Global vs local
Lindenberg revealed that the first thing the team did was remove any advertising that showed kids getting dirty outside. When the virus first hit, the brand had continual debates about how best to react to what was happening, trying to decide whether that meant going quiet or speaking up; take campaigns off the air or make something new.
As a brand that reaches 1.6 billion consumers every year across 80 markets, it has always been “complex” to try and craft a message that carries through every market, says Lindenberg. And navigating that messaging under lockdown just added another level of complexity.
“Fundamentally we don’t want to say that dirt sometimes isn’t good because dirt is always good,” explains Lindenberg. “The context in which you’re getting dirty should change but not the idea which was the fundamental of the brand.” The focus for the collective brand/agency team was on being both relevant and meaningful during a difficult time in consumers’ lives.
“We have an approach that we call the figuration of brands,” explains Lindenberg. She alludes to the fact that while there are brand guidelines that carry into every market, there is also a degree of flexibility that must be encouraged. Usually, “the guidance is enough for markets to flourish and land their local insights,” she says. But in this case, a global idea was essential.
Dixon goes on to say that the team recognised they needed “to develop a global point of view that we could share.” He adds that the simple fact of the campaign was that “we were moving our position from being outdoors to indoors, albeit with a simple play on words to Home is Good.”
Creativity at speed
When the world started to go into lockdown marketing teams either pulled their campaigns and went dark or scrambled to turn something around at speed. This is perhaps why many campaigns fell flat but for the collective Persil/MullenLowe team, the speed was simply a fact of the situation. “It was a record turnaround for us, for sure,” adds Dixon.
After a briefing phone call between Lindenberg and Dixon - “we realised we didn’t have a single Zoom call for this campaign,” says Lindenberg - the team communicated almost exclusively across WhatsApp. This allowed the team, which included an office in Brazil, to approve edits and work globally. It also meant both parties had to be succinct, in both their delivery and their feedback, something Lindenberg reveals was a good lesson for her because, “I had to be concise on my feedback.”
“Traditional means of production were completely out of the window,” says Dixon. “We decided we could develop this ourselves.” So, the team put out a call to both Persil employees and the MullenLowe network inviting families and children to get involved; “by the weekend we had over 200 pieces of material,” he reveals. It was the first time the brand had released a global UGC ad. But, says Lindenberg, it won’t be the last as the team has a campaign in the works slated for September that will build on the success of the current one.
Dixon says that the process “unified and brought everyone together.” Both he and Lindenberg watched the first edit over the weekend and, he says, “it was really moving to see how this family could come together in this moment and create something so founded in the heritage and the philosophy of DIG but for a really critical and challenging moment in time.”
Lindenberg believes that the team will continue to use WhatsApp moving forwards, although perhaps not at the speed at which this particular campaign was developed. “The big advantage of WhatsApp over Zoom for example is the lack of formality,” she explains. WhatsApp, she believes, is more like a quick tap on a shoulder, a moment to share an idea in real time rather than having to go through the motions of setting up a call. “So, [I] highly recommend for moments of crisis,” she laughs.