Source: Tangrams Strategy & Effectiveness Awards, Bronze, 2019
Ovaltine, a brand of milk flavouring product, drove brand mentions and ROI in Vietnam by launching a brand battle between itself and its competitor, MILO, advocating for child happiness against MILO's competitive attitude.
  • Ovaltine needed to drive penetration and volume sales by moving away from promo only campaigns.
  • Vietnamese children are increasingly under pressure to excel in all areas, making them the victim of heavy comparison, with Ovaltine's competitor MILO being known for reinforcing this competitive spirit.
  • Ovaltine created a brand battle to provoke MILO, advocating for happiness and empowering kids' exploration compared to MILO's competitive approach through social media and billboards, and driving engagement with influencers and PR.
  • The campaign reached 7 million people, brand mentions grew by 28.4% and the brand achieved a 433% ROI.
Campaign Objectives & Challenges
Market and Brand Background:
In Vietnam, over the past 10 years Drinking Milk Category volumes grew at a CAGR of 19%. Tonic Food Drink' makes up-to 10% of the overall Drinking Milk Category. MILO alone is technically the Tonic Food Drink Category' with over 88% market share with Ovaltine at a distant second place holding ∼9% volume share.

Until 2017 Ovaltine was part of the category growth story through strong promotional activity although MILO grew at a higher rate backed by high media investment (estimated Share of Spend within TFD - 75%) across touchpoints. However, by H1 2018, Ovaltine Promo campaigns weren't driving volume offtake as they had in the past.

Campaign Background and Objectives:
Given the slowdown in 2017, it was imperative to drive penetration and volume offtake in 2018. Ovaltine media activities were re-focused into establishing brand credentials and move away from Promo only campaigns.

The communication was focused in the lines of - "Empower kids' happy exploration". Hence, Ovaltine's sole objective was to raise attention and provoke talkability for Ovaltine new positioning and differentiate from Competition MILO; having meaningful message by refreshing brand image from nerdy, passive student to a happy kid with unruly success.

Insights, Strategy & Idea
Cultural and Consumer Understanding:
Ovaltine targets two core audiences, Tweenagers 8-14 and moms 28-45. Learning from the biblical story of David and Goliath, which tells the story about how underdogs can overcome the odds to be successful, Ovaltine challenged its own 'Goliath', the market leader MILO, with a "David strategy" by disrupting the rules and status quo with limited budget.

Over many years in Asian culture, especially Vietnam, kids have been brought up to be "the best" or "the champion" along with the heavy expectation and comparison between parents, especially moms. Stories about kids with high achievements and awards have been glamorized and published overwhelmingly.

Vietnamese culture is known to praise achievements in both academy and sports. Many Vietnamese parents, especially in big cities are pressured by social expectations as well as their own and are sending Kids to all kinds of after school classes.

MILO communication had always revolved around driving Kids to perform their best and be number one across different spectrums of kids' lives - Education, Sports, Health, Brain Development etc., which latched on to Vietnamese parent's ambition for their kids who are increasingly under tremendous pressure to excel in all.

However, as it has become a norm, kids and children have become a victim of high expectation and heavy comparison. In fact, Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training 2016 report stated that 90% of students suffered from mental depression due to academic pressure.

Campaign and Media Strategic Idea and Approach:
Taking this social insight, Ovaltine built a campaign which emphasized the happy and joyful journey of growing up from a child's perspective. This campaign aimed to raise attention and provoke a social conversation between Ovaltine and MILO and to change the view of Ovaltine from an old-fashioned product to an energetic and witty one.

Ovaltine started to create a brand battle using contrast ethos to provoke its own competitor; if MILO is well known for promoting a championship spirit, Ovaltine will advocate for happiness; kids are born to be happy with what they are doing rather than to win in what they are doing.

Ovaltine's campaign 'Empower Kids' Happy Exploration' was launched in 2 phases.

Phase 1 - Challenging the belief on growing a 'Champion child' vs 'Happy child'
Challenging the status quo with a message of "You don't need to be champions, as long as you enjoy it"! by a tight integration of Social Media and Billboard OOH.

Ovaltine altered MILO's tagline and key visual and came up with a contrast counterpart. If MILO's tagline promotes for parental expectation for their kids, Ovaltine's tagline emphasized on kids' happiness and unruly success. MILO is well-known for its green color theme and the key message "Champions are made from MILO", Ovaltine approached this campaign with a red color theme and the key message "You don't need to be champion, as long as you enjoy it".

Taking advantage of back-to-school period, Ovaltine had a series of OOH posters showing young children holding images of their peers with taglines "If I couldn't make you proud like the other, would you stop loving me". The pictures seen as "role model" held by the children on the posters were conveniently green-themed, which is known to be MILO's theme colour.

Most importantly, OOH billboard was then cleverly leveraged to deliver Ovaltine's message "You don't need to be champions, as long as you enjoy it!" by placing them right opposite MILO billboards, which communicated about "Champions are made from MILO", at busiest interactions; creating two contrast taglines.

This approach extended to Social where a series of photos was published on Facebook showing two opposite images: the child on the green side looked stressed out from the pressure to be a winner. In contrast, the child on the red side looked cheerful and seemed to be enjoying his activities. This strategy reinforced the same message throughout the whole campaign.

Phase 2 - Driving further Engagement with the help of Influencers and PR.
Core messaging "Empower Kids' Happy Exploration" was meant to drive more meaningful engagement with Consumers and ensure that they pledge to let their Kids enjoy the process of everything happening around them from Education to Sports without getting into any Pressure.

For the second phase, Ovaltine took help from Influencers, used the power of Long-form Content and innovative OOH billboards to create a seamless integrated offline/online approach and mobile-friendly experience through a microsite to address and provoke two school of thoughts.

Ovaltine tied up with Influencers who had similar experiences growing up and had a massive PR plan around it. There was a microsite launched on one of the biggest Content platforms & Digital Billboards where Ovaltine pitted both the extreme point of views on nurturing Kids. People were asked to Vote on both 'Schools of thought' and this voting was linked to real-time Billboard; every time a Mother pledged to support Ovaltine's position, the Kid in the billboard moved closer to the 'DIY House' Image which was symbol of the child achieving his dreams of becoming a realtor.
Execution & Implementation
This Campaign was devised in 2 phases.

1st Phase - Launched on Social Media and OOH Billboards with disruptive communication strategy.

Firstly, the campaign was launched on Social with a disruptive communication strategy then ' followed up with OOH Billboards offer clearer visualization. This OOH billboard was shared massively on digital particularly on social platforms and communities helping to drive Word of Mouth and questioning each other's beliefs on raising kids.

To achieve more accurate reach, Ovaltine leveraged 1st party data - CRM/DMP database from our IFT expired users & 3rd party data - platform signal-based to push the message across digital platforms including social, search and display.

To build relevancy for key message and trigger a battle with Milo, Ovaltine also used:
  • Time-targeting on social at times when moms are active on social & when they are picking up their child from school.
  • Display & Search: Dynamic and contextual Ad copy and visuals by time (weekly and weekend) and tapping into Milo key words (good at learning, champion, Milo, etc.) to fan the flame of Green-Red battle.

2nd Phase: Nourished the core messaging "Empower Kids' Happy Exploration".

This phase was launched with a short teaser (18s) on how Moms should react to the societal pressure thrown upon their Kids followed by a Long-form film (3.25 mins) explaining how Kids should be allowed to follow their dreams which was promoted across video platforms. The Story revolves around a Kid who was not a champion in Education or Sports and his Mother encouraged him to enjoy everything. This story was then translated into various creatives across touchpoints including digital, influencers, PR and digital billboard to bring the whole communication alive triggering the Brand battle and conveying a truthful and relevant message for parents and kids.
Results & Measurement
This campaign delivered a smart marketing strategy with limited budget across two phases: creating social buzz and reinforcing message of liberating parental pressure and nurturing what kids love.

  • The campaign reached 7M Digital Moms (88% Target Audience online), which exceeded 124% initial Reach Target. With the provocative and inspiring idea, Ovaltine earned TV coverage (15 minutes during NEWS on VTV1 - Vietnam National TV channel, etc. valued ∼$US 72,000) and -100 PR articles (valued ∼$US 98,000).
  • Huge social engagement and shares (500,000 shares) and memes across Facebook communities/brand pages about "Don't need a champion".
  • Brand mentions grew by 28.4%, and positive sentiment increased as negative sentiment highly decreased
  • With around $130,000 investment, phase 1 gained $565,000 in earned media which resulted in 433% ROI
  • For the second phase, Ovaltine reinforced its message through a short film "Cho dieu con thich" (Nurture what kids love), gaining 380,000 mentions, 15,000,000 views, and 150,000 shares across social platforms.
  • After the campaign, Ovaltine has strongly established its brand positioning "Source of nutrition for happiness" to continuously build brand equity by linking category attribute to brand positioning.

Over 1 mn. Moms pledged online to support their Kids in pursuing what they want to and most importantly, Ovaltine achieved positive business result, gaining a 10% increase in sales volume.

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