Fonterra is rolling out a major global platform in a bid to strengthen the Anchor brand in several international markets.
Strategically developed by Colenso BBDO, various creative iterations of the core concept are set to appear in New Zealand, China and Sri Lanka (and later in Chile and Malaysia).
The creative announcing the campaign to the local market is unreservedly audacious, seeming more akin to a gritty movie trailer for a series of interlinking stories than an ad for a dairy product.
The lead spot, launched in cinemas and online, oscillates between different scenarios, providing brief introductions to a broad collection of Kiwis whose stories sit at the centre of the campaign.
“The 60- and 70-second spots are effectively trailers that encourage you to go and see the longer pieces of content online,” says Rachel Morgan, international group business director at Colenso BBDO.
Anchor has also released a series of 15-second spots that provide additional glimpses at the individual stories alluded to in the main ad.
Over the next few months, Colenso will be rolling out a series of personal interviews that tell the full stories behind each of the individuals appearing in the ad (this is a similar approach to that used in last year’s ‘Must be milk’ campaign and, some might say, Michael Hill's global 'We're for Love' campaign).
Executive creative director Steve Cochran says that Colenso approached a casting agency to find a collection of Kiwis with interesting stories to feature in the spot.
“We had a fairly loose brief, you might say, that gave some guidance on the types of stories we were after,” says Cochran.
“Unsurprisingly, there are all these amazing people out there. And this is a small place, so one conversation leads to somebody else, and all these stories just emerged.”
While the creative is bold for the category, Cochran says this isn’t the first time Anchor has taken a non-conventional approach to its advertising.
“Often in marketing circles when you’re talking about Anchor, people reference the Anchor Family from back in the day, because at its time that was really standout, provocative work. It featured a family in a [standard] kind of way, but they were going through a marriage breakup. It had lots of complaints at the time, but it was absolutely standout work. To reach those levels of engagement is what you’re aspiring toward.”
Cochran says Anchor “has lost a little bit of its mana over the years with milk becoming such a commodity” and this campaign is an attempt to reclaim some of that (just as its lightproof milk bottles attempted to).
“It’s about talking to Anchor as a masterbrand. It’s not just milk. It’s a nod to a full portfolio of products Anchor has on the shelves.”
Cochran says the campaign—and its associated global platform—has been in the works for over a year.
And though the ad might be new, the tagline, Go Strong, has actually been in the Kiwi consciousness for some time, emerging in the lead up to last year’s Rugby World Cup.
“Last year, we did a campaign on the Anchor black bottle, which was kind of a soft launch of this platform in the sense that it did carry the line ‘Go Strong’. But this year, we really wanted to land that thought and platform line. So this campaign is there to do that.”
Morgan explains that the motivation behind the ‘Go Strong’ phrase is about celebrating the fact that strength can manifest itself in a number of ways that have little to do with physicality—something clearly reflected in the various stories featuring in the spot, and something clearly evident as a trend in marketing, with the likes of Axe, Nike, Dove and Sport England showcasing people who are more relatable.
“It’s the type of New Zealand that makes us proud. It shows how we’re all in this together, rather than the white picket fence version that New Zealand is often depicted as," says Cochran.
This concept of inner strength is also integral to each of the international markets, but creatives in each market were given the freedom to come up with their own interpretation.
“In New Zealand the way we express that is ‘Go Strong’, whereas in Sri Lanka it’s ‘Goodness Feeds Greatness’ and in China it’s more about ‘Natural Goodness Empowering Natural Greatness,’” says Morgan.
Featuring characters like a drag queen, the campaign running in this market would never have passed censorship threshold in China. So along with a tweaked tagline, the Chinese market will also see a completely different Anchor ad.
“The whole approach in China is about the New Zealand provenance and the goodness you get from milk, because they just don’t have that in China,” says Morgan. “Whereas, for us, that’s not something we want to talk about here, because it’s a given.”
Developing platforms on a global level isn’t new to Colenso, with the agency having already rolled out such strategic approaches for both Michael Hill and Pedigree.
The work for Pedigree was particularly interesting, because it culminated in different creative interpretations in the US, Australia and Brazil (the US creative was developed by Colenso BBDO).
The investment in a multi-national branding approach makes sense because it ensures that a unified message is delivered in every market.
But it’s also expensive. And this move comes at a difficult time for Fonterra, with reports showing that dairy prices have fallen for the third time in a row, dropping by 7.4 percent in the latest farmgate figures, adding further pressure on the farming industry.
As is often the case when companies spend up large on brand campaigns, there will be some questions asked of Fonterra about how it can justify spending heavily on advertising when farmers are still languishing with dismal payouts.
Answering this question requires a bit of backtracking.
In an excellent Herald article published in August last year, writer Tony Baldwin explained how companies like Nestle and Danone have invested heavily in dairy products that can be sold at much higher margins. Prices for products like these are less volatile, meaning that they have been able to grow revenue significantly.
In contrast, Fonterra’s focus has largely remained on the commodity side of its business, which ebbs and flows with market prices, something Lewis Road Creamery's Peter Cullinane thinks is arse about face for a small country like New Zealand that should be focusing on premium products and trading on its excellent reputation.
“The broader Fonterra context is that they’re trying to move from being a manufacturer of ingredients that supplies milk powder to the likes of Nestle and Danone to an owner of brands to be able to extract more value out of the marketplace,” says Morgan.
“There’s definitely a desire to not just build those individual brands, but ensure that they ladder up to the greater Fonterra purpose. And that’s something we’re talking to them about at the moment, and hopefully in the future we’ll talk to you about some Fonterra masterbrand work.”