Steri Stumpie 'Everyone Has a Favourite'
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Steri Stumpie 'Everyone Has a Favourite'



A case study of an integrated campaign that makes use of social media. Showcases the strategic and creative process to give context to the campaign. Key point is that a social media campaign is not an ...

A case study of an integrated campaign that makes use of social media. Showcases the strategic and creative process to give context to the campaign. Key point is that a social media campaign is not an idea, but a media channel, through which to push a creative brand message. Given at 27 Dinners.



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  • Steri Stumpie is a legendary South African product. It’s been around for 35 years. Everyone knows it. Everyone loves it. Especially the morning after everyone’s been drinking, although there isn’t really a bad time to drink a Steri Stumpie. It’s a product with a lot of nostalgia attached to it: most people you speak to will have an anecdote about Steri Stumpie that they can tell you. The product also hasn’t done any advertising since this billboard, so all the memories and associations with Steri belong to the consumers who drink it.
  • Parmalat came to us and said, we want to activate the Steri brand, but we’re a little nervous. We haven’t advertised in over 20 years, but it hasn’t stopped the product doing well. We wouldn’t hate it if it did even better though, so we’d like you to come up with a look and feel, a messaging campaign and an activation. They also said, it’s a flavoured milk. It’s not complicated. We’re talking pack and brag. Tell us what you think.
  • Since we also felt the love for Steri that consumers do, we were sure there had to be a way to put a new spin on pack and brag. But obviously we had to do what was right for the brand, so we started by doing some research. These were our main parameters.
  • The research turned up some exciting findings. Logging onto facebook we saw numerous groups of people who proclaimed their love for Steri. There was almost a social status attached to saying you liked Steri Stumpie - it had ‘cool factor’, it said you ‘got’ a certain part of South African popular culture. And this got us very excited. The activity wasn’t only on facebook, there were local blogs talking about it too. A site called SLSX mentioned Steri as a part of daily life, some guys had started an Extreme Steri website where they did extreme things with Steri Stumpies, an expat blog longed for them the way he longed for NikNaks and Mrs Balls Chutney. And then a guy called Chris rocked up at Parmalat out of the blue, claiming he was Steri’s biggest fan, and was willing to work for love. We knew we had to make use of this existing momentum somehow, but first we had to decide on what we were going to say to consumers.
  • Some extracts from facebook groups… people arguing over their favourite flavour. It goes on for pages.
  • Yet more debating the best flavour.
  • So we realised that a) we were definitely going to activate via social networking sites / blogs, because that’s where consumers were already talking and b) whatever we did had to take a backstage to what the consumers were doing and saying, because they knew this brand best, not us.
  • The tone of the brand was all important. We didn’t want to be one of those brands that tries to sound cool, and getting a colloquial tone is more difficult than you’d think. It’s a fine balance. So this insight would influence the tone of voice in which we spoke to consumers in a big way. We had no place being the big brand in this instance. We had to be the friend. The cool guy who gets it. Who’d like you to hear him but hey, if you’re not interested, that’s okay, too. “Whatever yo. We’re cool”.
  • Bearing that in mind, we got to work on a look and feel. We wanted to bring to life the idea of a world of milky treats. We didn’t want to create a sophisticated, glossy world like Coca-Cola. We were aiming for a world that consumers would relate to at any age. We also wanted our world to be tactile, because Steri Stumpie ‘the brand’ needed to be delicious and yummy, just like Steri Stumpie The Product.
  • We drew up a list of emotional and rational check points which we measured our references and executions against. Pictured are a few of the first attempts to bring Steri World to life.
  • We loved the feeling of papercrafts, because it felt like it had a little more longevity than clay, or any other type of craft.
  • We gathered as many references of low-fi art as we could, and began refining our objectives with the client.
  • We built a million different paper models to establish which approach would work best.
  • And while we crafted the visuals, we went through lines that would answer our objectives in the messaging.
  • We played with references to well-known pop culture.
  • We played with the idea of a ‘cult of Steri Stumpie’.
  • More pop-culture reference to the movie Dumb & Dumber, also a throwback to the taste.
  • Popculture reference, emphasis on the range of flavours.
  • Positioning Steri alongside another South African classic, Converse All Stars.
  • Toying with references to drinking games, since it has a large following amongst students.
  • We explored the various drinking rituals out there. We will still be using this idea, so keep a look out for it.
  • This was acknowledging the Extreme Steri founders. We also liked that this was the kind of thing kids would come up with while using their imaginations.
  • More cult of Steri.
  • Using the flavours as the idea here, we thought it spoke a little directly to an older market. More popculture references.
  • We did the hard-sell route, which we quite liked, but it didn’t do the love consumers feel for the brand justice.
  • In the end, we decided to tell the truth, and let the consumers do the rest. Interestingly, this was the very first line I wrote for Steri, and we came back to it full circle after much debate.
  • After exploring various paper sculptors, artists and illustrators, we ended up constructing our own set. We built smaller stories into the bigger messaging so it would have a depth to it that would appeal to kids as well as adults. And we managed to get a pack and bag through in a way that stood out from the usual pack and brag.
  • The chocolate execution.
  • While we worked on our messaging and look & feel, we had to come up with a plan to activate Steri. I can’t reveal much about our Promotion except for the fact that it involves the chance to win Levi’s T-shirts with Limited Edition Steri-inspired designs on them, done by 9 local illustrators. You’ll have to check back to for more about the promotion, which will launch in October. Details as to how to enter will all be on-pack.
  • These are a sneak preview of 2 of the designs on the T-shirts you could win. Chocolate designed by Ian Jepson, Vanilla Custard by Brandt Botes. But more about that later.
  • This is where being able to work as an integrated agency has been key to our success. When we first posed the question: who will run the digital side of things, it was tricky to answer. Atmosphere PR, our own PR company, had run some successful social networking activations with GHD recently, so together with RSVP formulated a social media strategy that would involve constant collaboration. As lead writer, I’d set the tone, but Jenn in Atmosphere would take over day-to-day social networking writing and blogging, supervised by myself and Dan Pinch, a Senior Account Manager at Atmosphere. RSVP was responsible for conceptualising and executing what would go into the Riders - the limited edition Steri Gift packs, but Atmosphere would take responsibility for distributing them to the right people - and if we’re frank, we often took over each other’s roles where it was necessary. Mnemonic, our digital agency, was responsible for building the blog and all the backend digital needs, so there’s a third company here, too. Social Media requires the ability to make quick decisions, and to solve any issues that arise very quickly, which would be more difficult were we working with an out-source model. Between 12 people across 3 agencies within the King James Group, we’ve been able to make this campaign work successfully.
  • Because we’re all in the same building, we’re able to solve issues and make decisions very quickly - something very important when it comes to being able to respond to consumer interaction via social media. Between us, we were able to draw on each other’s strengths to make sure we had a level of quality control, as well as to get things moving quickly, and keep them moving quickly.
  • As of today 21 559 members, and instead of running it ourselves, we got the brand’s biggest fan to run it for us, with us keeping an eye on things. It’s success is entirely due to his enthusiasm, passion and great sense of humour. How we use it: to post activity on the blog / microsite, to let fans know about spot competitions we’re running, to share Steri Love sent into us by other fans. We’ve essentially created a platform within which to share the Steri Love. How we DO NOT use it: We never suggest ‘fans’ - we let people join at their own pace, when they see their friends joining. We never send group emails, we simply update the status and let the fans come to us. We don’t pretend to be anything we’re not - everyone knows it’s run by a fan, an advertising agency, and a PR agency, and we’ve found transparency works really well for us.
  • We debated having a twitter account, but decided it was a good way of keeping the facebook refugees up-to-date (people who flee from facebook due to spam from friends and brands). We don’t have a massive following, but we haven’t lost a follower yet (we don’t think) and we use it simply to push the blog happenings. We get a great hit-rate from RTs, and it’s run by Jenn the Steri Girl, from Atmosphere. In her bio it reads ‘because flavoured milk drinks don’t know how to tweet I’m doing it for them’. Again, this is a nice way for fans to come to us. We’re not aiming to have over a million followers- that’s just not what Steri is about. We’re about quality of interaction.
  • We’ve had a good response. While some users don’t choose to follow us, they do tweet at us. Some have nominated themselves as ambassadors through twitter. Others retweet our tweets about blog posts and Steri Hunts. Some just provide commentary on the new flavours. Others just name drop Steri every now and again. We only follow those who mention us first, which is our version of ‘opt-in’ for twitter.
  • Those working on Steri also push the work through our own accounts, and we get a lot of interaction and followers following us rather than following the official Steri Twitter stream. This was tweeted to me a few days after I tweeted about our new truck branding. Feeling the love.
  • This was our second ambassador, and he submitted all of his motivations through twitter. His friend nominated him via the blog, but for a month straight this guy tweeted at me, Dan, and the Steri Twitter account with evidence of his love for Steri. We’ve found that some consumers feel a lot more comfortable submitting their nominations though twitter, because it’s less formal, and very easy for them to do.
  • We decided against building a whole new microsite because generally they’re inflexible, and aren’t very interesting.. Consumers just don’t visit many branded sites more than once, and we wanted something lo-fi, approachable, for the fans by the fans. So we decided to skin a wordpress blog, so we could all update it as needed. Our blog needed to do 3 things: 1) collate the Steri Love floating around the internet into one place, 2) be a home to our ambassador campaign and 3) be a home for a volume-driving promotion later this year. A wordpress blog made all of that possible for a small fee. The simple act of creating a home for Steri Love has seen an amazing amount of love for the brand come to light.
  • These are pretty much versatile goodie bags we could give spontaneously to people who were going above and beyond the call of Steri Duty. We designed a fun little carry pack, which would be filled with 6 different flavours. We designed some fun stickers, and we included some Steri Ambassador badges in them, so other could declare themselves ambassadors. These packs enabled us to reward consumers who were engaging with Steri on twitter in a way that deserved a reward. Needless to say, those who received them were overjoyed.
  • Because there were some people who were beyond enthusiastic about the brand, we thought we’d run an ambassador campaign, and really focus on rewarding these guys in a way that would mean something to them. While traditional ambassador campaigns can be quite patronising, and most ambassadors end up being glorified promoters, we realised these guys would probably appreciate something they could talk and tell their friends about, and some down-to-earth recognition. So we put together an ambassador treatment plan that includes being serenaded by a marching band at a venue of your choice, as well as a lot of Steris, a goodie bag, a t-shirt, a certificate and some limited edition Steri Stumpie trading cards.
  • 2 of the trading cards, which on one side are close-ups of the stories happening in the Steri layouts.
  • The copy on the back of the trading cards pretty much encapsulates the spirit of the ambassador campaign.
  • So far we’ve identified 2 ambassadors, the first being Uber Steri Fan Chris (top left). They’ve sent in ample evidence of their love, and actually enjoy engaging with the brand. Rouen is the second one, (on the right), and as you can see, this was about fun for him. No sweat. Well, judging from the amount of jumping he did to get that photo, maybe a little sweat.
  • Above left is Rouen being serenaded by the marching band at UCT. Above right is one of our new Steri Ambassadors, one of the Streep Brothers, who went so far as to write a cheerful Steri tribute song.
  • The Ashwin Williamse Marching Band - The Official Steri Stumpie Marching Band. Visit to watch the videos. Click ‘Meet the Ambassadors’ for a shortcut to viewing all the ambassador happenings.
  • To stimulate activity and interaction, we held spontaneous Steri Hunts, which we would publicise over Twitter and facebook. Without fail our Steri Agents were jumped as soon as they arrived at the specified locations by fans who heard about it through facebook, twitter or on the blog. The lucky fans got a Steri Rider / Goodie bag.
  • We challenged fans to hold a Steri Micro Party, in return for a special package with the new Steri Flavours included. This was our first micro party - some kids decided to have a good time in their bathroom.
  • The Wedding DJs came on board of their own accord, and have been wearing the shirts we gave them at all their gigs. We have reciprocated with loads of Steri Stumpies, of course, and by publicising their gigs on the facebook fan page / Steri twitter account.
  • These are some of the shots that consumers have sent in to us, via twitter, facebook or the blog.
  • More consumer love.
  • More consumer love.
  • Back to the real world for a bit. To end off, I’d like to say simple that we didn’t set out to do a “social media campaign”. Because a social media campaign is not an idea - it’s a media plan. We set out to do what’s right for the brand. In this instance, that happened to include social media. I’ve chosen to share the creative process to give a better understanding of what goes into a fully integrated campaign, and the kind of strategic homework you need to do in order to make it a success.
  • If you want consumers to do the talking, you have to give them a stage. If your brand is hogging the limelight, no consumer is going to step up and challenge it. They just have better things to do. We believe we’ve managed to make Steri feel fun and approachable, as opposed to intimidating and hardcore, and that has made consumers feel comfortable about expressing themselves with us. That’s something we’re very proud of.
  • The Brother’s Streep are our September Ambassadors, and they have raised the bar by composing and recording a song all about Steri Stumpie, which they have also been playing at their gigs. I leave you with this:

Steri Stumpie 'Everyone Has a Favourite' Steri Stumpie 'Everyone Has a Favourite' Presentation Transcript

  • A Flavoured Milk Fairy Tale
  • Once upon a time, there was a melkie
  • 35 years later, there was a brief
    • To reinforce loyalty amongst existing fans 16 - 28
    • To increase awareness amongst 6 - 12
    • To find a contemporary context for the brand via look & feel / messaging / activation
    • FMCG = mass market
  • To set the scene…
    • Existing consumer loyalty
    • Strong sense of nostalgia
    • Consumer-owned: no advertising in 20 years
    • Dual-market appeal = priority
    • New work can’t alienate consumer’s idea of Steri
    • Small budget = focused media choices
  • To set the scene…cont
  • Insight 1:
    • Consumers already have an opinion
    • about Steri Stumpie.
  • Insight 2:
    • Consumers profess extreme love for the
    • brand in an ironic manner.
  • Far away, in a magical land…
    • Emotional checkpoints:
    • Low-Fi
    • Not intimidating, fun, light-hearted, doesn’t take itself too seriously
    • Rational checkpoints:
    • Pack & brag, a world of flavoured treats
    • Based on a consumer insight
    • Yummy
  • Activating Steri Stumpie
    • Traditional Media:
      • Volume-Driving Promotion (still coming)
      • Billboards
      • Support Radio
  • Activating Steri Stumpie
    • Non-traditional media:
    • - Facebook Fan Page (database)
    • - Microsite = Blog
    • - Twitter account = blog support
    • - Riders
    • - Ambassador Campaign
  • Team Steri Mnemonic: Digital design & back-end RSVP: Design, messaging & campaign concepts, blog, promotion Atmosphere: PR, blog, twitter Client Service: campaign management
  • Facebook Fan Page
    • What we don’t do:
    • Suggest fans
    • Send mass spam mail
    • Pretend to be anything we’re not
  • What we don’t do: Tweet about anything irrelevant Follow people who don’t follow us first
  • The Steri Blog
    • Flexible
    • Unintimidating
    • A conversational format consumers are used to
    • A reason to visit again
    • A place to share Steri love
    • Client gave us complete control over content
  • Steri Riders
  • Official Unofficial Steri Stumpie Ambassadors
  • “ Please accept this humble Steri Six-pack as a token gesture to your Extreme radness. If it weren’t for your extreme radness, the world would be a boring place. And if the world was a boring place, no one would want to live there, which would suck. So thanks for making the world not suck. Just wanted to say we’ve noticed your efforts at sucking-avoidance, and we approve in a very big way. Rock on. Visit to nominate someone you think is as awesome as you are.”
  • Steri Hunts
  • Steri Micro-Parties
  • Chilling with the Wedding DJs
  • Rad people drink Steri
  • Rad people drink Steri
  • Rad people drink Steri
  • Good Old Fashioned Values
    • You can’t beat good ideas
    • Understanding your consumer is key
    • The medium is not the message
  • Moral of the Story If you want consumers to talk, you have to give them a stage.
  • The Brothers Streep “ When the road is bumpy, drink a Steri Stumpie, Cause you can’t be grumpy, with a Steri Stumpie Donald Trumpy, Steri Stumpie, never lumpy, my Steri Stumpie”
  • And they all lived happily ever after. The End.