#1: Clear has a strong competitor known for anti-dandruff - Clear was facing fierce competition from Head & Shoulders, the anti-dandruff category leader that has been building its anti-dandruff (AD) brand equity for more than 20 years in China, achieving over 17% of market share.
#2: Clear is perceived as not for women - Specially formulated, Clear is the first brand that has introduced specified AD solutions based on gender. However, research shows women failed to recognise the variant difference and believed that Clear is a brand just for men.
#3: Clear lacks of strong emotional bonding - The increasingly sophisticated Chinese women demand haircare beyond functional benefits. But Clear’s previous functional-led advertising did not fully translate into emotional affinity. The key desired brand attribute “Make you feel self-assured” is not owned by Clear especially among females.
Consumer insight: The brand's target audiences are 18-35 y/o young urban women. They are confident, outgoing and bold. They have a preference for provocative social topics to express their attitude. Research shows Chinese females are very big into online entertainment, and talk shows are a particularly liked genre and feature provocation, sarcasm and fun that synched with viewers’ characteristics.
As a brand which believes “You show the world what to think of you”, PHD felt Clear had a bigger role to play in the lives of today’s young women, by giving them a platform to express their voices, creating content that was creative in bringing “boring” dandruff solutions to life in an entertaining way.
Since it needed to rebuild its position among female consumers, a product advertising was simply not enough. The agency felt it was important to tap into the target audience’s cultural conversation, through an effective content platform of high affinity and mass reach.
It quickly identified a show called “The Martian Intelligence Agency” on Youku, the leading online video platform equivalent to China’s YouTube. The show is provocative, sarcastic, and fun. Each episode challenges a social tradition by inviting key opinion leaders and celebrities expressing and debating their point of views. The show perfectly fits with Clear’s brand messaging - “Nothing to hide”. The online debut included the very famous TV celebrity Wang Han, and was ranked by Youku as an A-list show of 2016, receiving massive promotional support from the video network.
The show’s format was created locally rather than licensed from a global studio, creating more opportunities for brand integration and unique communication.
Clear took the main sponsorship of the show, the largest branded content activity in the recent Clear marketing history. The partnership allowed PHD to fully integrate branded contents and gained exposure across online and offline channels, including content integration, popularise rights, IP rights and display ads.
A variety of executions were deployed, including around-content, in-content and beyond-content, to maximise the value of the show.
Around-content: A joint logo was created to combine the Clear brand and the show, so that the brand had visibility whenever the show was promoted in mass media and social. The product pack was also included. In this way, the brand enjoyed millions of free views outside of the show itself.
In-content: A variety of innovative techniques were used to help build equity of the brand in a very entertainment-focused manner that is consistent with the humourous style of the show. Clear worked together with the show to co-create the branded opening, host mention, tailor made branded song and brand integration within content. The depth of message delivery and the level of creativity led to a new standard for content integration in China.
Beyond-content: Branded storylines were also amplified on e-commerce platforms with promotional incentives. E-commerce visitors were enticed to buy Clear after being entertained by the videos.
1. The campaign achieved enormous media value:
- The show was viewed 825 million times during three months, a record high for reality shows that were made by video platforms (vs. TV stations)
- Brand pre-roll was seen 450 million times and reached 85 million unique visitors
- Over 110 million branded conversations on China’s social platforms including Weibo were tracked
- Actual media delivery of Clear advertising was +150% vs. plan; content ROI was a whopping 1,420% vs plan
- The show ranked top on Baidu search index (China’s Google) among all video shows.
2. The campaign helped increase Clear brand KPIs for the first time in three years:
- Clear unaided brand awareness increased from 44% before to 55% post programme
- Key attribute “Is effective against dandruff” jumped from 52% to 63%; “Makes me self-assured” increased from 33% to 46% among females
- Clear brand performance among females lifted significantly, and measurement among males also enjoyed a slight increase.
3. Lastly it accelerated the business growth of Clear among females:
- Female products market share rose to 6.4% in June from 5.7% in 2015, while male business maintained its steady growth
- Business expanded significantly on e-commerce. Market share rose to 9% in Q2 this year vs. 6.6% in the same period of last year. This was a whopping 215 BPS increase.