News & Views

Contagious Pioneers: The Work

by Contagious Team

We recently announced the Contagious Pioneers 2016 - those agencies from around the globe that consistently set the standard for excellence and innovation in marketing. Agencies were ranked after an analysis of campaigns featured on the Contagious I/O research and intelligence tool during 2015. This week, our editorial team picked out some of their favourite work created by the top agencies, along with some of the insights which made it so downright smart.

Colenso BBDO, Auckland's campaign for My Dog aimed to position the Mars-owned dog food as a more premium product. By selling the pet food in airports it was imbued with a new-found sense of luxury. Helping to assuage owner's guilt at being away without their favourite pooch led to a seven fold sales increase. 

We interviewed Ahmad Salim, group business director at Colenso BBDO, for an Insight & Strategy piece on Contagious I/O [subscription required]. Salim explained that the category 'is hard to grow unless you create new opportunities for purchase'. 

Salim says: 'We had to inspire people to think: “Oh my God! I’ve never done this before but I should be doing it!” We wanted to create a viable retail channel. As soon as you realise that your dog has missed you more than anyone else, you can’t go home empty-handed.'

What's next for My Dog? Salim confirms that following the pilot activation, Mars is investigating global roll out in travel retail. 'Ideally, I’d love to see a really premium display or a standout pop-up in duty free stores, similar to what you see for premium perfumes and alcohol brands.'

Campaigns such as this one, as well as work for Pedigree, Mountain Dew and Volkswagen, all helped Colenso BBDO claim the top spot in our Contagious Pioneers 2016 list, based on work featured Contagious I/O research and intelligence tool during 2015. 

When Swedish department store Åhléns wanted to raise awareness about its wide range of sustainable products, from kitchen wares to decorative furnishings, it turned to Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm, the agency placed second in the Contagious Pioneers 2016 ranking.

The retailer kitted out an entire apartment with its Bra val (‘Good choice’) sustainable collection and then put the Stockholm flat up for rent on Airbnb. In November 2014, guests could book a night’s stay and try out the sustainable products. In addition to explaining the brand’s sustainability mission, the Airbnb listing used the photo gallery function to display the various products. When guests paid their rent, they received a voucher for 500 kr ($60), the same amount as their rent, to spend on the Bra val collection.

To find out how Åhléns arrived at this strategy and what sustainability means for the brand, we spoke to My Troedsson, planner, Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg on Contagious I/O [subscription required].

Troedsson says: 'We found that the Swedes are still best at making sustainable choices when it comes to food. But when we looked at all other products, we saw that awareness and demand is much lower. People might want to live more sustainably, but they don’t have the knowledge or the time to put themselves into it and actually do it.'

'We thought that Åhléns could open the eyes of consumers to the fact that it’s not hard to make a good choice when it comes to home furnishing or clothes and beauty products. So we wanted to use the home as the place to demonstrate the Bra Val products.'  

The campaign launched with a web series starring the brand’s sustainability manager, Anita Falkenek, alongside Swedish TV personality Kalle Zackari Wahlström, The activation and content helped the brand raise awareness of its sustainability efforts by 250%.

Marcel, Paris, third in the Contagious Pioneers list worked with Renault to help the automotive brand use comedy to reach out over social media, in one of the agency's pieces of work that helped contribute to its high ranking.

The campaign solely targeted women, encouraging them to share 'truths' on Twitter. Famous French comediennes created online videos about what it means to be a girl today, and top truths were printed on sweatshirts that could be picked up at Twingo stores around France. Ghislain Tenneson, co-director of Marcel’s strategic planning department, shared insights about the campaign in our Insight & Strategy interview [subsciption required].

Tenneson shared: 'Our brief was really very basic. It was to get women between 25 and 35 to speak about the car and eventually test it. We had no quantified objective and there was no indication of how we should achieve our objective.'

Speaking about opening the brand up on social media and using the hashtag #laveritesurlesfilles (truth about girls), Tenneson said: 'There was no surprise that some people tried to tweet using a tone that was not in the spirit of the campaign. You can’t do anything on social media without being challenged or hijacked. It’s a risk you have to take.' However, Marcel planned for this eventuality, and cut media spend when criticism occurred, so as not to amplify the negative messages.

Authenticity was key to the campaign, as Tenneson says: 'We made sure that the ambassadors we chose were not the fantasy of a man trying to speak to women.' Thanks to the work, more than 5,000 sweatshirts, tote bags and t-shirts were given away, the hashtag was mentioned 30,000 times and 300 test drives were booked. 

Droga5's work for Under Armour particularly impressed the Contagious Editorial team when analysing the Contagious Pioneers list. Only 30% of the athletic brand's sales came from women, and so the New York-based agency turned to interactive storytelling to turn things around. Its work celebrating the inner strength of women to stand against pressure tripled purchase intent and drove web traffic by 41%.

We spoke to Candice Chen, senior strategist at Droga5 [subscription required], to find out about Under Armour’s new female target audience and how the brand is changing perceptions of its sportswear among this women. Chen shared: 'Women perceived the brand to be meat-headed and testosterone-driven and purely performance-driven. Those were all things that ‘she’ wasn’t looking for in a sports brand.'

Under Armour's insight was that its target doesn’t compete and working out is really personal to her, so, Chen says, 'we have to take Under Armour out of a competitive context and put it into a personal one... What we really wanted to uncover next was, what does performance mean to her on a personal level and in life?'

Under Armour released video spots featuring accomplished female athletes, the first (above) featuring ballerina Misty Copeland passed 5 million YouTube views in just two weeks. The second spot featured Gisele, whom the world doesn’t see as an athlete, but Under Armour were framing as one. Chen explains: 'We wanted to use her story to show how her will blocks out the noise and do something authentic to her.' The Gisele campaign generated 5 million media impressions and more than $35m in earned media. It led to Under Armour’s personality traits to be seen as more ‘stylish’ (9x increase) and ‘empowering’ (7.3x increase) among the target. The campaign increased purchase intent by 3.7x among the target and traffic to went up 41%. 

The final agency to claim a spot in the top five Contagious Pioneers is R/GA, New York. Of all its recent output, the Contagious edit team was particularly excited about its virtual reality work for Volvo's XC90. Users go on a virtual test drive through scenic countryside,  thanks to Google Cardboard VR headsets, with different episodes featuring different locations and weather conditions.

We spoke to R/GA’s Group ECD David DeCheser and Group Senior Technical Director John Tubert for an Insight & Strategy interview [subscription required]. DeCheser says: 'It quickly went from ‘How can we drum up excitement?’ to ‘Wow! This is a whole new way for us to think about communicating with our customers and our future customers.'

He adds: 'We didn’t want it to be an interruptive experience. As we move into future episodes, we are going to try to figure out ways to talk about how it makes you feel and bring a story approach to it as well.'

Volvo Reality reached 173.1 million impressions in the first two weeks after launch. The experience drove more than 51,000 consumer sign-ups for more information and 28,000 app downloads.

Contagious Pioneers 2016 /

  1. Colenso BBDO, Auckland

  2. Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm

  3. Marcel, Paris
Droga5, New York
  5. R/GA, New York
  6. CP+B, Boulder
  7. Grey, London
  8. Prime Weber Shandwick, Stockholm
  9. Grey, New York
JOINT: Leo Burnett, Beirut / FP7 DXB, Dubai

  11. Robert/Boisen & Like-minded, Copenhagen

  12. BETC, Paris

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Contagious I/O is an intelligence tool featuring the most innovative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. It aims to help anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they are doing it and with what success. By linking business objectives and effectiveness data to new platforms and strategies, Contagious I/O provides marketers with precedents for a world with few precedents.

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