News & Views

The Beauty Inside / Insight and Strategy

by Contagious Team

Pereira & O'Dell founder and strategy director spill the beans on the strategy behind Grand Prix-winning social film

Campaign / 

In July of last year, Toshiba and Intel launched The Beauty Inside, a social film that let millennials and other social media users participate in the creation and direction of a collaborative story. The film was centred around a main character named Alex, who woke up each morning with a different face and body. Still, no matter his outward appearance, he was the same on the inside. Armed with a Toshiba Portégé Ultrabook, he shared his story with the world. 

A global casting call let audience members audition to play different versions of Alex by uploading homemade videos. Selected members were then woven into the story's fabric. The six-part film launched on Facebook and was also viewable on YouTube. The campaign was created by agency Pereira & O'Dell.

In just eight and a half weeks, The Beauty Inside amassed nearly 70 million views, with 1.8 million mobile engagements. The campaign earned 96,000 Facebook friends, 8,300 Twitter followers, and 378,000 brand impressions. The featured brands reported a 360% sales lift in the weeks following the campaign.

The Beauty Inside was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding New Approach To A Daytime Series, and it took home three Grand Prix awards at Cannes Lions 2013, in Film, Cyber, and Branded Content.

Contagious caught up with Pereira & O'Dell cofounder PJ Pereira and strategy director Justin Cox to hear more about the insights that sparked the campaign.

What was the specific business objective of the campaign? 

JC: The main objective was primarily to reintroduce - or introduce for the first time - Intel and Toshiba to a whole new generation of millennial consumers, specifically the younger millennials in their late teens, early twenties. Both brands are huge global brands with near universal awareness, but they had specific challenges as they relate to millennials: what the generation thinks about those brands, its perceptions of them, its usage of them. There was a lot of talk about how we could boost awareness of both of these brands as major innovators and technology brands.

There was another key objective, for Intel specifically, around not just selling them specifically, but starting to create a relationship based on what Intel does with them. For Toshiba, it was about establishing a relationship that improves the preference and consideration of the brand over the long term. There wasn't an immediate sales goal. What they wanted to do was start and build an ongoing conversation with these younger consumers. And hopefully drive all the typical marketing buzzwords you hear and love - driving brand affinity, driving consideration - among this audience. Part of it was just putting the brand on the cultural map within this audience.

PJP: We were trying to reach young consumers and put not only the product in their heads but also the idea that 'inside counts'. Since they use their laptops a lot for social networking and watching movies, we created this idea of social movies (a mix of Hollywood calibre movies with social media components) and started to experiment with it. This is the second time we've done one. One curious thing we found is that no matter where we play it (I've been showing it to students all over the world, young and older people, from China to the US and Brazil), they all laugh and cry at the very same time. Seriously, they really cry! 

Justin, you mentioned specific challenges amongst millennials. What were some of those challenges? 
JC: Both of those brands wouldn't come up in un-aided awareness questions, but if you put a list of brands out there and had people check all the brands they recognised, Toshiba and Intel would definitely be on the list. The main issue was, 'How do we improve perceptions of these brands when we're talking to an audience that doesn't dislike them, and doesn't have any negative feeling toward them, but doesn't think about them at all?' It was really starting to put those two brands in a different context. When you force a conversation around technology and laptops and things like that, Intel and Toshiba get 'Oh yeah, I've heard of those brands.' But there wasn't more to it than that. There was no love or hate relationship. When you mention Microsoft or Apple or Samsung or Xbox, you get people pouring out either love or hate for these brands. Intel and Toshiba were blank stares. 

PJP: Those brands have been very successful with previous generations. The young adults are a bit disconnected from them though. We needed to earn their respect and love. 

So where did those insights lead you in terms of execution? 
JC: There is plenty of data out there that shows that the millennial generation is going to be driving and influencing technology for the next two decades. So that alone makes you take a pause and figure out 'What are we going to be doing here?' There's plenty of research that shows that content and social media really is the what/when/who/how of how to reach this audience. But that really just gave us permission to go down this road; it wasn't a strategy. For The Beauty Inside, we hit on a couple of profound insights. 
One is, all young people, no matter what generation they're a part of, go through a journey of self-exploration. With this group in particular, technology is one of the key tools for this exploration and expression. But what makes that most interesting is the frequency and comfort level that this generation has with being vulnerable and open, and just putting themselves out there in the world. Both in secondary observation and ethnographic research we witnessed both guys and girls changing their persona, changing their attitude, changing their opinion, depending on the topic, the forum, or even the company that they're in. But they still felt very much true to themselves. I think that's the big distinction between this generation and previous generations: Gen X and previous generations really grew up believing that you needed to find out who you were quickly and then commit to that and own it for the rest of your life. This generation doesn't seem to have the same urgency to figure it all out so quickly. And so the question becomes, 'How do you build a brand and a strategy into that insight so that we don't just co-opt that insight, but we're actually integrating with it. So the strategy really was allowing these consumers on social media to come together to play the lead character in this story that would play out the theme of figuring out who you are and always feeling like you know what you stood for, but really trying to find your way in the world - a coming of age story. 

We tried to thread the product through that, and treat it not as a product placement, but the way we saw this group of consumers using it in an everyday setting. The technology is always there, but it's never the star or the focus. It's always about the people, the relationships, how they're figured things out; the technology is just the tool or the backdrop for that. The technology is the key in Alice in Wonderland that opens the door to a whole new world. 

Did you have a specific brief for the campaign? 
JC: The way we briefed it was: How do we use social media to allow our audience to come together to play the lead character in this coming of age story? And then: How do we make it interactive? How do we make it a platform to showcase who they are, all through the lens of the main character? So it wasn't your typical brief line of like, 'Hungry Man conquers real man hunger.' The insight was the real inspiration for the brief, and the brief line was 'How do we use social media and content to let people come together to play a character?' That was all based on all the research and insight. We were being outspent. Apple and Samsung combined spend more than $500m - I think it's around $800m - annually on advertising. Our total media budget, which included production, was around $6m. How do you actually make a difference, not just from a share of voice perspective, but from a cultural perspective. Everyone parodies Apple ads. Samsung uses LeBron and Jay-Z. How do we make the same impact without the same spend? Obviously content and social seemed like the way to go. We've done that before, but I think this year it was more grounded in insight and a strategic approach. 

How has this campaign impacted the brands' strategies going forward? 
JC: I definitely think it has impacted the way both Intel and Toshiba view marketing to this generation. It's changed because those companies are so used to basically buying your consideration through spending lots of money, through partnership deals with other brands, through a lot of more push/pull marketing strategy where they say 'Spend and sales are correlated, so the more we spend the more we'll sell and we just need to buy the right media to figure out how to target them.' They still do some of that, but I think they've embraced this idea - Intel specifically - of letting this generation share in the making and the marketing of a story and product. That's a cultural shift for a large, global organisation. This generation isn't stupid. They know they're being marketed to. They just don't want to be tricked. They want you to be transparent about it. So this is a brand that's paying to put a message out there, but at the same time, you're going to have a say or a choice or a role in what that message is. That's a huge, huge shift for them. We just finished shooting the third one, and it'll be out in August. What I love about this whole thing is that is was a joint effort. Media was really involved, strategy was really involved, creative was really involved, we had some serious help on the production end; it wasn't siloed to any one division of the agency. 

PJP: Content is becoming more and more an important part of the strategy for the client to reach out to this audience. They can see the difference it makes if instead of interrupting consumers with a 'pitch' they attract them to a lighter, but deeper message they actually enjoy.

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact