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Transforming Condor Ferries from Functional Travel to a Brand Experience

The challenge 

This is a story of how building a brand, can also build huge campaign ROI.

Condor Ferries takes people between the UK, and Channel Islands and France, but with increased competition from flights and new holiday destinations emerging, passenger numbers were falling (you can fly to the Islands from around 20 UK airports, and up to 80% of visitors have chosen to fly).

Our job was to shift them from an A-B ferry service to an experience-led brand, by not only harnessing the emotion and freedom of travelling by sea, but connecting with a completely new audience to sell a destination and a ‘better by sea’ concept.

Building a brand story

Our detailed media appraisal showed that Condor had created an ‘echo chamber’ and had become over reliant on an audience living within a 90 minute drive from the port.

Our key insight however, was that a far broader audience had a latent emotional connection to the sea, from nostalgic seaside experiences.

Our creative platform reignited this deep underlying connection by leveraging the fresh salty air and expansive coastal views, that could bring to the fore a relaxing and emotive-led narrative. We could also play off with the added sense of adventure of setting sail and travelling by sea to beautiful destinations.

Reconnecting with the sea

Our ‘Sail Away’ proposition allowed us to bring to life an ocean connection at every touchpoint. From beautiful imagery and video content, sea-themed Spotify playlists, right through to ‘salty air freshener’ giveaways, we fully embraced our connection to the sea.

Our ‘better by sea’ strategy was starting to land, and add to that the fact you can take your car to the islands, it gave us rich territory to tap into the idea of taking your loved ones with you too (which includes your dog and surfboard!).

Sailing away from it all with your loved ones was the perfect hook. We rolled this big idea out across everything from TV, social and emails, to the ship livery, onboard magazine and signage.

Now we needed to amplify the message

The next stage was to build a bespoke econometric model to map out the effect of campaigns, economic changes and even the role the weather played on bookings.

Armed with this knowledge, it created immediate success in fine-tuning our 'Sail Away' messaging around what we knew was a highly receptive audience – our traditional heartland.

But we wanted to go bigger, and that meant reaching new audiences, without stretching the budget.

Breaking out of the brand echo chamber

Any digital activity we undertake can be easily tracked through to the sale, which meant we could quickly achieve some impressive ROI figures by optimising campaigns – geographically, by ad platform, and by ad size, and virtually guaranteeing a quantifiable return. 

However, we also found from our ongoing econometric studies, that broadcast media makes a massive impact on the performance of campaigns, yet historically these have always been concentrated in ITV campaigns in our Southern England heartlands because of tight budgets.

Segmenting customer types

Through a detailed analysis and our annual audience survey, it showed us that our top performing customer types exist in significant clusters around the country, and large numbers of travellers were actually driving as long as 4 hours to make the crossing.

Our continued optimisation of digital media and geographic broadcast media gave us a clear understanding of our audience, so we now had the tools in place to broaden our reach.

How could we increase reach on the same budget?

We tapped into people's travel time propensity as well as their deep underlying connection to the sea with expertly and tightly defined audience clusters.

We continued to target our top 20 Acorn types, but extended our drive time to 4 hours. To achieve this on an identical budget we focused entirely on ITV Hub, where we could carefully target using our top performing postcode areas.

To keep the 'big brand feel' across a wider reach we introduced larger display ad sizes, and AV formats on Facebook and Instagram to link to the TV creative.

The results

Our sea-focused brand story has given Condor a new look and feel as well as bucket loads of inspiring content – we can sell the dream of a sea adventure to beautiful islands, long before anyone has even considered mode of transport and logistics.

However, even more powerful than that is that we have unlocked a deep and latent desire of people to reconnect with the sea.

We now have a much fancier looking ship, with a much bigger ocean to fish in!

Brand Tracking
Increase in un-prompted brand awareness
Social Engagement
Increase in reach, engagement and positive sentiment
Value Sales
Record sales data and brand value YoY
New Audiences
Defined audience growth segments
Our very own bespoke model helps to predict ROI and campaign messaging
Brand Story
A new look and big-brand feel alongside a bank of assets

Walker have been remarkably good, following up on campaign performance to learn and implement next time around. An approachable manner with great attention to detail really does set this agency apart from the rest!

Justin Amey, Brand Manager at Condor Ferries


Condor Ferries | How building a brand can build huge ROI.

We transformed Condor Ferries from functional travel to a brand experience by not only harnessing the emotion and freedom of travelling by sea, but broadening brand reach through connecting with a completely new audience mindset.

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