Nestle had never hired a celebrity to promote its products in the past, so it was no surprise to the team at Frank PR that the company's marketing department needed some convincing of their strategy for the launch in late 2007 of KitKat Senses, a new KitKat bar aimed at women. The agency wanted to use UK girl band Girls Aloud to appeal to a female audience.
- To launch KitKat Senses, a new KitKat bar aimed at women
- To create pre-launch hype and awareness followed by a campaign with longevity throughout the year
- To create a second burst of coverage six months later around September and October to promote the trial and encourage people to buy the product - people need time to get used to buying new products.
Strategy and plan
Frank PR's research had shown that much of the media young women consume are dominated by celebrity, and the team was convinced Girls Aloud would be the ideal celebrity endorsers.
The team signed Girls Aloud in January, and then ran the 'Tease' phase. This involved Frank targeting key chocolate-loving female bloggers within online communities, creating hype around the product before it hit the shelves.
Frank then 'leaked' the news of the deal with Girls Aloud to showbiz editors on national newspapers and key target women's publications. The product went on the shelf a few weeks later.
In the second 'Excite' phase the agency organised a national photocall with the group and allowed target publications to conduct solo interviews. National dailies, online news sites and major regional newspapers all picked up the shots the following day.
Frank also arranged a series of monthly advertorials with Cosmopolitan magazine and announced KitKat Senses' sponsorship of the sold-out Girls Aloud tour.
For the final phase, 'Attract and Involve', Frank commissioned Girls Aloud to design their own limited edition T-shirts as part of an on-pack promotion for September 2008. Sales raised money for The Make A Wish Foundation, a charity that grants 'wishes' for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Only 165 T-shirts per day were up for grabs, which mirrors the number of calories in a KitKat Senses.
Measurement and evaluation
Among the many headlines the campaign generated was the Daily Mirror's 'Gift-wrapped Kitty Kats', the Daily Express with 'Sarah and Nicola promote KitKat Senses' and The Sun with 'Girls Aloud to get £1 million payday, courtesy of KitKat'.
During the filming of the advert, Frank released branded stills to all women's targeted magazines to keep the momentum going.
This PR campaign resulted in 26 branded pieces of national coverage in phase one, and a further 94 individual items of coverage following the photocall and interviews. Heat magazine ran a five-page spread. Frank estimates the PR value of this coverage was in excess of £2.3m.
This has translated to impressive sales figures for Nestle. The annual target was for ten per cent of households to trial KitKat Senses within a year of its launch. After only six weeks 8.5 per cent had already done so.
So far, Nestle has sold 37 million bars, a staggering 180 bars per minute.
Furthermore, more than 250,000 fans sampled the new product during the Girls Aloud tour.
The idea also formed the basis of a TV and print ad campaign, in-store activity, tour sponsorship with product sampling and an on-pack promotion.
PR led the whole marketing campaign - a first for Nestle and for the confectionery industry.
Bill McIntyre Director, iris PR
There is no doubt clients are increasingly buying into more integrated campaigns that deliver a cohesive message through all channels - something that is only on the rise in the current climate - and the most impressive part of the KitKat Senses launch was that the Frank team led the marketing mix with their Girls Aloud idea.
Choosing celebrities to work within a campaign is always a tricky task and fraught with risk in a world of tight contracts. The choice of Girls Aloud was clearly a strong brand fit that would resonate with the target audience as well as having strong media appeal. That appeal is evident in the results Frank delivered - however, a little digging on the web showed the issues associated with celebrity use. There were images of the girls looking bored on the shoot and Sarah Harding told the Daily Mirror she felt sick afterwards.
But overall Frank put together a well-thought-through campaign split out to maximise the use of Girls Aloud with activity bursts planned to fit key times. The print coverage speaks for itself with impressive numbers in terms of national hits. A shame they could not extend the activity into broadcast media as the campaign feels like it is missing a trick without radio and TV coverage. It would also be interesting to find out if Frank did anything further with its female bloggers after the tease phase - no-one likes to be left just teased.
Having said that, the results have clearly delivered for KitKat Senses, so a professional job well done.