Why Danone Nutricia's Aptamil brand tapped into creative crowdsourcing

Senior innovation manager for digital and technology shares how Danone Nutricia's A/NZ brand team has harnessed the power of eYeka's crowdsourcing platform to strike a more emotional chord with mums

The power of crowdsourcing and taking an outside-in approach to digital campaign creative has helped Danone Nutricia’s toddler milk brand, Aptamil Toddler, chalk up triple-digit brand awareness and purchase intent in A/NZ.

Speaking at a breakfast hosted by crowdsourcing community facilitator, eYeka, Danone Nutricia senior innovation manager for digital and technology, Nadim Sharbean, said his team made the decision to tap crowdsourcing after seeing declining brand awareness and retention around the Aptamil Toddler brand.

“This is a story of how things don’t work and trying to do something different,” Sharbean told attendees.

Specifically, Sharbean said the Aptamil Toddler brand was hampered by a more functional message and TV-first approach, driven out of its Paris-based headquarters, which resulted in low retention, falling awareness and a lack of local resonance.

“As a company, we looked at the functional – the what. But if you are a mum in this space having all ‘the what’ showcased to you, it starts to wash over you,” he said. “It’s a highly emotional space, and we had to get back to the why.”

The local team decided to try and evolve the messaging with a digital-first video campaign. However, eight weeks on, $45,000 down and five concepts from Danone Nutricia’s retainer-based agencies later, and the work had failed with research groups.

That was when Sharbean suggested tapping into eYeka’s creative community. One of the initial hurdles was building the appetite to try something different, he said.

“When you are a brand manager, if you’ve followed the established guidelines and it fails, then you can say to your marketing manager I used the same methodology you would have used and it didn’t work. And that’s fine,” he commented. “But to try a different approach, it’s definitely a risk, but it worked.”

The brief on eYeka was to the point: The best creative will make a parent feel confident that Aptamil Toddler is the right choice for their child’s nutritional needs.

Two weeks later, the brand had 200 concepts from 88 competition participants across 32 countries. Twelve territories were identified, some of which had not been considered by the brand team before, Sharbean said, and six creative concepts were chosen.

The idea used for Aptamil Toddler’s final execution looked at a child’s first milestones from the mother’s point of view. The campaign, which went live in 2016, resulted in a 214 per cent increase in unaided brand awareness, plus a 124 per cent increase in purchase intent.

For Sharbean, the ultimate mark of success was that Danone’s global team has now approved the collateral to be used in a TVC. Partnering with eYeka also allowed the Danone Nutricia brand team to connect with Unruly to validate ideas, as well as online video specialist, Emotive, to produce the end assets.

Sharbean said one lesson learnt through the process is the importance of doing crowdsourcing before creative agencies get involved. It was also vital to involve internal teams early in the process to break down resistance to the new approach.

“Because we are highly regulated, there were some concerns about that and we had to talk to the regulatory team,” he said. “We’re now using eYeka more widely across the business.”

The changing nature of crowdsourcing

EYeka, which turns 10 this year, has worked with a range of tier-one brands globally including Coca-Cola, Doritos, Procter & Gamble, Captain Morgan, Samsung, Unilever and Mondelez International. As well as more than 375,000 participants on its platform, the group has alliances with an affiliate network of partners including Unruly, Nielsen, Capgemini and Deloitte.

The platform connects brands with a global creative community via closed contests around a brief. Once a competition closes, brands work through submitted ideas and choose one or more winners. The winners are paid for their contribution and in return, sign over global rights to the intellectual property in perpetuity.

While early adopters of the platform were technology and digital brands, EYeka CEO, Francois Petavy, said the platform’s biggest supporters today are in the FMCG space. In recent years, the focus has shifted from delivering final content to generating ideas brands can integrate into their wider strategy, he said.

Petavy suggested crowdsourcing’s rising popularity was being driven by brands looking to step outside the “sea of sameness” and strike a more emotive chord with consumers. EYeka ran more than 1000 competitions last year.

“It’s no one’s fault, but one of the key drivers is that everyone has been using the same techniques, the same stop gaps, such as committee validation, and screening at some point, and you end up with the same thing,” Petavy claimed, flagging automotive and beauty industries as key offenders.

“Crowdsourcing is about freshness – you’re inviting people who are completely unrelated, marginal, different, who may not know anything about your industry, but don’t like the experience they’re getting… what we’re trying to do is bring that insight to brands.”

One example of work done with eYeka was Procter & Gamble’s Oral-B connected toothbrush, which was driven by the objective of tapping connectivity to improve the way consumers brush their teeth. After initially developing a mobile app, the FMCG giant created a connected toothbrush, which provided deep insights back to consumers about how they used the product.

Petavy pointed out 92 per cent of the people submitting ideas to brands via the platform are not from the target audience or geography that brand services, highlighting the importance of taking an alternative view on creative development and tapping marginality and new markets for ideas.

“It’s about collaboration, doing things together, not the consumer taking over the brand,” he said. “The key is the brief – you need to have sharp insights, share what you know about consumers and what you stand for as a brand.

“The benefits are that it’s fast, fresh and effective. This helps you to be more agile, and can better manage investments.”

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