CCS McLays | Research & Brand Campaign Case Study | ...Gasp!

CCS McLays

Retained Marketing Services


The Brief

Led by Mini MBA in Marketing trained marketer, Matthew Hall, CCS McLays came to us after they’d done some initial research to identify their aided awareness and develop a basic funnel. They had a segmentation plan in place and had set aggressive growth targets for two key retail segments.

However, CCS McLays hadn’t to date invested in any *proper* marketing and had never presented itself to the market in a meaningful way. They wanted a partner embedded in the Mark Ritson x Marketing Week Mini MBA school of thought to help them build on and clarify their research, implement a strategy, and take them from zero to brand campaign hero.

…Gasp! was tasked with developing a big idea and distinctive brand communications that’d get CCS McLays noticed alongside bigger players in the market, putting forward a position synonymous with their personality, passion and a dogged commitment to ‘getting it done’ for their customers.

Big shop signs, plastic bags, cleaning sprays and clothing tags… for retailers, there’s loads of stuff they need but don’t sell. And CCS McLays do it all. One partner, one invoice and one delivery for all in-store consumables, retail packaging and catering supplies.

"No one knows about us...even though we are probably the biggest independent in retail."

The Response

All roads start with good research. We began with an in-person kick off session in Cardiff with the core teams from ...Gasp! and CCS Mclays to understand more about who they are, what makes the business tick, where their strengths and weaknesses lie and what success might look like for the project.

We then reviewed competitors, dug into any forces affecting the market, and undertook qualitative interviews with both internal staff and CCS McLays customers and loyalists.

On top of this we conducted the backbone of good marketing planning, the brand tracking survey, to measure category attributes, custom funnel and related consideration factors.

Collective findings supported the brief. The brand survey found that awareness of CCS McLays in the category is low compared to competitors. This quote from a stakeholder interview backs that up nicely;

"No one knows about us...even though we are probably the biggest independent in retail. Getting people to recognise the brand and what we stand for will have massive knock on effects, they'll at least know the brand before we approach."

Luckily, they have a stellar sales team and Ian, their CEO slash “force of nature”, who successfully and consistently win business once they get in front of a potential customer;

"Once we get in front of [customers] with the right team, with the right focus and the right agenda and the right storytelling...90% of the time, we knock the socks off people."

To grow, CCS McLays needs more opportunities to get into the room with potential customers. To do that, potential customers need to notice and remember them.

Several key findings aligned across both the qualitative and quantitative research. Specifically their personality-packed approach to consolidation and getting the job done; CCS McLays is committed to making the jobs of their customer’s easier, acting as genuine, honest partners who you’ll really enjoy working with. This leads to a great sense of loyalty and trust in the market. Which needed to be communicated, memorably.

The big idea: For retailers, their products might be the stars of the show. But it’s all the things they take for granted that really set them apart. Like their signage, stationery, bags with the fancy handles, and food containers with lids that actually stay on. CCS McLays are all about the stuff retailers don’t sell. The stuff they need to keep their business running right. The stuff they’d rather not think about. The little details that make all the difference. CCS McLays sort it all. They are: The detail behind the retail.

Distinctive, personable and above all memorable (hat tip to our pen-wielding partner in crime, Dave Harland)

Intentionally specific, eye-catching, and personality-packed copy lines, written using an approachable and everyday authentic tone of voice, were then brought to life with intentionally detailed, stylised photography.

CCS McLays’ products are the unseen essentials of retail. People don’t think of them, and yet, those in the market do. So we made the things, the products (till rolls, bamboo size cubes, blue centrefeed roll, coffee cups, coffee cup lids, wooden forks, sleeves, bowls and lids, poly carrier bags, paper twisted handle carrier bags, rope handle paper bags, jute bags, e-commerce mailing bags…you see where we're going with this?), and made them the hero of the art direction.

Housing the strapline in a red swing tag gave us a new distinctive asset to play with (which CCS McLays were more than happy to do… see cupcakes!)

Following a truly collaborative brand development process, with both a distinct verbal and visual style, we rolled them out across a landing page, owned media channels, LinkedIn single image and carousel ads, posters, digital publication and print ads, digital PR, and a truly unforgettable event activation at Retail Week x The Grocer LIVE 2024.

The Toilet Takeover at LIVE 2024

A collaboration between Retail Week and The Grocer for their LIVE 2024 event made it perfect for CCS McLays to get in front of their target audience of medium and large retailers (high street, e-commerce and food retailers).

Our budget didn’t stretch to headline sponsorship, however, we worked out an idea with the lovely folks at Retail Week who agreed to the opportunity (one that had never been done before) to sneak in through the loos as the first-ever toilet sponsors.

Given the tone of voice we’d developed didn’t take itself too seriously, and the fact CCS McLays actually provides janitorial products and things like toilet paper to some customers, a toilet sponsorship was a good fit and brilliant opportunity to get in the (bath)room with the target audience.

Now the proud sponsors of 1109 sqft of exquisite bathroom space, we set about making the most of it. Covering wherever we could with witty copy lines and CCS McLays’ distinctive assets. We even had mints emblazoned with the swing tag for guests to take away.

There was lots of ace feedback including from one of the keynote speakers, Andrew Busby, who (kindly) waxed lyrically across LinkedIn and Twitter/X including…

Andrew Busby, Author, ReTHINK Retail Top 100 Retail Expert, and International Speaker

“Take a bow Google and Co-op however the man of the match award on day one goes to CCS McLays. Genius to sponsor the loos. Would love to have been a fly on the wall in the boardroom when that idea was pitched! Give your marketing team a raise - nailed it. I attend and speak at dozens of retail conferences around the world and that really stood out. Absolute genius.”

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*Results to follow once we’ve allowed enough time to do this kind of brand awareness campaign justice*

Matthew Hall, Marketing Manager, CCS McLays

“Firstly, deciding to work with …Gasp! proved a no brainer. It was clear from the outset that they ‘spoke the same language’ (something that is arguably not easy to find within the marketing field) with so many of the …Gasp! team having done the mini-MBA with Mark Ritson. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey with …Gasp! so far and the level of detail applied by them throughout the diagnostic, strategy and execution phases has been exemplary. As a marketing manager working within a business that has enjoyed success throughout the years without much marketing presence within its DNA, it has been so refreshing to work with Beth, Chloe, Elliot and the wider team at …Gasp! Ultimately, they feel like an extension to the team at CCS McLays and I would certainly have no hesitation in recommending them to any other business.”

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