Unilever: Sure Thermal Activation Campaign


Client:  Unilever
Product:  Sure Maximum Protection
Category:  Health & Beauty
Agency:  Mindshare UK
Country:  United Kingdom
Year: 2015


Campaign Summary

Sure Maximum Protection is proven to be two times stronger than the leading antiperspirant but as a result this comes at a premium, with a retail price nearly three times as expensive than the category average unit price. This makes for a much more difficult task to convince consumers to buy beyond their normal deodorant. The additional challenge is that the audience the brand was looking to target were not necessarily in the market for a clinical deodorant, so Sure needed to reach them in exactly the right moment for the product message to resonate.

Sure Maximum Pro was introduced into the UK market in 2009 with the launch of the cream solid, and continues to be one of the biggest growth drivers in the category. The proposition is growing penetration but not as quickly as anticipated, which represented a massive untapped opportunity for 2014 as frequency seemed to have increased, but penetration stagnated.

The overall objective for this campaign was to increase penetration of light and medium buyers in the United Kingdom via awareness and relevance. A broadcast phase ran first, with a TV message to raise spontaneous awareness of the brand and product. The role of the following digital activity and supporting communications was to be as heat reactive as possible. By using high temperature and humidity to activate the campaign in only the most relevant environments, the brand could ensure the campaign’s message of efficacy in “Moments that Matter" would resonate with the audience.


Objective and Context

Learnings from previous years showed that the most prominent variable that makes people out-sweat their everyday deodorant is heat, amplified by high humidity. The brand team also knew there is considerable correlation between temperature, Max Pro sales, and search interest in excessive sweating.

As a result of this insight, the brand created a target audience dubbed “dissatisfied normal sweaters” -  normal people who were affected by the prevailing heat and humidity. This audience was quite broad, but mainly fell into the bucket of females ages 20-34, living in predominantly urban areas and with active lifestyles. However, everyone’s had the experience of being stuck on the Central Line in the middle of summer -- sweating due to high heat and humidity is a universal experience. So while it was possible to segment the target audience into broad demographic sectors, it was imperative to reach consumers at the point when the heat index rose, and their traditional deodorant began to fail.   


Creative Strategy

Based upon the consumer insight, Sure developed the strategy to be active where and when the heat index spiked, and nowhere else. This presented the perfect opportunity to utilise Mindshare’s Business Planning Intelligence team to analyse data across the campaign period, and turn media on and off accordingly across channels, ensuring that the messaging reached this fluid audience in relative moments.

While it was possible to sync media delivery with the prevailing temperature, the insight told us that it was the combination of heat and humidity that caused sweating the most. This data was not available to via media partners so the brand built a “Weather Tool” using a feed from the Met Office’s granular weather data providing a live forecast for five days against 5,000 individual weather stations. The tool used a formula combining heat and humidity to establish a heat index in different areas across the country, split by BARB (Broadcast Audience Researchers Board) region but accessible down to a postcode level, and to match this with audiences.

This determined exactly when people would start to out-sweat their normal anti-perspirant around the country and provided an API and accessible dashboard, allowing the brand team to decide when to turn on and off media across digital, video on demand, out-of-home and print -- automatically and in real-time. The campaign ran when and where it needed to, with the ability to be extremely agile with live activity across the campaign period, while coordinating and aligning all channels to deliver a high frequency of messaging in a short space of time. Teams accessed the analysed data via the Weather Tool and identified hot spots around the country for the week that followed.

All media owners also had access to the API and reports generated as a result, and media was triggered to activate only on the identified time periods and areas to ensure that maximum impact was achieved on the identified days. The digital campaign ran across SMS/MMS messages utilising the mobile marketing platform Weve, and mobile display activity through Blis Media and Unilever’s Mindshare managed trading desk ULTRA.

The brand and agency knew that recency planning had worked well in the past within the consumer packaged goods category, targeting ˜in the market” consumers, but for such a busy and hard-to-reach audience the planning had to go further. This is where the idea of hyper-recency planning came in --targeting the “in the moment” consumer.  Embracing this idea meant understanding where and when the message would resonate the most, which is where the heat activation seemed like the perfect fit.

From the details the brand  had around this audience, it was aware of how important digital was to the consumer's everyday life and mobile even more so. Data showed that four out of five of this audience checked their smartphone within the first 15 minutes of waking up, and it remained by her side for the rest of the day.

Therefore, in order for this campaign to work in the most efficient way possible, mobile had to be at its very heart. While the strategy of hyper-recency planning was applied to the total media activity, mobile provided the opportunity to reach the brand’s target audience in the most accurate fashion -- in areas where the weather tool showed a high heat index, at the right time -- and drive the consumer in-store to trial purchase of the product.  Mobile accounted for 70 percent of the campaign’s total digital budget, and 35 percent of the overall campaign budget, clearly showing the importance of mobile as a marketing channel for Sure Maximum Protection. 



What set this campaign apart from others was the enabling technology of Mindshare’s weather tool, which automatically informed its mobile media partners via an API of where and when to run activity. As a result, the campaign was able to deliver some of the most contextually and geographically relevant content of any Unilever campaign to date -- dynamically.

The strategy surpassed all targets set for the campaign, proving hyper-recency planning was the most effective means of reaching and engaging with the campaign’s target audience.

The mobile activity and impact upon sales was measured using an IRI research study, which compared exposed versus non-exposed consumers in identified comparable areas to highlight any differences. The results were extremely strong within the exposed areas showing sales uplift of up to 5.1 percent and ROI of £1.79 for every £1 of media spend - significantly higher than average for the category..

This campaign had a significant impact on the deodorant market, and was extremely successful at converting traditional deodorant users to try Sure Maximum Protection, enabling the brand to avert a stagnation in market penetration, while maximizing the effectiveness of the media investment. The 5.1 percent sales uplift during the campaign was a key contributing factor in a 10 percent growth of the Sure Maximum Protection business within Unilever’s portfolio of deodorant brands over the last 12 months.





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