General Mills Canada
Jason Doolan, Director of Marketing
Peter Ignazi, Chief Creative Officer
Carlos Moreno, Chief Creative Officer
Ed Lea, Creative Director
Sean Barlow, Creative Director
Yusong Zhang, ACD Art Director
Dhaval Bhatt, ACD Copywriter
Colleen Floyd, Producer
Kevin McHugh, Director Strategy
Jason Chaney, Chief Strategy Officer
Janis Lindenbergs, SVP National Business Lead
Wendy Morgado, VP Client Leader
Jennifer Foster, Account Supervisor
Production house: Nimble Content
Editorial house: School Editing
Audio house: RMW
Media agency: Cossette Media
PR agency: Citizen Relations
|Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):||June 2014 - July 2016|
|Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: ||July 2014|
|Base Period as a Benchmark: ||January 2014 - June 2014|
|Geographic Area: ||Canada|
|Budget for this effort: ||$1 - $2 million|
Nature Valley has always been a nostalgic brand for consumers but has built their business with functional messaging. Throughout the years, with constant pricing wars in the category, Nature Valley noticed a shift in consumers needs. Consumers were longing for an emotional connection with their favourite brand. Nature Valley developed a purpose-based campaign "Rediscover the Joy of Nature", hinging on a pivotal insight that connected with their brand name. This insight ultimately changed up the way Nature Valley was communicated as a CPG brand. Since the launch of this purpose campaign, Nature Valley has seen tremendous sustained sale growth, success and brand love.
The packaged goods snacks category is a challenging space. Competition is fierce, and product innovation is happening faster than ever with competitors fiercely trying to outdo each other to build share.
In fact, 70-80% of the snacks category is based on pricing that translated to Nature Valley’s brand champion shopping the aisle for value offerings, with little to no loyalty for any one bar.
In addition, retailers and consumers had started favouring smaller organic players and the battle at shelf was intensifying. The perfect storm of competition, pricing, intense innovation and shifting consumer attitudes had created a huge barrier to sales.
To combat this shift, competitive brands like Quaker, Kashi, and Special K had begun to develop emotional connections with consumers through their advertising. This left Nature Valley in a precarious spot –the brand was beginning to lose its connection with its brand champions.
Although Nature Valley is a beloved brand and represents a quarter of the snacks category, the continued emphasis on functional messaging was not working. This, combined with increasing competition had resulted in a tentative relationship between the consumer and the brand. The brand had established functional attributes in the minds of consumers, yet failed to make an emotional connection.
Nature Valley desperately needed a new story to tell. One that would emotionally reconnect our brand champions with a message that was true to the brand: nature itself.
We needed to remind our customers that there is a vast, natural world, and that experiencing it will benefit our health and happiness.
Nature Valley is one of the biggest brands in the snack aisle yet sales had been decreasing and consumers were only buying our brand 40% of the time.
We set out to reverse this trend by building stronger brand love and by generating strong top-of-mind awareness, so that when consumers are shopping down the over-populated snacks aisle, they would choose us.
Much like Nature Valley, kids were increasingly losing their connection to nature and their natural surroundings, opting instead for artificial experiences indoors. Through ethnographic research and family interviews, we discovered an alarming trend: this disconnection with nature is not a new phenomenon. It’s been steadily building over successive generations. We validated our findings with academic research, which revealed that children today are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago .
We used the insight to shock consumers into a very important conversation about what would happen if this trend were to continue and we were to completely lose our connection to nature?
As disconcerting as this trend is, we did not want to reproach parents of this digital generation - our primary target. Instead, we opted to dramatize the issue in a thought-provoking way that would lead to meaningful debate and dialogue in social media.
“Rediscover the Joy of Nature”
We believe that nature can be a source of joy in peoples' lives, so Nature Valley will connect people to nature.
As adults we lose sight of that. We forget to connect back to ourselves but nature always reminds us of what's important.
We employed a two-pronged approach to communications. Launching the first phase of the campaign with mass offline media, we generated awareness of the brand’s purpose (to encourage a reconnection with nature) with a :30 TV spot explaining the brand’s manifesto. Online, we took a different approach, seeking to facilitate conversation, but not force it.
Leading the second phase with long-form video, and supported with PR, social media and influencer outreach, we used digital channels sparingly to promote the online video, instead relying on the organic uptake from those activities to build awareness.
When looking at the sales results, we saw that our heaviest users were only buying us less than half the time. We realized we had to instill brand loyalty to reconnect with our brand champions. When we talked to consumers about Nature Valley, they could only identify the product format or flavour, but there was no association to the brand name. The new communication was used to spark an emotional connection with our brand champions and highlight the brand in a new light – from functional to emotional.
The “Rediscover the Joy of Nature” campaign was launched in two phases.
The first phase was a :30s TV campaign used to highlight Nature Valley’s new brand purpose on a mass stage. The spot showcased beautiful imagery of people enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, with the closing call-to-action to encourage consumers to get outside and experience it themselves.
The second phase of the campaign was an online video where three generations from three different families were interviewed and asked each generation to answer the same critical question: “As a kid, what did you like to do for fun?”
The contrasting responses between generations was astonishing: the oldest generations spoke of run-ins with bears, fishing, building forts and cultivating gardens. Their kids, however, offered a jarring and almost sombre contrast by listing video games, texting, and cellphones and TV.
We let viewers draw their own conclusions, resulting in mass debate and socialization online: discussions about parenthood, technology, nature, and our own human condition.
However, it just wasn’t enough to raise the issue without a constructive solution. We used our bought social media ad units to geo-target Moms to promote in-time natural events, like a meteor shower and blossom events that would inspire them to go outside and enjoy their surroundings.
- Online Video
- Influencer Outreach
- Social Media
Nature Valley launched their “Manifesto” video for the first time in 2014, on both specialty and conventional TV channels. The spot was also featured on pre-roll in order to expand reach online.
After airing for eight weeks with strong media weights, “Manifesto” was cutdown to a :22.5s spot and continued to run at a lower GRP level to keep top-of-mind awareness with consumers. Nature Valley married the purpose driven spot with a functional 7.5s spot that featured specific product benefits. The combination of the two spots together worked perfectly to build the brand attributes (both emotional and functional) in an efficient manner.
Following the launch of “Manifesto”, 3 Generations launched a year later in 2015 with limited paid support, making earned media critical for the success and traction of this campaign.
The primary media channel was online. Partnering with strong video platforms like YouTube and social media allowed us to serve engaging video content that reminded all – families and kids – about the outdoor world they are missing out on.
A seeding strategy was used with YouTube and Facebook, followed by a Twitter Promoted Trend for additional buzz. This strategy targeted and leveraged peer influencer clusters online, which encouraged others to change their attitudes, values and behaviours. These peer clusters were critical to driving organic performance. Followers were more likely to trust and share the content because it was not seen as paid advertising. Clusters included journalists, moms, educators, politicians, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts.
To further generate action to get kids outside, we partnered with Colin Harris, the founder of Take Me Outside, an organization that champions children to spend time outdoors by being active and connecting with nature.
Colin Harris was used as the brand champion for our “Rediscover the Joy of Nature” program, which a one day in which families were encouraged to spend time in the great outdoors. We leveraged Harris’ relationship with Banff and Lake Louise Tourism to provide a once-in-a-lifetime family experience as incentive for consumers to get involved in the peak campaign moment. In order to enter, Canadians had to truly engage in the program by sharing a photo of their family enjoying the outdoors to the campaign and partner hashtag. Over 260 Canadians participated in the day and qualified for the contest.
In conjunction with the “Rediscover the Joy of Nature” day, we had a broad range of influencers who had a strong social following, which worked to push out our video through their social platforms. They also encouraged families to generate a bucket list of outdoor activities.
We instantly saw how powerful this message was received around the world. The 3 Generations video exploded virally and was viewed over 25 million times globally. In addition to global video views, the campaign received national and trade media coverage in Mashable, AdWeek, Strategy and Inside Edition, to name a few.
For the first time, consumers were interacting with Nature Valley as a brand. The "3 Generations" online video was viewed more than 25 million times globally, making it the most viewed campaign in the history of General Mills Canada’s advertising efforts.
The multi-phased approach with tiered influencer network resulted in 54 blog posts, generating 2.1 million blog impressions and supported 27 million Twitter impressions.
As the chart indicates below, the campaign had an effect on the overall share, increasing from 18.8 prior to launch to 21.2 after launch of "Manifesto". When launching the second phase of the campaign in 2015, "3 Generations" saw a spike in share from 20.3 to 24.8. The dip that is indicated in the chart in October in 2014/2015 is a seasonal dip due to merchandizing shifts and changes. However, even in those months Nature Valley posted Share Gains of 1.8pts in 2014
Core sales growth came from Nature Valley’s established lines, indicating that the campaign was particularly effective at making consumers reconsider a brand they had seen on shelf for years. The campaign was influential at shifting these at-shelf decisions: consumers were buying more and because of the increased top-of-mind awareness, they were buying more often (shelf turn +4%).
Overall the “Rediscover the Joy of Nature” purpose campaign grew Nature Valley differentially faster than competitors. It also grew with high quality volume on its established businesses like Crunch, that has been around since 1975 and has had no other news besides this campaign to support it.
Nature Valley maintained a significant lead vs. the category in dollar volume growth, outpacing average category growth by 5x.
Overall sales of Nature Valley grew +13% within the campaign period, and the brand continues to enjoy sustained sales leadership in the category.
3 Generations earned major media success: more than 60% of total views were organic, which contributed to an efficient media spend of $0.02 cost per view.
Upon launch, "3 Generations" was the most viewed video on YouTube the week of release, and was viewed in over 70 countries around the world.
Between unpaid views, social sharing and resultant conversation about the campaign (and it’s message) online, the campaign drove an overall estimated media value of $3.7 million.
General Mills Canada has partnered with Analytic Partners, a global marketing analytics consultancy, to develop a holistic media measurement program called Marketing Mix Modelling that is continuous and comprehensive. The methodology utilized allows for media and marketing performance measurement to be captured within a consistent analytic framework. Its unique capability separates TV, online video and other communication vehicles performance from all other key business drivers, including pricing, promotions, distribution, competition, and other external dynamics. The advanced statistical modelling framework allows marketers and agencies to make “real-time” decisions on copy rotation and overall media strategies.
During the initial launch period, Manifesto had a 14.3% sales lift to the business. With subsequent media buying optimization and more efficient :22.5 second ad units implemented during the campaign period (after initial launch), Manifesto has consistently yielded 7-10% sales lift.
3 Generations saw a 5.6% lift at launch and the campaign in totality saw a very strong marketing ROI. All results were directly related to the campaign and confirmed by the Marketing Mix Modelling results.
Previous campaigns for Nature Valley prior to the launch of the purpose based work, was not connecting with consumers and growing the business. The fact that Nature Valley was able to move their messaging communication from functional to emotional was critical. The campaign was highly successful on their established business that had no new news which indicated that the emotional connection was working.
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:
Nature Valley purchased 20% more media between June 2014 and May 2015 vs prior year. However, our Market Mix Models (MMM) conducted by Analytic Partners Inc. indicate a 14.3% lift on the Nature Valley business – the lift generated by Manifesto was 2x prior campaign copy.
Pre-existing Brand momentum:
Prior to the campaign launching, Nature Valley remained relatively flat. The campaign had an effect on the overall share, increasing from 18.8 prior to launch to 21.2 after launch of Manifesto. When launching the second phase of the campaign in 2015, 3 Generations saw a spike in share from 20.3 to 24.8.
As indicated in the chart below, percentage of Nature Valley products sold on promotion remained fairly flat which indicates that sales were driven primarily by campaign.
Changes in Distribution/Availability:
Nature Valley is the largest brand in the snacks category, therefore there is wide distribution and no further changes to distribution were achieved.
Unusual Promotional Activity:
Consumer promotions have been consistent versus prior years.
Any other factors:
Overall category is in decline except for Nature Valley – below is evidence of Nature Valley fueling category growth.