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The Independent Online
The industry claims that Superdrug and its agency Bates Dorland have "made British advertising history" with their new "video diary-style" TV campaign, which has just broken on Tyne Tees TV. In the experiment, 18 women (out of an original 500) had video cameras installed in their homes, and were told to talk to them each day for two weeks about health, beauty, shopping and men. The director Martin Head then edited the most natural performances out of 100 hours of footage. The aim was frankness and freshness, for a relatively modest price-tag: around pounds 250,000. The campaign will run nationally if deemed a market success.

The client: Superdrug

Nick Adderley, head of marketing services

"We have advertised in the press before, but we've never been on TV. The reason we now think it appropriate is because there's a lot of change in the business. We really want to start communicating and tell people that Superdrug has moved from being a discounter - that we're now positioning ourselves as a health and beauty retailer. However, we did want to maintain our value position and give people good choice, all in a friendly, fun environment. Bates Dorland's brief basically said: "We have to be our customers' favourite health and beauty shop. Can you come up with a dramatisation of the key essences of that statement?"

The agency: Bates Dorland

Julian Sandy, board account director

"Superdrug wants to become the first-choice destination store for anything in the health and beauty sectors. Their main competitors are Boots and the Body Shop, both very strong brands.

"If you look at Superdrug at the moment, it's very, very strong on value for money and offers a lot of deals. Superdrug is known for extremely good value ... but for precious little else. When up against Boots and Body Shop, we had to give something else beyond value.

"There was always the strong memory of when Superdrug took on and undercut the fragrance houses. In all the research we did, this one episode was prevalent in people's minds. We felt this was a rich vein, and so we hit upon the idea of testimonials; the last thing you want to do with Superdrug's image is put any sort of advertising gloss or spin on it.

"Superdrug was viewed by consumers as `what you see is what you get' - an honest brand - so the testimonial seemed to be the most genuine style of getting across the message we wanted.

"Instead of normal testimonial - like Pedigree Chum or Always sanitary protection - we decided that the way to get across to the consumer that what they were seeing in our commercials was utterly unscripted was, well, not to have a script.

"We checked the idea first with three secretaries here: we put a camera in their rooms and asked them to speak to it twice a day about health, beauty, shopping - anything really. We edited together three films, and convinced the client that this had a lot of potential.

"Certainly, from Superdrug's point of view, it being their first time on television, it was a big step for them to say yes, especially when there was not so much as a script on the table, and no guarantee that we'd get anything usable."