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How Westgold Milk Products buttered up the Japanese market the Kiwi way


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 6, 2022 | 7 min read

Westgold Milk Products won Best Social Campaign at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising APAC 2022 for its rugby-inspired campaign targeting the Japanese market. Here, we explore the idea behind the success.

Westgold butter ads

Westgold Milk Products leveraged New Zealand's cultural capital to win over the Japanese market / Westgold Milk Products

Westgold Milk Products, a small butter brand from New Zealand’s remote South Island set out to make an impact in the Japanese market. With an innovative campaign that brought together influencer marketing and programmatic.

The brief

Westgold Milk Products had big ambitions: to establish a foothold in Japan – a famously challenging market to penetrate. It faced a handful of unique challenges: for one, it had to go up against incumbent market leaders likes Meg Milk Snow, which has ruled much of the Japanese market for decades. Furthermore, Westgold had a cultural challenge to crack: the fact that most Japanese cooking is oil-based rather than butter-based.

Westgold needed a way to effectively challenge longstanding marketplace leaders while also educating Japanese consumers about the value of integrating more butter into their cooking habits.

The brand tapped OMD New Zealand to help reach the objectives of raising prompted brand awareness by 1% and drive sales.

The idea

In an effort to lift brand awareness and incentivize sales, Westgold and OMD came up with a clever way to link its New Zealand product with another increasingly popular cultural export that elevated visibility for the country in Japan: rugby.

Rugby has grown in popularity in Japan in recent years and the game has created new links between Japan and New Zealand. Many Japanese fans are aware of New Zealand’s top players and teams like the All Blacks. A number of top Kiwi rugby players are now based in Japan.

Westgold figured that it could find a way to leverage the popularity of New Zealand rugby to create a platform of awareness for the brand.

With a relatively tight budget, the team prioritized a digital strategy. It developed a campaign that used programmatic advertising to prime audiences and then drove further awareness and consideration with custom social and influencer content.

The brand enlisted the help of OMD’s content team at Fuse, who developed a powerful influencer strategy that focused on native Japanese influencers and creators as well as the cultural cache of New Zealand rugby.

Influencers were tasked with creating original content in which they showcased how butter could be used in traditional local recipes. Some content centered on baking; and the fact that sweets and baked goods are often seen as a treat in Japanese culture helped to position Westgold as a premium, high-end brand. Then, OMD brought in popular New Zealand rugby players to make content that communicated how butter could be used in more western ways, using Westgold butter to make protein-rich recipes and even in health-conscious keto coffee.

Influencer-created content was deployed across paid social, promoting Westgold butter and recipes. Programmatic display video ads added an additional layer to boost awareness.

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The results

The influencer campaign delivered almost 2m unique impressions and generated nearly 100,000 engagements, with a 5% overall engagement rate – which is high compared to the industry average of 1-3%. Organic reach was 48%, compared to an industry average of 30%

The programmatic arm of the effort performed well, too. Programmatic video and display ad impressions surpassed 10.4m, representing a 15% increase over the original target.

Crucially, Westgold was able to achieve its goal of driving brand awareness. It saw a 50% increase in prompted awareness.

The campaign’s success has inspired Westgold to continue working with influencers to tell the story of Westgold and how it can be integrated into a Japanese lifestyle.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising APAC 2022. You can see all the winners here. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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