By Ian Humphris, Founder, Nokamo



Frozen pizza.

Supermarket frozen pizza.

An exciting sales promotion pitch brief from a prospective new client.

With the creatives over the moon, planning likewise, we ignored it.

Although we did eat… The client had kindly sent some samples. Rude not to.

It’s 2005. Food was a mechanism for being un-dead and despite said pizza being in the agency fridge for a few days (you can imagine) it got a battering. Along with the agency drink of the moment. The Turbo-Shandy.

I was 30. MD at The Marketing Store (Leeds) and behaving like a student. Brilliant.

Anyway, to work.

It became reasonably apparent that the object of our ill-considered palette was in fact a blinder. One thing we all knew was pizza. And fuck me this tasted like a good one We slowly began to sit up and smell the shit they were shovelling. Within a day or so we’d ‘ordered’ some more and set about trying it with other brands. A hurriedly and decidedly poor research study was scraped together where we ate Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s to see what was going on.

Christ, it really did taste good.

So good, in fact, we decided it must have been a Turbo haze or sub-conscious bias, as it later became known. Quickly we assembled a more robust test (paying the pros to run a blind taste panel with real people). Basically Mrs Miggins, a few students, mums etc to see if they too liked the cool aid.

At the same time client moves were being made.

I was trying my best to suggest there may be one of those big ideas in the midst…odd, given they were the preserve of weird-beard-quill-toting-storytellers from Shoreditch. Undeterred by the southerly-checked-shirted headwind we marched on whilst keeping an eye on the “LoveFilm” FREE DVD sale promotion offer the client really wanted to buy.

As we mustered our inconsiderable resources toward the burgeoning idea great stuff started to happen. Mrs Miggins and chums decided unreservedly that this pizza was in fact gold.

And when compared to the price of the others it left them in no doubt who made the best tasting pizza.

Ever get that feeling in your left scrotum something good is about to happen…? Doesn’t matter…point is our balls were spinning so we started to write.

Idea first. Execution second.

‘Chicago Town Takeaway Pizza. Tastes better than Domino’s or Pizza Hut’

As it turns out we hadn’t quite mastered the whole planning story-telling bollocks. Inevitably our strategy was our story our idea and our execution. But fuck it.

This was what we were pitching. To work.

We ran consumer taste-tests in Manchester, London and Edinburgh. 78% agreed with our taste hypothesis – that’s 250 people. To state a ‘preference’ in ads we knew we only needed 76 people. 76 FFS.

We created a pitch presentation that was so single minded it made Ronseal blush.

First slide, “You make the best tasting pizza but you’re terrible at telling people about it”.

We went big. No BS. Just straight talking. No second or third ideas. This was it.

We said it should be on TV, on pack, instore, new media(!) and a bunch of other stuff. Penetration was the key – the tactics and rationale that would have made Byron happy. And with that, the game was ours.

We even had a sales promotion -the original brief- a money back guarantee. Naturally.

All of it a larger-than-life idea and execution that couldn’t be hidden. For 10 years ‘we’ ran this idea and variations of it…

It was the first food brand in the UK to name and shame a competitor in TV advertising. We weaponized most of the marketing mix; mahoosive sampling, door drops, PR, experiential, the works…

In its first half dozen years it increased penetration 300+% (to 9%), increased brand value by £55m, regularly recorded the highest sales in category off price promotion, won a Grocery product of the year award, multiple Supermarket awards and numerous industry awards.

This supermarket frozen pizza was magic. The clients -Paula & Jan- were the best I’ve ever worked with and the agency team, ‘kin ‘ell they drank their own pizza inflated BMI’s that night.

And when I left the Marketing Store to setup my own agency; guess who was the founding and retained client?

Happy days.