Tuesday 28 March 2017

Effies Gold revisited: The Monkeys, Blackmores and ‘The Power of Knowledge’

As the Effies 2017 entry deadline looms, it’s time to revisit last year’s entries that earned the coveted Gold prize. In this post, we recap on why The Monkeys took home Gold in the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ category for their work with Blackmores.

In 2015, Blackmores was facing a brand crisis. In a market saturated by celebrity endorsements and quick fix messages, the 80-year-old vitamin brand was struggling to maintain a value proposition, and came to rely on promotions and product advertising to hold market share.

Blackmores’ emotional connection with consumers had weakened, it was losing share of voice and brand consideration was declining steadily.

To recapture brand value and growth, Blackmores needed to reclaim its status as a natural health thought leader amongst all Australians, with relevance to all Blackmores products. 

The objectives

When Blackmores decided it was time to bring The Monkeys on board, it issued some stiff KPIs:

  • 10% increase in brand differentiation and brand relevance
  • A significant uplift in people saying Blackmores ‘leads the way in natural health’, ‘is a brand I can relate to’, and is ‘formulated for modern needs’
  • A significant uplift in brand consideration
  • 20% increase in value sales across total brand for the entire campaign period

So The Monkeys set to work. While historically Blackmores had relied on product advertising to drive sales, the team believed the real problem – and solution – lay within the brand itself. The Monkeys saw that the opportunity was not just to develop a big brand idea for Blackmores, but also to define the brand’s purpose. Without this, Blackmores was just another vitamin vendor, and people needed to know that it stood for more than a pill or a powder.

The insight

The Monkeys team spoke with people across the nation and found that wellness had become a status symbol, ranking ahead of professional accomplishment as a sign of achievement and something people were actively looking for – and prepared to pay more for.

The Monkeys also uncovered the category’s blind spot. While the market was growing, so was consumer confusion and scepticism. The public had become overwhelmed with contradicting messages, fads, celebrity endorsements and unrealistic promises. Shoppers didn’t know who was who, or who to trust.

It was time for Blackmores to change the way Australians understood their health, and find a way to get beyond superficial interpretations of it. Blackmores could lead the way by empowering people to take an active role in understanding and managing their own health, with this becoming its new brand purpose.

The campaign

‘Be a Well Being’ become a wake up call and rallying cry to Australians to take their wellbeing personally and understand what their own body needs. The idea launched as a brand film and brand campaign, which championed ‘knowledge as the key to wellbeing’ – and Blackmores as the hero with 80 years of experience in natural health and scientific research. The brand’s little known naturopath service was moved into the spotlight, with communications encouraging consumers to phone or click to chat.

The campaign was launched in gyms, OOH, native, digital, display and in-store, as well as through TV, magazines, digital and social content. The brand’s website was redesigned to personalise people’s journey through individual ‘Action Plans’ and social channels were also redesigned with this in mind.

New touch points were created, such as the ‘Be a Well Being Festival’, new staff training programs and benefits, new display initiatives at point of sale and new ways of working with the right ‘Wellbeing’ partners. This also inspired the launch of Blackmores’ first ‘Wellbeing Centre’ at Westfield Bondi Junction.

The results

‘Be a Well Being’ became the strongest campaign ever tests, successfully reversing category momentum and staking Blackmores as the natural health thought leader. The campaign achieved:

  • A 47% lift in differentiation
  • 35% lift in relevance
  • 33% increase in website interaction
  • 80% increase in people saying Blackmores empowered them to care for their health
  • 5 x increase in Facebook interaction
  • 64% increase in social media traffic to website
  • 52% increase in ‘leads the way in natural health’
  • 91% increase in ‘is a brand I can relate to’
  • 62% increase in ‘formulated for modern needs’
  • 25% uplift in conversion from awareness to trial
  • 10% uplift in loyalty

“By putting the idea at the heart of our business, we have an enduring philosophy that sets us apart and is now influencing everything we do as a business for the coming years,” commented David Fenlon, Blackmores managing director.

“The Monkeys have developed a range of strategies and creative ways for us to genuinely transform ourselves – and it marks an incredibly exciting time for the business.”

The learnings

As a case study, ‘Be a Well Being’ provides six fundamental learnings for agencies and brands striving for category leadership:

Brand advertising drives product sales. As marketers, the brand is the biggest lever we have and is ultimately more powerful than any price promotion, product feature, or famous personality. In Blackmores’ case, the brand halo allowed the product advertising to cut through and supercharged product sales.
A brand’s purpose is its most powerful tool. At the heart of all successful brands is a strong purpose: Apple, Nike, Google. There is growing research to attest this applies for brands in every category. Defining the Blackmores purpose allowed us to transform the brand from a vitamin manufacturer into a wellbeing company, on a modest budget.

Agency strategy and creativity must reach beyond advertising. The biggest impact comes when a business is inspired, organised and reinvigorated from the inside out. True transformation is not just a TV message and agencies are just as (if not more) valuable beyond this channel.
Brands don’t need a celebrity to cut through. When a brand has a powerful insight and something meaningful to say, people will engage. Celebrities might shift product in the short-term but they do not build the brand.

Success does not require a bigger better benefit. Promising less can sell more. When Blackmores divorced itself from a category promising perfection, the brand was rewarded with perceptions of potency, preference and purchase.

It pays to be an outlier. There are times when brands need to be brave enough to ignore conventions and forge new ground, just like Maurice Blackmore.
Click here to read The Monkeys’ full entry.

Recent news