Cornetto: Ghost Stories


Client: Unilever
Product: Cornetto ice cream
Category: Food, Beverage, Tobacco
Agency: Mindshare Malaysia
Country: Malaysia
Year: 2015


Campaign Summary

In snacking, being generic and local has become an “in" thing. That is scary for an international brand like Cornetto. Consumer trends show that the youth in Malaysia are moving towards normal (dare we say boring?) snacks. How could the brand become more relevant to its young consumers in Malaysia than dull local snacks?

The answer was ghosts. If the brand was scared, so were Malaysian teens -- sort of -- as ghost stories are highly popular among Malaysian kids. They grow up with ghost movies, fiction, and other ghost-related content. Ghost movies have become a big hit among the Malaysia youth.

But Cornetto had been positioned on a “Love” platform, which can be seen as cheesy by teens. That compounded the problem that it was also losing market share to more generic local snacks. So, with this campaign, the brand combined love with ghosts, to be true not only to its brand positioning but to its local Malaysian target.


Objective and Context

Cornetto is international and has been associated with the likes of Taylor Swift. But the brand lacked a local connection. To be effective, what better idea than to associate the brand with ghost characters and stories locals absolutely love?


Creative Strategy

The brand created a series of four webisodes featuring two ghosts, Po and Lang, and other un-dead characters, with Cornetto placed in the story. The concept was put onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with targeting around the ghost stories to maximize views. Cornetto also connected with social influencers and optimized search to expand the reach of the campaign.

With mobile penetration among the target audience reaching 51 percent, the campaign quickly completed 15 million impressions and moved the campaign to the next level via mobile channels; ten percent of the total campaign budget was invested in mobile.

Taking the theme of ghosts head on, the campaign got a bit naughty, scary and cheeky. In fact, all six ghost characters from the stories were calling Malaysian youth and haunting them on their phones!

This took place via a banner ad that created an impression of a ghost, allowing users to create a voiceover that called their friends’ phones in a petrifying prank. People who answered the ghoulish call were then taken to Po and Lang webisodes.


The campaign’s results are as follows:

  • The “ghostly” banner ads had a clickthrough rate of eight percent against the industry average of 1.5 percent.
  • Webisode # 3 was featured in the top 10 videos on YouTube for that month.
  • Across all videos, the brand reached a total of 956,000 views.
  • Sales increased by 21 percent during the campaign period vs. a year earlier.

And, most importantly, based on the comments online on the videos, the young folks loved it! It proved that making people scared is a GREAT plan! The scariest challenge is often the best opportunity in disguise. The strong sales performance told Cornetto: being brave and innovative pays off.


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