Bodyform – The Truth Case Study. A story of Social Campaigns vs. Strategy.

 

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Bodyform’s marketing approach to date, there’s no denying their Bodyform: The Truth campaign was perhaps one of the best examples of brand engagement in the past year.

Editor: Hold it there! Actually many people would disagree. Strongly disagree. Lets first explore the campaign and then we’ll discuss why it was loved and hated by many people.

Campaign approach

The campaign was produced in response to this post from Richard Neill on the company’s Facebook page.

Bodyform facebook post Richard Neill

The post quickly attracted a lot of attention and highlighted the common perception of Bodyform’s traditional marketing messages being somewhat of a laughing point. But instead of trying to defend itself, the company decided to respond with this brilliant video message from Bodyform’s fictional CEO  Caroline Williams.

 

The spoof video, created by Carat and Rubber Republic depicted Caroline sat behind a desk with a jug of blue water next to her responding to the post by saying ‘We lied to you Richard and we want to say ‘sorry’. Sorry.’

Caroline then goes on to explain that Bodyform were trying to protect men from the reality of periods because some people ‘just can’t handle the truth.’

The video was scripted and produced in less than a week and received over 1million views in its first few days.

When the video launched there was a fair amount of speculation around whether the post had been planted as a precursor to the video campaign. The original poster appears legitimate though and there appears to be no decent sources that have confirmed these accusations.

Whether the campaign was planned or not though doesn’t take away from the insightful and creative response the company came up with. The post attracted attention because it struck a chord with the audience and gave Bodyform a fantastic opportunity to respond to its critics. So even if the original post was planted, it had truth behind it.

Editor: I actually think this is a funny campaign, fairly well executed that got good coverage. However, I do think it misses what’s at the heart of successful social media (and we’ll come to that in a moment) and that’s what really upset a lot of people.

I don’t hate it quite as much as my good friend Jonathan Macdonald, but I do absolutely agree with his key point. Before I explain what this is, and explain my take on things, you can see his very well thought out post on the topic here: http://socialmediatoday.com/jmacdonald/1000631/fallacy-social-media

The key problem here in my opinion is that this was a campaign, something that had a limited shelf life, that was successful (we’ll discuss what that actually means a bit more below!), but actually didn’t reflect their overall tone, approach or brand positioning. In fact it went as far as poking fun at their normal approach. That’s fine, but why then continue with this approach afterwards if you know that it’s nonsense? I guess the main thing that frustrated many people, including myself, was the lack of authenticity wrapped up in a campaign pretending to be authentic. Manipulating social media isn’t the same as building a brand that embraces honesty and transparency.

Campaign success is great, but to really make social work you need true brand authenticity.

Campaign results

Circulated through its social media networks, the video quickly went viral and has accumulated 11 industry awards to date. The video currently has had over 5 million views on YouTube and is still attracting daily comments on the brand’s Facebook page, despite being almost a year old.

Apart from a few responses that appear to have taken Richard’s original post a little too seriously, by far the comments are extremely positive in Bodyform’s favour and congratulating them on their original and entertaining response. While the activity has no doubt slowed down, the post is still regularly attracting comments more than a year later.

Before this campaign was launched, Bodyform’s Facebook page was rather sparse, and the YouTube channel was created specifically for this video.

Since the campaign, Bodyform have upped their social media activity and are posting almost daily on their Facebook page. Their content now not only covers their product line but also goes wider to look at other issues affecting women which is going down very well.

Editor: Moving to covering broader womens issues is certainly a move in the right direction, although it still doesn’t feel authentic to me as they aren’t creating any original content and generally commenting on stories created elsewhere and hijacking popular celebrity stories.

We’re judging success here by volume of views or volume of content published. These aren’t success metrics and certainly aren’t business objectives. What we really need to see is how this approach is impacting brand awareness, brand preference and most importantly sales. That data isn’t generally available (and to be honest it’s up to Bodyform to share that or not). However, they have stated that it generated over 1.9M worth of media coverage, which is very likely to have impacted the brand and sales metrics we just mentioned. We just don’t know for sure. 

To sum up, clever and well executed campaign, but lacking an overall social strategy to back it up.

 

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