Case Study: How Revlon Took On The Drought & Increased Sales 30%

Case Study: How Revlon Took On The Drought & Increased Sales 30%
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In this guest post, Channel T’s managing director Paul Rhodes reveals how he teamed lipstick brand Revlon and drought-stricken farmers for some phenomenal results…

Channel T and Revlon teamed up to launch a new lipstick, Revlon SuperLustrous Matte and with the results in we can reflect on what made the campaign successful.

The creative idea #BoldMatters celebrates bold women of rural Australia who were experiencing one of the worst droughts in our nation’s history.

When I first saw the campaign results I did a double take, they were that good. Sales increased 30 per cent in the top two participating retail customers, equity measures jumping: a 15 point increase (61 per cent vs 46 per cent) on ‘feel good about Revlon’; a 50 point increase (84 per cent vs 34 per cent) on ‘different to other makeup brands’.

And importantly raising over $150,000 donated to Drought Angels. To tick all three boxes, sales, equity and social good, really put a smile on our collective faces. We set-out to launch a new product and ended up transforming Revlon brand performance. That’s the power of great creative backed by a powerful insight.

The film and full results can be viewed here.

A number of things came together to create this success, not least of which was the team at Revlon who had a passion for delivering work that was a little different to what you might expect from a global beauty brand. The Revlon team contributed enormously throughout and led the way in contributing to our powerful insight. My reflections on what made the campaign work follow.

Be true to brand positioning

Sometimes brands will take a huge departure from where they have been in an effort to become more relevant (the recent Gillette campaign comes to mind). It’s a roll of the dice in that brand is distancing itself from what consumers know and love about the brand not to mention the years of investment leading up to that point in the pursuit of relevance into the future.   Our approach to Revlon was very much about creating a campaign that was not only purposeful but leveraged core positioning. And from a practical standpoint, anyone who has worked client side on global brands will know well, it’s never easy convincing a global team that a local idea has legs and is worth investing in. A local idea that builds on established equity is obviously an easier win. That, combined with an unstoppable conviction in the idea from the local team, which in this case was rewarded in spades.

Revlon’s global positioning Live Boldly celebrates Bold Women of all walks of life, connected to the rational benefits of the brand, such as the bold colours that Revlon is known for. So the task here was arriving at a more relevant local insight that could powerfully leverage this existing positioning and equity. 

What’s Revlon got to do with the drought?

Fair question, a beauty brand and a barren landscape?

It’s really all about looking more deeply for the insight. We’ve all been guilty of looking to the most obvious place to find our insights, often sourced from how the consumer interacts with the brand or category. For example the fruit juice brand that might connect their brand to the ‘insight’ of consumer concerns over sugar, or in the case of Revlon a new matte lipstick with the ‘insight’ that some Matte lipsticks tend to ‘crack’.

Such insights themselves are more surface level observations and can be generic to the category, rather than providing the basis for emotional leverage, leaving it difficult to create distinctiveness for a brand.

Thinking beyond the brand or category can yield powerful insights. Connecting the right cultural or societal insight, in a way that is true to brand positioning, is one of the most powerful ways to create impact for a brand .

How was this thinking applied to the challenge at hand? From a cultural perspective gender equality is on the rise, yet the farming community still has a strong ‘male’ voice, and we rarely hear the voices of women. And from a societal perspective we, as Australians, identify with farmers who not only supply our fresh food but emotionally represent the wide open spaces that are uniquely us. As such the drought and its effect on farmers impacts us both rationally and emotionally and we really want to get involved and help.

The #BoldMatters campaign celebrates the bold women of rural Australia, which is highly relevant and motivating to Revlon’s audience. Moreover the idea of #BoldMatters has longevity, because the creative idea can evolve with the times and live beyond the drought, connecting to other local and highly relevant ‘matters that matter’. 

Relevance and authenticity

Trying to connect a brand and sales objective to a cause can be fraught with danger. Without relevance and authenticity, consumers will see through the intent and at best, reject it, or at worst send the brand into crisis management if the brand is seen to be trying to ‘benefit’ from a cause.

Revlon gained permission to associate with the drought on three levels. Firstly, through connecting with the global brand positioning of ‘Living Boldly’ told through the stories of bold farming women. Secondly, through a partnership with Edwina Robertson, our photographer and spokesperson. And thirdly, through a relevant and easy way for customers to help support our chosen charity.

Edwina, a rural wedding photographer, had already been compelled to capture the heartfelt stories of families suffering in the drought. She came to notoriety when she broke down emotionally on national television in front of Malcolm Turnbull, whilst telling stories of the trauma she’d seen. Edwina became the connection point for the brand to the drought and our bold farming women, as photographer, interviewer and PR spokesperson.

Drought Angels, our chosen charity, delivered further authenticity for the brand, set up by two women who put their heart and soul into supporting farming communities.

With Revlon donating $2 for every lipstick sold, providing a compelling reason for our audience to back the cause.

Use of branding in a campaign with social purpose

It’s often a classic tussle between marketers and agencies on the use of branding. Marketers often wanting more and agencies less. Not sure why, the ‘data is in’ from those ‘expert’ in analysing creative and the prevailing wisdom being that it doesn’t really matter how often you show the brand, but how well the brand is integrated into the narrative. Glad to say we didn’t have that tussle, the client aligning to our recommendations, which revolved around understanding how and when to apply branding across the consumer journey.

And, the ‘how and when of branding’s was even more of a challenge for this campaign which embodied a strong social purpose. Too much branding too early and you potentially ruin the integrity of the idea, the engagement levels, as well as eliminating the opportunity for PR leverage.

For Revlon, understanding the role and presence of the brand at different points of the consumer journey was critical, with a clear path on how the brand was involved from emotive awareness driving activity through to key retailer activity.

Allowing the stories of our women to unfold through longer films and PR/influencer activity, with subtle nods to the brand and promotion. And as our audience got closer to the point of purchase, through shorter form content, social assets, OOH and POS, focusing in on stronger branding and the $2 donation message.

The importance of creative craft

Another trap brands fall into is dropping their production standards or forgetting the role of storytelling, when it comes to CSR or charitable campaigns, rather than something that can deliver to the overall brand narrative.

For Revlon, as a beauty brand, it was critical that we offset the devastating impact of the drought, with beauty and empathy. We delivered this through a clear story arc, balancing the harsh reality with a sense of strength and hope. The films were crafted through beautiful camera angles, interesting cutaways, together with a rich colour grade and sound mix.

The important role of PR

The test of a great idea is often the ‘talkability’ it generates. It’s generally a sign the brand hasn’t gone down a well worn path, but instead thought of something fresh and disruptive. The public relations campaign delivered a PR value of $2.1m, a total reach of over 3.9 million and 42 editorial mentions. The engagement of key influencers and media partners played an important role in driving authenticity and campaign amplification.

Revlon’s PR approach connected the campaign with influencers through an event featuring Edwina Robertson’s photography. Broadcast reach was achieved through an exclusive partnership with Network 7 with features on Sunrise, the evening news and Network 7’s digital platforms.

Yes, with a powerful insight, creative craft and a client with a passion for authentic work, you can have it all.

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