MYSTERY CREAM BLOGGER TRIAL for Pond's

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MYSTERY CREAM BLOGGER TRIAL

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Industry Skin Care
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market China
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Social Media
Advertiser: UNILEVER
Product/Service: SKINCARE
Asia Pacific Director Of Strategy/Planning: Marion Mcdonald (Ogilvy PR Hong Kong)
Regional Account Manager: Rebecca Simpson (Ogilvy PR Hong Kong)
Senior Digital Strategist: Michael Darragh (Ogilvy PR China)
Digital Account Executive: Liza Levy (Ogilvy PR China)
Digital Designer: Haiming Ma (Ogilvy PR China)
Media placement: Social Media - Over 150 Chinese Blogs - 06/04/2009

Summary of the Campaign
Pond’s Age Miracle (PAM) is the leading anti-aging skincare range in multiple Asian markets with the notable exception of China where it was seen as a cheap basic mass market brand (RRP< 9 Euro). PAM needed a repositioning in China to grow sales through new trial, but had a very limited budget. The PAM China Blogger Trial was a peer to peer recommendation campaign based on a 7day blind trial for pure unbiased consumer judgment to generate true credibility and online buzz. We invited 150 influential beauty bloggers with over 60million+ followers to trial a secret mystery cream (PAM) against their current prestige anti-aging cream, blogging freely over 7days until they selected a winner. The result created major credibility for PAM with 90% of bloggers rating PAM as better than their current prestige brand. And while anti-aging skincare category sales grew 13%, PAM sales rocketed up by 42% with no other support activity, generating a 400% ROI on a budget of 50,000 euro. This revolutionary social media campaign was a radical and risky approach in a category in which brands are typically built on big budgets for celebrity endorsement, glamorous photography (and world class retouching!) and incredible claims.

The Goal
The business objective was to grow PAM sales in China through new trial. Our research indicated that: 1. PAM could OUTPERFORM prestige brand competition costing 15x PAM in consumer BLIND trials. Pond’s branding however carried negative perceptions that hampered branded sampling. 2. The story would NEVER run in traditional media as beauty editors wouldn't run stories against the interests of prestige skincare, their biggest advertisers. We needed a ‘back door’ straight to consumers to overcome traditional media and branding constraints. We turned to social media and influential female bloggers. Being a breakthrough approach, the goals were to learn, but achieve payback.

Results
While category sales grew 13% in 2009, PAM rocketed up by 42% with an initial spike after the trial reveal and sustained higher sales, with no other PAM communications, no change in price/product/distribution. Estimated ROI using category average margins is 400% or 4x payback target. We generated major credibility with 600+ positive posts on blogs/BBS with 60million+ page views. 90% of bloggers declared the 'mystery cream' better than current prestige brand and would switch and recommend it to friends. This blog post typifies reactions: "I recommend to you, from now on you need to forget your superstitions on luxury brands and choose better products for your own good". The strength of our campaign did not lie in a big budget, brand name or celebrity endorsement – all standard elements for skincare success in China. It came from unleashing the power of independent bloggers to change consumer beliefs.

Execution
We calculated we needed 150 bloggers to generate sufficient online word of mouth at relatively low cost. We recruited bloggers who were existing department store only prestige face cream users (eg. SK-II, Lancome, Lauder, La Mer, Chanel, Dior) through 10 leading beauty portals, seeking the right 'go-to girl' factor. No compensation was offered for positive blogs, despite this being common practice in China. Successful applicants received a prestige style box containing the mystery cream and a password to the trial microsite for daily blogs/vlogs. They simply had to use the cream for 7 days, comment freely online and give their final verdict after a week on whether they would stick with their current prestige cream or switch to this mystery cream. A widget gathered all comments in a trial microsite. The brand was revealed after all votes were in.

The Situation
Pond’s skincare relaunched successfully in Asia in 2007 and Pond’s Age Miracle (PAM) became the leading anti-aging skincare range in multiple Asian markets with the notable exception of China where it continued to be seen as a cheap basic mass brand (PAM price is just Euro 9). This was turning consumers off. PAM needed a new way into the Chinese market, repositioning as a masstige brand and a chance to prove the product could perform even better than prestige brand competitors.

The Strategy
Our strategy was to build credibility of PAM as an effective anti-ageing cream, outperforming prestige creams costing far more, and drive these prestige cream users to switch to Pond’s. We created a breakthrough product-led brand building campaign in social media which was a radical departure in a market characterised by celebrity endorsement, impossible claims and unattainable images of beauty. The PAM Blogger Trial was a peer to peer recommendation campaign using a 7 day blind trial to generate true credibility and buzz. Given China has the largest online population in the world (384 million at Dec 2009) and 'Netizens' are prolific content creators (95% of users aged