Unilever goes digital in Asia

01 November 2011

SINGAPORE: Unilever, the FMCG group, is increasingly combining digital channels and television as it seeks to engage consumers in core Asian markets like India and China.

Speaking to the Asia Media Journal, Rahul Welde, Unilever's VP, Media for Asia, Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, argued TV must be "coupled" with emerging mediums to attract attention.

"Because of the growth of Asia, there are more brands coming into play," he said. "The inevitable outcome of all this is high clutter. We have to make sure our messages are very sharp, powerful and compelling."

In reflecting this, Unilever has embarked on a wide range of marketing activities locally, as shown by Clear shampoo's "Unbeatable" campaign in China, which helped demand rise by 24% year on year.

This involved a 36-epsiode branded drama series, developed in partnership with the Jiangsu Media Group, and featuring plotlines mirroring Clear's values, while avoiding excessive product placement.

Broadcast on five provincial satellite stations and through internet video platforms, Unilever bought TV spots during shows, employed social media, online ads and a microsite on popular web portal Sohu, meaning the series reached 400m people overall.

"Our unbeatable campaign for Clear in China was a magnum opus that was really large, both in its creation as well as how it's activated in the marketplace," said Welde. "It was still a gamble."

Equally, the fact Unilever has been the lead sponsor for reality shows like Thailand's Got Talent and Idol in Vietnam show television is far from irrelevant.

Axe deodorant's "Call Me", ran in nations including Indonesia, India and Singapore, used TV, outdoor, print and the web to encourage young men to phone a number and receive a wake up call from an "alluring female voice".

"The centrepiece of the campaign is the mobile device, but that doesn't mean we don't advertise on TV, it means the television advertising leverages mobile as the centrepiece of the campaign," said Welde.

Elsewhere, the launch of Vaseline Men Face Wash in India, coinciding with the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, utilised a branded mobile game which secured 6m players and 1.8bn ad impressions.

"It was a huge hit," said Welde. "That's something we would not necessarily have done in a world where we are purely thinking television."

Data sourced from Asia Media Journal; additional content by Warc staff