Don’t be afraid to pivot

Effectiveness is all about the end result and to quite simply see if the work worked. I.e. if spend was efficiently used and to show this in a measurable, undeniable way (sales, market share, profit margins, brand growth using studies). It is common knowledge in the industry that campaigns that consider effectiveness in their objectives (relating to tangible business metrics) from the start are usually successful. When setting these objectives, it is important to balance certain aspects in order to hit your targets. This includes being obvious but not too obvious with your messaging, reaching many people but not too frequently and targeting a relevant audience but not too niche.  

Baileys’ biggest market in Europe is Great Britain – accounting for 12% of all profits. They are however only the third biggest alcohol brand, close behind Guinness and Smirnoff. They are also the most loved brand among women, but this paradoxically did not translate into the sales and since 2010, their sales had been declining at a steady rate of 8% per year.  The main challenge of the brand is that being a cream liqueur, the drink is heavier and richer and so often drunk on fewer occasions and smaller volumes. There was an internal belief that Baileys had hit rock bottom, their time had passed and lowering their price seemed to be the only solution to drive sales.  

Before creating a campaign, objectives were set with key specific challenges including:

  • To drive renewed internal belief at Diageo – One senior executive had even said “Baileys is like anchor, holding Diageo back” 
  • To increase versatility of the liqueur– Baileys was seen as one trick pony, poured only at festive times 
  • To reverse the decline in sales – The brand had an issue with latent love 

It was important to tackle these efficiently and deliver a benchmark-beating ROI as a low priority brand in the Diageo portfolio.

With so many objectives to hit, a multi-levelled strategy was developed. Firstly, they had to move Baileys from the niche cream liqueur category to the world of adults treats which offered far more potential and excitement especially with ‘insta-worthy’ sweet treats such as freakshakes. 

Secondly, budget was moved from massive one-off festival blockbusters to partnerships such as taste makers, social media investment and sponsorships enabling the brand to reach millions more and in new ways. Their targeting identified key moments for ‘indulge and relax at home’. Thirdly, Baileys repositioned themselves from patronising women to becoming their spontaneous, delicious ally.

Constant review of performance before and during the campaign allowed Diageo to track their progress and be confident that their approach was working with improvements every year. A Millward Brown study showed that 68% of consumers no longer saw Baileys as just a Christmas drink but now a versatile ingredient. Instead of just reversing the decline of sales, there were an increase of sales at 11% annually. In terms of quantifiable ROI, the profit return was 110% and the ROMI was 54%. The campaign outperformed expectations and smashed Diageo benchmarks.

There are many things that can be learnt from this campaign as the whole thing was well thought through from conception to results but there were four key takeaways. Firstly, never be afraid to change yourself when you cannot change your surrounding (in this case: category). Secondly, use a trigger model to reach more people more often. Thirdly, break down the strategy into bite-sized simple steps that can be easily understood by the whole team. Finally, always be looking to improve your campaign by monitoring change. 

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