Coca Cola & their use of augmented reality in marketing

Coca-Cola is a long-term partner of the FIFA World Cup . The marketing mavens at The Coca Cola Company have created a number of memorable FIFA related marketing campaigns, appearing at stadium events since 1950. In 2018, in keeping with their strategy to appeal to a younger demographic, The Coca Cola Company decided to leverage augmented reality in their 2018 FIFA marketing campaign.

The brand celebrated the start of the 2018 World Cup with a football-themed augmented reality experience outside of Zurich’s main train station in Switzerland.

A unique augmented reality experience was created for Zurich Central Station. It gave passers-by the chance to demonstrate their football skills, using augmented reality to make participants feel like they were playing alongside Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri’s footage was taken in front of a green screen and adapted to allow participants to play alongside him.

Participants watched a show of skill from Shaqiri before he ‘gestured’ to the participant to play a few shots against him. At the end of the experience, the user was prompted to take a picture. The Coca Cola Company then collected their details so participants could receive a copy of the photo and a chance to win a FIFA World Cup official match ball.

By creating a fully-immersive experience in a location with a lot of foot traffic and involving a high-profile and timely event, Coca-Cola ensured passers-by would want to participate, paving the way for social media amplification.

While the campaign itself was not large scale, the experience was set up outside Zurich’s main train station and was only on for 2 days, the campaign was so popular they had more than 1000 passers by stop and engage.

Why is this relevant now?

We have been writing about the current consumer mindset and what to expect in the next few months given the economic uncertainty. Experiential and augmented reality marketing campaigns like this have the potential to generate sales on a much larger scale today. As consumers are having to make choices between major spend buckets, including living expenses, entertainment and travel, an experiential marketing campaign is far more likely to engage your consumer and increase sales as compared to more traditional advertising.

Benefit Cosmetics and how they leveraged NFTs to increase consumer engagement & sales

The term NFTs (these days) is commonly associated with art these days. According to The Verge, NFTs can really be anything digital (such as drawings, music, your brain downloaded and turned into an AI), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art.
However, this is not about art, today our blog is about how Benefit Cosmetics leveraged NFTs to increase consumer engagement and sales during the pandemic by building a bespoke Virtual Atoms (a form of NFTs) powered platform.

Launch amidst lockdowns

When the UK announced nationwide lockdowns in 2020 and early 2021, Benefit Cosmetics needed a way to engage their consumers and encourage sales to mitigate closure of their stores and concession stands. Lockdowns were hard enough on sales of cosmetics, but even harder on launches of new products in cosmetics, skin care and hair care. And this was exactly the challenge Benefit Cosmetics needed to overcome. They had a new mascara product to launch when lockdowns hit. The new product being launched was They’re Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara. The company needed a way to launch the product, reach their target consumers (‘BeneBabes’) and drive conversion.

A new way to reach their target

They needed a new approach to their sales strategy and the new consumer engagement platform needed to appeal to a jaded and frustrated audience who were now bombarded with Facebook & Instagram ads. Benefit Cosmetics describes its target consumer as ‘committed to the brand and active in social media interactions’. This meant that any ads or campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, would be just another ad to the target Benefit consumer. They needed a way to get their attention.

To do this we used a pioneering new technology, Virtual Atoms (VA) – a form of NFTs, to create a ‘lashtastic’ virtual-media campaign with real-life results.

Virtual Atoms (VA)

Benefit Cosmetics used a new technology, Virtual Atoms (VA), to create a virtual media platform and campaign to reach and wow their consumers. The VA campaign was multi channel and gave ‘BeneBabes’ a full 360degree experience if they so wished. Ads on social media encouraged fans and potential consumers to sign up to the VA platform. The platform engaged its users through virtual and real life experiences that had gamification at their core and drove them to buy the new magic mascara.

Users were asked to drop a pin to share their location. Then using AR, registered consumers used their device camera to view and collect ‘surprises’ they could see around them within the safety of their home/wherever they were then.

The surprises, Virtual Atoms, were stored in their Virtual Atoms’ wallet and could be redeemed to ‘spin the wheel’ and win prizes such as virtual beauty consultations, mascaras and product discounts. Winners were then redirected to their virtual store where they could collect their prizes and also buy product.

The platform also housed exclusive content from well known beauty influencers and promoted the campaign with nearly 1.4million followers on Instagram.

The results

Through the innovative use of NFTs and Virtual reality, Benefit Cosmetics created an omni-channel campaign that was fun for its target consumers and also delivered results. The campaign delivered a conversion rate of 55.4% vs a target of 46% and a click through rate (from registration to the platform) of 39.4% vs a target of 35%. The average dwell time was 2 minutes and 22 second, 29,870 new BeneBabes registered and 16,534 prizes were collected.


Not only was invaluable data captured through this campaign, but the platform helped Benefit Cosmetics connect with new and existing target consumers during a time when other companies struggled to do so.

Unilever – how the marketing team returned Pot Noodles to sales growth

This case study looks at how understanding your consumers and your consumers’ motivations better, helps you keep your brand in growth.

Pot Noodle has been a supermarket staple aimed at 16-24 year olds. The brand became iconic in the ’90s when Gen X (aka slacker/MTV generation) embraced the brand for its ease of use. According to Marketing Society, ‘These were the kids who were proud to sit around in their undies on the sofa watching Men Behaving Badly and playing on their PlayStations. The ease and convenience of Pot Noodle made it the perfect food for this infamous 90s lifestyle, and the brand became emblematic of slacker culture.’

The team had been using music themed ads for this target segment. In the noughties, the Pot Noodle team launched a new ad campaign, ‘Why try harder’, which according to Marketing Society, featured a man marrying a footballer in order to live the easy life and another pretending to be a towel so people would carry him to the beach every day. While the ad was in keeping with the generation they had previously targeted, the 16-24 year old of the millennial generation had different values from the previous one. So the brand started losing share to others in the same category. The irony was that the category was in growth and Pot Noodle was underperforming vs the remainder of the brands in the category.

What was causing this?

This generation, the Millennials, had grown up watching their peers become tech billionaires and global peace envoys. According to a 2014 survey, 79% said career success was important to them, 76% wanted to achieve more than their parents and 55% planned to start their own business. In complete contrast to the ‘slacker’ image portrayed by the Pot Noodle ads, this generation was probably the most ambitious one yet.

So why was the rest of the category in growth?

It wasn’t that the rest of the category was in decline as well. In fact the category grew by c. 2% (value) between 2013 and 2014, but Pot Noodle’s market share dropped by c. 5% (value) during the same period.

When the marketing team behind Pot Noodle at Unilever dug deeper into this, by spending time with people in this generation, they found that convenience was still a highly valued selling point for this category. They found that this generation valued convenience not because they were lazy, but because they were ambitious and driven. Spending less time putting together snacks & meals gave them more time to focus on their career.

This was a generation that was defined by the financial crisis in 2008. They knew that unless they focussed completely on their careers, they would not be able to enjoy the same quality of living as the previous generations did.

So they bought and consumed instant meals/snacks to make more time for work.

However, the ‘slacker’ image portrayed by Pot Noodle was not in line with the ethos of this new generation.

A different portrayal of the same benefit

While the fact remained that both generations valued convenience, the reason for why they valued this convenience had changed.

While Gen X valued the minimum effort that went into putting a snack/meal together, Millennials valued the time it saved them, that they could use to focus on their careers.

So the Unilever marketing team launched their ‘You can make it’ campaign.

Re-launch of the Pot Noodle brand in September 2015

They used the 3 months of December 2015, to completely re-launch the brand. Given they were now targeting a generation of digital natives, the campaign focussed heavily on digital channels. The campaign kicked off with the story of a young man who dreamed of success in the Boxing ring.

You can make it

They also ran mobile and online ads around this theme, ‘You can make it’. They went beyond just running ads however, they launched partnerships with online youth sites to back entrepreneurs. They launched music careers, funded & launched launched inventions through their on pack competition and handed out c. 100k samples at Universities.

Turnaround of the brand

The campaign resonated with this generation and completely turned around the brand performance in stores.

#youcanmakeit generated a whopping 29 million impressions during the campaign period, with the majority of the users aged 16-24 (Pot Noodle target age).

The ad changed the way Pot Noodle was perceived by people. Pot Noodle went from being a guilty pleasure to one that gave its consumers more time to focus on success.

Major media outlets and youth influencers praised the positive message about gender choices that the Boxer spot delivered and were supportive of the message behind the ad. During the campaign period positive reports of Pot Noodle in the press outweighed negative ones by a factor of 10 to 1.

This change in perception had a major impact on sales, market share and penetration.

By understanding their target consumer/shopper segment better through data, the team behind Pot Noodle was able to reverse and even grow the brand. Sales value increased by 3.6% and nearly 364k NEW households bought the brand. Pot Noodle not only reversed their decline but became the fastest growing brand in this category.

Pantene/Walgreens collaboration to increase sales of Pantene SKUs

In 2013, more than 300 new haircare products were introduced in the U.S. and Pantene was struggling to stay relevant. Consumers were quick to switch to competition and the brand’s key retail partner, Walgreens, was losing confidence. Pantene needed to turn around brand performance at Walgreens to retain distribution, and increase penetration and retention without needed to develop new products under the Pantene brand.

Pantene’s target consumers were women in their late 30s to mid 40s who ‘enjoyed the confidence’ when they looked good. Pantene knew that one of the triggers for shopping for hair care is a ‘bad hair day’ caused by changes in humidity.

As neither women nor Pantene could influence weather, Pantene collaborated with Walgreens to provide daily ‘haircasts’ for women, telling them what to expect of their hair everyday, which Pantene product could help and which nearest Walgreens had it in stock. The daily haircasts were based on forecast humidity levels every day. Pantene and Walgreens used a multi channel approach for this campaign, leveraging social media, digital, mobile and in-store marketing.

Just by tracking humidity levels and making relevant recommendations to manage hair during days with high/medium/low humidity and ensuring that the closest Walgreens always had the relevant products in stock, Pantene was able to successfully out-compete the 300 other new brands and products that had been taking share from Pantene and achieved:

  • a 7% decline in sales vs prior year to a 24% increase in sales vs prior year
  • 10% uplift in sales vs plan for the year

In addition, Walgreens experienced an additional 4% uplift in sales for their haircare category as a whole.

If you are interested in learning more, Mobile Marketing Association has published a case study on this.

Promotions and retail sales

This is probably the most complex of the 4 (or 6) Ps.

Promotion includes all those activities that involve communicating the benefits and features of your brand/product.

Through it, you let potential customers and consumers know what you are selling. In order to convince them to buy your brand, you need to explain how it solves their problem/what it is, how to use it, and why they should buy your brand.

An effective promotional effort contains a clear message that is targeted to a certain audience and is done through appropriate channels.

The audience of your promotional activities include, but are not restricted to:

  • Consumers
  • Customers where consumers can buy your brand
  • Influencers
  • Collaborators

The key objectives of promotional activities are:

  • Building awareness
  • Creating interest
  • Providing information
  • Stimulating demand
  • Differentiating the brand/product
  • Reinforcing your brand

You may choose multiple channels to reach your target audience and achieve these objectives. There are 5 elements to the promotional mix and are as below:

Advertising

This mode of promotion is usually paid, with little or no personal message. Mass media such as television, radio or newspapers and magazines is most often the carrier of these messages. Apart from these, billboards, posters, web pages, brochures and direct mail also fall in the same category. While this method has traditionally been one sided, advertising on new channels such as the internet may allow for quick feedback from your target audience.

In order to pick the optimal advertising channel:

  1. Define objectives – What are you seeking to achieve and your end goals of the campaign?
  2. Decide on the budget – How much are you willing to spend on the campaign?
  3. Adoption of the message – What message are you trying to convey?
  4. Review past campaigns for effectiveness – If your company has done other campaigns in the past, go through post campaign evaluation notes for how effective they were.

PR and Sponsorship

Public relations (PR) is usually focused on building a favourable image of your business. PR or publicity tries to increase positive mention of the product or brand in influential media outlets.

You can do this by doing something good for the neighborhood and the community like holding an open house or being involved in community activities.You can engage the local media and hold press conferences as part of your promotional strategy.

Through these press conferences, you can engage with newspapers, magazines, talk shows and new media such as social networks and blogs. This could also mean allowing super users, or influencers to test the product and speak positively about it to their peers.

This may or may not be paid. For example, sponsoring a major event and increasing brand visibility is a paid action. Sending free samples to a blogger then depends on their discretion and opinion and is not usually swayed by payment.

Previously this has been the least used channel by brands, especially the large ones; but is becoming increasingly important in the current world we live in.

Events & Experiences

Through events, you can make your product known to both your customer and your consumer. These include industry events targeting trade (supermarkets, wholesalers, distributors, restaurants etc) or consumer facing ones. This even includes tasting experiences you may decide to hold and is commonly seen in the beer, wine and spirits industry.

Personal selling

Direct selling connects company representatives with the consumer. These interactions can be in person, over the phone and over email or chat. This personal contact aims to create a personal relationship between the client and the brand or product. Some personal sales strategies are incentive programs, sales representations, samples, sales meetings, and trade shows.

These days this is common in sales of high value consumer goods like consumer electronics (think Apple store), art galleries, high end wines and whisky etc.

Direct marketing

Direct marketing allows you to promote the product or service to an individual consumer.

This strategy allows greater adaptability of the product and the messaging to the needs or interests of the consumer.

The main direct marketing channels are:

  • e-mail
  • internet
  • telemarketing
  • mail
  • e-commerce

Sales promotions

These are usually short term strategic activities which aim to encourage a surge in sales. These could be ‘buy one get one free’ options, seasonal discounts, contests, free samples or even special coupons with expiration dates.

Promotions can vary by target demographic and need to be carefully evaluated for each store, consumers in the location and time of the year.

Key considerations when designing the promotional mix for your brand

Whenever a brand/company sets out to design its promotional mix, the brand team needs to consider the following points:

  1. Stage in the brand/product Lifecycle – Eg. At the launch stage there may be a need for more aggressive and informational advertising.
  2. Nature of the brand/product – If a brand/product is not new in its usage or function, there may be less need for information and more focus on brand equity creation.
  3. Budget – This is fairly self explanatory. For those with large marketing budgets, TV ads and large billboard campaigns may form part of the mix and those on a shoestring budget may rely on other elements of the mix to create awareness.
  4. Cultural Sensitivity – If a product is to be launched in a new international market or even a new region in a country, it is critical to take into consideration local sensitivities. These include both cultural and religious considerations.
  5. Target Market Composition – The people who make up the target market need to be considered before committing to a promotional mix. What media do they consume the most? How and where do they shop?
  6. Competitor Actions – The methods your closest competitor uses influences your mix as well.

If you’d like to learn more about how to derive the right mix for your brand, the different channels for promotion or how markets or regions can influence mix, email me on veena@salesbeat.co