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Knorr's uniquely local campaign targets chefs in China by province

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Unilever’s prestigious catering brand, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS), has been committed to delivering specialised food solutions to various restaurants in China. With more than five million catering businesses in China, it is a major challenge for UFS to penetrate into this huge, saturated yet highly scattered market and to establish a leadership position in the industry. 

The Spring Festival is a reunion time when family members would all come home and enjoy a well-prepared feast with their loved ones. However, on such a traditional & emotional occasion, chefs need to work hard in the restaurants, and it is nearly impossible for them to have home-cooked dishes to reunion with their families.  

After much in-depth conversations with many chefs, UFS and Isobar found that what they wanted the most during the Spring Festival is to get together with their loved ones.  


To overcome the brand challenge, Isobar helped UFS to launch a campaign for the upcoming Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) season that aimed to create emotional bonds with its key target audience: chefs. The question was, how could UFS fully leverage social media not just to increase engagement and sales, but also boost brand preference and emotional connection with chefs?  

The agency's communication strategy was going to tell a chef’s story in a powerful, but honest way, to open a conversation with chefs and then get them engaged with a series campaign activities in a sociable way with functional and emotional support, and one of the major activities was featured with local dialect to give chefs a different intimate CNY emotional touch.  

And then Isobar found out that the vast majority of chefs in China are migrant workers. Everyone else travels home at CNY to be with their family, except chefs. Whenever you see a chef in China on a break he’ll have a cigarette in one hand and his phone in the other. Herein it strategically chose mobile as the perfect place to reach chefs.  

The Spring Festival campaign initiated by UFS was the result of a collaboration between Isobar and the Tencent Big Data platform. With more insight into the online digital behaviours of chef groups, Isobar was able to categorise the chefs under different tags so as to launch the ads more precisely. In this way, Isobar helped the brand reach its target audience more effectively and connect emotionally with them.  

That is how Isobar addressed the challenges of market penetration for the brand, making UFS the first B2B brand in China to release an organic commercial on the Moments live feed in WeChat. 


The agency used an emotional film to build empathy with chefs as the first step. It showed a hard working chef in CNY who was unable to make it home for the family reunion. This film was shared with chefs on the messaging platform WeChat and they, in turn, shared it with their colleagues at record levels. 

Uniquely these engagements were targeted by region. The agency was able to analyse the social behaviour and language of chefs and then target them specially with content, dialect and cuisine that was native to their particular province in China. 

Having positioned Knorr side by side with chefs in China it then designed six separate mobile engagements that were relevant with CNY, these engagements were targeted to engage with chefs emotionally and functionally to help keep the heat of the campaign. In order to participate in these activities chefs needed to input PIN codes from the 20 featured Knorr SKUs and also share their contact information with the brand, enabling the UFS brand to boost sales, while profiling the data as it was acquired. 

In parallel a series of social posts were created to post on WeChat to continue the social topic buzz peak. 

The campaign was 100% mobile led. Isobar worked with Tencent to ensure that it only reached professional chefs. Social data, behavioural data and previous campaign interaction data was used to shape the tagging pool to help reach an addressable audience of 25 million professional chefs in China precisely. 


2016 Chinese New Year was the first time that Knorr ran a 100% digital campaign with precision targeting.  

Through the tagging pool the campaign reached 25 million precisely on WeChat & QQ platform. And 92% of chefs clicked on the video. 73% of chefs liked the video in social and over one third of the views of the video came from social sharing. The engagement rate for the video was four times higher than the average of other Unilever campaigns running at the same time. The video was seen 35,847,222 times in total. 

Participation rates in the mobile engagements were 50%, 3.2 times higher than the previous year. 

The on pack promotional element was in place in previous years, so the sales uplift can be attributed directly to the campaign. In addition, the uplift in PIN codes redemption is also directly attributable to the effect of the 2016 campaign. Every metric of the 2016 campaign outperformed the previous year and/or Unilever benchmarks. The campaign generated 69 million euro for every euro spent. 

Overall campaign interaction was 50% higher than the previous year, sales grew 21% year on year and the campaign generated tens of millions of euro in sales with a gross ROI of 69:1 and an incremental ROI of 13:1.

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Brand Owner:
November 2015 - March 2016
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