Campaign case study: The pleasure of something dark

Chocolate brand Beyond Dark wanted to differentiate itself and take a bigger share of the UK's dark chocolate market against well-established competitors such as Green & Black's.

Mind games: Beyond Dark's volunteers, fitted with brainwave recording headsets, listen to music
Mind games: Beyond Dark's volunteers, fitted with brainwave recording headsets, listen to music

Campaign The Measure of Pleasure
Client        Beyond Dark
PR team    Ogilvy Public Relations
Timescale  November 2012- February 2013
Budget      £20,000

• To drive sales to new and existing customers, enhancing Beyond Dark’s visibility and increasing sales by 15 to 20 per cent
• To generate conversations nationwide on the consumption of chocolate, increasing consumer familiarity and engagement with Beyond Dark through new channels
• To differentiate Beyond Dark from its competitors

Strategy and plan
The team researched key influencers and the chocolate-consuming public to explore some common confectionery folklore and scientific theories.

The research established that increasing Beyond Dark’s market visibility hinged on developing engaging, sharable content. At the centre of this was the core brand message that Beyond Dark’s refinement process renders it the ‘most pleasurable’ dark chocolate. Market research showed no other brand had claimed this territory.

This led to the creation of a scale for measuring pleasure. To help harness compelling content for Beyond Dark’s ‘Measure of Pleasure’, Ogilvy partnered with Myndplay, a company that develops devices to record the brain’s activity, as well as scientists from Birkbeck University.

Then 100 volunteers, including bloggers and journalists, were assembled at a pop-up lab in London and fitted with headsets designed to measure brainwaves against a pleasure algorithm. Participants took tests, from blowing bubbles to stroking kittens, all measured on a scale against a single drop of Beyond Dark and rival brands.

They were also shown digital content during the process explaining their inv­olvement, as well as hashtags and laptops to share their experiences.

Ogilvy announced the results on ‘Blue Monday’, 21 January, which is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The findings were released in a documentary film and through traditional and social media targeting national, trade, broadcast and online influencers.

Following the release of the initial res­ults, Ogilvy visited studios and publishing houses to conduct tailored pleasure experiments with staff and journalists. 

Measurement and evaluation
There were 32 articles on the study in national press including Metro, Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard. Dedicated broadcast segments included a five-minute slot on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, as well as on TalkSport and BBC Radio Scotland.

Sales rose from 20,000 units in the days running up to the Blue Monday launch, to 40,000 on the day. Social media monitoring during the week following the launch detected a rise in posts using ‘pleasure’ and ‘chocolate’, from 30,000 to 70,000. Beyond Dark’s Twitter account gained an additional 7,000 followers overnight following the launch.

Second opinion

Julia Crawford, director, consumer, MSL Group

Puppies? Kittens? Music? What brings the most pleasure? Dark chocolate is the answer, it seems. This was a great, creative campaign, taking a chocolate brand beyond the usual context of seasons, taste, the origin of ingredients and its ethical stance.

The team cleverly devised a strategy that was designed to highlight the power of Beyond Dark’s high levels of antioxidants, without boring people with manufacturing processes or ingredients. The creative idea
was in its own right the content generator – a scientific experiment.

It was a daring choice to launch the campaign on ‘Blue Monday’, as this date is usually crammed with brands trying to get in on the act of happiness. But the team had a great story, credible scientific partners and superb content up its sleeves.

With more budget, the team could have created a mobile app that would have allowed everyone to test themselves and share the results, making it an ongoing campaign platform to champion pleasure on a broader scale.

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