Chief Creative Officer - Cosmo Campbell
Executive Creative Director - Dean Lee
Copywriter - Neil Shapiro
Art Director - John Larigakis
Business Supervisor - Amanda Hardy
Project Manager - Matthew Sy
Strategy Director - Rob Newell
Media Strategist - Alex New
Illustration - John Larigakis
|Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):||September 2014 - April 2016|
|Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: ||September 2014|
|Base Period as a Benchmark: ||July 2014|
|Geographic Area: ||Western Canada (BC, AB, SK, MB)|
|Budget for this effort: ||$1 - $2 million|
In an industry and market where everyone is trying to figure out how to “advertise” and “market” to a youth and/or millennial market, we decided to accept who this audience is and how they like to interact with brands. Instead of developing ads, we created content that will not just appeal to them, but actually change their behaviour to benefit our client and drive business results.
Our client Milk West is comprised of the 4 provincial milk marketing boards in Western Canada – BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. A small player against the giants of beverage marketing, this group was determined to compel a youth market (aged 13 – 17) to choose milk over other beverage options, even with a fraction of their budget. The beverage industry is competitive and cluttered. Established brands, like Coke and Red Bull, spend heavily to grow market share, and compete with many others offering trendy “innovations” or lifestyle solutions. Struggling to maintain its foothold in this aggressive market, is Milk.
Milk consumption declines heavily with teens as they assert their independence and make choices that are perceived to be cool and popular. We clearly understand why youth choose pop or energy drinks over Milk, as these are the choices their parents wouldn’t approve. We also know equivocally that Milk can’t outspend our competition – Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull - so we had to truly differentiate ourselves. Teens have a lot on the go; they live hectic lives that are fueled by these other brands. Milk, on the other hand, could play a different role by helping them make the most of their downtime. We wanted to give teens permission to relax and enjoy a glass of milk with their favourite foods when just chilling at home.
We set two objectives:
1. Get our teen audience to drink an extra half-glass of milk per month, which would positively impact milk’s declining consumption rate; and
2. Improve milk’s perception and popularity, which would boost its oft-considered dull personality.
We would execute a quarterly tracking study of Western Canada teens, asking them to self-identify their perceptions of milk as well as their personal consumption habits. Our biggest challenge was how to effectively target and reach our very narrow audience of Western Canadian teens aged 13-17.
To reach our audience in a new and relevant manner, we needed to find a way to connect that was engaging, and a little irreverent – as milk’s personality could be considered a bit boring. Specifically, we didn’t want to “advertise” to them. Teens spend more time consuming online content than any other media form, and their disregard of advertisements meant our approach needed to be less interruptive than classic marketing. We did an extensive audit of the types of online sites, content and humour that appealed to them – relatable humour like BuzzFeed, quick-bite image galleries like Imgur and 9gag, satirical content, simple games like Candy Crush, and the still-popular meme.
Rather than create ads through these channels, we challenged ourselves to create content similar to these channels.
Combining our insight with what we knew about our teen audience, the creative solution was “Snack Time” - a social platform with digestible, relevant, and entertaining content featuring milk and the snacks that go best with it. Meet Carlton (our Milk carton) and Chip (his chocolate chip cookie best friend).
We conducted morphological research that showed what mattered was how emotionally connected teens were with milk, specifically the pleasure they connect with drinking milk with their favourite foods.
Armed with our knowledge of online activity and interest, as well as understanding how we could connect Milk with our audience on an emotional level, we took an unconventional approach that repositions Milk as a relevant and fun beverage. The biggest risk that we took was to ensure that our content did NOT include any traditional product shots. The focus was on the story and the content, not the advertising “signature” or “sting”.
Our insight was that only milk could elevate a taste experience with foods such as cookies, cake, sandwiches and other snacks, making it appealing and relevant to our teen/youth audience.
It was the lack of traditional advertising that led us to anticipate our success. Our research told us that the more we made this seem like traditional advertising, the less successful it would be. The opportunity was to add to our target’s life and entertainment, not distract from it.
We designed an online-only experience, creating unbranded content through YouTube and Twitter to engage with teens on their terms. Media placement was designed to complement rather than interrupt our targets content of choice.
Since we wanted to create content, and not a traditional campaign, our go-to-market strategy looked long-term; we planned for ongoing content releases (over two years) via YouTube and Tumblr, as well as timely and relevant offline promotions to encourage viewers to engage with us.
Content included video stories as well as Tumblr cartoon posts and gifs.
The videos had no traditional product shots nor a call-to-action, but were instead designed to be consumed like any other online content. Media placement was designed to complement rather than interrupt their content environments of choice. YouTube was a primary channel, with traffic driven via Promoted YouTube video, YouTube Reserved skippable pre-roll, plus user-initiated placements including in-game video, Tumblr and text links.
Teens also chill at the Cinema, so we took the opportunity to expand reach beyond the home by running custom campaigns during the 3 biggest teen films of the year: Hunger Games, Avengers and Jurassic World. For each activation a special Snack Time episode was created customized to the respective movies, delivering added relevance and impact. Again – they were unbranded with no product shot nor call-to-action.
Additionally, on the Avengers and Jurassic World opening weekends we created 20,000 special Carlton-styled USB sticks that were handed-out to teen cinema goers, rewarding them with additional content and highlighting the YouTube Channel.
Finally, to amplify the cinema campaign we partnered with Buzzfeed to create a series of custom stories that linked Avengers and Jurassic World with our cinema-themed content.
We utilized quarterly tracking that measured brand health metrics and relied on youth providing self-reported milk consumption habits - current and future intent. By measuring the varied difference between those youth that had seen Snack Time and were engaged with our communications versus those that had not, we could identify the effect our messaging was having on behaviour and perceptions.
Compared against our benchmark, milk gained 6.5% across brand health metrics (emotions, occasions, positioning, personality). Plus, the percentage of teens in Western Canada who agree “milk is a fun drink” increased 9%.
Quarterly tracking compared to pre-campaign benchmarks reported that our Snack Time audience consume 13 servings of milk per week – versus 10.6 servings per week for teens not watching our content. Substantially higher than our 0.5 glass of milk extra we were striving for.
Finally, 28.2% of our Snack Time audience say they will drink more milk in the future compared to those that have not seen Snack Time at only 18.3% - a substantial 10% difference.
By April 2016, we have released over 50 videos, 45 Tumblr posts and built an online community that includes over 25,000 YouTube subscribers and 8,000 Tumblr followers. We’ve amassed over 13 million episode views and almost 6 million Tumblr impressions.
We do not have direct ROI calculations for this campaign.
Snack Time was the only Milk Marketing in the Western Canadian market targeting a youth/teen audience (13-17). While they may have seen spill from our "Milk Every Moment' adult campaign, it likely would have had negative affects vs positive as it was traditional push marketing in TV, digital and OOH.
We found the right medium and the right content to connect and build relevance for Milk with teens.
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:
The Milk Board in Canada had abandoned all of its teen marketing since Fall 2012. This was the first effort against this market in close to 2 years.
Pre-existing Brand momentum:
All previous brand momentum was measured against Milk’s adult target (parents with young children in the house). Our key metric was that our youth/teen audience had previously perceived Milk’s brand heath at 42.5% and post campaign, we saw a marked improvement of 6.5%, and a huge increase in perceptions of “milk is a fund drink” amounting to 9%.
There were no pricing change at shelf during this time. Milk is never discounted in-store.
Changes in Distribution/Availability:
There were no changes to distribution and/or availability. Milk has 100% awareness, 99% trial and 95% household penetration. Our objective was NOT to drive purchase, but instead, to deliver consumption amongst a niche target of youth 13 -17.
Unusual Promotional Activity:
Milk marketing to adults (parents with young children in the house) was in-market from before our youth campaign launch (May 2013) through the entire youth market campaign period. Our Milk Every Moment campaign was specifically targeted against an older audience. There was not intended spill against our youth target but it could have contributed to their attitudes towards milk – positively or potentially negatively.
Any other factors:
The CAD/US dollar value has dropped over the past 2 years stemming milk purchases across the border. However, since we are targeting consumtion by youth for milk that is already in the home purchased by parents, the fact that milk now costs Canadian families MORE to purchase could be seen as a deterant for consumption by teens - and increased consumption and intent was still reported.