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Advertising and Brand Building

How Unilever’s Omo kicked serious ass with its sampling tag

Sampling is one of the strongest activities in terms of effectiveness. Whenever you launch a product, you would want to induce as many trials as possible. For that you would have to budget a huge number of free units to give away to people. Nothing works like free samples.

Having said that, it is also true that this activity brings your A&P budget down to its knees. Sampling is not a cheap activity. You bear the product cost, the per contact spend is quite large, and the scales of sampling multiplies the amounts.

Often, even if the product cost is low, the mechanics followed also add a large number to the cost. Any agency you hire would charge a bomb. And even if you have your own team on ground which can carry out activations and promotions, you would still be undertaking a huge expenses in terms of manpower, logistics and reach.

So, marketers love sampling due to its efficacy but are spooked by its costs. This often leads us to look away and find alternatives.

But what if sampling can be done piggybacking on others?

Smart marketers do find a way of doing this. Often people bundle new products with existing strong products to be able to reach the shelf and thus the consumers.

How often have you been introduced to new shampoo sachets stuck to the hair oil bottle from the same company?

Or sample toothpastes attached to toothbrushes? People come up with innovative ideas to be able to induce trials.

Omo did exactly that. In fact, it did even better than the others. And I think more than sampling, the uniqueness of the idea got everyone talking.

Watch the video below to understand the concept.

What I loved about this is:

  1. The “talkability”: For marketing junta, anything that can create positive waves for the brand is good. And this is definitely being picked up by the social media and making people go “Wow, what an idea”. I know two people who shared it on my feed, and one of them I know is so hard to impress. So, that’s proof.
  2. A different approach to channels: I love how they moved away from traditional places like supermarkets and local stores and found a place where they are not crowded by regular FMCG brands and yet still are relevant. You are associating your brand with a clothing store where no other detergent brand has made its presence yet, but its clothing, so it still makes sense. So, next time a person comes to Sports 4ever (the partner store), they might probably have more likelihood of recalling Omo, than any other brand. Even better, people might start associating Omo with brands of clothing.
  3. Correct association with the campaign: This sampling activity was a part of its campaign, “Dirt is Good”. And what gets dirtier than sporting clothes? Do you see how they carefully chose their partners and how all the pieces fit together perfectly?
  4. Strong partner: Sports 4ever is the largest chain of sporting goods in Lebanon. So, the brand name is probably well known there and the reach it would provide is great. That’s something brands are careful about, choosing the right partners.
  5. Scale-ability: The costs are restricted to the miniscule product costs, and it can be done in partnership with any store which sells clothing. In fact, I would believe that even partner stores would bear some of the media expenses, because their brand names would receive ample exposure too. So, the more stores in the chain, the merrier.

Good products need good advertising to supplement its brand identity and aide brand recall. And we work incessantly to make that happen. The challenge is always on how to break away from the clutter. When someone does that, its worth giving them the credit they deserve.

Great job Omo and TBWA!

PS: Such ideas for sampling can be so great for new product launches. There is a post in this blog about how to go about new product launches. You can read about it here.

Please feel free to drop your comments in the section below.

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