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Hattons go beyond the bounds of the model railway world


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Hattons have an ad in this weekend's Guardian magazine. Not their typical multi-page effort, obviously, but a sort of large classified ad inside the back cover. This page generally contains ads from assorted "lifestyle" companies (in which I would include various hobbies), but I've never seen any model railway company advertise there before.

 

It struck me as an interesting move on their part, presumably trying to reach a new audience.

 

Jim

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It is interesting if only because if you are already a modeller then either from magazines or on-line forums you are going to know about them already.

 

Unless it is for the model car market, don't know much about that, but I would suspect they wouldn't be much different to railway modellers.

 

What next sponsoring the IT Crowd or Big Bang Theory :D :D

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I was interested in this too as it's the first time I've seen anything like this in the general press. The page seems to be a portmanteau ad from a company called Webwindows, specifically for promotion of websites though several including Hattons also give a phone number.

 

The Hattons ad mentions "railway, car, bus, aircraft and lorry models" and the only brands mentioned are Hornby and Corgi, though there is a picture of a weathered Class 66 presumably from Bachmann.

 

My feeling is they are reaching out to people who might be considering returning to the hobby and have a recollection of these brands from their childhoods.

 

Interesting to see whether this appears anywhere else (Guardian in the middle of summer is perhaps a strange place to start?) or again in the future. No doubt it will only be continued if it proves worthwhile, though I guess people will mull it over for a while so sales might take a bit of time to materialise.

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Various promoters have in the past had ads for Hornby sets (usually 'specials') in some of the Sunday colour supplements. Basically I think, as Edwin says, trying to tap the market of adults who want to recapture some sort of childhood or past nostalgia (real or imagined).

 

There is a large market for die-cast cars, lorries, and aircraft which is often doing the same sort of thing so no bad idea for the model railway world to tap into the idea too. In many cases this is where those models of iconic locos and trains are likely to sell - often by re-awakening old memories and hitting a spot where people have disposable income that they are more than willing to spend on nostalgia. And potentially this market might be far larger than the one offered by railway modellers when it comes to things like the NRM locos or even - dare I say it - the BP.

 

The flip side is also worth a thought - that in some cases the people who buy a loco or train could well be tempted into, or back into, railway modelling.

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I think you are slightly missing the point. This looks like a marketing company which has sold Hattons the idea that they can reach a huge audience for £X. Because it is Summer and advertising is thin, the Guardian have offered space at a discount and the marketing company have picked it up. It is a possibility that, apart from a retainer, they are paid by results. This ad will probably include a reference to use and this will dictate how successful the campaign is.

 

I doubt that Hattons would approach the Guardian direct.

 

It is described variously as 'above the line' or 'below the line' advertising. It helps build brand image rather than sell specific product.

 

Incidentally, I have limited experience of the slot car market but it seems populated by much more aggressive ( macho even ) types than our hobby. Cast models seem a difficult market if my E Bay experience is anything to go by.

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They even seem to be in most of the prototype magazines othen with advertising spreading over a couple of pages. There was one model magazine that was wanting us to place an advert in it but the copy they sent had quite a few pages of Hattons adverts.

 

My sister did a degree in marketing or something like it and we asked her to ask her lecturers "how can you quantify the cost of advertising". No one is able to give an answer to that. I'm sure that Gareth's DCC fitting guide helps keep his company's name in your mind. This is why you get this football, rugby or sport league or event sponsored by XXX (nearly put in another but that would be product placement!)

 

 

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I think that in this we who inhabit this forum are not the audience. Elsewhere here people have said that we're all probably getting on a bit cpompared with the general demographic and a new generation needs to appear. This may be it, with the summer ads throws a seed into the mind for Christmas. The summer is time when dads read ads, for instance being bored on holiday and picking up the paper.

 

So widening their coverage? Great. It can do no harm as many have pointed out their mail order system is the tops, and if it increases their ttrade, not by taking from existing competition, then that can only be good news.

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I was interested in this too as it's the first time I've seen anything like this in the general press. The page seems to be a portmanteau ad from a company called Webwindows, specifically for promotion of websites though several including Hattons also give a phone number.

 

That's bad, actually. Webwindows buy advertising space on the cheap, then resell it at inflated prices to unsuspecting companies who don't know any better through a combination of spamming them and aggressive cold calling. Their sales techniques are definitely unethical, a and lot of what they do borders on the illegal. So, unfortunately, what this means is that Hattons have been ripped off.

 

A quick google for 'webwindows' will reveal plenty of stuff about them, almost all of it bad.

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I really think that Hattons are more commercially aware than to be taken in - and if they choose to gain exposure via this means then it can do them no harm. Certainly it is raising their profile here.

 

In terms of model shops being 'known' then for myself as a modeller who does not buy RTR stuff then had I been pushed to name people who definitely DO supply RTR then I would name Hattons and Kernow. I can't recall any others, although doubtless I could find them. If I were to be asked to name suppliers of components and kits, then that would be a different story as that is where my buying interest lies. By the same token getting the name known by whatever means to extend their audience is a risk that they will probably be very well prepared to take.

 

Even if its a seed planeted in someone's mind for a potential Christmas present then they're raising their brand awareness. If then someone does a web search and the name (of Hattons) seems familiar then they're in with a chance of selling something more.

 

EDIT: What I have said is surmise. I have no connection with Hattons. But they must be commercially aware to survive in the current market and give such reportedly excellent service.

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... presumably trying to reach a new audience. ..

... in some cases the people who buy a loco or train could well be tempted into, or back into, railway modelling.

Even if the means are flawed, it is the right idea. Surely I cannot be the only model railway enthusiast who has shown friends and acquaintance what is now available in RTR, and had responses on the lines of "That's more like it". Most people never get to see anything model railway these days: few high street model stores, relatively few toyshops, (do many still have layouts?); but there will always be some chaps (mostly, I do realise there are susceptible women) for whom a good small mechanical model has a fascination. By far the majority will have no idea that there are now RTR OO models that are significantly better than anything on general sale just a dozen years ago.

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Well I guess Hattons are sensible enough to decide for themselves whether this is worth their while - they're a market leader with 60+ years in a business where so many others have fallen by the wayside, so they probably aren't mugs. And if the Guardian gets enough justified complaints about WebWindows they're probably ethical enough to ban them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 

 

 

It is described variously as 'above the line' or 'below the line' advertising. It helps build brand image rather than sell specific product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are actually two totally different forms of promotion.  'Above the line' is paid for advertising on or in some media. e.g. newspaper, magazine, billboards, back of a bus!

 

 

'Below the line' is straight sales promotion e.g BOGOF or BIGIF

 

 

 

 

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My sister did a degree in marketing or something like it and we asked her to ask her lecturers "how can you quantify the cost of advertising".  No one is able to give an answer to that. 

 

 

 

Not sure where your sister did her Marketing???? degree, but it is possible to evaluate advertising and work out the return on the investment.  Won't give the lecture here!

 

 

Out of interest you or she, may like to read Fletcher W (1992) 'A Glittering Haze' NTC.  ISBN 1-870562-91-7 Bit old but interesting!

 

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

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