Wall's: Thermally-Activated Messaging


Client: Unilever
Product: Wall’s ice cream
Category: Food, Beverage, Tobacco
Agency: Mindshare
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 2015


Campaign Summary

Ice cream sales are seasonal – as the temperature increases, so does demand for ice cream. This correlation has informed campaign planning for Wall’s ice cream for years, with the vast majority of all advertising running in the summer months. However, with the continued development of mobile technology, Wall’s saw an opportunity to add levels of targeting to its advertising in order to gain an edge over the competition.

Mobile-first thinking was at the heart of this campaign, as Wall’s framed a mobile strategy around location, context and time to target customers based on location, temperature and time of day.


Objective and Context

Wall’s ice cream is the most iconic ice cream brand within the UK and is a main driver of the ice cream category. With a portfolio of brands under the Wall’s brand umbrella, the nation’s number one ice cream brand has delighted British taste buds for over 100 years. The ice cream category is extremely weather dependent, is highly competitive and can be perceived as an unhealthy treat option; however, Wall’s identified massive potential in the ice cream category for further growth in the impulse channel.

Wall’s impulse sector business represents only 20 percent of the volume that it sells annually but delivers 45 percent of the profit. The objective of the Wall’s Thermally Activated Media campaign was to drive further awareness of Wall’s ice cream range across the summer and encourage purchase, specifically on hot days where customers were close to an ice cream point of sale (POS).

The audience was widely defined as adults ages 18-45 who enjoy life and like to try new things. The 18-24 group is the core of this audience – pre-family, young adults who are regular out-of-home snackers. Day-to-day this audience isn’t thinking ice cream, and they will buy a chocolate bar, a packet of crisps or a soft drink instead. Their life revolves around their friends, their phones, celebrities, clubs, pubs, festivals, selfies and having a laugh. They love what’s new, what’s different and what’s talked about.

Wall’s was aware of how important mobile is to the audience’s everyday life. Based on consumer insights, the campaign aimed to drive awareness and encourage purchase on hot days -- termed thermal activation -- where users were close to a POS. Wall’s wanted to turbocharge its brand identity by being confident, fun and noticeable and to reignite the impulse category by encouraging consumers to pick up Wall’s ice cream instead of a confectionery snack.

Given this mobile-first route, the entire £220,000 budget was committed to mobile across summer 2013.


Creative Strategy

Mobile-first thinking was at the heart of this campaign, as Wall’s framed a strategy around location, context and time to target customers based on where they were (in location to ice cream POS), temperature and sun hours -- using a Weather Channel feed -- and then pulsing the media delivery on and off throughout the day based on real-time conditions.

KPIs for this campaign included reach, total proximity and total push messaging. Interactions with the rich media and in-app rich media ads increased each week.

Wall’s brought the communication strategy to life through Thermal Always-On and Summer Events, which were Wall’s pop-up shops based near stations. These mini-campaigns worked in concert, and the creative and media strategies provided a seamless rich media ad experience driven through mobile.

Wall’s worked with mobile partners Yume and Apple to create the mobile-first rich media ad experience. It also used mobile marketing platform Weve to deploy MMS messages based on real-time weather conditions. This MMS messaging allowed Wall’s to reach users around points-of-sale with proximity messaging and at key campaign periods at scale with push messaging. Here are further details of these targeting methods:

  • Weve Proximity Messaging – The always-on strategy was served when the target audience was in proximity to key retailers and convenience stores. A layer of weather targeting meant the ads were served only between a specified temperature range. This strategy ensured Wall’s reached users only when they were close to a POS on a day where ice cream was a viable purchase, to minimize waste and reach the audience at the perfect time.
  • Weve Push Messaging – this highly interruptive standout execution drove awareness of Wall’s at scale on hot days. The push message bursts were planned around days when Wall’s knew the weather was going to be good or when Wall’s was executing other reactive out-of-home media. The strategy also involved thermal targeting, so if the weather changed suddenly the messages stopped.

Rich media mobile ads enabled Wall’s to have bespoke high-impact creative executions across both audience-targeted mobile apps. Through Yume, rich media mobile ads were targeted both demographically and through the thermal window through a weather API on iOS and Android devices. These ads pushed through to the Facebook page. Wall’s also served thermally-targeted rich media ads through the iAd app network, ensuring it reached its audience in-app when the weather was perfect for ice cream purchase.


Below are the results of the campaign:

  • Wall’s saw higher engagement levels and dwell times on this campaign – more than any previous mobile media campaign. By investing 100 percent of its budget in mobile, Wall’s minimized waste and increased the effectiveness of its message.
  • Total Wall’s ice cream sales increased by almost nine percent year-on-year after this campaign. This percentage was even higher in London -- at more than 24 percent -- where Wall’s focused 40 percent of the media investment. Wall’s brand share also increased by upwards of 1.4 percent to 52.5 percent in just 12 weeks after the campaign. The long-term effects have been clear, with share rising to 54.8 percent.



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