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Duracell’s TikTok games charged up its organic reach ahead of Christmas campaign


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

November 2, 2023 | 10 min read

An innovative game built by Wunderman Thompson with a TikTok filter has generated significant organic results for Duracell. We explore this unlikely success story.

Duracell campaign hero image

Duracell’s Xmas campaign is its first in five years / Duracell

Ahead of a crucial Christmas period, Duracell has managed to charge up its presence on TikTok through a game embedded in one of the platform’s filters.

The battery brand’s breakthrough has brought it new audiences, with 40m views, 60,000 user-generated videos in response, plus 750,000 likes and 27,000 shares, putting the game into the top 1% of filters on the platform.

According to associate marketing director Marco Montanaro, the success caps the brand’s first six months on TikTok, proving that brands can still make a dent in the video platform even as it matures as a social network.

@duracellofficial Can anyone beat me? ✨ #game #tiktokgaming #nailandhammer #voiceeffects ♬ Fast-paced techno beat/electro(1346508) - nightbird_bgm

The battery brand now hopes to build on the autumn breakthrough ahead of Christmas, when it makes up to 40% of its annual sales. The game itself is accessible as a TikTok filter, which was created by agency partner Wunderman Thompson. Users have to use their sense of timing to slot a Duracell battery into a torch. It has gained the attention of popular creators, such as Zam Zam Electronics – a surprisingly popular account based out of a Dubai white goods retailer.

@usedmobile2 #zamzamelectronics #foryou #usedmobile1 #foryoupage ♬ original sound - Top¹乛Qatil

According to Montanaro, the project was a good fit for the company’s existing priorities. “Gaming itself isn’t alien to the brand – we are in Xbox controllers, which use disposable batteries, via a commercial agreement, for example,” he explains.

He says Duracell has been working to refresh its image and build its brand back up over the last 18 months. “The wider company strategy is to try to be relevant for the next generation of consumers.”

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The brand hasn’t run a serious Christmas campaign in around five years, but this year’s integrated effort, also created by Wunderman Thompson, includes a TVC that shows Bunny restoring Rudolph the Reindeer’s iconic red beacon.

Despite Duracell’s “strong” brand equity, competition is stiffer than it was in the past, he says. “You have Amazon, Ikea, supermarket brands. In the past, our product was significantly better. Now theirs are actually decent products. We always keep innovating and trying to add a difference, but we also have the brand to play with.”

In particular, Duracell wants to target young families. Montanaro says that consumers typically possess three or four devices with disposable batteries before they start families – a figure that rises to 12, on average, afterward.

“The inflection point for the category is a lot of baby-related devices – monitors, thermometers. It’s a sweet spot.”

That has triggered a shift from TV spend towards social. “The brand was relying a lot on a TV-led model, which is very expensive nowadays. And everybody’s double or triple screening anyway.”

Hence the TikTok focus. “We have Bunny, our fantastic brand mascot. The objective has been to turn Bunny from a mascot into something people can engage with.” That led to TikTok content featuring the leporine character as a Duracell employee without a proper outlet for his energy.

@duracellofficial Let me in #duracellbunny #funny #corporatebaddie #hustle #officelife ♬ original sound - Duracell

But the brand’s breakthrough moment came from a game designed by Wunderman Thompson creative technologist Jono Hunt. He’s been designing filters for the platform since 2021 when it became possible for creators to upload their own.

Hunt tells us: “At first, I was just doing this for fun. I still am; that’s why I make effects. But recently, they hit 5bn views. That’s insane. There aren’t very many brands creating effects, let alone games. It’s not a fully understood format.”

Duracell’s recent success was its second attempt. The first game invited users to make the Bunny mascot jump by moving their heads, but it only garnered 300,000 views. The second was heavily inspired by another user-generated filter in which users placed AR nuts on to bolts. Hunt is impressed by its success. “People actually want to play. It’s not an ad they’re forced to watch, it’s not an unskippable, people are deciding they want to do this thing and compete with each other on it.”

Montanaro is especially pleased with the reach its existing activations have achieved without significant cash investment. The games weren’t promoted with paid ads and the only media investment put behind the project was a single post promoted after the first week, for one week; that doubled the campaign’s initial reach from 10 million people (without paid) to 20 million. It has subsequently risen to 40 million without further investment.

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“The platform allows us to have a huge reach,” says Montanaro of its organic results. In fact, the success of its filters has propelled Duracell’s account up the platform’s filter rankings. It’s currently a silver-ranked creator of filters and hopes to become certified platinum. If its filters become popular enough, its own account will become eligible for payouts from the TikTok creator fund.

There are more games coming. The brand’s Christmas campaign, released this week, incorporates another. “We can inject our brands into a ton of content that people want to engage with,” says Hunt.

Montanaro adds: “It’s going to take a while to refresh the image, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

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