Why Alco is finding the funny side of sparky life in its new campaign

The long-standing electrical brand has taken a different approach with a humorous look at the life of an electrician in a bid to capture mindshare and shelf space

Electrical brand, Alco, has opted for humour in its latest campaign, ’52 Weeks of Alco’, which features ‘Russ the Sparky’, a fictional electrician trying to be a social media influencer.

In the series of videos, Russ navigates his way through the day-to-day challenges of being a sparky.

As an electrical wholesaler, it’s a departure for the brand to take a humorous approach to a campaign, which is running across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and pokes a little fun at influencers.

The series sees Russ trying to manage his apprentice, his personal life, the challenges of technology, organisation and staying up to date with products, all while trying to work with other tradies he comes up against. The '52 Weeks of Alco' campaign also has a focus for electrical wholesale branches, where every week, a branch will see extra material to help support their electrician customers in selecting and buying Alco products.

“The brand identity is ‘the standard’ - reliable, predictable and a safe choice for Installers. The products sit in a crowded market, but the brand has high repeat purchase. We have also expanded the breadth of products in recent years, so the challenge is to keep reminding installers of the brand’s presence,” Klein Tools MD, Stephen Hanlon, explained to CMO.

Alco has increased its range, width and depth, added stocking locations, expanded product features as well as ramped up wholesaler support materials. With the weekly episodes of the social media campaign it is also sending marketing collateral to every wholesale location weekly.

“This reinforces the brand at the distribution point as well as in the mind of the installers,” said Hanlon.

Finding the right way to use humour

Alco's range is a typically low-involvement, commodity product. While each product in the range has uniqueness and features that ensure it stands out, the challenge is to get shelf space in the wholesale outlet while also creating a conversation amongst the end users, being certified electricians.

"Humour creates a differentiation if the brand choice is not top of mind for installers,” Hanlon said.

While there is a risk with humour because one person’s joke may be another person’s insult, using professional talent, combined with an understanding of the target market, minimises the risk, he said. The key to using humour appropriately is to use the right talent and have draw on the knowledge of the brand’s market. \

“When trying to work out the right approach to using humour, professional comedians and entertainers are the best to ask,” Hanlon said.

“Industries have in jokes and common language and cultures which help define them and allow participants to feel part of them. Any group of professionals when they get together have a language all of their own. For brands to be relevant, they need to reflect their target market.

“From a marketing perspective, if you chose to use humour, hire a professional, while ensuring it fits your target market.”

How a long-term brand approached 2020

The Alco brand has been in the electrical channel since the 1960s, originating as the Australian Lighting Company and after a number of ownership changes, Alco Cable Glands was the market leader for Glands in the early 1990s. Today, Alco covers the full breadth of installation materials used by electricians in their daily work.

In terms of the marketing mix, the vast majority of spend historically in the business, and the industry more generally, has been in direct sales resources. “Any brand or promotional advertising has traditionally been allocated to cooperative advertising programs with distribution partners,” said Hanlon.

The '52 Weeks’ campaign is the biggest spend in not just the company’s history, but among its peers, around these types of products. “We are allocating a 50/50 split in the campaign to social media and wholesaler support,” explained Hanlon.
 
While the events of last year haven’t impacted the brand, they could have. “We decided to push hard on new product launches as well as heavily invest in Inventory support, while competitors looked to preserve cash by reducing Inventory early on in the pandemic. Now with supply chain challenges evident, we have a substantial competitive advantage,” Hanlon added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, or follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page.


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