Adwatch: Pester power at Pontin's

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "holiday camp"? Wet British summers? Regimental fun and Hi De Hi? You're not alone. Hardly surprising, then, that Pontin's was eager to change its image to boost business. The problem was, how.

The answer comes with a face-lift. Yes, at the ripe old age of 50, Pontin's has tweaked its corporate identity and has invested in developing new facilities - including improved accommodation and extra provision for children: abseiling, quad-biking and go-carts, amongst others. It also has a new advertising campaign.

The TV commercials which broke earlier this month tread adland's well- worn path by exploiting what is known in the industry as the "aagh factor" (letting a bunch of cute kids do the selling, instead of the advertiser itself).

The ads adopt the theme of Pontin's as "the party for kids". The idea is that a gang of children have formed their own political party to convince adults that the fun of a Pontin's holiday is their right. One poppet talks of "civil liberties" and cries: "Ban bedtime, we want to stay up later and have adults seeing to our every need!"

And, as in the brave new world of British politics, the strategy has been honed by focus group research. Cowan Kemsley Taylor, the advertising agency behind the campaign, explains.

"When we first won the business, we all went to Pontin's to sample it for ourselves," says Deborah Pullen, a CKT account director. It reinforced in the agency folk's minds many of the public's perceptions. While the atmosphere was warm and friendly, the image remained tired and old-fashioned. "But with Pontin's plan to update facilities, we felt there was a great opportunity to 'contemporise' the brand." Consumer research showed that mums are the key instigators of families' holiday plans, she adds. "Their prime concern is that the kids will have a fabulous time." Getting kids to articulate Pontin's appeal was a chance to use one of the advertiser's greatest weapons: pester power.

What make the ads stand out, however, are the children. Like Safeway's pint-sized stars Harry and Molly, the Pontin's kids really do shine through the bursting ranks of bland little faces with toothy grins who flog yet another pasta shape or chocolate bar.

The reason is the director. It was Tessa Sheridan's first ad, but she had already directed a short that picked up top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. "She spent a long time finding the right kids," Pullen explains. "We didn't want kids who looked too stage-schooly. We're talking to ordinary people, who don't want glossy kids: they want to see them how they really are."

Pontin's sales and marketing director, Simon Sheard, declares himself "well pleased" with the result. "Pontin's is a well-known, well-loved brand," he claims. "This is all about bringing it into line with Nineties tastes and needs."

Not that the idea is to lose touch with its core raison d'etre, he quickly adds. "Sir Fred [Pontin] always said Pontin's was about `a week's holiday for a week's pay'. That has served us well for 50 years. Our research shows that our customers are price-sensitive and want value for money. It also shows that if kids are happy, parents are happy, too."

The new campaign, he hopes, will serve to distinguish it from its better known (and bigger) rival, Butlins. "We've had a good think about our business and decided we want to be the leading UK provider of holidays for younger children - the pre-teen market," Sheard explains.

"Our research suggests older people go to Butlins." In this way, Pontin's hopes, it can grow its clientele beyond the current 750,000 visitors a year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
The programme was a look back at the Mad Men-y age of the Sixties and Seventies

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

PPI complaints were down by about a half

Banks face fresh wave of PPI compensation claims after landmark ruling

The PPI scandal has already cost Britain’s banks around £24 billion

Some experts warn that the bond sell-off may continue until the autumn, when the US Federal Reserve is expected to lift interest rates

Is it really that bad in the bond market?

The great sell-off has sparked fears for our pensions as well as bonds. Simon Read asks if you should keep calm or panic
Up and away: rates will rise but your mortgage won't escape its moorings with a long-term fix

Is a 10 year mortgage deal a fix too far?

A cut-price deal for a decade-long home loan - where's the problem? Only, says Simon Read, that circumstances can change and it won't be easy to get out
In a surprise move the Tories have decided against putting a career politician into the job. Instead they’ve handed the responsibility to campaigner Ros Altmann

New pensions minister has massive job on her hands

The Tories have appointed campaigner Ros Altmann to the post

Promises, promises: David Cameron talks to staff at Asda's head office in Leeds today

General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances

Rival party pledges could shrink your savings or grow your nest egg
Logos for the 'Big Six'; energy companies (top row from left) British Gas, EDF, RWE npower, (bottom row from left) SSE, E.ON and ScottishPower

Winter heating underpayment brings summer pain

One reader’s monthly direct debit charge has been increased by 62 per cent

Almost 15,000 people died last winter through living in cold homes that they couldn’t afford to heat

Social tenants locked into energy tariff for 40 years

Many Londoners who live in social housing estates are not allowed to switch because their landlord has ‘locked’ them in to buying from one supplier

Will your credit card rewards be scrapped following new EU rules on charges?

Providers are unhappy with new EU rules - but ultimately it is customers who will have to foot the bill
There remain more than a million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth collectively around £48m

Have you won £1m in the May Premium Bonds draw?

More than £60m was paid out to more than 2 million prizewinners this month

The 0 per cent introductory deals that credit cards offer are one of the most odious tricks

Beware credit card firms’ odious tricks

Why can’t we just have open and honest charges, without all the cross-subsiding?

The pound’s recent strength against the euro could be hit by economic uncertainty under a new government

How planning can make your travel cash go further

With the pound at a high against the euro, it pays to buy now before uncertainty post-election

Put the phone down on the coldcallers who see pension liberation as an opportunity to liberate your pension from you

Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers

Sean O'Grady offers advice on keeping your money safe
Switching to a better bank account is much easier than it used to be

More people are switching current accounts – but what do the figures mean?

Experts disagree about the 7% increase over the past year

The chance of getting what appears to be free money can be hugely attractive, especially to first-time buyers who can be fooled into thinking it’s extra cash to buy the essential new items they need for their dream home.

Beware the boom in cashback mortgage deals

Too many mortgages are being sold with misleading gimmicks

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

    £25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

    Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral