Unilever Brand Knorr Adds A Dash Of Native To Its Media Mix

knorrnativeKnorr is developing a taste for native.

The Unilever-owned seasoning and sauce brand has been experimenting with interactive sponsored content and plans to make it a stock part of its media plan.

That’s because it’s the kind of thing that engages millennials, an audience Knorr is particularly interested in courting. Awareness isn’t an issue for Knorr, but consideration and differentiation are, especially with smaller niche food brands coming on the market.

“Knorr is a huge brand with a very established heritage, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that relevant to a younger generation,” said Sarah Burbridge, a global media manager at Unilever in the UK. “We needed to offer something valuable, interesting and entertaining, and also potentially something [people] would want to share with their friends as a way for us to build our brand identity.”

In April, Knorr launched a global creative campaign with the goal of positioning itself as a foodie brand with millennial appeal.

Knorr developed a variety of content for the campaign, including recipe recommendations, an online personality quiz that helps consumers discover their flavor profile and a film called “Love at First Taste” that pairs couples on blind dates based on their taste preferences, all of which was housed in a central hub.

Social was one of the main traffic drivers, but there’s only so much time someone’s going to spend on a brand microsite, which meant reach was inherently limited.

“Rather than trying to funnel a millennial audience into a particular destination, it would make much more sense to think about environments where they’re already active,” Burbridge said. “They expect to see that kind of content there.”

The assets from Knorr’s flavor profiler were repurposed into sponsored posts that Playbuzz, a self-serve interactive content platform – think surveys, quizzes, polls and listicles – distributed across its network of 40,000 publishers, including Cosmopolitan, Food Network UK, The Daily Record and Hollywood.com. The publishers also shared the posts through their own social channels. A mobile-friendly flip card unit contained a summary of each flavor profile with cute names like “Salty Adventurer,” “Meaty Warrior” and “Deep Sea Dreamer.”

The brand is guaranteed a certain number of impressions and only pays on a per-engagement basis. But Knorr wasn’t “just chasing reach,” Burbridge said.

Although “it’s true that a lot of what we do from a media perspective is focusing on broad reach and getting our message to a large audience, what this kind of content allows us to do, particularly when we’re looking for more equity or to drive reappraisal of the brand, is give more depth of engagement,” she said.

A post-campaign MetrixLab market research study noted a positive uptick in brand awareness and likelihood to recommend Knorr products.

But there’s not necessarily a secret sauce here and getting people to engage is far from “voodoo magic,” said Playbuzz co-founder Shaul Olmert. It’s just a matter of creating something fun and putting the content where the target audience is likely to see it.

“We’re in an industry people are paying money or installing ad blockers to avoid,” Olmert said. “So why should someone stop what they’re doing for five minutes and engage with you? When someone sees something sponsored by a brand, they’re only going to engage with it if the content is done well.”

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