Perfetti Van Melle India (Center Fresh): Center Fresh: Stay Fresh Behind the Mask


Campaign Summary

As the leading refreshment brand in India, Center Fresh pioneered "Stay Fresh Behind the Mask" to stay relevant during the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign helped consumers always understand the importance of wearing a mask while stepping outside, and that Center Fresh mints and gum were there to help them be "fresh-breath-ready."


Objective and Context:

The "Stay Fresh Behind the Mask" campaign's objective was to build relevance for its target audience during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the purchase of essentials like sanitizers, handwash, and immunity-boosters had increased and discretionary spend had drastically reduced. Shoppers' visits to brick-and-mortar stores dropped drastically and purchases made were more planned and less impulsive. The need to be "fresh-breath-ready" for occasions such as socialization outside became a distant reality given the nationwide lockdown. All of these factors affected sales in the refreshment category, specifically mints and gum.

Center Fresh is the No. 1 gum brand in India, and it faced these challenging times by reinforcing its role in the lives of consumers. It set out to become an enabler of "staying fresh behind the mask." The campaign aimed to bring about a change in consumer behavior by solving the problem of "mask breath," hence building essentials such as Center Fresh Mints and Three Layer Gum. Considering the spread of COVID-19, wearing masks for long durations had become a new reality; therefore, consuming mints and gum before putting on a mask became a way for consumers to keep their breaths fresh while feeling comfortable. In fact, the prolonged use of masks provided ample opportunities for consumers to take a mint or gum, all while driving frequency of consumption for the brand.

Target Audience:

The core consumer base for Center Fresh comprises of youth (male and female) in the age group between 18 to 24 years old. These consumers have an active social life and value the functional need of being "fresh-breath ready" in social interactions so they can make a good impression. The key personality traits associated with this consumer include being smart, outgoing, stylish, cool, extroverted, and confident. They are also internet-savvy and prefer spending a lot of their time on social networking sites on their mobile phones. These consumers are regular users of e-commerce apps who indulge in retail therapy using their mobile phones.

Creative Strategy:

The campaign set out to let people be their best self as they stepped out and wore masks for long hours while being supported by the habit of consuming Center Fresh mints and gum. The media strategy was developed while keeping in mind the media landscape in India among youth and any shifts witnessed during the pandemic.

India has the second highest internet usage market in the world (with about 566 million internet users, and 40 percent internet penetration). Mobile is the preferred medium for internet consumption (making up 88 percent of overall internet consumption). With more than 420 million smartphone users, it is the third largest smartphone market in the world. This, coupled with the reduction in data tariffs, led to a significant increase in the time spent online. As people stayed indoors with no avenues of outdoor entertainment or connecting with friends, online time went up significantly. Center Fresh therefore adopted a mobile-first approach to drive awareness for "staying fresh behind the mask."

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, "social distancing" was being widely practiced, reducing the opportunity for social interactions and limiting occasions of consumption. These conditions gave Center Fresh the opportunity to pivot from its erstwhile approach and reconsider the role of the brand during the pandemic. Center Fresh used a mobile-first approach to leverage popular social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. The brand secured the participation of influencers as the voice of reason to disseminate its brand message with credibility. These influencers shared home-produced, self-made videos that urged consumers to wear a mask whenever they went out, and to trust Center Fresh to keep their breaths fresh behind the mask.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Center Fresh became the first brand in the Indian confectionery market, and one of the first globally, to pioneer the concept and launch "Stay fresh behind the mask." The task was to establish Center Fresh as an essential product during everyday life in the "new normal." The campaign content was curated by being mindful of the current realities of social distancing and wearing masks.

To reinforce the role of the brand as a "freshness partner" during the "new normal," the brand leveraged:

  • Mobile-first platforms (Instagram and Facebook).
  • Statics and GIFs to clearly outline the problem and solution.
  • Home-produced, self-shot influencer videos.
  • Assets made in a 1:1 aspect ratio, with usage of text and doodles to aid comprehension.
  • Calls-to-action leading to product pages on e-commerce platforms.
  • Display banners further reinforcing the role of the brand at the point of sale.
  • Digital amplification of on-ground activation thanking frontline workers and helping them stay fresh behind the mask (an act of social good which drives awareness).

Mobile Execution:

The three pillars of the social media strategy aimed at creating awareness were video content, social media platforms, and e-commerce banner ads. This was executed in a phased manner across multiple stages:

  1. Launch with digital posts: The campaign was introduced with digital posts (statics and GIFs) to set the context of "staying fresh behind the mask" and establish the problem of "mask breath." These posts helped maximize the campaign's reach.
  2. Created and sustained the buzz using video content from influencers: To further create awareness and appeal to the youth of the nation, the brand got the participation of popular social media influencers to drive advocacy.
  3. E-commerce activation: The brand appended the call-to-action "Buy Now" button to all promoted posts, and deployed static banner ads on e-commerce platforms like Milk Basket and Big Basket to drive purchase.
  4. Brand the message "Walk the talk": Taking this initiative forward, the brand curated and distributed "Freshness Kits" to COVID frontline workers to thank them for their service. This was amplified online to convey gratitude.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Social Media:

  • The campaign garnered close to 68 million impressions with a reach of 28 million, delivering more than 7.7 million views.
  • The overall campaign view-through rate was around 11.2 percent (22 percent higher than the industry benchmark).
  • The influencer videos delivered 10.6 million impressions, 2.1 million views (VTR of 21 percent) and an engagement rate of 1.51 percent (2.5 times higher than industry benchmark).

Promotion from the influencer handle:

  • The brand partnered with leading youth influencers to drive organic traction, improve credibility, and aid in habit-building of consumption.

Online PR:

  • The campaign generated coverage across online newspapers and e-magazines as well as social media campaign aggregators.

Creative Performance:

  • Creative Reach: 67 percent of the overall respondents were able to recall the advertisement and attribute it to Center Fresh.
  • Branded Creative Reach: 71 percent of the overall respondents were able to decode the brand advertisement.
  • Brand Fit: Nearly 73 percent of the respondents found the video to be the right fit with the brand.

A direct impact was visible on the brand's e-commerce sales numbers. Center Fresh turned the tide in its favor by recording the highest ever sales in an e-commerce channel – two times the sales numbers pre-COVID.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Pivot Marketing, Social Distancing | Awards: X Silver Winner