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Vicks catches integrated marketing fever

Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide was feeling the heat when it created an integrated marketing campaign for the Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer, a Kaz product. The agency needed to help Vicks educate and engage customers, as well as drive sales for the high-end thermometer, which can take a person’s temperature with a one-second touch behind the ear.

“I think the Kaz [campaign] was really, really smart because it identified a clear barrier, a clear action that we needed to take, and a unique way to achieve that,” says Jamie Olson, Blue Chip’s VP of shopper marketing.

That unique approach was a thrifty, multichannel marketing campaign designed to reach both experienced and expecting moms. “Our whole platform was ‘One Touch, One Second, One Confident Mom,’ and the beauty of it is [its ability] to span across both targets,” Olson says. “We had to drive awareness and through that gain sales. It wasn’t going to be enough to just give a coupon…. It’s a $50 price point thermometer, and $10 off isn’t going to make you buy something that you don’t know how to use or what it even means.”

The campaign, which ran from November 2011 to March 2012 for “less than $50,000,” incorporated numerous targeted components, including ad banners, e-blasts with rebate coupons, and print materials.

The mobile aspect of the integrated campaign used three components to target its audience and sent relevant messages. The first was demographic criteria (e.g., experienced or expecting moms). Second, the mobile system was set up to use the Google Flu Trends index to alert moms when their local flu levels were high. Third, the mobile system used geo-targeting to provide customers with a list of retailers selling the thermometer—such as Walmart, Target, and Walgreens—and directions within a 3-mile radius.

“It was highly effective, super targeted, and…drove her directly to the retailer to make the sale,” Olson says.

Video also played a key role for Blue Chip in terms of product awareness. Customers could view a one-minute video on how to use the thermometer by clicking on an ad banner, scanning a QR code on a package or advertisement, or watching via a mobile device. The video also played in pediatric offices to target experienced moms.

“A huge piece of this, again, is awareness because it’s not intuitive. You don’t know what behind the ear even means,” Olson says. “So, we had an entire 60-second video that [we included] wherever we could throughout any of these vehicles.”

Olson said that the biggest challenge of the campaign was trying to entice customers to purchase the thermometer in a mild flu season. “Of course, that typically should be a good thing, but the entire thermometer category was down,” Olson said.

Despite the setbacks, the campaign helped boost Vicks’ sales by a healthy 15% over the remainder of the category.

Olson says that Blue Chip plans to enhance the campaign for the next flu season, and that sticking to a clear strategy will help the agency succeed. “It’s really a clear objective, a clear barrier that we’re trying to break, a clear action we’re trying to get the shopper to take,” she says. “And we’re working as a collaborative team to understand what the best ways are to achieve this.”

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