Shopper Innovation Awards: U by Kotex bites into a branded series

The brand's vampire series, Carmilla, connected with female millennials.

This story appears in the April/May 2016 issue of strategy.

Grand Prix: Commercial
Gold: Reinvention
Gold: Original Idea
Gold: Targeting

Dancing in fields and high-diving into a pool while wearing a white bathing suit are some of the clichés typically found in feminine care marketing. Rather than perpetuate these images, U by Kotex wanted to forge a more authentic relationship with its consumers.

In 2014, the brand launched a campaign that was less about driving sales directly and more about connecting with highly selective, media-savvy female millennials. It also wanted to build brand affinity in a category where girls aren’t normally emotionally attached.

U by Kotex took the role of executive producer and, with the help of Geometry Global, Shift2 and Smokebomb Entertainment, it came up with Carmilla, a 36-episode series of four-minute videos that put a modern spin on the cult classic gothic vampire novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu.
Once a substantial Carmilla fan base was established, U by Kotex revealed itself as the producer. The product was naturally integrated into the storyline with subtle placement, and U by Kotex created five branded spots featuring the show’s cast. Characters from the web series were also active on Twitter and Tumblr to help extend the story between episodes.

Since its launch in August 2014, Carmilla has tracked 17 million minutes of watch time, nearly 11 million earned impressions and 10 million views across all 36 episodes and branded videos. With zero paid media behind it, the show’s season finale alone garnered 101,000 views in 24 hours. U by Kotex followed the season finale with the “#SaveCarmilla” campaign, asking fans to show their love of Carmilla and U by Kotex on social media. In the 24 hours following the finale, #SaveCarmilla was tweeted 11.6 times per minute and generated 7.7 million timeline deliveries.

Advertiser | Kimberly-Clark – U by Kotex
Brand manager | Denise Darroch
Director, marketing and sales | Leslie Mackay
Integrated marketing plan director | Mitch Faigan
Agency | Geometry Global
Management supervisor (former) | Robyn Dalley
SVP planning | Katherine Barks
ECD | Nuala Byles
Writer | Gillian Newing
ADs | Mike Snjaric, Caroline Brown
Production companies | Shift2, Smokebomb Entertainment
Executive producer | Kaaren Whitney-Vernon
Producer | Steph Ouaknine and Jay Bennett
Social strategist | Carrie Hayden
Writer | Jordan Hall
Editor | Dillon Taylor