Brand campaign finalist

15th April 2016

A brand re-launch marketing campaign by Oi for St James Court, a Taj Hotel, London has been shortlisted for a major UK marketing award against some of Britain’s biggest brands.

The campaign, entitled ‘An English Classic, Reinvented’, has been nominated for the prestigious DRUM Marketing Awards in the category ‘Re-brand/Re-launch Strategy of the Year’ against finalists including Aviva, Royal Mail, Unilever (PG Tips), Microsoft and ITV.

‘This is a testament to all the hard work and creativity the team at Oi have put in. A big round of celebrations due for all,’ said Siddhartha Butalia, Director of Marketing at the Taj Group in Europe.

A spokesperson from the DRUM said the work ‘impressed’ the judging panel to make the shortlist this year.

‘We received nearly 600 entries this year so getting through to this stage is a huge achievement and you should be very proud of you and your team’s hard work,’ they added.

Whether we win an award, are commended or remain a nomination, all will be revealed at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 3rd May at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London, which will be attended by a team from Oi and Taj Hotels London.

An English Classic, Reinvented

The UK was one of the first Western markets where Taj established a presence in the early 1980s and the Victorian townhouse property of St. James’ Court is the oldest among those acquired during the initial international expansion drive, subsequently being franchised to the Intercontinental Group which had a more established international brand recall. As Taj grew and the UK became the 2nd largest source market for Taj hotels across the world, it became integral for the Taj luxury brand to have a presence in London, showcasing its product and service offering.

In preparation for the rebranding, Taj renovated the rooms and suites at the hotel, enhanced the dining offering including at Michelin-starred restaurant Quilon, redecorated, refitted and introduced new artwork reflecting Taj’s roots as a luxury Asian hospitality brand while preserving the ethos and heritage of the iconic property with a storied heritage in the heart of Westminster.

Aims, objectives and strategy

The marketing strategy needed to celebrate this legacy and Taj’s brand belief and forte for ‘Reinventing Tradition’. Oi developed an integrated strategy with the following objectives:

  • To increase the brand awareness of Taj in the UK
  • To communicate the repositioning and launch of St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel, with an emphasis on history and heritage
  • To establish the credentials of the hotel as a bespoke heritage and luxury property, moving away from the perceptions of an upscale American chain hotel
  • To secure PR coverage with a focus on leisure accommodation clients and diners

The target market for St.James’ Court is authentic luxury experience seekers for whom luxury is a way of life. They are looking for a charming, passionate, progressive, attentive and responsive experience. They enjoy traditional luxury but with a progressive edge, looking for new and exciting experiences. The central London location of St. James’ Court is a significant draw for the target market, especially leisure clientele from international markets, given the proximity to Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and St. James’ Park.

An overarching positioning idea was needed that would portray the luxury, warmth and traditional elegance of St. James’ Court while allowing for a contemporary edge that would make the hotel timeless, yet relevant. From this, an idea took shape which grew into the positioning of ‘An English Classic, Reinvented’. These four words perfectly describe St. James’ Court – A classic English hotel, which has been reimagined in keeping with Taj’s luxury standards and considering the interests and aspirations of today’s traveller – in essence, a slice of the past, served on a contemporary platter.

Advertising campaign

Oi developed an outdoor advertising campaign using St. James’ Court’s new colours: a quintessentially English teal, sophisticated black and luxurious gold, with a messaging emphasising location, heritage, and a touch of English humor.

The approach to the advertising campaign was customer-led – cognizant of the dual purpose of reaching consumers (leisure tourists, through media placements at airports and on heritage buses and taxis) and bookers and influencers (PAs & travel managers at offices in St. James’ Park and Victoria and MPs in Westminster). The advertising was designed with strong headlines to appeal to this group, building on the regal, yet understated elegance of the colours of St. James’ Court and its coat of arms, with beautiful illustrations borrowed from the historic courtyard with its cherub-ordained Victorian fountain. Included in the advertising campaign was a strong call to action, leading viewers to St. James’ Court’s website and Facebook page.

Outdoor media: Taking over London buses and cabs

The media plan lived the ‘English Classic, Reinvented’ theme, taking over much-loved touristic icons of London – the black cabs and the heritage routemaster buses. St. James’ Court’s new branding took over the heritage London route-master bus no.9 (one of only two still operational at the time, routing through some of London’s most visited tourist spots) with the positioning strapline, ‘An English Classic, Reinvented’, and reinvented London’s black cabs, turning them teal and gold in St. James’ Court colours. By using iconic symbols of London the media ‘vehicles’ married tradition with a contemporary, St. James’ Court twist.

English literary classics, reinvented literary series

Unveiling its ‘English Classics, Reinvented’ literary series while hosting the preview dinner for the prestigious Hay literary festival, St. James’ Court gave a new lease of life to literary classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, partnering with artists to create contemporary cover designs for a selection of limited edition prints of the best loved English Classics. This novel concept allowed St. James’ Court to firmly own the positioning of a brand that perfectly pairs tradition and history with contemporary style, bringing together the best of British creativity, both past and present.

Starting with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to celebrate the book’s 150th anniversary, Oi creative Ethan McClean re-designed the classic cover, drawing inspiration from the start of Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole. The cutting-edge cover illustration captures Alice’s journey from our world into Wonderland, where she falls into the abstract, reflected in an optical illusion, which hypnotically pulls the reader into a strange new land.

The English Classics, Reinvented literary series was unveiled as the hotel hosted the preview reception for the Hay Festival 2015 (one of UK’s largest literature gatherings), celebrating English literature while awarding Germaine Greer with the Hay Medal for Education and announcing the Tata brand as the primary sponsor for the Hay Festival in Wales, where St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel took Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to kids and fans with an Alice ‘Make Hay’ competition and fabulous Alice Kids@Taj themed offerings.

The next exciting entry in the literary series of reimagined covers is the much-loved classic ‘The Jungle Book’. Featuring a progressive cover designed by Oi Creative Director Ben Clarke, it depicts the royal tiger, India’s national symbol and protagonist of The Jungle Book. Designed with the brand colours of gold and teal skillfully, the cover captures Shere Khan’s face, drawing the reader in to this captivating story. 2016 will see the launch of the reinvented Jungle Book in continuation of the celebration of the anniversary of Rudyard Kipling’s birth, while the literary series promises to continue with other English classics like Shakespeare.

English classics, reinvented dining experiences and themed events

The English Classics, Reinvented marketing campaign features a host of innovative communication themes and culinary delights including Alice inspired Afternoon Tea Parties in Wonderland and Christmas Banquet Parties.

Taj’s London restaurants including Michelin-starred Quilon present the best of their offerings in a collaborative dine-around experience – the ‘Around The World in 80 Tastes’ gastronomic journey, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic account of intrepid traveller and English explorer Phileas Fogg’s journey.

In tribute to the literary legacy of St. James’ Courtyard, surrounded by the world’s longest Shakespearean brick frieze, The Hamptons Bar introduced a series of classic cocktails with a Shakespearean twist, from the Macramble and Ophelia’s Bloom to The Tragedy of Julep Caesar and The Taming of the Sea Breeze.

In addition, The Hamptons Bar also toasts topical literary themes with one-off events like the Shaken, Not Stirred Martini Masterclass, celebrating Fleming’s work (from his first spy novel, Casino Royale in 1953 till his death in 1964, Fleming resided at 16 Victoria Square, a short walk from this Victorian hotel).

Results

From January to December 2015, the integrated strategy exceeded all internal targets and benchmarks in building awareness and interest. It achieved a high level of engagement on social media about the literary series, and the parties and afternoon tea have had phenomenal reviews on review sites like TripAdvisor and by leading national media, including The Telegraph – who reached out to the hotel to launch an exclusive themed Telegraph Travel package – and bloggers and influencers in the digital space.

Of particular mention was the attention to the creative and design that went into every aspect of the events and afternoon tea. The treat names, the creative styling of the setting, the table properties… All aspects were designed to take guests on a magical journey into Wonderland.

The successful luxury repositioning enabled St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel to increase its average rates substantially, driving an incremental revenue of over £2m from rooms alone.

The volume and quality of PR exposure for St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel resulting from the English Classics, Reinvented campaign more than doubled the Advertising Value Equivalent of PR Coverage to over £0.5 m in 2015.