Why brilliant incentives involve a dash of | Incentive&Motivation

Travel Incentives News: Why brilliant incentives involve a dash of risk

What does it take to make an amazing incentive campaign, be that internal, or consumer-led? If you’ve ever tried to take a little inspiration from the big boys in the sector, then you’re definitely on the right path. But when big budgets at play, it doesn’t mean a campaign is any less risky. Someone who knows all about pushing the boundaries in this space is Andrew Rae,  Head of Promotional Marketing at the Black Tomato Agency.

Recently winning Gold, Silver & Bronze in the Prize, Reward and Incentive category at the IPM COGS Awards for the second year running they create ‘Remarkable Experiences That Inspire’ for brands and agencies alike and have plenty of learnings for anyone wanting to dabble in incentives or get that creative spark out there! 

We caught up with him to ask for his take on what happens when it’s award season in his World.

“My cousin and I share a long running joke. Whenever we see an off the wall advertising campaign, hear the ludicrous name of a new band or are told the plot line to a forthcoming farfetched film, we look at each other and say “Imagine the faces in the presentation when this was pitched!” Imagine the convincing and coercing you would have to do to get ‘Snakes on a Plane’ off the ground?

In the advertising world, cast your memory back to Compare the Market campaign created by VCCP. The Compare the Meerkat TV campaign launched in 2009 and it followed Orlov the aristocratic Russian meerkat and his family and friends (remember this is an advertising campaign for car insurance.) Following the campaign, comparethemarket.com was ranked as the 4th most visited insurance website in the UK, up from 16th in January 2008 and the site’s overall sales doubled. By 2010 the site had increased its market share by 76%, where competitors’ share had fallen by up to 30% over the same period. 700,000 Facebook fans, 22,000 followers on Twitter, Coronation Street sponsorship and rumoured record deals later it was arguably one of the most successful campaigns of the last 10 years.

Imagine the faces in the presentation when this was pitched?

Yes, VCCP got the gongs and the accolades, but in reality should we be thanking someone else for giving us Orlov? I think we should. Hats off to the client. To have the absolute vision, the trust in a supplier, the confidence, the ‘arm-chancery’ to throw caution to the wind and completely commit to someone’s else’s wild creativity is where the real credit should lie.

At the IPM COGS Awards we were recently awarded Gold, Silver & Bronze in the same category for the second year running. The Black Tomato Agency Groups Department  on the same day were awarded Incentive of the Year, the highest possible accolade in their field. The trophies are displayed resplendently in the office but we are very, very aware that the real winners are our clients who allowed us the free reign to be creative, to suggest untried techniques, to do what we do best.

Our clients (TSB and MINI respectively) are behemoths in their industry and it is widely acknowledged that the larger the brand the more risk adverse they are, the harder it is to guide them out of their comfort zone. And yet that is our role as agencies and suppliers, to convince our clients that we can help them by doing something unique and different and to trust our ideas.

The activity created for MINI took 50 of their top performing sales team to Nepal for the first UK incentive since the devastating earthquake of 2015. The experience included all the guests riding vintage Enfield motorcycles across some of the most treacherous roads in the country.

Imagine the faces in the presentation when this was pitched.

TSB wanted to engage with more customers on a more human through their relatively new YouTube channel. The activity that was created was to offer one family on Father’s Day the chance to win a personalised holiday of a lifetime and capture the whole thing on film. A risk adverse bank offering a once in a lifetime experience over Facebook to just one family, via a social media channel, opening itself up to public scrutiny?


To coin the phrase that has now become common parlance, the point I am making is ‘simples’. Creative campaigns are nothing without the progressive attitude and confidence of our clients. Confidence in a) being bold and setting themselves apart from their competition and b) confidence in their suppliers to make it happen.

So the next time you win an award, or see a wonderful piece of creative make sure you also pay credit to the client.  Credit for having the confidence to choose the supplier who offered something different and credit for being bold when it is their brand on the line.

Because without courageous clients, great ideas remain just that, ideas.”


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