#MARKiesAwards 2021 case study: MILO van goes digital to quench fan thirst

MILO, together with its agency, Protocol, took on the challenge of inciting excitement and accelerating consumer consumption of MILO through the love for MILO Van found in Singaporeans. Targeting Singaporeans, the duo acclimatised to the new norms of the pandemic and went with a digital approach for its MILO van experience. It engaging various influencers and used its campaign to tug consumer's curiosity of the MILO Van's MILO recipe. Through the implementation of various executions, the team saw itself achieve both brand love and conversion, impressing the judges and securing the bronze award for Most Creative - Influencer/KOLs at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's MARKies Awards 2021.

Challenge 

Sweltering heat, excited voices, long lines of sweaty children queuing for a cup of ice, cold MILO from the MILO van, a childhood memory shared by many Singaporeans. There must be something unique about it that makes people queue, re-queue, and crave for it. Whether it is because of the weather, the occasion of a sports day, or the rarity of the iconic green van, what is irrefutable is that the taste of a MILO from the MILO van is somehow superior to any other MILO. This is evident from ongoing online conversations about trying to recreate the MILO van’s MILO taste at home.

With so much brand love for the product, talkability comes naturally once the green van hits the streets. But in view of the pandemic, it was impossible to deploy the vans out with social distancing guidelines. To get consumers to think about the MILO van without actually deploying it, Protocol decided to set some objectives of the campaign. It wanted to help MILO accelerate the consumption of the beverage through Singaporeans’ love for MILO Van, and to drive the purchase of MILO three-in-one promotional packs with MILO Toy Van’s collectibles.

The team understood that MILO's target audience were Singaporeans who have a fond memory of the MILO van, primarily fans who are interested in the MILO van’s recipe and parents with kids who would love to collect the four MILO toy vans collectables.

That said, one major challenged it faced was the limited media channels in the midst of the pandemic. The campaign was set to launch during Phase Two where the majority of the city’s population is working from home. Brands inside and outside the category were flooding digital and social spaces with content. Capturing the audience’s audience was thus the top consideration while planning for the campaign. Low conversion rate despite huge brand love was also a challenge the agency and client saw. The brand, MILO, is a household name that prompts nostalgia and nutrition. Yet, based on sales results for recent years, this brand love does not translate to increased sales. This campaign needed to move the needle from positive attitudes to actual conversion.

Strategy 

The core task was to encapsulate the essential moments of MILO van experience and deliver it digitally to the audience. The campaign was set on satisfying people’s curiosity of the MILO van’s MILO recipe by demonstrating different methods of preparation and finding which is the closest to creating the iconic taste. By first stimulating people’s craving for the drink, invoking their memory of the van through the toy collectable, Protocol could then better switch from brand love to purchase and actual consumption.

Four notable influencers from SGAG and Night Owl Cinematics, namely Annette Lee, Pamela Lee, Aiken Chia and Sylvia Chan were invited to participate in the MILO Van Recipe Showdown, where they were pitched against each other in a test of skill, fitness and dexterity to find the one who can make the best MILO van recipe. They were specifically selected for their fun and outgoing personality to create excitement and relatability in order to create cut-through and differentiation from other promotional campaigns by the brand.

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Each of the four influencers were assigned to front each MILO van era, matching the four MILO Van toy collectibles: Annette Lee – 1950s, Sylvia Chan – 1960s, Aiken Chia – 1980s and Pamela Lee – 2011. PROTOCOL filmed their endeavours to create their recipes based on their memory of how the MILO Van’s MILO taste like. The created recipes will then be judged by a panel of judges consisting of Munah Bagharib (a fellow influencer and host of the game show), an avid MILO fan and the MILO Van Uncle.

While the central focus of the showdown was on the MILO making moment, we needed to incorporate other activities within the challenge to get the influencers more involved in the competition and for the video to be more engaging to watch. The four contestants will have to make one-litre worth of MILO Van’s MILO with the same amount of ingredients and assigned tools within 10 minutes with a twist of three mini MILO challenges that would test their fitness and earn them an additional 30 seconds advantage against their competitors to perfect the recipe. And raising the stakes further, the eventual winner of the challenge will be granted the chance to send the real MILO Van wherever they want to in Singapore!

 The 5 influencers served both as the talents, to create engaging social media content to be pushed out through paid media, and earned media in getting their followers to watch the video, vote for them and complement the brand’s promotional assets to buy the MILO promotional packs with the toy van collectibles.

Execution

The campaign was delivered to the audience in four parts. The first involved a pre-publicity teaser to garner excitement for the MILO Van Recipe Showdown. Contestants in a talking-head interview style were filmed; each of them talking about why they will win the showdown. The video is the anchor piece to set the tonality of the campaign as heavily influenced by the personality of the influencers. This first video introduced the four toy vans, the stakes of the showdown: a real MILO van sent to the winner’s desired destination and the premiere date of the showdown video to create the suspense.

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Second, the MILO Van Recipe Showdown: The Game Show. There are two episodes for the MILO Van Recipe Showdown. In episode one, premiered on 5th October, Munah the host introduced the influencers, judges, rules of the challenge and the prize at stake. This was the main video where viewers see each of the influencers’ techniques in making the MILO Van’s MILO to trigger the memory of the MILO van experience and craving of the taste.

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The humorous video was filled with greater banter and chemistry between the participants and made for irresistible viewing. The episode ended on a cliffhanger to drive hype about the campaign and get viewers to speculate and vote for their favourite influencer.

The same reward of sending the real MILO van to their desired destination was extended to 5 viewers who managed to identify the correct winner; along with a year’s supply of MILO.

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Third, sustenance before the release of the results, the five influencers took to their Instagram feed and stories to garner more views and support from their followers. Once again, there is an overt placement of the four toy van collectibles and the posts’ captions played up on the attractiveness of the toy vans to get people to purchase the MILO promotional packs.

On MILO’s social media channels on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, we also released highlights of each influencers’ performance during the showdown to leverage on the personalities of the KOLs to build more hype before the actual release of the results. 

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Fourth, MILO Van Recipe Showdown: The Results. Episode two of the showdown was broadcasted on 16th October where the judges critiqued each of the influencers’ MILO based on the taste and likeness to the MILO van’s MILO. The finale was set up Hell’s Kitchen style with each judge taking turns to critique the contestant’s recipe, with their hilarious reactions captured on camera.

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Results 

The campaign exceeded the expectations and objectives set out by the brand. It laid the ground for future promotional campaigns involving the MILO van and was a step in the right direction to achieving both brand love and conversion. With the KOLs’ infectious enthusiasm and influence over their followers and infectious enthusiasm, it reached 454,000 viewers, garnered 533,000 impressions and a total of 27,000 comments. The campaign broke records in terms of watchability amongst other product-led campaigns for MILO, reaching almost 1.6 million views across all the videos posted in Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The video assets performed much better than the other posts posted during the same period, with times more views exceeding the one minute mark, two times more engagement and three times the average view time. Compared to previous campaigns in the same period, the MILO Van Recipe Showdown campaign produced MILO brand’s strongest VTR performance for a non-skippable content, delivering 209%  improvement in ad retention.

The campaign achieved 225% increase in social reach and 127% increase in social volume versus baseline. By the end of October, the promotion achieved record sales peak across the past 18 months, delivering a 35% increase in incremental sales.