CPGs are starting to spend more on digital – and that makes Snuggle Bear very happy.
“It’s no secret that we’re all dealing with ongoing media fragmentation,” said Brendan O’Marra, director of digital and promotion for the fabric softener’s parent company, Sun Products Corporation, the laundry conglomerate also responsible for Wisk and Surf.
“It might have been enough to just have a Facebook page back in 2010, but over the last three or four years, the amount of time people spend online has started to match up with the amount of time they used to spend viewing TV.”
That’s why Snuggle and its now iconic spokesbear are embracing a cross-channel experience that combines social content and paid media to extend the brand’s reach beyond the “Snuggle Bunch,” as O’Marra and his colleagues affectionately refer to the members of Snuggle’s loyal Facebook community of more than 700,000.
Snuggle’s digital strategy centers on content. Since around 2011 – when Snuggle launched his own Twitter handle, @Snuggle_Bear – the brand has worked to contemporize the bear beyond his TV persona and bring him into the interactive realm. O’Marra describes his “personality” thusly: “He’s a very laid-back bear. He likes to have fun and his sole mission is to make the world a softer place.”
Snuggle Bear even has an Instagram where he posts such cute-isms as, “The only gift I want this year is your snuggles.”
“When it comes to all of our brands, we spend the time and effort to develop engaging content,” O’Marra said. “And what we look for in an ad platform partner is the ability to reach people wherever they are in whatever manner they feel most comfortable.”
Data plays a central role in the brand’s ability to achieve that. Snuggle, which collects demographic data, geo and social info, as well as shopper and interest-level data, worked with mobile-centric digital ad platform Amobee to execute the targeting and optimization on several of its campaigns over the past year.
In one recent example, Amobee partnered with Snuggle’s full-service agency, Merkley + Partners, and creative shop Lowe Profero to develop an interactive campaign that would increase awareness around the brand’s new Scent Booster fragrance pack product.
Lowe Profero developed an online game called Scent-O-Lator. Players use their space bars to stamp Snuggle freshness into scent packs as the packs scoot by on a conveyor belt. High scores were entered for the chance to win a free stuffed Snuggle Bear.
Users were directed to the game through an embedded link via photos and videos on Facebook targeted at women interested in healthy lifestyles, beauty and products for the home. Snuggle also leveraged past purchase data to zero in on consumers who had already shown interest in or intent to buy a discretionary laundry fragrance product. As O’Marra pointed out, washing your clothes is a necessity. Scented fabric softener is a luxury.
TV and digital “worked hand in glove” on this particular execution, O’Marra said, with TV doing the heavy lifting in terms of mass awareness, while digital drove the message home to the specific target audience pinpointed through Amobee’s tech.
Although O’Marra declined to share exact numbers, he noted that the overall click-through rate was between 20 and 30 times the industry average for other CPG brands. At least one new person visited the game page every minute of every day for the entire length of the three-month campaign.
“We aim to go deeper to connect the consumer across multiple channels and Snuggle is a great example of a brand that’s doing that,” said Nathan Jokinen, VP of strategic development at Amobee. “They’re not planning their media in silos or just thinking about one channel or the other without connecting the dots between them.”
It’s something Jokinen, whose experience includes a 10-year stint leading retail and vendor digital media initiatives at Target, said he’s noticed CPGs becoming aware of – the need to pay more attention to the bottom of the funnel in digital channels..
“There’s a growth focus on testing and getting more deeply down the path to purchase,” Jokinen said. “Thinking about how to get the consumer to respond, instead of just focusing on awareness alone.”
It’s a trend that’s shaking up budgets in the CPG space. All of the brands under the Sun Products umbrella, including Snuggle, strive to make digital account for roughly 20% of their overall spend. It’s a percentage O’Marra said will continue to tick upward as long as the ROI is there to justify it.
At the moment, Snuggle maximizes its budget and extends its reach – “We don’t have the budget that some of our competitors have,” O’Marra said – by blending video, which has higher CPMs, with social and display, which generally clock lower on the CPM scale.
“Although CPGs historically invest most heavily in traditional channels like TV and print, we’re seeing a major shift toward greater digital and online video allocations,” said Kate Sinnott, associate media director at Merkley + Partners. “This trend is great for the industry [because] the shift into more digital allows advertisers to extend their reach through new, engaging channels, and provides more touch points for consumers to develop brand product awareness, as well as capture data and refine targeting through testing and optimization.”
Snuggle isn’t shying away from programmatic, either. The brand, which recently celebrated its 30th birthday, uses Amobee as its DMP and DSP. Despite some of the flak its been getting for its lack of transparency and low click-through rates, programmatic display has been working well for Snuggle,
“There are a lot of people out there who like to talk about how dead display is and that it’s going to go away – but that hasn’t happened yet and, in fact, the number of CPGs using display is up,” O’Marra said. “What’s changing is the mindshift about what display is used for. It doesn’t just have to be about impressions.”
With cross-channel campaigns, it’s possible to have strong ROI and low CTR, he said.
“People might tell you that a .1% click on a banner ad is a 99.9% failure,” O’Marra said. “But we’ve shown with our own ROI studies that people might just have it wrong.”