AToMiC Awards: Know thy audience

From newly-minted executives to festival-loving dog owners, these brands found their targets in clever ways.

This article appears in the June 2016 issue of strategy.

Lexus LinkedInYou’ve just been promoted, moving into the C-suite at last. You’ve spent the day mostly beaming, packing up your office, graciously responding to congratulatory messages from people you barely know. But there’s one nagging concern in the back of your mind: how am I going to spend my new car allowance?

The team at Lexus anticipated this question and came up with a creative way to target this niche but lucrative audience, using the well-travelled online corporate database, LinkedIn. The trick was to know the audience and where to reach it, and to do so in a clever way. Pure Balance and Walmart, Canada Post, and the Liberal Party of Canada demonstrated the same ability to zero in on their desired consumers, finding the right message and platforms to reach pet owners, entrepreneurs, and senior voters.

Lexus was targeting executives, whose attention is hard to earn through advertising, says Jon Freir, CD at DentsuBos, the agency behind the campaign. It needed something bolder and more personal. The “Lexus LinkedIn” campaign screened the social network for promotions at Fortune 500 companies.

“We wanted to get them at their best – after a promotion – LinkedIn being the natural place,” Freir says. “People aren’t expecting to get messages from corporations.”

The congratulatory InMail message from the brand offered newly promoted executives a pair of Lexus driving gloves, made from Italian leather and available to size, which could be retrieved at the nearest dealership. Once the executives were in the store – which Freir says is the most difficult objective to achieve – they were offered a test-drive.

Just over 70% of the LinkedIn messages were opened, which Stephen Kiely, DentsuBos’s VP of client services, says demonstrates the effectiveness of the personalization. The campaign was Lexus’s most successful test-drive push in company history, with 240 pairs of gloves redeemed.

Like Lexus, Canada Post found a media partner popular with its desired audience to help deliver its message. To re-launch its small business discount program, Solutions For Small Business (SFSB), the postal service partnered with CBC’s Dragons’ Den, a respected brand among the Crown corporation’s niche target of entrepreneurs.

The campaign by ZenithOptimedia included SFSB-related testimonials from past Dragons’ Den pitchers integrated into the broadcast, as well as Dragons referencing the offering on the show. It was an ideal match, helping to position Canada Post as a small business expert and driving awareness for its product. Engagement rates almost doubled the campaign benchmarks.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetWalmart and pet food brand Pure Balance also found the right platform for their target audience. Knowing that the annual Woofstock dog festival – North America’s biggest, hosting more than 200,000 people and 100,000 of their four-legged best friends – would have attendees lining up for the festival’s food trucks, the brands created a Pooch Truck, a mini food van scaled to size to serve the dogs.

Because pet owners are known to share the occasional photo on social media, the Pooch Truck’s reach went beyond the festival crowd, with hundreds of posts and a video driving more than two million Facebook impressions.

While the Dragons’ Den endorsement worked for Canada Post’s target audience, the Liberal Party of Canada found its own ambassador to reach a vital constituency in the final days of the 2015 federal election campaign. The target for the party’s “Hazel” ad was seniors, who vote in far greater numbers than the rest of the population.

JT_HazelThe Conservatives were hinting in their ads that Justin Trudeau would cancel income splitting for seniors, which the Liberal leader had pledged to maintain. The party’s answer was “Hurricane Hazel,” 94-year-old former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion. More than just setting the record straight, though, the Liberal spot by Bensimon Byrne attacked the Stephen Harper Conservatives for trying to frighten seniors. “It’s like one of those phone scams seniors get because Harper thinks we’re scared,” McCallion says in the spot, before looking into the camera and asking, in her most magisterial tone: “Stephen, do I look scared to you?”

McCallion, a popular public figure known for her no-nonsense approach, particularly in the battleground Greater Toronto Area ridings, was the perfect voice for shoring up the Liberals’ credibility. There was no Conservative swing among senior voters, and Trudeau won a majority government.

The hardware

Lexus Canada “Lexus LinkedIn” DentsuBos / 360i Gold Best Niche Targeting

The Liberal Party of Canada “Hazel” Bensimon Byrne Silver Best Niche Targeting

Walmart Canada / Pure Balance “Pooch Truck” J. Walter Thompson Bronze Best Niche Targeting

Canada Post / Venture One “Canada Post / Dragon’s Den” ZenithOptimedia Silver Best Brand Integration