Tuesday, June 28, 2011

ROM: The Titanium Cannes Lion Winner case study

One of the big Winners of Cannes Lion was a Romanian chocolate campaign, flirting with nationalism and nostalgica. The old, boring chocolate got a new layer of emotional value and was suddenly cool again.

Case study:
"Rom, a popular Romanian chocolate bar that prominently features the Romanian flag on its packaging, evoked patriotism and national pride to fuel sales and build brand awareness for the product.
In an elaborate hoax, Rom changed its packaging to feature the American flag, launched advertising centered on American ideals and imagery, and created videos that justified the decision to distance Rom chocolate from its Romanian heritage. (Explanations included a struggling Romanian economy and disheartened youth culture). In one fell swoop, Rom erased all connection to its homeland, and doubled down by betting on Americana.

As with most hoaxes, this one created quite a stir, particularly online. Thousands of Romanians expressed their dissatisfaction on Facebook, YouTube and various blogs, and the wave of patriotism culminated in a flashmob to bring back the old Rom. After only a week of letting Romanians believe that the American flag campaign was real, the chocolate bar company revealed the hoax.

According to the YouTube video that profiles the campaign, Rom achieved a great deal of short-term success after the hoax:
  • In the first two weeks, the campaign reached 67% of Romanians
  • Generated 300,000 Euros worth of free media
  • In the first six days alone, Rom increased its Facebook page fan total by 300%
  • Rom ousted the previous chocolate bar leader to become Romania’s most popular chocolate bar (a 79% increase)
  • Outperformed the market by 20% in the most relevant channels
  • The “American” version of Rom completely sold out
The campaign won two Grand Prix Cannes Lions in the “Promo/Activation” category, which rewards advertising geared toward triggering an immediate engagement, and the “Direct” category for direct marketing.

This is how the winning agency BV McCann Erickson, Bucharest, described the case:

Describe the brief from the client:
Romania’s ROM chocolate bar is the traditional Romanian chocolate that we all grew up with. Launched in 1964 with the Romanian flag on its wrapper, it enjoys 95% brand awareness, yet its share and volume were plummeting with only 14.5% of people listing it as their favourite brand. ROM had an ageing, nostalgic consumer base and was losing ground with the young generation. In a category in which success means continuously attracting younger fans, ROM’s nationalistic values were a disadvantage. How could ROM, a chocolate bar bearing the Romanian flag, gain appeal to youngsters with few national values?

Describe how the promotion developed from concept to implementation:
Youngsters prefer ‘cool’ American confectionery brands (Snickers and Mars) to ROM. Our solution was not to fight against, but to join them and thus challenge the young Romanians' national ego. We triggered a public debate about national values by launching a limited edition of an ‘American’ ROM – same product, same price, but branded with the US flag. We put the product in stores, encouraged sampling, announced the change in media, and stirred the debates. After one week, we made the reveal: the old ROM was back as Romanian as ever, while the American ROM became a collector’s item.

Describe the success of the promotion with both client and consumer including some quantifiable results:
The campaign reached 67% of Romanians and generated €300,000 of free publicity. The online response was phenomenal: in six days, ROM’s website had 75,000 unique visitors; Facebook fans rose by 300%; supporters launched petitions and organised a flash-mob in Bucharest. All brand image indicators exploded, especially 'ROM is a brand for me', which more than doubled - a 124% increase. ROM outperformed the market, with 20% growth (compared to 8.2% category growth) in the most relevant channel, hypermarkets, while the American ROM was sold out. Most importantly, ROM ousted Snickers to become Romanians’ favourite chocolate bar (79% increase of the indicator).

Explain why the method of promotion was most relevant to the product:
This campaign made ROM the first brand that had the courage to test and play with people’s national ego on a national scale. We took away something people were taking for granted: the national flag from the most traditional chocolate bar, Rom. We knew that although young Romanians tend to be negative about themselves and their country, their patriotism returns when challenged. This ‘reactive patriotism’ underpinned our ground-breaking campaign that challenged young people’s national ego in order to re-establish ROM as a cherished Romanian symbol.

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