Why Etika created make-believe competitors and still spends on traditional

The proliferation of digital has resulted in the decline of traditional media spend, with more and more companies increasingly launching digital-first or digital-only campaigns. According to Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts report, advertisers will spend approximately 40.2% of their budgets on online advertising in 2018, compared to 37.6% in last year. By 2020, online advertising is expected to account for 44.6% of global ad spend.

Meanwhile, Zenith's Media Consumption Forecasts 2018 report added that the time spent reading print publications have fallen by 45% for newspapers and 56% for magazines. Despite the statistics, manufacturer and distributor of halal beverages Etika Beverages, still strongly believes traditional and digital can still co-exist in today’s world.

During the recent Digital Marketing Asia 2018 conference organized by A+M, Etika’s senior brand manager Cheong May Yeen (pictured), said that when used in a creative manner, traditional media is no doubt useful in driving digital content and on-ground activities. As such, the company does not believe that "traditional media is dying". But of course, as with most mediums and marketing, you cannot simply use print for the sake of it. It needs to be purpose driven.

“We always think about how we can implement fresh ideas or insights into traditional media, in order to draw consumers’ attention to the platform and create chatter around our campaigns,” Cheong said.

The print platform, she explained, is especially useful for Wonda Coffee, a ready to drink coffee (RTD) brand under Etika, which has only been around for four years and relies on traditional media to build mass awareness. She cited Wonda’s 2014 5D print campaign as an example of how the company used traditional media in a creative manner to engage consumers in the digital space.

At a time when many RTD coffee companies in the industry focus on the idea of convenience, Wonda wanted to position itself as a gourmet premium coffee with a sophisticated brand image. Its 5D print campaign was executed over a few days, presenting consumers first with a 3D newspaper ad, followed by an ad embedded with a sound chip that would play the Wonda’s jingle every time readers flipped to the particular ad. Subsequently, its ad had the aroma of Wonda’s coffee to entice customers. To convert readers, it included a coupon ad on its print ad during the last leg of the campaign, allowing consumers to redeem a can of Wonda coffee for RM10 cents.

“We were very surprised to receive a lot of organic social media posts for this campaign, with many telling us how creative the campaign was,” Cheong said.

Finding the right partner

But despite the success of the print advertising for this particular campaign, Cheong said the company does believe in employing a mix of media when carrying out a campaign to ensure that Wonda reaches its ultimate goal – that is to drive sales.

It also leveraged out-of-home (OOH) formats to raise Wonda’s brand awareness. For example, it collaborated with local retail convenience chain MyNews to have hanging vouchers on LRTs and also promoted the brand via train announcements. The announcements were also customised for stations with MyNews outlets, encouraging passengers to redeem the voucher for a special promotion.

Wonda also sought to fully leverage OOH spaces by rolling out toll-free lanes known as WondaLane in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Penang this year, in celebration of International Coffee Day.

“We synced our campaign with the worse travel times of the week – Mondays and Tuesdays – allowing consumers to pass through a dedicated toll lane for free as long as they produced a can of Wonda Coffee. This was one way to brighten their journey,” Cheong said.

Etika also partnered with Grab to deliver a gift box to passengers containing cookies, coffee as well as some surprises such as movie passes or limited-edition products, upon the passengers’ request. All these were done to create a personalised experience for the customer, Cheong said. She added that while traditional media will help companies build mass awareness, it will not be able to provide their campaigns with a personal touch. Hence, there is a need to include a mix of media in one’s campaign.

Breaking the rules of competitive advertising

When Wonda launched its Wonda Coffee Tarik in 2016, it wanted to be known as the first brand to venture into the RTD coffee tarik segment. The challenge for the team, however, was to create organic chatter among consumers and be acknowledged by them rather than have Etika advertise that it is the first in the coffee tarik segment and the industry leader.

As such, Etika created two make-believe competitors for its digital-driven campaign. Thereafter, it unveiled the new Wonda Coffee Tarik, and thanked the “copycats”, citing that imitation is the best form of flattery. Cheong said the aim of this strategy was to pique the curiosity of consumers and have them wonder why multiple brands were trying to copy Wonda Coffee Tarik. The campaign saw positive results, garnering 3.5 million impressions and sales for the Wonda Coffee Tarik increased by 130%.

“Some consumers were also furious about the copycat brands. We are very happy that many loyalty supporters stepped out and tried to endorse and protect the Wonda brand,” Cheong said. She added:

Be it traditional or digital media, as long as a company has good content or a creative idea, every activation can be turned into a good piece of social media or digital content.

“Eventually, consumers will be the brand ambassador to promote your campaigns,” Cheong said, adding that partnerships are also a useful strategy to widen a company’s consumer reach.

She cited her company’s spend on digital as “minimal”, because it wants to ensure that it is not pushing out content via the platform for the sake of it. Cheong described a medium as merely a “canvas” and the content as a “deciding factor” of whether the particular medium will work.

“The idea always comes first and we can then decide whether or not to turn it into a piece of digital content,” Cheong said.