided. You’ll get an email every single day with the hottest style tips, click the link and go to the mobile version of the website, and you’ll buy it. It’s all then cleverly followed up with social media and out of home advertising.

So reducing touchpoints helps?

If you’ve got more than three calls to action to buy, you’re out. If you’re on Facebook, you’re flicking your phone up, the bounce rate is currently 1.7 seconds  – so your video has to really ‘get on’ with the call to action and or brand awareness straight away. People often show me a 30 second advert, I’m like, what’s the point? Give them a 10 second ad. Some tips – in the first second you need to be able to show either the date of release, what one thing does it do differently, the price and how I can buy it – now. Show the consumer an image of the product benefits. For example, if you are launching a new Harry Potter film. You just want to see the Harry Potter logo, the date. So instantly, you know, it’s Harry Potter, you’ve got the association, you know when the film is open so you can get people to buy tickets. Job done.

Thing is, it’s the tech problem. When you’re on the phone, on the train, your technology doesn’t work because of the train. So getting that 1.7 seconds is probably the reason why they flick quick. Because when they get a bit of service on the TFL network, marketers have got to get their message across really quickly.

We also see text on videos, watching with the sound off.

Yes. Last week we did exactly this. There was text below the video. So there’s three things you see with that. First, we were finding a lot of the millennials were at work… so shouldn’t have been on their phone. So they turn the sound off. Not the greatest insight, but that’s human behaviour for you.

You also solve the difficulties for those with deafness. We should never forget that there are people who are deaf, those with disabilities. So we’re appealing to a new audience that could engage with our content on mobile really fast, it went down really well. And the charities told us that’s brilliant to see being included into the creative.

The other thing is that if you were up late at home in the evening, you don’t want to wake the baby or your other half for that matter- but you want to watch the video, you can still do this. It solves so many issues with having text overlay.

Your second point is the whole premise of our panel which you’re so kindly part of, looking at “Who have we ignored and why do they need to be included?”

Yes and I’m going to run through my favourite technology and what that did as part of my panel contribution. You can measure sentiment on comments, for example around disability. We ran a positive campaign at UNILAD to challenge common challenges around disabled people. There was a brilliant influencer who led as the presenter and we were immediately able to talk around disability in a different way. It was relatable and sharable – the presenter made a somewhat taboo subject cool and interesting. Within 24 hours, we changed perceptions by +8 percent in the UK over 24 hours. [UNILAD] challenged newsworthy stories.

That’s really interesting how you can measure this positive impact.

The big mistake marketers are making is that we don’t read content in enough detail. We just don’t deep dive and read every one… yet. It could be 700 comments, but I tell you what, that’s 700 pieces of focus group you didn’t really understand in enough detail. And that could inform your tech team, your customer service team and also your pricing and promotional tactics. You can go back with this data and say, within the last 24 hours we found X, Y and Z. What can we do about it? It informs you on the consumer market so quickly.

So it’s about understanding consumer behaviour too?

I think if we should understand consumer behaviour in a more proactive basis, because it is painful scrolling through 700 comments, certainly not the best use of your time, but gives you the data that your business is missing.

Understanding your audience now might be different in two, three months even, is so important. We spend a lot of time marketing to the same group of people. It works now, it may be great for sales… but where should we be in 12 months? That could be very different sector and customer type. The platform TikTok came along and completely changed media spend in days and I think 5G with reshape how brands and consumer AI. This phone call probably has a life span of a few years maximum and then we’ll all be doing even more clever things with videos and virtual reality and AR.

Join Kevin At TFM 2019, 25 - 26 September 2019, Olympia

Who have we ignored, and why do they need to be included? (Panel)
26 Sep 2019, 13:50 – 14:20
Content & Social Strategies Theatre

Experts featured:

Kevin Tewis-Allen

Chief Marketing Officer
Street Soccer Foundation

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