Maltesers rolled out the series of ads in October as part of Channel 4’s Superhumans Wanted competition, all of which were inspired by real-life stories from disabled people, celebrating universally awkward situations. At launch the chocolate brand set itself a number of targets, including a 4% growth in sales and a 10% uplift in brand affinity. Maltesers’ expectations were more than exceeded – sales grew by 8.1% and brand affinity grew by 20%, which Mars VP marketing Michele Oliver told The Drum means the push is the “best, most effective for 10 years on Maltesers which means it has an excellent ROI”.
The theme of diversity and inclusion was so effective for Mars UK, that other markets interests including the US and Australia have been piqued and Maltesers is now in the midst of planning its next campaign, which will again play on the “awkwardness of difference”.
“Maltesers is going to continue to work in the space of looking on the light side of the awkwardness that difference brings so not necessarily just disability but whatever that difference might be so we are working on some stuff on that.
“We are talking to the US about it [rolling out more diverse advertising campaigns] and Australia, but there are markets that it is more difficult in and the culture is just less accepting. There are so many opportunities but focus on the ones you think you can win first, there is no need to go out and challenge the really big ones, start with something that could be impactful and effective first.”
Following the success of Maltesers, Mars UK recently launched a campaign for Snickers which has seen the brand team up with Gay Star News to empower LGBT+ people in a campaign that encourages them to ‘be who you are”. For Galaxy, the brand is about to begin work on a new campaign and given its female positioning is hiring women to work on the new advert.
“What we are thinking about for Galaxy is that this is a brand that has a feminine bias, so we should make sure our directors are women, we should think about who is behind the camera, and we should think about how we can make sure it is genuinely seen through the eyes of women,” said Oliver. “So, across all brands we are looking at our casting, and the short list for directors etc. However, my learning is that you can’t be heavy handed with this, it has to be authentic across the board.”
The legitimacy of an advertiser playing the role of a change agent isn’t easy, and consumer research and authenticity is key to representing people in a diverse light that resonates with consumers. Just today Pepsi has received a huge amount of backlash for its new ad that shows supermodel/reality TV star Kendall Jenner walking off a modelling shoot to hand a police officer a can of its fizzy drink, leading some critics to accuse the brand of undermining the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.
“We don’t want to be political, our brands are for everybody and by definition we need to be inclusive and inclusive of all points of view. It’s more about representing a voice that is true and an opinion that is true to the majority of people who buy our products. If you do your research, you understand your consumer base you are in a good place to check that you are going to say something appropriate that is not misconstrued as inappropriate. At the end of the day good marketing is about knowing your consumer.”
When it comes to diversity in the agencies that it works with, Oliver said that they are “getting better on gender” and that Mars is pushing them to bring more diversity in to the room.
“They are getting much better on gender, but yes we do [have that conversation] about putting diverse people on the account,” she said. “So if you are going to be writing a script about disability, have someone disabled on the account, if you are writing a script about life as a same sex couple family bring that diversity in to the room. I think we all [need to do that] not just the agency but we keep trying to force that agenda with the influence that we can have with the agencies.”