This article presents lessons of how best to approach branding and advertising in Canada, updated for 2012. This includes examples from the CASSIES case studies - Canadian Advertising Success Stories - over the years and how lessons cross over from one case to another.
Mars-owned Snickers, the world's largest confectionery brand, was growing globally but not as fast as its rivals. Part of the problem was Mars's decentralised structure, which meant that the brand had a global footprint but lacked the true global positioning it needed to drive sales, market share, and penetration. The broad creative idea that was developed - "You're Not You When You're Hungry" - played on the fact that when men get hungry, they're actually not themselves - a problem solved by a filling Snickers bar. This idea was adapted locally to over 50 markets, typically with a celebrity-focused, TV-led media strategy. After a full global rollout, over 88% of global value sales had been influenced by the campaign and Snickers started to regain the share it had lost to competitors.
Unilever's Axe male grooming brand maintains a tight focus on 16-24 year-olds, meaning that it experiences a 10-15% churn of consumers annually. A key strategy for replacing lost older consumers with new younger ones is the introduction of a new variant each year. In the deodorant category, which this case focuses on, 2008's Dark Temptation was a notable success, but was followed by two less successful launches. The latest "Excite" variant therefore had to be a success to maintain Axe's global value. Research identified young men's real female fantasy was the more obtainable "nice" girl, rather than the stereotypical but intimidating "naughty" girl. So the creative idea behind Excite was that this fragrance was powerful enough to seduce even the most angelic and virtuous of girls, which was played out across a range of local markets and media, including print, TV, cinema and OOH, as well as online and social channels. The campaign exceeded sales targets by 7% and grew volumes by over 4%.
When Hamdi Ulukaya started making Chobani in the north-eastern U.S., Greek yogurt was mostly unheard of by consumers. This case explains how the flaws in category conventions were uncovered allowing the yogurt to be introduced as a tasty snack, rather than a health benefit. The love of early adopters was depicted in creative resulting in a 75% growth in sales two months after launch, controlling 57% of the market.
Can you successfully 'scale the emotion' of a live concert for millions of music fans online? That's the question that led to UNSTAGED from American Express, a revolutionary interactive music experience that blurs the line between at-home and at-concert viewing.
Suburu launched a new design of its small SUV model, the Forester, in Canada with this campaign. The automaker was previously a niche player in the category, and wished to gain share against larger rivals Honda and Toyota. To achieve this, Subaru turned to emotional branding, presenting the Forester as the perfect choice for families with young children. The brand was marketed as being playful and fun. The campaign launched on TV and YouTube with a humourous spot featuring sumo wrestlers, highlighting the positive association in viewers' minds between Japanese cars and quality. The sumo motif was rolled out across print, online and outdoor touchpoints. Following the campaign, Forester sales grew year-on-year for three years; the initial ad also went viral, gaining 850,000 YouTube views.
Subaru's Outback SUV had once been a key model in its line-up but sales in Canada were in long-term decline. Research indicated that most consumers in the segment didn't know much about the Outback, or thought of it as a wagon rather than a small SUV for day-to-day city driving. However, they were open to a new small SUV option that was more 'capable', which played to the advantage of Outback's AWD feature. "The uniquely capable small SUV" became the communications strategy. The campaign's big idea, "Maybe you should get out more", widened the target audience to those who offset a hardworking city lifestyle with outdoor activities. A TV execution humorously adapted an infomercial for the Snuggie (a garmet popular with couch-based TV watchers), backed by print ads featuring Outback drivers in serene landscapes beside "As Not Seen On TV" labels. Additional channels included a GetOutMore website and direct mail featuring a fake TV guide. An aggressive sales target of +59% was exceeded very early in the campaign, with average monthly sales increasing +214%.
Canadian sales of Subaru's WRX STI had stagnated, though the brand is loved by performance car enthusiasts for its rally-based credentials. Although the new 2011 model was more performance-focused than ever before, it faced several challenges: a +10% price rise, a +25% sales target, a small media budget and stringent restrictions on the portrayal of performance in advertisements. An online engagement strategy was hindered by the fact that the car's target market - higher income 35-45 year old male "Performance Car Enthusiasts" - tended to be passive consumers of online content. But research uncovered another target: the younger, influential, "Performance Car Obsessed" segment, who would spend countless hours discovering and sharing content. Regulatory restrictions were avoided via a commercial based around a real-life flip-book animation which ran along the side of a racetrack that was filmed by a camera mounted on a WRX STI. The commercial was broadcast on TV, with print and online banners featuring key visuals from the film. Social media also drove word of mouth. Total sales increased 130% during the results period, against a target of 25%.
After decades of strong growth, Gatorade, the sports drink, was facing a steep decline in sales in the U.S. market. The company used ethnographic research to understand its target market better - competitive athletes - which led to a repositioning of Gatorade beyond simple hydration to become a complete sports nutrition brand. This was achieved by the launch of the Gatorade G Series, offering three products designed for consumption before ('Prime'), during ('Perform') and after ('Recover') exercise. As a result, the 15.5% decline in sales turned into an overall increase of 10% within two years.
Molson Coors launched Molson Canadian 67, a light beer brand, with this integrated campaign. The strategy was to attract sophisticated consumers who usually preferred to drink wine, cocktails or coolers rather than beer. The target audience was calorie-conscious men as well as women, so the campaign needed to push back against the stereotype that light beer was somehow feminine. The creative relied on the striking visual contrast between the actual drink volumes of 67 calories of wine or mixed drinks and 67 calories of Molson Canadian 67: the glasses were much smaller for the rival drinks. Media-wise, the campaign was launched on TV, and followed up by a PR campaign using key influencers including Canadian Running magazine.