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Why weddings are vital to Colgate’s growth strategy


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

June 10, 2024 | 4 min read

The toothpaste maker is already in more than half of British homes, so the challenge for the brand now is finding more occasions to be relevant.

Bride smiling

How Colegate taps into wedding preparation / Pexels

Colgate has a 62% penetration of UK households. Rob Marcus, its consumer experience senior director for Northern Europe, tells The Drum: “Colgate is a brand for everyone and that can be a good thing or a bad thing.”

The challenge Marcus faced was how to continue growing a brand that has strong market coverage. The solution? To double down on weddings through TV sponsorship deals and Pinterest tie-ups, as well as finding more occasions for toothpaste to be relevant.

“People over-index using whitening products around weddings, and it’s not just grooms or brides but the guests as well,” says Marcus. “Weddings are super fertile ground for us to connect with.”

Colgate landed on weddings after testing various other important life stages, such as dating or job interviews, where people needed their confidence boosted. These occasions, Marcus says, are trickier to use targeted and contextual advertising as they are “fragmented and hard to scale.”

“We want to be truly relevant and not off base. Where we think they’re searching for a job, but they’re actually searching for something else around jobs, and then we would be irrelevant in that case,” he reveals. But with weddings, Colgate had a higher chance of being relevant with its targeting.

Since Pinterest is a key app for wedding planning, Marcus says it was a “natural fit.” His team used Pinterest data trends to uncover when people were searching for weddings, what they were looking at and what mood boards people were creating. “So Colgate could own that space and be seen as critical to people’s preparation,” he says.

Images of Colegate's Pinterest takeover

Based on the insight that April is the biggest month for wedding research on Pinterest, Colgate ran a 24-hour takeover and sponsored editorial articles during the month. “We thought it was more effective to have a bigger blast in a smaller period versus just trickling along throughout the year.

“There’s so much noise so much planning, so many decisions it’s overwhelming, so we wanted to be super visible at the right time and the right moment and make sure we have the right brand association.”

Making Colgate’s media spend work harder

Three years ago, Colgate set out to make its media spend more effective and the result was a yearly 6% uplift in media ROI. This was achieved against the backdrop of media inflation, Marcus adds. The uplift is down to “better creative, better planning, and better targeting.”

There are four parts to Colgate’s new media strategy. The first is a doubling down on retail media through deals with Nectar, Dunnhumby and Boots. The second is how Colgate has treated its first-party data. “We now collect and build lookalike audiences where we can efficiently connect with the right people with the right messaging,” he explains.

Then there are media partnerships like Colgate’s sponsorship of Channel 4 show Married at First Sight and Love Island in Norway. Marcus teased that there is also a major podcasting deal in the works for Colgate Total. The final element is creating equity campaigns. He gave the example of the Driving for Change campaign, which sent buses around London to help homeless people with their dental issues.

Marcus says it’s both the functional advertising of what Colgate products can do and marketing that takes a stance that is vital to the strategy. “The combination of those together and in our media plans has been super effective,” he says.

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