Written by Jeff Lynch on February 17, 2015
in Activation

On Saturday, February 7th, the Ariad team was at Square One shopping centre along with NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry to launch Unilever’s new Dry Spray Antiperspirant, the category’s most significant innovation in almost 20 years. In front of over 700 fans, Lowry spoke with TSN’s Kate Beirness on the Raptors’ season, his inaugural All-Star appearance, and Unilever’s new line of Dry Spray Antiperspirant – even putting the product to the test against wet, goopy gels with a basketball-related demo. And if that wasn’t enough, Unilever rewarded some early adopters of Dry Spray with the chance to meet Lowry in an instant win promotion. 

UNILEVER CANADA INC. - 2015 NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and over 700

UNILEVER CANADA INC. - 2015 NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and over 700

UNILEVER CANADA INC. - 2015 NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and over 700

UNILEVER CANADA INC. - 2015 NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and over 700

Along with launching New Dry Spray, the event represented how Ariad approaches Brand Activation. Instead of tackling it in a vacuum, we believe successful activation is made up of three key pillars – content, consumer experience and amplification.

Content is essential because it gives rationale to the activation – it’s why the audience will care. In our case, we had an exciting new innovation in Dry Spray and leveraged Unilever’s MLSE partnership to secure Kyle Lowry, who served as the hook to generate buzz and excitement. That combination created content that was of interest to our consumer. Further, the connection between new Dry Sprays and Kyle made sense – an antiperspirant for a hard working athlete. Your content needs to be relevant in order to be meaningful, and offer value to the consumer in order for them to care.

Consumer experience is just that – how consumers will experience your content and your brand. Activation without experience is one way. We don’t want to talk at our audience, we want to integrate them. Our experience included not only a chance to see Kyle Lowry, but a chance to meet him too. We invited consumers to come to the event with a can of Dry Spray in order to play our “peel & reveal” promo. In a two hour window, nearly 600 consumers played – and a lucky 50 got to meet Kyle.  Nobody left empty handed, with secondary prizes of Raptors t-shirts and Walmart gift cards – and everyone was invited to take in the event. The experience was win-win for consumers, creating a positive activation.

Amplification is telling the story – the content and the experience – to a larger audience beyond the physical activation. Given our objective was to launch Dry Sprays, amplification was crucial to the event. As such, we ensured that when people met Kyle, we took their photo with their phone in front of a branded wall – making it easy for them to share using our event hashtag. Further, we worked with our interagency team to amplify via organic and paid social. Twitter was used as our main communication method to invite consumers to the event through our owned channel and to live tweet the event in real time. We invited key influencers and media to the event to also tweet in real time, and cover the launch. Finally, Kyle tweeted an invite and a selfie from the event to his 189K followers – you couldn’t miss it.   

Successful activation campaigns combine great content with a unified and overarching brand experience that runs through everything associated with the campaign. Amplification extends efforts beyond the physical eyeballs. Like a camera tripod, each pillar becomes useless if another is removed or is too weak to stand. That’s why it’s important to view each aspect not as a separate task, but as a vital part of the entire process.

Jeff Lynch is an Account Director at Ariad Communications

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