#LEAwards 2020 highlight: UOB and Germs banks big on bold executions

Consumer spending has been consistently reduced in recent years. Particularly in 2019, with one of the slowest economic growth experienced in Singapore in a decade, consumer spending was conservative and declining across the months. With the year-end key buying period (especially Christmas) as a prime opportunity to drive spends, the market was flooded with deals from retailers, payment companies and banks alike.

UOB Cards knew it needed to break through the clutter and deliver an impactful campaign to stand apart from its competitors.

And it certainly did so successfully, bagging the gold for Best card-based loyalty programme and silvers across Best loyalty programme – financial & insurance, Best loyalty programme – Travel & Hospitality, Best use of social media and Best customer experience (United Overseas Bank), and of course Best card-based loyalty programme (which it also bagged the gold for). Its content and mobile teams took home the bronze awards for Best use of content marketing and Best use of mobile.

All of this accolades won its agency Germs Digital the coveted Loyalty Agency of the Year title.

Challenge

The year-end season is one of the most competitive periods with every bank fighting for a share of the pie with attractive deals and promotions. However, the team at UOB and Germs wanted to continue its legacy of creating desirable year end premiums every Christmas, as a way of celebrating and rewarding customers in more meaningful ways.

The team knew there was a need to engage its cardmembers and encourage spending on their UOB Cards to increase billings. As such, with its annual affair, which UOB Cards pioneered amongst the banks in 2014, the team began creating designer and brand collaborations with limited edition designer premiums to establish desirability and talkability for the year end festive campaigns. This decision came given year after year, the exclusive premiums offered by UOB were fully redeemed within weeks of campaign launch.

Given the challenging market in 2019, UOB knew it needed a reward that will be even more exciting and appealing than before, and be highly sought after by its cardmembers to stand out from the crowd. With tech savvy value seekers being its target audience, the UOB team needed to bring an impactful "wow" factor with its offerings.

Strategy

Now it boiled down to finding the right partners to continue UOB’s reputation of issuing in-demand and sought after premiums. Deciding to hand out earbuds, the team began hunting for an audio brand with a reputed, quality and reliable product. But that alone wasn’t enough. The team also decided to identify an artist whose aesthetics and style not only resonated with the target audience, but was current and trending. That was when it found the perfect pairing in Sennheiser and Rukkit Kuanhawate.

In order to create an item of high desirability, the team identified a couple of key criteria that were to be fulfilled:

  1. Ensure that the product is not only of good audio and material quality, but from a reputable and reliable brand

  2. Design should come across bold and diverse. It had to be vibrant enough to appeal to the target segment, and be unique enough such that product of similar designs cannot be easily found anywhere else in the market

With the above criteria, the team zoomed in on its partner brand Sennheiser which specialises in the design and production of a wide range of high fidelity products, including its latest launch - the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless headphones. Impressive features include lightweight, splash resistant ear adapters that come in four different ear tip sizes, and is ergonomically designed for the perfect fit. The Sennheiser Smart Control app also provides an effortless way to control, personalise, update and configure sound experience, as well as intelligent voice control and smart assistants, among others.

Meanwhile, Rukkit Kuanhawate is known as one of Bangkok’s top graphic and street artists who uses geometric patterns to create images of animals inspired by various mediums such as typography, magazine layouts, and illustrations. His signature style includes the use of loud and contrasting colours, which are highly in line with the design trends of going bold in the recent year.

The creative direction of the product was led by the artist’s signature style, showcasing grittiness of street culture, while featuring a beloved and recognisable Singapore icon - the dragon playground. Another key design element, inspired by the colours and patterns of unique Peranakan tiles, gave the final product a fun and vibrant look.

With the product in hand, UOB launched its Year-end Spend and Get Campaign to showcase the most desirable Year-end spend and get gift, through a strategic partnership with renowned Thai street artist Rukkit Kuanhawate to create the first limited edition Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless worth SG$569.

Execution

The team embarked on a 360 degree integrated campaign to reach as many of its card members as possible, as well as to attract new customers to drive sign-ups. This meant spreading communications across print, digital, social media, influencers and out-of-home to achieve optimal reach within its available resources.

Owned assets such as branches and ATMs were also utilised as a key touchpoint to raise awareness for the year end campaign. Social media was utilised as a critical amplification platform to ride on the past successes of building a strong base and loyal following.

UOB Cards has an established base of 140k followers on Facebook and 7.8k followers on UOB Lady’s Card Instagram and 6.6k followers on UOB YOLO Instagram.

These channels were also essential as it enables the bank's base to advocate on its behalf as users can easily share and repost, thereby boosting organic amplification. Meanwhile, influencers were tapped to engage with consumers directly and promote the offering.

Some of these influencers included Singaporean musician Benjamin Kheng, fitness local host Jaime Teo, as well as Singaporean entertainer and former radio DJ-host Rosalyn Lee. The team also worked with local YouTube channel Night Owl Cinematic (NOC) to drive awareness for the campaign through video executions. The NOC teams were split into two teams for the sound challenges:

  1. Whisper Challenge: This saw a player wearing earbuds with loud music playing and they had to guess the word or phrases that another player was trying to tell them.
  2. Guess the Song Challenge: This saw player one trying to hum a Christmas song while distracted by loud music playing through the earbuds.

Results

The campaign delivered a resounding success with snaking redemption queues, catching the attention of citizen journalists who featured it on platforms such as STOMP, and drove forum discussions on HardwareZone. There were 2,200 pieces available for redemption, and the premiums were fully redeemed within seven days of launch. In comparison, past editions took up to one and a half months to complete. In fact, demand for the premium was so hot that there were even listings on Carousell selling queue positions.

The campaign’s unique mechanics and appealing premium drew attention to active searches, hitting a click-through-rate of 14.61%, outperforming industry benchmarks of 11.88%. The vibrant colours and enticing visuals that were consistent throughout the communications enabled the bank to achieve a high campaign click-through-rate of 1.01% on average beating benchmarks by three times.

On social media, the campaign reached 1,218,576 unique users, garnering 35,502 engagements. Specifically, the use of 3D videos delivered engagement results that were 2.7 times above the benchmark. Additionally, fans acquired on UOB Cards Facebook during the campaign period attributed to 14% of the total fan growth for 2019.

All three key opinion leaders collectively rallied positive engagement rates of over 3%, hitting 6,000 engagements. The collaboration with NOC also saw the video garnering over 140,000 views, receiving 450 contest submissions as well as over 400 new fans acquired on both Instagram pages - @iwannayolo and @mendontgetit over the one-week contest period.

The overall amplification driven through UOB's marketing activities led to a 25.5% increase in card billings year-on-year, and a 14% improvement compared to the two months’ prior (September and October 2019). Card sign-ups also saw a rise in 10% more acquisitions year-on-year, with 7% growth from the two months before (September and October 2019).