Background

Sandtex Exterior Masonry Paint conducts one major advertising campaign each year between late April and early May, as this is the time people think about painting the outside of their houses. Over the last 2 years, sales have suffered because the weather has been so terrible – you can’t paint the outside of your house if it’s raining.

We knew if we could keep people talking about the brand then we increased the chance of purchase once weather was good. As it happened, 2009 turned out to be one of the wettest summers on record in Ireland and it had the wettest July on record in Dublin.

Client Objective

Increase sales of Sandtex.

The BIG Idea

The weather. Sandtex’s fortunes are influenced by the weather more than anything else. Irish people love to talk about the weather; it’s practically a national sport.

Campaign Elements

We developed outdoor and press ads with the headline “Bummer Summer ‘09?” featuring a naked couple whose modesty is only preserved by some weather forecast cloud icons. Social Networking would be a key element because of the talkability of weather. We chose Facebook because of its user profile. We decided to use Twitter as it’s on everyone’s lips as ‘the latest big thing”. (We believe that Twitter is the new Second Life however for the moment it is a valuable tool if used appropriately). We developed a website linking to Facebook and Twitter. We needed this for engagement, data gathering and redemption. We gave the site the catchy URL of www.irelanddeservessun.ie.

The website was built around a blog written by ‘The Sandtex Insider’ – an entertaining, straight talkin’, anti-marketing type of guy who knows that weather is the biggest challenge Sandtex faces. ‘The Sandtex Insider’ has set the site up under his own steam although this is presented in a tongue-in-cheek way that clearly has the reader as being ‘in on the joke’. The idea was to create a likeable character, featuring content that was fun to engage with. After all, it’s all about the content.

The campaign launched with an outdoor (48 sheets and T-Sides), press and radio weather sponsorship stings to drive people to the site.

Results

Sales – By June 2009 volume was up 60% year-on-year. By the end of September we had a 19% increase in sales. Not bad considering the rain. Sandtex sales were well ahead of the category (so far data put it 6% ahead) and in fact it out sold its major competitor Dulux Weathershield in Ireland who was on TV all summer. The product was price pegged to Weathershield and was not on any other price promotion all Summer.

Engagement – By the end of September 2009, we had 10,389 active fans on Facebook. This is second only to Guinness in terms of fans of an Irish brand’s official page – more than Tayto, HB Ice Cream, Barry’s Tea and Bulmers. Activity on Facebook is key, and we were routinely getting 30-40 comments on each of our postings. This level of activity was been constant for over 26 weeks We managed to extend Sandtex’s profile by four and a half months more than the 2-week ATL campaign would have allowed. We got 544 people registered to the micro site, and 277 following on Twitter. These people have been channelled into the main crown site www.crownpaints.ie.

Micro site statistics – Total visits – 10,715 (8,730 unique). Page views – 37,777. Average time on site – 2:37. Pages per visit – 3.53

Learnings

1. Get a good idea – It’s all about the idea. The basic concept must be (a) relevant to the target market, (b) realistic for the product / brand to be associated with and (c) noticeable. Irelanddeservessun.ie ticks all of the above boxes. Sandtex talking about the weather is coherent and logical. It works. It also taps into the zeitgeist. When the weather is bad, people need the campaign to cheer them up. When it’s good, they “thank” the campaign. And crucially, when they go into Woodies, Sandtex has more emotional pull than anyone else. No mean feat when you consider that the main competitor, Dulux Weathershield, was on TV all summer.

2. PR can be very useful – Our ability to seed PR stories to the media based on site and Facebook interactions proved very useful and gave the campaign greater longevity through mass media.  PR for this entire campiagn was handled by Pembroke Communications.

3. Facebook – Facebook performed beyond expectations. We know a fan on Facebook is not the same as a customer, but as long as our fans are talking on our page then Sandtex is in front of them and they are much more likely to buy our brand when they are thinking about exterior paint. Many of the comments on Facebook mentioned the brand name – the people who enjoyed the Facebook group were grateful to Sandtex for facilitating.

4. Child of Prague – We kept interest up by having a few giveaways via the website over the summer. The first was to reward uploads to the site with an irelanddeservessun.ie t-shirt, beach towel or BBQ apron. The second was to give away a “Child of Prague” statuette to anyone who registered to the site and requested one. We’ve had nine times the number of requests for the Child of Prague than the t-shirt and apron. Now we could interpret this as a slight on our t-shirt design, or a rise in the belief of the power of prayer… We did not see this one coming. Quirky giveaways trump more valuable giveaways, it seems.

5. The look vs. functionality of the micro site – The micro site was very simple, but it did everything we needed it to. We put more of the budget into the upkeep and social networking aspects of the campaign, and this paid off. We made a virtue of the micro site’s simplicity – a hi-tech site would have not been credible to the story, and may have been less approachable.

6. Sex sells – Back in August our T-sides were still on the sides of some buses – some 10 weeks after the campaign ended. Apparently the people who post the T-sides were more likely to leave our campaign up, as “they liked them more”.

7. End things naturally – By August 2009 we knew we had to draw the campaign to a close. No one paints the outside of their house in the winter. Sandtex might want resurrect the concept next year and we didn’t want to just let our Facebook fans drift. We decided we would definitively end the campaign on September 30th 2009 – hopefully on a high note. We developed a giveaway and shot two video weblogs (here and here)where “The Sandtex Insider” was revealed. We hired well-known Irish actor Pat Laffin (The Snapper, Fr. Ted) and we released the videos one week apart. The final video features the Sandtex Insider heading into the sunset because he has been recruited by the French govt for “Les Alpes Deservant Snow”. The site will go offline sometime in November.

8. Social media is very labour intensive – Maintaining a blog, twitter and Facebook presence requires people and time. There has to be a person available to generate content and respond to interactions. We blogged once a week and responded to comments on our blogs within 24 hours. We made Facebook updates once a day with comments or questions addressed within 2 hours and twitter was updated several times a day and responses given within 1 hour. After a few weeks the twitter activity was marginal so we scaled it down. Conversely Facebook and the micro site became much busier. Our time investment went from 10 hours a week to 35 hours a week so the labour requirements trebled. This is acceptable for an expensive product like masonry paint which retails for in excess of €37. For smaller value items you need significant volume to recoup the investment.

In Conclusion

By placing digital at the heart of our concept we were able to transform the clients challenging 2 week Outdoor budget into an ongoing 26 week integrated campaign.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.