Taking the digital dive with YouTube videos

Packaged-goods makers are using YouTube to help build sales.

When Maple Leaf Foods wanted to put some sizzle into sales of its Ready Crisp bacon, it posted video ads on YouTube. Kraft also headed to YouTube when it tried to get young men to spritz MiO liquid water enhancer into their water.

These decisions show how consumer packaged goods brands are shifting their marketing online. TV, print and other traditional media are still powerful, says Stephen Graham, chief marketing officer at Maple Leaf. But grocery-product brands must now be online as well because that’s where the audience is usually found.

For the first time, Canadians are online more often than in front of the TV. Online time is up to 1,735 minutes per week (about four hours a day) according to the Canadian Media Usage Trends report from December. TV watching, meanwhile, sits at 1,728 minutes a week. Online is especially hot for brands targeting men 18 to 34, who tend to be online all the time, says Kristi Murl, director of marketing at Kraft Canada.

For CPGs, banner ads are giving way to more immersive content. YouTube is ideal not only because it’s the fourth most popular website in Canada (according to Alexa.com) but because it’s a TV-style medium that can entertain as well as move merchandise.

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Take Maple Leaf ’s YouTube campaign, which revealed how Ready Crisp bacon can “change your life.” It showed an overworked mom complaining how little help she gets around the house from Dad and the kids. Enter Ready Crisp bacon: the table is magically set, light bulbs are changed and beds are made.

YouTube was a great place to have fun with bacon, a product that people tend to love, Graham notes. And since ads on YouTube are not restricted to the standard 30 seconds of TV, Maple Leaf was able to do more in-depth storytelling about the Ready Crisp brand.

The initial 73-second spot has had more than 1.8 million views. The retention of viewership “was absolutely remarkable” for a food product, says Graham. It was so successful, Maple Leaf turned it into a 30-second TV ad. The campaign and in-store merchandising program contributed to a double-digit increase in Ready Crisp sales.

Jerry Sen, head of large agency and advertiser marketing at Google Canada (Google owns YouTube), says brands can tell an immersive story on YouTube that can be a complement to traditional media. YouTube can also help identify a brand’s core audience, and marketers love that type of targeting, says Sen.

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For MiO, Kraft launched YouTube ads showing what MiO can do for water and the number of ways athletes can squirt the Sport version. Its “Eye of the Squirter” spot has been seen more than 3.5 million times on YouTube.

Another MiO ad, called Swish–depicting the hijinks of office workers tossing crumpled paper into a basket–added bonus hidden content. When a viewer rolled his mouse over a particular spot on the video, an information box popped up. The goal, says Murl, was to entertain viewers. “It wasn’t about selling to them,” she says.

Besides YouTube, Kraft also reached guys where they shop, in the pop and beverage aisles using displayers to intercept them. Sampling also took place inside convenience and gas stores.

The campaign reached its target audience of guys 18 to 34 in the 90% range, and almost all views were from Canada. More importantly, year two sales of MiO increased 111% and MiO now has 77% market share, according to Nielsen MarketTrack. More than half of MiO users now are male, which, says Murl, is impressive considering that previously men didn’t buy into the water enhancer category all that much.

See the ad for Ready Crisp bacon below:

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