social media

Super Bowl, Super Social: The Story Of Yeo Valley

YeoTube, the brand's YouTube channel (never knowingly afraid of a pun).

It seems every food brand on the planet wants to be “100% natural” these days. In the face of rising ethical consumption, even the unlikeliest of brands – McDonald’s, Muller and Walkers crisps to name a few – are responding and staking a claim. Always outspent in marketing terms, organic food producers – just at the point they should be claiming their day in the sun – face being outpositioned too. If you care about it enough, you only have to Google the term to find out that there are real and significant benefits to sustainably produced organic food, but why bother when even a celebrity chef tells us conventional foods are good enough?

Ask a mainstream UK audience in a recession-hit early 2010 what they had to say about organic food and the impact of all this showed: top responses included increased scores against “expensive”, “worthy” and “a bit dull”.

By contrast, when a team of us met Tim Mead (whose family started making dairy products under the Yeo Valley name in 1974) in March this year, two things were striking:

1. His approach: an unapologetic marriage of entrepreneurialism and down-to-earth common sense. An organic farmer for the 21st century if there ever was one.

2. Their vision: Tim and his mother, Mary Mead, believe organic, sustainably produced food should be accessible to everyone.  Philosophically and practically it’s a virtuous circle: the more people eat sustainably produced food, the better it is for all of us and the planet. But “accessible to everyone” demands prices that are competitive to conventional products and that in turn makes a volume-based strategy for Yeo Valley both an economic possibility AND an absolute necessity, if the company is to prosper.

Which was where they saw a role for marketing: to drive demand amongst a necessarily broader, more mainstream audience, along the way helping people to remember Yeo Valley’s name and what it stands for – not least the fact it’s a real place in the West Country.

Our strategy was simple: tackle the perception issue head-on by reversing the expectations of how an organic brand should behave amongst a mainstream UK audience. Goodbye: worthy and earnest. Hello: open and social, populist and proud.

For more on the anatomy of our approach take a look below. First up, some results and what we’ve learned so far. It’s still very early days and we’ve resisted writing about this until we had some (hot off the press) commercial data. We’ll have more substantive conclusions once we’re further in, but here’s what we know for now:

– Furthermore, Yeo Valley spontaneous awareness as a dairy brand had more than doubled just 2 weekends in to the campaign (7% to 15%). Source: Nursery brand tracker

Of the online mentions since launch in October an average week records a 94.9% favourable sentiment score – fuelled no doubt by over 550 blogposts and the odd celebrity tweetSource: Sysomos sentiment analysis


10 THINGS WE’VE LEARNT

Perhaps few surprises here, but at the very least a strong reinforcement of some evolutionary truths about modern fmcg marketing:

  1. Be true to the people who live the brand, not the perception. In this case, organic brands don’t have to wear sandals.
  2. Broadcast can still play a crucial role. If you want to reach a discrete audience (cf Marmarati or Stella Artois Black’s Night Chauffeur) it may be far from necessary, however if your task is mass appeal and you deliberately want to make a public statement about your brand, then broadcast is hard to beat. The trick for Yeo Valley in this respect was three-fold (points 3, 4 and 5 below):
  3. Strategy is the art of sacrifice. There wasn’t a huge marketing budget to blow. In terms of bought media, instead of attempting to be everywhere, we brokered an exclusive deal with ITV and Fremantle around X Factor and went big with it. One 2 minute spot, first ad in the first break of the UK’s TV biggest show would, we hoped, act as a rocket launcher for the brand. Subsequently, an on-pack promotion and a mix of shorter time length ads appeared, only ever in X Factor on ITV1, ITV2 and itv.com.
  4. Super bowl, super social: we began the process believing the answer did not lie in choosing between social and broadcast, but in committing to both wholeheartedly. To borrow @willsh’s analogy, ‘fireworks bring you to the brand, you stay for the warming fire’. In Yeo Valley’s case, this meant live event TV every weekend, with an ongoing bedrock of conversation and additional content on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube which extends, deepens and personalizes the brand’s relationship with new customers.
  5. As we’ve said before, it’s not about now, it’s about the trajectory. The basics of the brand’s behaviour and presence online were laid down months before the TV ad launch and will continue long after; amongst other things getting to know like-minded bloggers, who came to Yeo Valley over the summer to see for themselves how a sustainable dairy farm is run.
  6. Reward the fans – by recognising the very best remixes and spotting what they like and giving them more (in our case, letting Ted the owl take over @yeovalley for a day on Twitter and produce his own edit).
  7. If you can, change the rules of a category. Quite simply, the conversation around Yeo Valley was fuelled by content and behaviour that caught people’s imagination in a surprising way. A brand trending on Twitter a few days in a row may not be a result in itself, but since the sentiment stayed largely favourable, it gave us a useful indicator of early impact and most importantly where earned media could come from.
  8. Haters gonna hate? Maybe, maybe not. Sure, some criticism should be ignored, but we’ve gained a lot more by listening, taking a deep breath and responding.
  9. Have an organising thought that can cross platforms and time. “Live in Harmony” sums up Yeo Valley’s world view and also gives the brand and its audience the licence to have some fun with music over time, even playing with the sounds of the farm itself: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlUwZie30UU[/youtube]
  10. Brands that get better under scrutiny, not worse, will win in social environments online. With Yeo Valley this was never a problem. But it’s worth thinking beyond your carefully planned editorial calendar: what are the issues and opportunities that just *might* arise?

THE ANATOMY OF ‘LIVE IN HARMONY’ TO DATE

The engagement plan set out to splice bought, earned and owned media. It was necessarily quite complex – this is the simple version:


If you’d like to find out more drop us a comment here, check out the brand’s website or YeoTube for more Yeo Valley videos. These include a Making Of together with a series of films featuring Tim & Mary Mead, each offering a window on Yeo Valley as a real place in the West Country (one example below):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTeLGESY5tc[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKlCTuybv-Y[/youtube]

Finally, look out for “Farmony“, our Yeo Valley online game teaching kids how to run a sustainable farm, launching in early 2011.

CREDITS

Yeo Valley:
Tim Mead, Managing Director
Adrian Carne, Commercial Director
Ben Cull, Head of Brands
Alison Sudbury, Marketing Manager
Niki Martini, Assistant Brand Manager
Sally Laurie, Customer Services Manager

BBH:
Rosie Arnold, Deputy Exec Creative Director
Kevin Brown, Director of Engagement Planning
Mel Exon, Strategic Business Lead

Simon Pearse and Emmanuel Saint M’Leux, creative team
Eric Chia, Digital Creative Lead
Glenn Paton, Producer

Mark Whiteside, Team Director
Simeon Adams, Strategist
Lawrence Kao, Strategist
Jim Hunt, Head of Technology
Craig Dodd, Tech Lead
Ebla Salvi, Digital Team Manager
Josie Robinson, Team Manager
Sarah Barclay, Digital Project Manager
Daniele Orner-Ginor, Digital Intelligence
Emile Doxey, Data Analyst
David Pandit, Head of Data
Richard Helyar, Knowledge & Insight
Rebecca Levy, Team Assistant

PR: Bell Pottinger
Richard Moss, Director (PR Planning)
Kate Griffiths, Account Director
Jacquelyn Redpath, Account Manager

Brand identity redesign: Pearl Fisher
Tess Wickstead, Planning Director
Natalie Chung, Creative Director
Matt Small, Client Services Director
Michael Dye, Senior Account Manager
Henry Leeson, Head of Realisation

TV Production Company: Flynn
Julien Lutz, Director
Emma Butterworth, Producer
Alex Barber, DoP

Post Production: Framestore
Editing: Steve Ackroyd at Final Cut
Sound: 750mph
Exposure: TV, UK

Will social media eat itself?

Here at BBH Labs we’re big fans of all things social. We’ve spent time evangelising about the power of the social web and speculating about a future dominated by social businesses. We’re inspired and excited by a future where we can take our social graph with us anywhere we go on the web-a future beautifully articulated by Undercurrent’s Mike Arauz.

 “There is no longer any interaction that an individual may have with a brand, company, product, or service that disconnected from all the people they know, and the people that share their interest in that experience.”

So we were more than a little taken aback by the findings of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer that shows we trust our friends and peers as a source of information considerably less than we did two years ago. The decline is particularly marked in the US where just 25% of respondents view friends and peers as very/extremely credible-a decline of 20 percentage points on 2008-but is also reflected in the global data.

It’s an extraordinary finding which calls many of our assumptions into question. The trust consumers place in peer to peer recommendations versus corporations has been one of the primary drivers of the social web, the excitement we feel about the potential for social business and the shift of marketing dollars from above the line to social media.  

So has all our excitement been founded on a false set of assumptions? Is this simply an anomaly in the data? Or is social media sowing the seeds of its own demise? (more…)

When everyone’s a broadcaster, is everyone an advertiser?

Now social media has made it possible for everyone to become a broadcaster, is it inevitable that everyone becomes an advertiser?

In the early weeks of 2010, there’s already been considerable debate (and indignation) around brands, businesses and even bands incentivising users for Tweets. Twincentivisng, if you like (and I must admit I can’t resist a pun).

Is everyone an advertiser? Image by Mike Cogh, Flickr, under a creative commons license

Is everyone an advertiser? Image by Mike Cogh, Flickr, under a creative commons license

Should brands pay for tweets? Should twitterers take the cash or resist? Is there a sustainable paid for media model here or a fundamentally misguided reaction to the rise of social media? Is pay-per-tweet the end of the Twitterverse as we know it?

In many ways this is an inevitable response to a number of factors:

  • The extraordinary rise and equally extraordinary media profile of Twitter
  • The increased premium placed on peer to peer recommendations
  • The collapse of on-line display advertising and the rise of SEO
  • The socialisation of search

Any and all of these factors suggest a pressing need for brands to find a way to harness the power of social media and for media agencies to find a way to monetise it. Viewed from one perspective, the asymmetric nature of Twitter relationships make it particularly ripe for the adoption of a “broadcast” model.  1 in 5 tweets already mentions a brand so monetisation of these mentions seems, from that perspective, to make eminent sense.

(more…)

When social doesn’t mean sociable

Social networking, social media, the social web-some of the most frequently used phrases of the moment but how often do we stop and think about what “social” really means?

One of the easiest (and laziest) answers seems to be that it’s about making friends-being sociable. But it’s interesting to  note that while “social” does derive from the Latin “socius” (meaning friend) it does so via “socialis” meaning allied. Somehow enabling allies and allegiances seems like a much bigger and more transformative idea than simply socialising.  

Some of the most interesting social sites at the moment actually seem to me to have very little to do with friending people, or poking people, or checking out their holiday pictures. The most interesting initiatives seem to be those that bring individuals together around a common purpose, enabling them to achieve things together previously only possible for major corporations. Ideas that allow individuals not simply to friend one another but to be useful to one another-that cut out the corporate world or conventional distribution mechanics and create a consumer to consumer value exchange.

As Jyri Engestrom puts it in his excellent post on “object-centred sociality”: “The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks”

I recently attended the inaugural IPA “Game Changers” event where among other great speakers Giles Andrews from Zopa inspired the crowd by explaining the genuinely radical thinking behind “the social lending company”.  For those who aren’t familiar with the proposition, Zopa is a service that puts individual borrowers directly in touch with individual lenders. It not only offers a welcome stream of credit in these increasingly crunched times, it also offers a win-win by offering compelling rates for both parties.

This is a genuinely transformative piece of thinking that uses the fundamental characteristics of the social web-the ability to bring individuals together for their common good, the ability to start conversations-but has relatively limited interest in the sociable web. Concepts like Freecycle, couchsurfing or quirky work along similar lines: I don’t need to be intimate with other users to be of use to them, collaborate with them, fund them, enable them.

Perhaps the most interesting point this raises is that the future of the social web may be driven not so much by friendship but by a new kind of trust. Trust in individuals versus institutions. Trust in people I don’t know (that I’m not friends with) but who I instinctively prefer to the plc and who are brought to me by editor and enabler brands I believe in. As crumbling faith in institutions meets technologies that can genuinely empower both the individual and the crowd, the possibilities are endless (and a little scary). The future of the social web may in fact be less sociable, more (dare I say it) socialist….

So what does this mean for the corporate world? Well, the end probably isn’t nigh just yet. Deriving real utility from social media requires an investment from the individual-in terms of time and in terms of reciprocity. So it will probably remain for a while the preserve of the digitally savvy and time rich. But it may be time to start thinking now about which other services that could previously only be delivered by the might of the corporates that may be socialised next.   If lending can be socialised, what’s next? Venture capital? Real estate? What are we already doing on a micro-social scale that could go macro? What else can we congregate around to our mutual benefit? Would be fascinated to know your thoughts….