Paint giant Dulux is hoping to capitalise on the lockdown-inspired home decorating boom with new campaign targeted at consumers adapting to a post-pandemic lifestyle.

Launching today (15 March), the campaign is promoting the company’s new Simply Refresh range of paints, as well as celebrating Dulux’s 90th anniversary and 60 years of its Old English Sheepdog mascot.

Seen as a substantial and recognisable brand asset, the famous dog has been a fixture of Dulux ads for the past six decades having – according to legend – playfully stormed the set of an advertising shoot in 1961. Many consumers don’t even know the correct name of the dog breed and simply refer to them as ‘Dulux dogs’, says Dulux marketing lead at parent group AkzoNobel, Ewa Moxham.

Like many brands that sell products to improve homes, the company has had a busy year. Moxham explains the marketing team had to pivot much of its activity to reflect the sudden market upheaval, with customers stuck at home wanting to decorate, just as DIY retailers were struggling with closures and trading restrictions.

“Obviously everyone spent more time at home, but the homes have had to evolve in terms of how we use them,” Moxham points out. “For some they became offices, for others school classrooms, gyms, so many multipurpose uses of the home.”

TV is still the best and the biggest way to appeal to a mass market audience, and we are a mass market brand.

Ewa Moxham, Dulux

The ‘Simply Refresh’ campaign seeks to capture the sense of ease of using the paint product and get away from the perception that decorating is disruptive and difficult.

“We’re trying to remove that hassle factor. You will see in the campaign that the focus is on the lightness of it. There is so much joy that you can get from transforming your room, so much joy you can get from colour. Now we have a product that makes it easy, so there is no reason not to do it,” says Moxham.

The product was developed after Dulux research found a lack of time – and decorating confidence – is behind many un-started decorating projects. Simply Refresh has been designed to be thick enough to change colours with a single coat, thus minimising the amount of time customers have to spend watching paint dry before they can put their rooms back together.

Dulux has put its brand mascot at the heart of its new campaign.

Dulux hopes the product’s ease of use will also open up a challenging market: renters. As the average age at which people are able to buy their own homes in the UK edges ever upward, Dulux is seeking to educate renters about how they can improve their homes too.

The company discovered through its research, for example, that many tenants are able to decorate rented flats, but just don’t know it.

“Sometimes it’s just a perception that you can’t decorate your flat, rather than a reality. People think they can’t, but actually they can,” says Moxham.

Paints that allow a change of colour with a single coat mean renters can even put things back as they were before ahead of moving out, she adds.

Experimenting with the marketing mix

While Dulux has been consistent in its drive for product innovation, it has applied a similar strategy to its marketing budgets, which have remained steady. “We invest consistently every year in our marketing spend, but the mix is changing,” says Moxham.

Despite the growth of subscription services and the proliferation of digital channels, terrestrial TV remains a key component of the Dulux media mix.

“TV is still the best and the biggest way to appeal to a mass market audience, and we are a mass market brand,” Moxham says.

Remaining top of mind is a key objective. According to measures the company commissioned from Kantar, Dulux enjoys 96% brand awareness, ahead of any rival in the paint sector. “We are one of the paint brands you always see advertised, we are always communicating,” she adds.

That said, Dulux has also been moving into new channels, with a growing use of influencers. Initiatives such as YouTube tutorial videos have also accelerated during lockdown. The new campaign will employ all these channels to spread the word about the new range, although the team are still exploring the right mix to ensure each channel gets the appropriate level of support.

We invest consistently every year in our marketing spend, but the mix is changing.

Ewa Moxham, Dulux

“We’ve worked with influencers for a long time. Although many are in the interiors and DIY space. We also work with a variety of creators to help us reach wider markets,” Moxham explains.

“For example, our work with [broadcasters] Fearne Cotton and Clara Amfo across Colour of the Year has really helped us tap into audiences that may not be as confident with DIY and colour, and help to inspire them to give it a go.”

Dulux is set to drive its awareness still further later this year. It has worked with Channel 4 to commission a return of Changing Rooms, the 1990s TV show that introduced viewers to a host of decorating ideas – not all of them the kind that lasted. The series will be hosted by Davina McCall and original host Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

The strategy of giving consumers ideas for projects clearly suits a paint brand and it fits the predictions Dulux has made regarding future trends. The multifunctional use of the home is here to stay, insists Moxham.

“As a result we will see a lot more of what we call zoning,” she adds. “You have your working zone, your rest zone, you can have a play zone. You can quite easily zone out and make use of a space with a bold use of colour.”

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