Smile recognition activation leads Golden Circle's latest brand efforts

Head of marketing for beverages at Kraft Heinz A/NZ shares how experiential activity is becoming key to sharing the sunshine this summer

Building brand consideration and conversion through experiential connection lies at the heart of Golden Circle’s adoption of smile recognition technology for its latest campaign.

The Golden Circle SmilePay vending machine debuted in December and was created by agency, 72and sunny, and software development company, Enabled 2 GO Technologies. The pop-up machine uses existing smile recognition capability to recognise a consumer’s smile and in return, release a free Golden Circle fruit drink popper.

As well as getting a complimentary drink, consumers can directly share their SmilePay moment via the brand’s social channels and also go in the running to win a year’s supply of Golden Circle drinks. Alongside the machine, the brand has kicked off a targeted social campaign and is actively calling on consumers to suggest where the pop-up machine should turn up next via Facebook and Instagram.  

The first stop for the experiential activation was the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast from 1 December to 7 December.  

Kraft Heinz beverages head of marketing A/NZ, Andrea Payne, told CMO the SmilePay activation was a great way to connect with current cultural sentiment as consumers come out of lockdown and into an Australian summer.

“We want Golden Circle to connect with consumers who really value experiences as much as the product,” she said. “This is a fantastic way to have a truly branded conversation in a cultural moment in time.  

“The times Australians have been through over the last 24 months have been tough, but people are now starting to smile and experience joy. As a brand, we see ourselves bringing that flash of sunshine and special, simple moments. Being relevant in culture and finding moments where our brand can have meaning and deliver on our purpose of delivering that splash of sunshine is key.”

The activation has direct links into Golden Circle’s ‘Share the sunshine’ motif, which has remained consistent since the brand was created in Queensland nearly 75 years ago. Complementing the moniker is a partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLS). As part of its summer campaign efforts, Golden Circle will run pop-ups with giveaways and fundraising activities at a different Surf Life Saving Club nationally each week.

“All of this connects to sunshine and the fruit element. Even 30 years ago, we had jingles talking about this sharing of sunshine,” Payne said. “It’s been consistent throughout the brand’s history. That’s exciting as a team to have something with such emotional connection.”

Experiential activity is, however, a more recent trend Payne cited over the last 5-10 years. She attributed this to consumers expecting more in the value equation between them and brands.

“It’s no longer just about product, there’s a wider equation in play,” she continued. “Consumers want brands to have social impact and to have an experience with a brand. We now need to consider this as part of the marketing mix. How to bring brand experiences to life and connect with the consumer is therefore a key focus.”

Golden Circle’s customer sweet spot is young families, particularly those with primary school age children. Payne said you can also often find its smaller 1 litre drinks in fridges of consumers who have more recently moved out of home.

“Being part of a fruit beverage means you tend to get tied to the breakfast occasion. Being able to promote our drinks at different times of the day and for different occasions, not just in the lunchbox, is a very strong part of what we’re trying to do with the campaign,” she explained.

Overall measures of success for Golden Circle are more about consideration and trial then straight salience and awareness.

“As a 75-year-old brand, we have strong marketshare, so saliency is not the key focus for us. It’s driving value and consideration through these experiences,” Payne said.

Payne also hoped encouraging consumers to lean into the brand and tell the group where they’d like the SmilePay machine to turn up next would further encourage engagement.

“We want to get into a conversation with consumers and give them more of that sense of ownership of the brand,” she said.  

The SmilePay machine is now on its way to the Kraft Heinz factory in Northgate, Queensland, where anyone onsite or working there can interact. Given the opportunity consumers have to send the SmilePay machine on to further locations, Payne said her team sees this as a continuing activation with longevity.

Given the potential concerns around data and privacy, a full team also worked initially to assess any data security risk.

“We don’t store any data unless a consumer shares a photo and it’s only time we capture data as an isolated instance,” she said. “We made sure due diligence was done to protect consumers and interactions with the brand.”

With its 75-year anniversary next year, 2022 is clearly shaping up to be big year for Golden Circle. For Payne, the priority is to continue this experience-oriented connection to the brand.

“We want consumers to feel part of the anniversary celebrations. And it’s not just the trust and credibility that we have built over the last 75 years, but also bringing consumers with us into the future,” she added.  

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