Luxury & Lifestyle
Love Letters From Britain
The British luxury sector is one of the UK’s greatest export success stories; with 80% of production destined for overseas markets, it’s a major driver of international visitors. But the global luxury market is facing huge challenges – 2020 saw a $79 billion loss in sales. Coronavirus caused travel blocks, retail closures, and a general halt to what many consider to be a key tenet of what ‘luxury’ means, an experience and the feeling of belonging to a discerning and specialist community. As the world reopened, Walpole, the UK’s official luxury sector body, wanted to hit the ground running with a fresh campaign to bring the spotlight back to the diverse and unique world of British luxury.
The rise of conscientious consumerism has accelerated the need to shift and solidify perceptions of luxury goods as products that can be synonymous with environmental and social responsibility. The Edelman Trust barometer increasingly shows consumers value transparency and trust, which they also feel is greatly lacking. Buyers also want to know companies are producing in ways that respect planet and people. Walpole wanted us to raise awareness of the innovation that is going on behind the scenes to rise to this challenge. We set out to create content that brings out the best of what British luxury is all about – stories of the fascinating characters that make up this heritage-rich yet ever-evolving industry, and all that drives them in their pursuit of quality. The campaign aimed to build brand awareness for the sector, positioning the UK as the home of luxury by highlighting the innovation, sustainability values and heritage of the country. It also aimed to reach global luxury audiences and encourage travel to the UK in the wake of the pandemic by making the UK a desirable destination for luxury shoppers.
The Content Solution
When brainstorming our content plans, we first thought about those we wanted to engage. Luxury buyers belong to a specialist community, prioritising values such as provenance, craftmanship, history and authenticity. We also wanted to do something different; people all over the world have heard of Molson Brown, Bentley, and Mulberry, but do they know what really makes the company, and the people behind it, tick? We wanted to create a series of short documentary-style films that would go behind the scenes of some of Britain’s best-known luxury names – telling a range of human-focused stories of founders, fashion designers, master whisky blenders, engineers and musicians.
As well as using the testimonies of the real people at the heart of these businesses to create an emotional memory, this approach aimed to give our audiences a unique insight into the true identity of their favourite luxury brands, and how this affects every part of how they are run – from sourcing ingredients for a new scent or capturing atmospheric carbon to create diamonds to supporting mental health through horticulture programmes and reducing bottling plastic. This would help to make sure the impact of our content was not just a short-term impression, but that it would create a feeling of long-term affiliation to and relationship with our brands. ‘Love Letters from Britain’ uncovers the untold stories of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s most innovative luxury brands and organisations that are helping define a new era of luxury, both at home and on the global stage. They see and do things differently, successfully turning rhetoric into action and making change at scale.
The importance of quality and craftmanship was not just evident in the stories we told, but also keenly reflected how we told them. There was a strong synergy between the luxury products we were showcasing and our approach to filming and editing the pieces. Our content was shot in a cinematic style, filming on RED and ARRI cameras which allowed us to see things in incredible detail and add warmth and a strong sense of reality. The use of natural sound enriched the audio of the content and provided an immersive feel at key moments in the narratives. Our goal was to make our viewers feel enlightened and inspired by the dynamism of British brands in protecting their craft, developing talent, at the same time as committing to sustainable processes.
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
With the goal of building long-term positive brand recall and affiliation we created a 12-month media plan which would utilise social media paid ads, display advertising on BBC.com and a carefully curated website to reach both engaged and new audiences around the world.
Our solution began with an immersive and dynamic website, hosted on BBC.com (www.lovelettersfrombritain.com), which set the tone for our media amplification strategy. The website enabled audiences to unearth stories through a parallax scrolling design that surfaced the short documentary-style films within three core chapters of sustainability, innovation and redefined heritage.
We drove traffic through to the website through highly targeted display advertising. We utilised MPU, Billboard and Leaderboard ads to target audiences who regularly consume content across BBC.com that relates to luxury travel, luxury arts and culture, and luxury shopping. We also built in a secondary audience of consumers of business, finance and travel content as we know audiences for this sort of content will also be interested in our campaign and may capture some high net worth individuals not traditionally consuming luxury content. We utilised beautiful still images captured through our filming with powerful copy to drive click throughs to the campaign, ensuring the images and copy would relate to our global target audience.
The social strategy utilised cinemographs, stop motion graphics, GIFs and beautiful animation to seed the campaign throughout Instagram and Facebook predominantly, mainly in paid stories and in-feed paid posts, with small amounts of media spend on Twitter and LinkedIn. We created a range of assets to target the different audience segments for the campaign; for example, using the playful and quirky stop motion graphics for the younger affluent Asian audience and the short beautiful animations for the older affluent American audience. This tailored audience-led campaign allowed us to pick out relevant stories to each audience and drive high levels of engagements, making effective use of our social media paid budget.
Finally, building a two way conversation with global audiences was a large part of the campaign as we know this ensures greater brand affiliation and future recall. Through the use of a custom hashtag (#LoveLettersFromBritain) we asked audiences to tell us about their luxury products, what matters most to them when buying luxury goods and to post and share our stories on their own platforms.
Using Science of Engagement, BBC StoryWorks proprietary technology, we examined how the campaign impacted viewers’ emotions and how their perceptions and awareness of topics were shifted. It utilises eye tracking software and neuroscience-informed techniques to record audiences watching the films and then ask a series of questions. We measured a 38% uplift in audiences associating the UK with ‘Innovative’; 53% with ‘Sustainable’; and 23% with ‘Welcoming’, demonstrating a significant change in perceptions across our key objectives. On encouraging return to travel and showcasing the UK as leading in luxury, we recorded a high favourable feeling towards the UK throughout our tests, with an average of a 55% rise from an already high baseline.
We recorded incredible reach into global markets. Since launching in July 2021, Love Letters from Britain has recorded 54k page views on the BBC.com site (www.lovelettersfrombritain.com outside the UK, www.thewalpole.co.uk/love-letters inside the UK), we’ve reached 35 million BBC.com audience members through display advertising, and we’ve recorded 2.1 million impressions across our social media campaign, generating more than 290k engagements.
We have seen high volumes of posts using our series hashtag (#LoveLettersFromBritain) and audiences wanting to onwards share the campaign. In our Science of Engagement report we measure ‘Desire to engage’ – a viewer’s motivation to take action after watching, for example sharing, discussing, or researching further. We achieved 97%, exceeding our benchmarks.
Social media testimonials include:
“Just like every British product, just amazingly amusingly perfect” – Instagram user
“I could have watched that for hours 👏😍” – Instagram User
“What a lovely piece of art.” – Instagram user
“Congratulations on the beautifully produced Love Letters from Britain series! This is a wonderful way to discover brands I didn’t know about; and there are some very powerful and meaningful stories.” – Belmond