Unilever turns to film in Asia

25 May 2009

BEIJING: Unilever, the consumer goods company, is attempting to increase the appeal of its Lux shampoo brand in China and Japan by launching a "Hollywood-style" seven-minute "minifilm", which will be broadcast on television instead of more traditional ads, as well as being made available online and shown in cinemas.

In recent times, the Anglo-Dutch company has increasingly emphasised it is moving away from the "30-second spot", and has attempted to more closely integrate its brands with broadcast content in the US as well as taking a more active role on social media.

The new minfilm – which was produced by JWT and is called "Alchemist" – features the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, and was written by the Hollywood scriptwriter Jeffrey Caine, whose credits include the screenplay for the The Constant Gardener.

While high-end brands such as Chanel and BMW have previously used similar promotional tools – the latter of which is discussed here – Unilever's new effort marks a rare attempt by a mass-market brand to employ this medium.

The company estimates that Japanese women are exposed to around 1,000 ads every week, while new technology, from the internet to digital video recorders, is transforming the way consumers in the country, and in China, are using media.

As such, Enzo Devoto, its vice president of hair products in North Asia and Greater China, argued that the "means of interacting with consumers has dramatically changed."

Given this situation, he argued the film was the "perfect solution, as "by getting into the world of movies, rather than just having movie stars in our ads, which our competitors do too, we can draw consumers closer to the brand."

As well as purchasing spots on China Central Television and Fox during shows dedicated to films and celebrities, the video has been launched online, and was viewed 6.5 million web times in the first six weeks it was available on the internet.

To view the new "minifilm" for Lux, click here.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff