Tunç Berkman, Vestel CMO, shares his thoughts on how to use national pride to build a brand that's integral to people's lives.
The heart of the Vestel business is our factory. Based in Manisa near Istanbul, Turkey, it produces approximately 21% of Europe’s flatscreen TVs and a huge proportion of other household items such as washing machines and dishwashers.
Brands rarely talk about where and how their products are made but for us it’s a critical part of our brand challenge for two key reasons. In our home market we have a saying: ‘Turkish people can’t build’. By putting our factory at the heart of our message, we are challenging that misconception, demonstrating our world-class facilities and products as well as showcasing our local roots. It is also saying we understand your needs better than anyone else.
We shoot our TV ads at our facility, explain our marketing strategy to the entire workforce and when we launched our sponsorship of cycling’s Tour of Turkey, we even negotiated that the route should go through the middle of our production facility. This commitment to be production-first is part of our transition from a product-based company to a lifestyle brand, a process we started two years ago. It’s critical to our success in our home market.
In Turkey, where we sell under our own brand name and not as in the UK where we operate as Servis and Electra, for example, we are looking to build a share of life approach. We want our consumers to see Vestel as partners throughout their daily lives. We want them to feel safe, comfortable and understand that Vestel is a brand that enables the lives they want to lead. We’re doing this through a number of initiatives, including working with local councils to establish cycling routes where families can safely enjoy time together.
That style of communication is rooted in our new approach or moving away from product focus to consumer insight. This takes us beyond demographics and into a better understanding of consumer lifestyles. For example, our recent campaign for Father’s Day was designed to promote our new Venus smartphone. It depicted calls by sons and daughters to fathers, which are then taken over by their mothers. Our communication was designed to highlight the emotion that fathers feel with the phone itself simply placed into the story.
Campaigns like this have helped us start our journey beyond a commodity brand. We are now regarded as “one of us” and an “emotional” brand. These are dramatic improvements on past perceptions of Vestel as simply a product producer.
Our brand purpose is about enabling consumers to help themselves. It is also to drive greater engagement. Our cycling efforts are a key part of that process and, ultimately, our ambition is to create a Vestel-sponsored professional cycling team, taking our brand to La Vuelta in Spain, the Giro in Italy and, ultimately, the Tour de France. This will provide us with the perfect base for the expansion of our core brand into other markets.
Such initiatives also fit firmly with our drive to be a respectful brand. We are transforming our approach from push (advertising) to pull (engagement). That’s why our drive for enhanced consumer understanding is so critical. We know that we are on the start of our journey, one that our staff will be a key part of. They are our missionaries. That’s why we explain our marketing approach to them all the time and make a statement about our plant and our factory.
We want to celebrate our pride at making world-class products in Turkey, our pride in our colleagues who design and build the products we sell but also our pride in becoming part of the lives of our consumers.
What we can learn from Project Reconnect
It’s great to be able to learn what others do better or best in the world and to be able to apply those learnings to our communications.
We don’t have to innovate all the time, you can learn from excellence and then apply that thinking to your own market, the key is to find the right way to localize these approaches.
This article was originally published in Marketing Week's Project Reconnect column. You can find the article here.
Tunç Berkman CMO