'We had a target of 15 press cuttings and secured 103' – Behind the Campaign

Not just any old iron – Amy Airey, senior account director at Umpf, reports on the agency’s 85th anniversary campaign for appliance brand Morphy Richards.

 Chris West, owner of an 80-year-old Morphy Richards iron, starred in the campaign
Chris West, owner of an 80-year-old Morphy Richards iron, starred in the campaign

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

To celebrate home appliance brand Morphy Richards’ 85th anniversary, we launched a two-pronged campaign in partnership with the Science Museum. Phase one saw us launch a competition to find the nation’s oldest working Morphy Richards appliance, which we knew would give us multiple news hooks, and phase two saw us launch a competition for primary school-aged children to design an appliance of the future.

How did the idea come into being?

Morphy Richards wanted to communicate the reliability of its products using its brand heritage and reputation. Back in 2010, we’d had accidental success with another appliance brand when a customer sent a letter suggesting they had the UK’s oldest working fridge. So we were confident that going down a similar route would meet Morphy Richards’ objectives and give us a reason to talk about the brand’s anniversary.

What ideas were rejected?

We had a couple of ideas to visually celebrate the brand’s founders, Donal Morphy and Charles Richards. One was to use a montage image of hundreds of slices of bread browned into different shades using Morphy Richards toasters (it seemed like a good idea in the brainstorm…). The other was to work with British fabric artist Benjamin Shine, who uses an iron to create tulle portraits.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process.

We kicked off in June with campaign planning, influencer outreach, confirming the paid media and approaching the Science Museum. Agency roles were also confirmed (The Right Agency provides b2b PR and Shiny Red manages social).

Phase one included digital, social and print (we ran regional social display and classified print ads across 17 regional titles) and PR activity went live in July. Phase two (PR, influencer activity and a PTA partnership) launched in August.

On 14 August, Chris West, 56, from south-east London, submitted a picture of the 80-year-old ‘Senior’ iron that was given to him by his grandmother as a housewarming present in the 1980s.

Winners were confirmed for both phases in October and prizes were arranged (Morphy Richards products and Science Museum gift shop vouchers). In December we pitched our oldest working appliance story to national media with photography.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

Our idea was going to live or die on whether we could actually find the oldest working appliance. So, while we knew in principle that if we could find one the story would work in the media, it was a calculated chance.

To mitigate this, we scoured online sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace and found various old working Morphy Richards appliances, which we were going to use should members of the public not enter our competition.

How did you measure the results and what were they?

Influencer activity delivered a reach of 64,392 and 1,563 engagements through three influencer partnerships (two Instagram stories and one grid post each). We had a target of 15 press cuttings and secured 103. And total circulation was 175,898,542 compared to our target of 2.25 million.

Print and online coverage was achieved in almost all national publications including half-page picture stories in the Daily Mail, Mirror, Telegraph, The Times, Daily Star and Daily Express, plus around 40 regional onlines and print.

Extensive broadcast coverage was secured, including BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, TalkSPORT, LBC, Channel 4’s Steph's Packed Lunch and London Live.

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

They say there’s no such thing as a new idea, but you can always improve one. Reworking and enhancing an old media story can deliver, as long as it meets the client’s brief – our ‘reliability’ message was front and centre and worked beautifully. And always have a back-up plan in case you have to, ahem, iron out any issues.

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