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How MediaCom's TV ad innovations sold £1bn worth of DFS sofas

When MediaCom scooped the Grand Prix at the 2017 Thinkbox TV Planning Awards, Giles Hedger, a judge and the M&C Saatchi chief executive, declared its winning entry for DFS had "'case study of the future' written all over it." Hear from the brand and its agency in the film below on how six years of TV ad innovations sold £1bn worth of sofas.

The story of this five year plan begins with the furniture retailer’s challenge to its newly-appointed media agency in 2011. "Our challenge to MediaCom was simple," said Nick Ashworth, the head of marketing at DFS. "Move DFS from well-known to well-known and well-loved without dropping a sale."

TV had always been at the heart of DFS’s media plans and a major contributing factor to its fame and success. MediaCom’s answer to the new brief? More TV than ever - but with a more targeted and eclectic approach that involved rigorous audience analysis, an evolution of ad lengths and new ways of using all TV has to offer.

The agency switched its ITV programme mix to include more of its key target audiences, for no extra cost; it created an interactive microsite on All4; it fused DFS customer data with Sky IQ panel viewing data to improve conversion; and, in a media first, it partnered with ITV’s "Text Santa" to be part of its "Knitted Ad Break", featuring knitted versions of DFS factory staff. Sixty-six percent of the viewing public said the DFS spot was "better than a typical ad break".

MediaCom also embraced product placement to give DFS sofas a starring role in the ITV This Morning studio and partnered with Channel 5 to co-brand its channel idents in the run-up to Boxing Day sales.

Partnerships were the theme of 2016, featuring tie-ups with Team GB (for a non-promotional TV ad), Thinkbox (whose "alien" interrupted the DFS ad on Boxing Day) and Aardman (DFS staff appeared as cloth characters in teaser ads).

DFS sales grew consistently every year, while "brand love" rose by 32%. Over the six years to 2017, TV alone generated nearly one billion pounds worth of DFS sales, leaving the brand sitting very comfortably.

The MediaCom/DFS entry to the 2017 TV Planning Awards showed "a brand growing in confidence, using TV in interesting ways," said judge David Wilding, director of planning at Twitter. It demonstrated "sensible thinking and planning rigour - the lost art of TV planning - with flashes of innovation," added fellow judge Andrew Mortimer, director of media at Sky.

MediaCom and DFS won the "Best ongoing use of TV" category and went on to win the Grand Prix.

The Thinkbox TV Planning Awards are run in conjunction with Campaign. The contest is free to enter, with submissions for the 2018 awards due in by 16 March.

This is the 10th year of the awards which celebrate creative and effective uses of TV and recognise the people behind them. All will be feted at an afternoon ceremony on 28 June at One Marylebone.

There are six main categories, from which the Grand Prix will be chosen, and other special prizes may be allocated at the judges’ discretion.

The categories are:
Best use of ‘TV AND’;
Best ongoing use of TV;
Best newcomer to TV;
Best use of sponsorship;
Best use of content;
Best use of TV innovation.

To enter, go to


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