How classic British brands are handling the digital marketing revolution

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Apple

News of the Telegraph iPad app was most remarkable because the app is free of charge, thanks to heavy sponsorship from Audi. It's a stark contrast to Rupert Murdoch's digital changes; the Times paywall caused 90% of online readers to desert, but News of the World's £1-a-day paywall is still going ahead. Meanwhile, how are other classic British brands adapting to digital opportunities?

The BBC will of course always be free to use and unable to advertise; however, they've accomplished a good example of SEO. The BBC is Google UK's top result for such vague searches as 'news', 'weather', 'sport' and 'radio'.

After a century as the UK's favourite music shop followed by a decade of struggling, HMV may have saved its own skin with the slightly tardy introduction of HMVdigital, and a video marketing campaign. Recent acquisition Waterstones is also selling eReaders and eBooks.

Tesco was the pioneer of online grocery shopping, but recently went a step further with the iPhone grocery app. It still, however, relies heavily on offline customers and marketing.

Over in the ROI, Guinness has increased its digital marketing allocation from 5% to 10% of their budget, and plans to release user-engaging apps including a geotagging function for bars.

Burberry closed London Fashion Week 2010 with a catwalk show streamed live to 25 flagship store worldwide, and an app allowing fans to view and buy items on their iPad. The company is also big in social media, with 1.5 million Facebook fans and 50,000 Twitter followers.

M&S have seen success in their online shop, especially thanks to M&S TV, a video campaign launched in March 2009. It resulted in 3 million minutes of content being watched, and products featured in videos getting twice as many views.

However, if online success continues to correlate with store closures, some brands will have to think long and hard about what kind of shop they want to be. Digital marketing regularly works wonders, but it seems retailers wanting to stay on the high street will have to start being very inventive to draw in the customers.