A missed opportunity for Sofa Workshop

When reviewing press advertising within the sofa market there seems to be little difference in terms of brand creative. Everyone includes an image of a sofa – thank goodness – and there is usually a nod to lifestyle – but that’s all.

Sofa Workshop is no exception. It’s a recognised brand but there are some fundamentals that every advertiser should follow. Sofa Workshop has many brilliant qualities: great heritage and expertise, British-made along with a wide range of exclusive designs; huge fabric choice and handcrafted to order. But you’d be hard pressed to know it from this advert.

Placing this ad in situ, it has to work extremely hard. As the reader flicks through the weekend supplement, is there sufficient standout to make them stop and read more? After all, a sofa is a sofa is a sofa. What is different about a sofa from Sofa Workshop?

The star of the show is the sofa; you may not like this particular colour or style but overall, it is a good looking sofa, on trend with fabric and colour. So why show only half a sofa? When you consider the price of the media in conjunction with how much you see of the sofa, the sofa has been demoted to the chorus.

And so to the logo and strapline (A) – ‘our craft, your creation’ – a great message. But to understand this you need to read the body copy (B) which, given the use of white copy on a pale background, is rather a challenge. And it only takes on bad print run for this crucial text to be completely illegible.

Within this body copy are key messages – none of which stand out. The key selling points and call to action are lost amongst the body copy – diversity in font weight, colours and point sizes would have helped here. Simply re-positioning the copy onto a darker coloured rug would also solve this.

So a missed opportunity with the creative here we believe. But, without any attribution in the ad, the marketing team at Sofa Workshop will be none the wiser. The lifestyle strategy is understandable to a degree, but attribution is key to knowing what works in press and what will deliver the most bang for your buck. As a direct response ad agency, it’s a prime focus for us and our clients and how we make a real difference to their business and make the most of every opportunity they have.


A missed opportunity for Eve Sleep?

As a company you’re brand focused. You love your brand and you want others to do so too. So you spend all your marketing budget on promoting it. You’re on TV and you look great. Life’s good. There’s just one thing: sales aren’t growing as quickly as you hoped.

Maybe you should try something different. Another way to reach your customer. Whatever it is, it mustn’t lose sight of the brand. Direct response perhaps? You wrinkle your nose. Really? You decide to give it a go. What about an insert you say? Magazines are full of them so they must work. And if doesn’t, well you won’t have spent much. Let’s not forget the brand though. In fact, let’s make it all about the brand. No need to say much. Everybody knows why they should buy our products. Include an offer? Well, if you must. Make sure it’s discrete though.

Sound familiar?

If so, the question is- did it live up to expectations? In other words, not just promote your brand but generate enquiries which converted to sales. If it didn’t, then perhaps you should re-think how to make your message more responsive next time?

Here’s an example.

Eve Sleep is a relatively new bed company who have built their brand awareness mainly on television. Using a cute mnemonic device in the shape of a cuddly sloth to give the company a distinctive identity, it recently created a 2-sided insert to drive people to their website. Unfortunately, from a direct response perspective it falls into the trap described earlier.

Take the front cover (a). It assumes everyone has heard of Eve Sleep and recognises the sloth character; that they’re aware of what Eve Sleep is as a company and are intrigued enough by the headline to want to find out more. A tall order. Here was an opportunity to catch people’s attention in a much more intrusive way. Money-off anything is one of the most powerful response mechanisms you can use yet there is no mention of it until you turn over.

As for the headline itself (b) – just how relevant is it?  Eve sell a premium range of beds, mattresses and bedding with the offer of a 100-day trial, free delivery and free returns – much more convincing reasons to pick up the insert than the current wording and yet this is hidden away on the back again. It would have made all the difference if this had been the key message instead.

On the back, well here style over substance continues (c). Here was the moment to remind and inform people of the sort of products Eve Sleep has to offer. Not just in the form of imagery but in descriptive selling copy that reinforces the reasons to visit the website and elaborates on Eve Sleep’s USP’s.

Lastly, don’t hide away what you want someone to do next and how to go about it (d). There is no sense of urgency in the current insert. Key to response is to convey the need for someone to react promptly otherwise the moment is lost. An end date displayed alongside the offer and a more prominent call to action would have created a greater incentive to do just that.

The moral here is, don’t rely solely on your brand identity and perceived awareness in every aspect of your marketing. Direct response mechanics exist for good reason – they work. Next time, take a deep breath and, without losing sight of your brand values, include them in your next lead generator. You’ll be surprised at the difference they make.










365 Days of running later…

A final word from Alice

So, I did it – 365 days of running. I covered exactly 1700km, which was far more than I anticipated.  There were many highlights (some literal ones when I went on holiday to Capri and couldn’t find a flat run anywhere and again when my friend decided it would be fun to run up Cley Hill on Boxing day) but my challenge meant I got to explore some lovely new places both close to home and on my travels.   I also saw amazing sun rises, rainbows and views.  I probably ran 75% of the time with just my trusty 4-legged friend, Newt, for company;  but I was also joined at various points by friends, my kids and family – none more so than on my final run back in my home town on New Year’s Eve (above) cheered back by Becky who was my inspiration behind this challenge.

So now me and Newt can put our feet up, I am very proud to say that we have raised over £5000 for Dorchester County Hospital Chemotherapy Department, where Becky is currently being treated – so hopefully she and many others will get the benefit of the funds raised very soon.  It is not too late to donate, every penny is much needed and very much appreciated.

Thank you very much to all those who have been generous already.

To donate please visit:



We need to talk about Newt

Newt is our Agency dog. Although not with us every day, she’s quite a regular, accompanying MD Alice on her days in the office most weeks.

Newt is very small but she has a very large presence. Mostly well-behaved, extremely cute and relatively docile, she can turn feisty without warning when a dog appears in the office next door. And the larger the dog, the bigger her reaction.  She can also be rather lively when male visitors arrive, particularly those wearing wide legged trousers…for some reason these give her the most cause for complaint but we’ve yet to discover why. Perhaps we should introduce a dress code?

With the wealth of newspapers and magazines surrounding her in the Agency, it’s no wonder that Newt is rather interested in current affairs and she has rather strong opinions, particularly on two issues. With this in mind, we thought we’d give her a chance to voice these today:

Leave or Remain?

I’m definitely not one to languish about indoors all day. Any excuse to get out onto the fields or charge through the woods chasing squirrels and I’m there. I also love running along the canal with my mum (even if she does run like a whippet).

Meat or Plant Based?

Well vegetables have their place – particularly when poached in chicken stock – but I would struggle to give up my meat dishes. I’m particularly enjoying beef stew at the moment and believe me, with the miles I’m currently clocking up, I need it!

Newt is currently helping Alice raise money for The Dorset County Hospital Charity in support of Alice’s stepsister, Becky. Alice is nearing the end of her 365 day challenge and has kept her pledge to run every day, whatever the weather and wherever she is.  You can find out more, and offer your support to  Alice (and Newt)  at  Alice’s Just Giving Page

The only certainty is uncertainty and the only guarantee is that there are no guarantees…


In the advertising environment you have to be able to substantiate every word you say and if you don’t then you can’t get your ad onto the TV screens.  If you run a press ad and even if just one person questions your claims or disagrees with what you say, the likelihood is that you will have to change your ad. 

So, here at AJ, we are finding it increasingly frustrating that the people running our country seem to have no such requirements to adhere to.  We’re days away from the due date to leave the EU and nobody seems any the wiser.  The ‘brightest minds in the country’ still can’t tell us what the consequences of leaving will be, either with a deal or without one – and the various parties can’t even agree among themselves.

So, what does it all mean?  Well, it’s a great time to be advertising in National Press! People are consuming more news now than ever, with many reading a wider variety of titles to get a fuller perspective on the range of thoughts and opinions out there – and so get closer to the truth.

If you can make your advertising budget stretch a little further – and have the flexibility to make things happen quickly – you should be able to see some positives out of this negative time.

Let’s get on with discovering what life is like outside of the EU and see what happens, surely it can only be better than this? And in the meantime, make the most of it while you can and if we can help you do so, all the better!

When does it pay to go prime?

Our client, David Salisbury, in prime position on the front page October 3rd 2019

We are often asked about pricing for Display and we have lots of clients who love the idea of Display and have tested it over the years but in the majority of cases the Classified sections deliver the best results in terms of cost per response. 

At AJ we are totally focussed on delivering the most efficient media schedule and therefore 75% of our ads run in Classified sections, albeit with many of the ads running facing or under matter as we negotiate hard on this.  However, you will always miss a proportion of the readership in these sections so it is a balance and you need to know exactly when the offer of a short term Display site will stack up.

Our client, Harrington & Byrne in prime position on the back page of the Telegraph 3rd October 2019

For example, Times Pages in Display are 250% more expensive than Classified and you could be just pages ahead – this will never give you a better result.  Daily Telegraph front page and back page solus sites are 100% more expensive than a 25 x 4 in the Saturday section – so this absolutely does.  The ads look great, punch way above their weight and they are amazing value: win, win. Which is why on one of the biggest news days in the last few weeks, the day after Boris’s so called announcements, we had not only the front page, but the back page too.

So if your schedule lacks some smart buying, or you have the desire for a bit more brand exposure – but you still need results  – then give us a call.

TV can have a big impact even with a small spend

People talk about TV and the ‘halo’ effect that it has on all your other media spend but how much do you need to spend for that to happen?                      Actually, if you get it right in terms of creative and planning,  not much.

We have introduced four of our press clients to TV so far this year,  with the first month’s media spend being around 15k (production costs of commercials have ranged from 5 to 20k) and they have all had their best ever sales months whilst they have been on TV.

This is most remarkable for Aquability, who spend over 2 million a year in press,  inserts and online and have been doing so for 20 years. Aquability went on air in July and had their best EVER month of sales with just 10k of TV spend.  So what made Aquability take the plunge into TV after so long? Their sister company, Eden Verandas, went on air in March and have remained on air ever since due to the huge uplift in brand search and sales that the TV campaign has created.

So, if you are stuck in a rut with your current media plan, then 25k could change your business dramatically. Why not give us a call to discuss how we could help with our seamless script-to-screen service?

Quooker appoints Attinger Jack

We are very excited, and rather proud,  to have won the Quooker account for press & TV from September.

This is a real case of playing the long game – we first met with this client over four years ago and we have always felt that we could make a real difference to their business.

The appointment comes at an exciting and important time for Quooker,  coinciding with the launch of their incredible new product ‘The Cube’.  This includes new TV creative, the main objective of which is to both build the brand and drive sales through the retailers.  We also felt that there was a huge potential market in selling direct, something they currently do by default from their advertising rather than running a true DR campaign.

We’re looking forward to building a long, rewarding relationship and helping Quooker to grow their already very successful business even further.

Whatever the weather, the run must go on……

Back in February, we wrote that our MD, Alice Buttling, is running every day of 2019 to raise money for The Dorset County Hospital Charity in support of her step-sister, Becky.

Despite successfully fighting breast cancer and being in remission for two years, Becky’s cancer returned late last year and is incurable.  Alice is determined to do what she can to support her and now, with nearly eight months of her challenge completed, Alice has clocked up a mighty 1,100 km.

“ I have managed to get out and run every day,” says Alice. “ And whilst I am looking forward to a rest, I have mostly enjoyed it.  I use the time to think about my amazing step sister – who has now finished her three months of chemo and is continuing to fight hard while striking things off her bucket list.”

Obviously tinged with sadness, thinking about Becky brings mixed emotions; “While running I have had lots of laugh-out-loud moments, remembering (many!) daft things we’ve done together and happy memories growing up.  I’ve also been lucky to have lots of running partners – my most loyal being my lovely dog Newt, who is by my side for every run (as long as I am not running overseas as I am doing this week!)”

Alice has also been joined by friends and family on many occasions and her favourite runs are with her three boys.

“I have run in the dark, rain, wind and snow and I am really enjoying the summer sunshine (and the odd shower). The terrain varies from road and canal paths to running across fields and even through a river! I have run whether at home, work or on holiday and I’m actually enjoying exploring new places too, which is great. I wouldn’t say I’m counting the days…….but it is just over four months to go before a lie in! “

If you would like to support Alice, you can do so at the link below. All donations are very gratefully received, thank you.


To learn more about The Dorset County Hospital Charity please visit:  http://www.dchft.nhs.uk/charity/Pages/home.aspx


It’s coming home, it’s coming home….football’s coming home

This Friday sees the Women’s World Cup kick off in France. While defending champions USA are co-favourites with hosts France, The Lionesses are hotly tipped to win the title for the first time.

Despite a few disappointing results in the run-up friendlies, the team – and the pundits – are confident that The Lionesses have the skills and the determination they need to win.

Lucozade Sport, who is committed to encouraging more women and girls to play football,  has created a commercial that brings together the excitement and drama of the World Cup along with the real, every day experience of women in football. Cleverly re-wording Baddiel and Skinner’s much-loved Three Lions anthem we think Lucozade Sport and their agency Grey London, have done a great job.

Great TV makes people think and gets people talking – and often singing too. We hope you’ll all be watching and supporting – and singing along. Come on England!

England v Scotland Sunday 9th June, 5pm

You can see the commercial via this link to The Drum https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/05/29/lucozade-sport-puts-money-where-its-mouth-with-womens-world-cup-campaign