Winning work: How MullenLowe salt helped Pepsodent ‘unite a nation’

For Pepsodent in Indonesia, MullenLowe salt mixed national pride, local art and smiles. MullenLowe salt's Denise Tan on what went into creating the winning entry in the Campaign of the Year category at the Mumbrella Asia Awards 2018.

What comes to mind when you think about toothpaste?

To most consumers, not much. It’s not easy to get people excited about a functional product. Yet, by developing a communications campaign complementing strong insight with brand storytelling, we inspired an entire nation to talk about Unilever Pepsodent and elevated its brand love in Indonesia.

The insight

While Indonesia is diverse and made up of different islands, languages and cultures, citizens are united by the love and pride for their country. They are also known for one distinct characteristic: their warm and genuine smiles. However, Indonesians were finding it harder to smile due to the stress of busier lifestyles and increasing cultural and social differences.

The product concept

To encourage Indonesians to smile again, Pepsodent wanted to create a campaign that could bring families and communities closer, re-ignite national pride and deepen brand love.

The creative team considered what makes Indonesia unique and tied together two of the country’s most distinctive and recognisable icons — the batik art form and Indonesians’ beautiful smiles. Three unique batik designs, a traditional local pattern representing connections and togetherness, were created and replaced Pepsodent’s classic red and white product packaging for a limited time.

As a heritage brand well-known for protecting 250 million Indonesian smiles for the past 72 years, the challenge now was how to tell the story in a relevant and compelling way that would deepen brand love and drive growth.

The campaign and approach

Instead of focusing on functional product benefits, we defied category conventions and ran an emotion-led campaign. The #SenyumSatuIndonesia [#SmileMakesUsOne] campaign centred on one key message: Pepsodent has proudly protected the Indonesian smile for 72 years. The campaign launched in the lead up to the nation’s 72nd Independence Day, when national pride would be at its peak.

To get cut through in this crowded festive space, the campaign employed a number of different touchpoints from point-of-sale marketing and out-of-home advertising to digital – with PR leading and amplifying the conversation.

Using influencers to create awareness around batik and the unique Indonesian smile

To spark the conversation around batik and Indonesians’ smiles, we seeded influencers with beautiful product kits featuring the three batik-printed toothpaste packs and a batik scarf. They were delighted to receive this and shared with their followers the importance of batik and the Indonesian smile and what it meant to them in their unboxing videos. They also encouraged their followers to participate in an online #SenyumSatuIndonesia photo contest which drew even more attention to the campaign. Their excitement was infectious and helped ignite a strong sense of national pride.

Lighting up the nation with smiles

The #SenyumSatuIndonesia campaign reached its climax with an unforgettable Independence Day celebration. Pepsodent used 3D-mapping to project its batik prints on the façade of Museum Fatahillah, a culturally significant national monument. Indonesians from all walks of life came together to enjoy the live music and dance, including a special performance from local jazz singer Andien. The spirit of unity was also heightened with interactive fringe activities including a photo booth, batik classes and free dental examinations by Pepsodent. The event was live-streamed so consumers all over the country could celebrate as one.

Our three key takeaways on building a successful campaign are:

Find a strong insight: We anchored the #SenyumSatuIndonesia campaign around the emotionally compelling insight of the Indonesian smile. This insight was strengthened by drawing a strong link to batik, another well-loved national icon representing connectedness, and tapping into Indonesians’ love for their country. Establishing the insight gave us a clear idea upon which we built the campaign activations, messaging and strategy.

Tell a story: Based on the insight that Indonesians value unity and harmony, we created an emotional narrative and brand story around the importance of smiling as one amidst differences. The story was tailored to the Indonesian audience; it was culturally-relevant and showed that we understood the nuances of the market.

Use influencers strategically: Collaboration with the right influencers helped us tell the brand story in an authentic, relevant and talkable way which resonated with Indonesians.

Denise Tan is an account manager at MullenLowe salt


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