Feb 2012

A very ‘Happy’ social media campaign by Nescafe Singapore:)

It is amazing how transient life is and how quickly things can and do change. No, I ain’t discussing the Vedanta Vani or The Philosophy of Josiah Royce, but am referring to the efforts of the world’s largest food and nutrition company on social media and its impact on their online brand perception, at least in Singapore.

About a year ago, when I was still at my previous assignment, I often used Nestle as a negative case study to highlight how age old archaic brands don’t get social media and the perils of not respecting it’s power. I obviously used to cite the infamous case of the social media backlash against Nestle’s use of questionably sourced Palm Oil in its products, as raised by GreenPeace.

But as with many things in life, positive intent and the will to learn lessons in a timely manner can pay rich dividends. I for one, was pleasantly surprised to personally witness the resurrection of brand Nestle last weekend at the [email protected] Rachit & I were hopping across stores to find a suitable gift for one of our close friends’ 5th wedding anniversary (now if you don’t care about Nestle or social media, do check out the awesome yacht photos here.) and suddenly we spotted a huge red sign board with the words “Nescafe. In celebration of World Happy Day. 12 February 2012 | Singapore”.

We simply took it as a standalone offline outdoor advertising campaign. And off late wherever we see the words “happy” or “marketer”, we get unduly excited and have gotten in to the habit of “camwhoring” and uploading the stills on social media immediately. Moments later when we went past the hoarding, did we realize the true essence of the entire campaign.

On the occasion of World Happy Day (till I ‘googled’ it right now, I had thought this day was a creation of Nescafe Singapore’s marketing-agency team!) Nestle wanted to bring a smile on people’s faces and spread love, cheer & joy with everyone around in the real & virtual world combined, including those of the underprivileged. I thought the idea was simple, fun-loving and very powerful.

To participate, one had to stand in a queue to order a cup of one’s favourite hot/iced coffee (I opted for an iced white coffee, which was unexpectedly delicious, I recall admitting to Rachit), then opt to be captured on lens by a professional photographer in front of that same red hoarding. For each photograph, Nescafe Singapore was going to donate S$0.5 to Operation Smile Singapore. Since it wasn’t a Polaroid camera and neither did they want to rouse the anger of activists (especially given their tussle with GreenPeace a year ago!) by distributing printed copies of the digital photos, participants could only access their shots the following day on Nescafe Singapore’s Facebook FanPage.

So what impressed me about this campaign, apart from the good iced coffee and the friendly on-the-ground staff, especially from a digital marketing perspective?

It was one of the rare campaigns that I have seen in Singapore which truly leveraged the power of “social” media. Very often brand marketers are under the impression that digital & social media is a new magic wand that can replace all the other weapons in the marketer’s arsenal, including the ever impactful, real life interaction on the ground. I always advise clients that social & digital are new channels and merely function as another conduit to reach, touch and engage the customer. While it has its merit in being a trackable, cost-effective media, it shouldn’t be used in silo and as much as possible must be integrated with other traditional offline marketing channels to meet one’s objective – that’s exactly what Nescafe Singapore did last weekend.

They integrated and ignited an offline corporate-social-responsibility (CSR) activation event with social media. The campaign began on the ground at Somerset but its reach and impact was felt on Planet Facebook for a few days beyond World Happy Day. The very fact that Nescafe Singapore sought people’s participation in this charitable act, made it more engaging – they were only going to donate money if people opted to be “shot” while taking a shot of coffee! This reminded me a lot about Macy’s “Million reasons to Believe!” campaign.

By not giving into the desires of immediate gratification of distributing the snaps then & there, not only did they subtly win over the hearts of the erstwhile angry environmentalists, saved money & more importantly created anticipation amongst the participants. They had to go back home and “Like” the FanPage to subsequently access & tag their respective photos. The moment each participant tagged himself and/or his friends & family, the content began spreading its wings across Facebook’s newsfeeds and people took notice. In essence the smiles and the joys associated with it were “virally” shared:)  By virtue of this activity, Nescafe “earned media” through mentions and coverage on the local blogosphere.

Participative CSR – ?. On-the-ground product activation – ? Social Media Integration – ? Earned media coverage – ?

As a digital marketing practitioner, it was a pleasure to see a century old, Fortune 500 company embrace & integrate social media with traditional channels to engage, entice & enthral its customers. And in the process bring back smiles on the faces of numerous children, by contributing to repairing their facial deformities.

While I personally believe that they could have made the digital connection a bit stronger & more fun-filled through integration of mobile check-ins, better tagging mechanisms & follow up social media incentives & engagement, I believe it is a good start – a step in the right direction.

Social media is a big leveller. The same channel ripped the brand apart last year but once the egos were shed and the medium was embraced in the right way, it once again blew life into it.

Brand Nescafe stands resurrected and is alive & kicking.

Now it is time to breathe some life into me by taking a Kit-Kat break and pouring myself a hot 3-1 Nescafe Rich mix.

Disclaimer: Neither Happy Marketer nor I as an individual was responsible or associated with this campaign and neither have we been paid to do a plug. We are merely agents of joy and as ‘Happy Marketers’ we appreciate the goodness of meaningful campaigns and share the love. 

Prantik Mazumdar

Prantik is a Managing Partner at Happy Marketer, who leads the firm’s Social, Mobile & Display Advertising practice. He sits on the Global Digital Board of Time International, a leading luxury chain in Asia.