Digital marketing ROI: Five food brand campaigns that prove digital works

Sep 22, 2014 | CPG, Facebook marketing, FMCG digital marketing food and beverages, Search engine marketing, Social media

How do you measure success in a digital campaign? Getting more YouTube fans, Facebook likes or newsletter sign ups is all well and good, but do these actually translate to more sales and justify the initial spend? We look back at some of the best food campaigns of the past year that show how digital success translates into real world cash.

 Crème Egg shifts spend from TV to Facebook and increases sales

Results: 7% increase on sales overall, Facebook brings better ROI than TV

Mondelez increased Crème Egg sales by switching ad spend from TV to Facebook. This case study looks at how a seasonal social media campaign that invited people to ‘Have a fling with Crème Egg’ on Facebook, created a long series of one-off posts that fed into an overall narrative across the three months- increasing sales by 7% as a result.

Budget one-third of TV (but almost same purchase intent)

The firm’s analytics showed that of the overall ROI (in terms of purchase intent of the viewer), 18% was driven by Facebook and 20% from TV advertising, even though the budget for social was around one-third the size of that spent on TV.

Key stats from Creme Egg “Have a Fling” Facebook activity

  • Facebook matched TV in driving brand consideration for a third of the cost.
  • Kantar ROI research shows consumers exposed to both TV and Facebook were 66 per cent more likely to purchase than the expected combined effect of both.
  • Reached over 90 per cent of their 18-24 UK target audience, 9 times each on average.
  • Drove 5 million active interactions with a total unique reach of over 15 million unique consumers.
  • 15.2m Facebook users were exposed to the posts, with an average frequency of 7.6 impressions.
  • 18-24 year-old users were reached nine times on average.
  • 4.63m interactions were driven by paid media at a cost of 8p cost per engagement.
  • As a result, sales of Crème Eggs increased by 7%.

Snickers ‘misspelling’ search keyword campaign reaches 500,000 people in 3 days

Targeting fat-fingered typists across the UK, this clever search campaign from Snickers used misspelled words in Google keywords to capture hungry office workers’ attention during the working day. This case study outlines how the chocolate bar brand managed to reach 500,000 people within just three days of launch, without any seeding and for less cost than bidding on brand keywords.

Half a million people with no seeding

Snickers worked with AMV BBDO & Mediacom to produce a search campaign that tied in with their ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign.

The concept was to bid on commonly misspelt words with an advert reading “Grab yourself a Snikkers” as “Yu cant spel properlie wen hungrie”.

Without seeding, the campaign smashed their target of 500,000 people within just three days of launch – showing that with a little creativity, search continues to throw up opportunities for increasingly cost-effective marketing.

As the PPC budget was being used on misspellings, naturally not nearly as competitive as the actual brand terms or popular keywords, Snickers was getting more bang for its buck.

How Nilla Wafers beat Oreo for brand engagement

Results: 9% increase in sales after Facebook camapign, Beter engagement than social media hotshot Oreo

Mondelez recently used Facebook to reinvigorate its Nilla Wafers brand and boost sales. A study showed Nilla Wafers sales increased 9% in test market locations among consumers who saw Facebook ads versus a control group of consumers over the course of a five-month campaign. The Facebook ad campaign for Nilla Wafers also was able to reach 11.3 million households through 190 million total impressions (16.8 impressions per household).

Targeting females pays off

A report from research firm Unmetric looked at Nilla Wafers’ performance and strategy on Facebook. By combining likes, comments, shares, and estimated impressions to create an engagement score, Nilla Wafers was found to have a score of 557 against 46 admin posts during the time period analyzed. This is a massive 11 times higher than the U.S. Food sector average. Social media buffs take note:

68% of Nilla Wafers’ fan base on Facebook is female and it looks like the brand has done its homework to understand the type of content that will resonate with this target audience.

How a cheese spread became part of a school curriculum – a lunchtime campaign backed up by social media

Results: $1.8 million in earned media… and a place on the curriculum

Back in 2012, Bel Group’s popular cheese spread Picon wanted to revamp its brand promise of ‘spreading happiness’ across Lebanon. The FMCG brand’s civic activism programme became part of the country’s school curriculum via some smart digital marketing. Each area of civic activism was represented by a Lebanese superhero, who represented the programme as an ambassador and spoke about the effort to the media.


Kids became proud to affix another badge to their Picon sash would be more inclined to eat a sandwich spread with Picon at lunchtime. Picon developed ‘Happiness Heroes’, a programme that taught civic education to school children and allowed them to apply those lessons outside of the classroom through civic works projects.

Superheroes and civic duty- A positive reason to share

The campaign reached 6,700 students. Together, those students collected two and a half tons of bottle caps, recycled two tons of paper, and planted 1,250 trees. The students also helped 158 families in need, entertained 2,000 seniors, renovated 15 public schools, and helped 550 people with special needs participate in sports events. Picon estimates that the company garnered $1.8 million in earned media and reached 2.5 million people. In 2012, Lebanon’s Ministry of Education announced that the Happiness Heroes programme would be integrated nationwide.

How Smart Balance conquered margarine giants with digital health drive

Results: 112% boost in traffic, 14% markets share growth, Second best selling brand
In the space of four years, Smart Balance managed to grow its US market share by 14%, giving power brands such as Flora, Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! something to worry about. This case study looks at how the health food brand made smart use of digital platforms, culminating in this years’ s Valentine’s e-cards promotion that boosted subscriptions 14% in the process.

Back in 2010, Smart Balance hired agency TBC to push its line of heart-healthier foods. The brand operated in a highly competitive area with rivals investing more than double Smart Balance’s marketing budget, such as Unilever’s Flora and Shedd’s Country Crock.

Reinvigorating a stale site with stronger content and calls to action

The Smart Balance site was languishing and had experienced declines in many important areas. Because of this, TBC was awarded the redesign project for The project was to be much more than a re-skinning. TBC would implement a new, open-source Content Management System and bring day-to-day operations into the Agency. In addition to creating a fresh look more in-line with the brand, TBC introduced new health/nutrition content, recipes, seasonal promotions and coupons, and streamlined navigation across the site. In 2013, site visits were up by 42% and time spent on site has increased 27%, while bounce rates decreased by more than 16%. And along the way, several thousand coupons were delivered and the Smart Balance email database grew over 15-fold.

View the key stats below, comparing the 349 days since the new site launched to the 349 days immediately preceding:

Valentine’s Day E-Card Promo taps into seasonal trends

To keep up the momentum online, in February 2014 TBC created a free Valentine’s Day e-card promotion for Smart Balance in observance of Heart Month. The promotion was developed to strengthen user engagement on the website, create a relevant brand presence during Heart Month and grow Smart Balance’s database of emails for future re-marketing efforts.
The campaign yielded a 112% increase in site traffic (year over year), a 42% increase in average time spent on site, a 53% decrease in bounce rates and a 15% increase in newsletter subscribers. Overall, the continued brand advertising turned the buttery spread category on its head and helped Smart Balance to become the #2 brand in the category, behind Flora.

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