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Inspiring New Brand Campaigns: The Process Behind Successful Consumer Engagement

Zaid Al-Qassab, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at BT Group, speaks at the Wednesday afternoon SB'16 Copenhagen session on new brand campaigns and consumer engagement. | Image credit: Longfei Wang/Sustainable Brands

Jaclyn Murphy, Director of Brand Purpose at Edelman, opened an inspiring session on Wednesday afternoon where brand purpose was made tangible in four brands - Arla Foods, Unilever, BT and Neste - that shared their experience and insights about how they are working to engage consumers in their purpose and get them involved in creating a change.

“Once brands have done the work of building their purpose into every aspect of their brand, how do you get consumers to care about your purpose, to come along with you, to get involved and do something in support of the cause and actually make a difference,” Murphy said.

The panelists each shared lessons from recent successful campaigns.

1. Find the Issue that Is Related to Your Brand



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Mette Borsting Hofman, Global Senior Brand Activation Manager Arla Foods, a dairy food company that is owned by farmers in Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany. Arla Foods purpose is to ‘Make eating well simple and joyful for everyone.’ Hofman said that it is important to tackle causes that are at the heart of your brand. Arla shifted focus from sponsoring sport events and curing diseases, to addressing malnutrition, healthy living and good food habits.

“We want to nudge people to make better food choices,” she explained. “Only 4 percent of children cook with their parents. This means they are not learning the skills and habits of cooking.”

Arla Foods started the Food Camps campaign for students to experience, understand, and feel the fun and satisfaction of learning to cook. The students learn about health and well-being, nature and sustainability, and cooking with multiple ingredients (not just dairy products). The Food Camps host over 70 classes with over 1600 students per year.

Arla has taken a broad approach to cooking and food habits. They have created a global platform where different offshoots of the strategy can be implemented by their brands in other countries, locally. “The global campaign allows us to leave behind a footprint, but at the same time there has to be room for it to be localised so it will work in the local context and markets,” Hofman said.

2. Build a Movement

James Hayhurst, the Global Brand Equity Director at Unilever for the brands Persil, Skip and OMO - usually referred to under the umbrella brand, Dirt is Good. The brand has been running the Dirt is Good campaign for over 10 years to advocate the importance of allowing children to get outside and get dirty, but they questioned whether they were still being heard. Dirt is Good worked with Edelman to bring together statistics that showed less and less children were spending time engaging in ‘real play.’ They moved their purpose forward.

Hayhurst outlined the three-stage model they use to help change behavior – Provoke, Educate, Facilitate.

Provoke: The ‘Free the Kids’ film shocks people, raises awareness and provokes debate around the fact that children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. This is a divergence from the typically positive tone Persil is known for, but it woke people up! Even though the topic is viewed as controversial, it has been reviewed as being pitched correctly.

Educate: Sir Ken Robinson and other experts within the field of education, creativity and play were brought on board to contribute to a white paper. This created a vehicle to bring together different players within the field to share their opinions and feedback, as well as garner their support. With the help of these experts, Dirt is Good aims to influence policymakers and parents to ensure that ‘real’ play happens everyday.

Facilitate: A global initiative called ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ has been launched together with an organization, Project Dirt, to encourage teachers to bring children outdoors to learn, play and get dirty. Over 350,000 students around the world have already been signed up to spend at least one class outside in 2016. This is sparking a movement around the world to create more balance in children’s lives.

3. Give Your Customers the Opportunity to Get Involved

Zaid Al-Qassab, is Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at BT Group, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the UK. BT has outlined clear goals as a purposeful company, but it’s not that simple.

“I work for a company that fundamentally does some good stuff, but is struggling to find ways to relate that to consumers and its customers and make that come to life in the market place,” Al-Qassab explained. “Consumers want to hear about the value of your actions in society as a reason to buy into your products,” he explained. BT struggled with relaying to their customers how they were doubling their efforts to offset their carbon footprint, since they are a telecommunications company.

Deciding to change direction, BT determined that the way forward was to help good causes but find something that is linked directly to the business. They launched a ‘Supporters Club’ where BT Sport TV subscribers could participate to help set up camps where disadvantaged kids could enhance their lives through sport. This invited them to participate directly in the cause. 27 percent of BT employees volunteered for over 45,000 volunteer days. BT's purpose is shining through these actions, and consumers are engaging and supporting the initiative because it is something they relate to.

4. Use the Power of Collaboration

Sirpa Tuomi, Marketing Director at renewable diesel and biomaterials producer Neste, discussed how the company set out to build their ‘Pre-Order the Future’ campaign, whereby they are investigating how to use renewable materials in order to help people make more responsible choices for the future. Neste is collaborating with Prince EA, a spoken word artist, environmentalist and futurologist who is helping them share their message and get people’s attention about what the future of products could look like. The video has received 91 million views and they have seen a 68 percent increase in visits to their website since launching the video with Prince EA.

The Pre-Order the Future campaign invites people to submit their ideas for products that will change future generations. Everyone can vote and the winning concept will be prototyped. Not only is Neste supporting other’s ideas and innovations, they are continuously looking for other brands within the renewable and sustainability field to link up with and become part of the bigger discussion. Tuomi stressed the importance about breaking up silos between marketing and communications teams, prototype teams and expert teams - everyone can work together toward nurturing innovation and moving a project like this forward to have the most impact. So far 5 concepts have been prototyped involving new technologies and renewable materials.

You have to be careful that you are not ‘Painting the fence of a dog’s home,’ unless you are a pet food company, recapped Al-Qassib. It might be a lovely thing to do but it’s not what your company is there for. Arla Foods could have engaged in sport, but they engaged in health because it was more aligned with their food company. As he put it, a key theme for purposeful brands developing genuine campaigns and building customer engagement and loyalty is ‘to get involved in something that is in your heartland, and then you have a right to play in that field and shout about it.’ Arla Foods, Unilever, BT Group and Neste look for the right place to intervene and get involved, they stay true to what the company is and your purpose is and don’t stray off it.


Melanie is passionate about working with people who are motivated by adventure, risk taking and who want to squeeze the most out of life. She is dedicated to connecting her interests in social good projects, comms, CSR and social business.… [Read more about Melanie Vella]


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