MyTutor's TV burst suggests DTC brands are 'growing up'
Education start-up MyTutor’s decision to spend a short burst of brand-building activity on TV and radio is a sign that direct-to-consumer brands are “growing up”, its media agency believes.
Simon Wilden, partner at Goodstuff Communications, said he has seen a significant change in how so-called DTC businesses approach media, having been preoccupied with using direct-response channels in the past.
MyTutor, an online tutoring platform that connects parents and students with experts and tutors, recently launched its "You Never Stop Worrying" campaign, created by Joint and media planned and bought by Goodstuff.
The key difference between this and most early-stage DTC ad campaigns, Wilden told Mediatel News, is that MyTutor has committed to brand-building through popular TV channels.
The seven-week £2.1m campaign buys spots across a broad TV channel mix, including on ITV and Channel 4 and on peak-time shows. Most DTC advertisers focus on direct-response TV, which are typically broadcast off-peak, and build spend much more gradually instead of a big burst on TV.
“MyTutor is much more invested in building a sustainable business... It isn't about ’let's blow everyone else away and dominate the market’. They have taken a really bold and distinctive approach.”
"The marketing of DTC is growing up," Wilden said.
The campaign sought to strike an empathetic tone as it aims to reassure parents that while they know they will never stop worrying, MyTutor can help them worry just a little bit less.
Usually, Wilden explained, Goodstuff would be asked by a DTC brand to spend about £100,000 for a month’s worth of DRTV: “Most DTCs won't have a CMO; they tend to be run by people that are quite analytical... they might be run by the one person that originally ran the PPC (paid search) account when the business first launched.
"Their instincts are all quite rational, logical, and so get quite rational logical campaigns out of them that are product centric and proposition centric.”
That was certainly the case with MyTutor, which hired former Smart Energy marketer Ed Duncan last autumn in order to spearhead a more brand-focused approach. Duncan supports Nicola Anderson, the chief marketing officer, who has more expertise in paid search and digital customer acquisition.
He compared this to fellow DTC clients of Goodstuff, such as Eve Sleep, Habito and Bloom & Wild, that have also adopted brand-building marketing approaches in recent years.
"You look at what these brands are doing now and you realise how the marketing of DTC is growing up; the advertising around them shows a realisation that those classic, emotive ways of producing advertising are best for them."
Not just a Covid trend
There was a relative surge in DTC spend on TV during the Covid-19 pandemic as TV sales houses waived late-booking charges. Research by Thinkbox, based on BARB linear TV data, showed that 341 brands were either new to TV or returned after five years’ away between April and September last year.
However, encouraging more late bookings does not explain why an advertiser like MyTutor would take a more brand-building approach.
The two core audience segments that MyTutor has identified as being most receptive to tutoring are fairly affluent segments of individuals, given that home tutoring is likely to add £100 or £200 to a household’s monthly outgoings.
That’s why MyTutor launched with a centre break on Grand Designs, the property interest show on Channel 4.
Radio is also a part of the campaign and takes up just over 10% of the overall campaign budget. Radio spots are being bought primarily in the South-East of England to target an affluent target audience that tends to watch less linear TV than the rest of the UK, Wilden added.
“We’re looking for big, bold, high attention, high peak percentages,” Wilden added “You know, it's not a campaign that's being judged on short term metrics. [My tutor] has quite rightly identified that the market is, is turning their way; that there will be more people than ever, that are interested in in tutoring for their kids.”
Even though “there is no way” MyTutor will sign up enough business over September and October to make an instant return from its £2m+ media spend, Wilden said that is not the brand’s priority.
“Their commitment is to the activity is that it will drive memorability and it will deliver business uplifts for months to come,” he added.
Goodstuff now expects to follow-up this autumn activity with a similar burst on TV at around March and April next year, in time for the school exam preparation period.
Ed Duncan, director of brand and communications at MyTutor, added: “We needed a campaign that didn't just tell parents about MyTutor, but also showed that we really do know how it can feel in their shoes."
Directed by Jake Scott, the ads are running across TV and radio is MyTutor’s debut campaign having appointed the agencies earlier this year following a competitive pitch.