Regional marketing insights: The Midlands, with Di Tunney and Jack Hardy

Regional marketing insights: The Midlands, with Di Tunney and Jack Hardy

There are sectors and industries which thrive in certain regions of the UK. Previously in this series, we’ve looked at the East of England with CIM vice chair Paul Mackman. Our next region to showcase is in The Midlands. The CIM representative for that region, Di Tunney (FCIM), founder of Di Tunney Marketing, gives us her insight on the trends from some of the sectors with roots and off-shoots in that part of the UK.

We also hear from Jack Hardy (CMktr), CIM education ambassador and the digital marketing manager for Sygnature Discovery, a Biotech company in Nottingham about the about news and trends within his company and sector.

In the Midlands, some of the trending themes that are coming up are immersive experiences, the nostalgia that people are turning to in the cost-of-living crisis and we'll look at how some of the trends are being applied in the Biotech sector. In this article, we’ll also discuss the homegrown brands which are using these trends to suit them.

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Branston: Bringing out the nostalgia

Conceived and created in Branston, Staffordshire, it’s easy to think this classic condiment has carved out a place in the minds and hearts of many, with people voting it in the top 50 UK brands of the 20th Century.

However, amongst the other sandwich spreads that are launched frequently, Branston wants to take its place at the top of condiment royalty, not only with those who remember it from their childhood but with new generations of sandwich eaters.

Consumers are known to look to nostalgia in hard times and the cost-of-living crisis certainly falls into that category. Feelings of comfort and security are brought out by the idea of cherished times gone by.


Branston is now bringing out the memories by bringing back their 1970s slogan “Bring out the Branston”. It’s a strapline that seems as fresh as it always has and is still synonymous with the brand.

“The pop of the lid and dollop of that tangy sweet pickle transports us to moments of complete comfort”.

The campaign, managed by independent media agency Bicycle, is Branston’s biggest media investment in the last three years and is running on ITVX and social media channels.

Laying new foundations for products is harder than ever with audience fragmentation and budget restrictions. It makes complete sense then that Morrisons, Ribena, Branston and Heinz and more have recently decided return to the past and repurpose old campaigns. Sandie Dilger, chief strategy officer, TBWA\London says “This is less about a nostalgic recreation of a simpler time for me but instead an astute business decision to build on the solid foundations of the past; finding things that people love and recognise and imbuing them a more modern meaning.

As Mike Dubrick, who has been a large part of the Heinz transformation explains, “It’s not enough to be the brand you remember from being a kid, it’s about giving our icon new relevance for the here and now.

Getting immersed in the Black Country Living Museum

The Black Country is often seen as a collection of around 20 towns falling within the four Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

One of the biggest attractions there is the Black Country Living Museum, an open-air museum where customers explore reconstructed living, educational, working and industrial areas that represent the Black Country’s story.

Continuing the theme of nostalgia with the aim of evoking all 5 senses, visitors can see history come to life as characters show the stories of what it was really like to live and work during this revolutionary time, making it a fully immersive experience.

Customers can pop into a vintage pub and buy a pint as they would have been able to do in 1910 and the tempting smell of fish and chips wafts around, emanating from a very famous chippy. The novelty of these activities is a great opportunity to use social apps like TikTok and Instagram. With BLCM’S social media, trying “to balance learning and entertainment” to make their social media engaging.

Grabbing the interest of audiences in a short amount of time has proved popular, with their Reel from the 15th July showing a 1940s weekend at the museum, gaining over 18,950 plays.

At this museum, visitors will experience videos, hear stories and even meet live characters that would have existed during that time. Tourist attractions like this are looking to build rapport and engage with customers of all ages by showing what visitors will experience. The entertainment sector can follow this template, using an immersive attraction and promoting it on platforms with different audiences for further reach.

Di Tunney tells us “In these days of rapidly advancing technology we tend to think of immersive experiences being purely about stepping into virtual worlds, but it’s become apparent that consumers are drawn towards attractions that include both digital and physical installations and create a truly multi-sensory experience with a human touch”.

Looking within the Midlands microcosm of the Biotech sector

CIM education ambassador, Jack Hardy is the digital marketing manager for Sygnature Discovery, based in Nottingham, Midlands. Attending events across Europe, Asia and North America, they are active on the global scientific conference scene. These conferences have been an important part of the CHARMED campaign – a multichannel campaign designed to raise awareness and interest around their capabilities in the highly-competitive targeted protein degradation (TPD) space. TPD is, essentially, a new way to target proteins more effectively, which is an important step in early drug research.

The conferences have given their scientists a great opportunity to meet and present to physical audiences. Drawing in people with marketing literature such as posters, the marketing team worked to improve the company’s traditional conference and supporting materials using an interactive video that centred around the CHARMED campaign. The audiences’ physical and digital immersion allowed for a more memorable experience.   

The interactive experience also catered for the audience commercially from the physical space to the CHARMED landing page - moving away from the heavy science concepts and lighten the load by presenting CHARMED as something that could help overcome customer challenges.

From offline to online

Tracking physical media is something that needs to be considered when presenting a product in-person. Trade shows for many years have used and relied on activities such as scanning lanyards to capture data. Now at exhibitions and conferences people can scan QR codes on their mobiles to access more information, enter a unique code or enter their information into a gated form to access webpages.

The Marketing team and experts could access the data behind the science capabilities, making it available for download from the landing page and data capture for lead nurturing was a lot easier. This in-person and virtual duality has been a successful formula for many companies, with the integrity of the information in the videos a hugely important element.

The video content from the interactive poster experience was also used on social media, in addition to a video of Sygnature Discovery’s CEO discussing the scientific and business challenges for customers that surround targeted protein degradation.

Other content to market the campaign such as blogs and joint webinars between their senior scientists and leading international academics have built on the credibility and reputation of the company and encouraged interest. It was a team effort and collaborative process.

Takeaways from this region

  • Taking an immersive approach could help make your campaigns more memorable and give customer personalisation
  • Repurposing successful old campaigns and giving it a modern meaning can engage both loyal older customers and newer generations
  • These trends can be adapted to different sectors with thought out planning

The Midlands is a hub for all types of sectors such as food and drink, tourism and automotive as well as varied businesses and a diverse customer base and because of this we’re seeing many different trends. In this article we’ve provided just some insights into businesses and organisations based in this region adapting the trends to fit them.

In this series, we’re continuing to speak to regional representatives throughout the UK about the trends, insights and news in their part of the country.

You can get a window into how your customers behave and think and capitalise on emerging trends with our Chartered Institute of Marketing training course Social Media Listening.

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Andrea Lewis Marketing co-ordinator CIM
Di Tunney Founder Di Tunney Marketing
Jack Hardy Digital marketing manager Sygnature Discovery
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