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Why Premier Protein decided to shake-up its media buying strategy

Premier Protein is a leading protein shake in the U.S.

Exverus Media and Smith Brothers won the Media Planning and Buying Strategy category at The Drum Marketing Awards US 2020 with its ‘Triggered’ campaign for Premier Protein. Here, the team behind the entry reveal the challenges faced and strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

In early 2019, Premier Protein was a leading protein shake in the U.S., competing with a robust set of competitors on a message centred around the product’s taste. But as universal as taste can be as a product differentiator (Premier really tastes the best despite 1 gram of sugar), it’s just that – universal, not specific to anyone.

When the brand pursued custom research to understand what triggers people to enter the protein shakes category, what they learned is that protein drinkers are anything but universal. In fact, there were at least five main triggers to enter the category and dozens of specific uses within each.

The challenge was set – how do we compete on a message of taste knowing that each person’s motivations and reasons for drinking protein shakes are unique? And with a product designed to appeal to a wide range of consumer groups, how could we possibly drive relevance with the hundreds of different permutations of protein buyers?

The strategy

Some people drink protein shakes because they are too busy and eat while commuting. Others need the perfect post-yoga snack. Some have a medical condition, while others just want more energy.

Given all these need states, our core insight was clear: before turning to protein supplements, consumers have many different ‘triggers’ that bring them into the category. Beyond this custom research, data from MRI and Google showed within each trigger were dozens of sub-triggers. For instance, a heavyweight bulk-up gymgoer is very different from a cardio rower or yogi. There is no way we could create enough videos to reach each of them individually.

Our strategy was to reach them all using data signals and drive extraordinary results on a modest budget.

The campaign

Google’s brand-new Director’s Mix technology allowed Premier Protein to create hundreds of unique videos from one set of custom assets. Depending on who watched, the video/sound/image/text were mixed and matched to make the same 'base' video completely unique and relevant to every user. In all, there were 200 unique permutations created!

This was special because it allowed Premier to speak to every group of protein shake drinkers that Premier Protein was the perfect solution for. Gone were the days of micro-targeted digital or broadbased media, now we could have both. And having both meant the most relevance, the most scale potential and the most sales impact.

Finding the space between broad reach media and micro-targeted digital allowed Premier to be more relevant than ever. If you were a gym goer, the creative message was specific down to your favorite activity: "Not loving your post-barre snack?" or "A snack that CROSS fits your life". In our weight loss campaign, we targeted individuals around what interested them most: "Super tasty and just 2 points” or "A tasty shake that's 160 calories".

All in real time. All using data signals and YouTube’s platform.

The results

This was the perfect complement to our overall advertising and media strategy, which was centered on broader digital reach and bringing a broader range of consumers into the brand.

And it worked:

  • 20M+ choice-based views and 52M impressions.
  • 40% ViewThrough Rate, 62% above YouTube benchmarks.
  • 5/5 - Premier Protein joined a rare group of brands who lifted all five Google brand metrics – Awareness, Recall, Consideration, Favorability and Intent.
  • Website visits rose 19% during a time the rest of the category went down in sales.
  • Sales were so strong, Premier Protein’s parent company went public the following quarter!

This project was a winner at The Drum Marketing Awards US 2020. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entries, click here.

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