Deborah Whitlock is the new addition to World Wide Creative’s Johannesburg team. She is a marketing specialist with over 10 years of international experience. She has lent her expertise to companies including Weight watchers and Forwardslash. One of the biggest campaigns Deborah has done was Weightwatchers’ 2011 “It’s a New Day” campaign. Heavy Chef got the chance to talk to Deborah about this incredible campaign, and she had a lot of marketing insight to share with us.
Hi Deborah. In your career you have worked on some noted campaigns. Can you tell us about the work you were involved in with Weight Watchers?
Weight Watchers is a weight loss brand which is very popular in the U.K and U.S. As marketing manager for the UK website, my role was to drive traffic to the site and convert sign-ups for the Weight Watchers UK online diet plan. The biggest marketing campaign for Weight Watchers takes place in January, a time which coincides with the time people are concerned about weight loss after Christmas. For 2011 the January campaign focused on the launch of the new diet plan, called ProPoints in the UK.
It involved a through-the-line strategy, with the online campaign taking the lead from the above-the-line Big Idea which featured in the TV advertisement. A key seasonal campaign like this will obviously have many elements, agencies and internal departments involved. In the case of Weight Watchers, key season campaign work spans multiple continents and cultures. Weight Watchers, as a global organisation, is headquartered in New York. The UK office is the satellite office where operations for the UK business are based. The New York corporate headquarters provides all web development, hosting and technical support, so a brief is given to the USA campaign project manager for the campaign to be implemented on the UK site. The online campaign web development was then done in the USA. The testing and checking of the website and campaign was done in Jordan. Media buying for PPC and banner advertising took place via the UK digital agency, Razorfish. Online banners and some website campaign elements were created by a German digital creative agency. Any big seasonal campaign activity was therefore highly complex because so many elements had to be tied in together. There was a lot of back and forth communication in different time zones, countries and cultures. My job was to stay on top of the situation and act as conduit for all communication between concerned parties.
What were the main objectives of the Weight Watchers campaign?
The main goals was to direct traffic to the site and to turn that traffic into conversions.
How did you track the traffic of such a large campaign without becoming overwhelmed by it?
We worked with an agency called Razorfish who did media planning and buying for PPC and banner advertising. PPC and banner ad tracking was done via ad serving technology, called Atlas. Email activity and affiliate marketing use their own tracking systems. Holistic campaign reporting encompassed all marketing channels, pulling reports from each tracking system to obtain a holistic view of the campaign performance.
To put the scale of international online marketing into perspective, the U.K has 50 million broadband users as opposed to South Africa which has 5 million. There is therefore a lot more available online inventory with which to market a product, as well as a lot more data to analyse post-campaign. This enables the development of more sophisticated analytics and business tools with which to improve online performance. Weight Watchers, together with partnership agencies such as Razorfish, were constantly engaging with different technologies to stay ahead in the market.
What other agencies did you partner up with for the campaign?
As is normally the case in traditional marketing, campaign conceptualisation process began with an above-the-line agency that came up with the Big Idea. This included the campaign’s general idea, look and feel. After approval the ATL agency started filming ads and testimonials and it was our job to translate the campaign to the online space. We had to create cohesion with the TV ads so we enhanced the home page with core messages and complimentary imagery.
Was the success of the online campaign heavily reliant on the TV and radio ads?
Well the biggest conversion spikes were seen immediately after the TV and radio ads, because the ad is still fresh in the viewers mind. The goal is to first reach the audience and give them exposure, then secondly make sure that the idea has penetrated. A viewer would need to have seen or heard the ad 3 times for this to take place. Knowing all the media well pulls the strings together. The TV and radio ads, PPC , banners and email marketing all worked together.
What methods did you use on the internet to give the product exposure and did you achieve your objectives?
On the internet we had to contextualize the campaign so if for example something involved Jennifer Hudson like a concert or video we had to make sure that the ad is featured with banners and links. We also had an uncapped internet search budget during this time.
The campaign was aggressive but it was very successful at reaching the targeted market.
After the January weight loss rush how do you keep the campaign relevant throughout the year?
We had to do a response campaign with testimonials and follow ups which also maintain the traffic. In April we push the product again with a “Look Good for Summer” campaign and these also created spike in traffic.
What did you learn from such a big campaign?
You have to be super organised, good with team communication and stay on top of all the small details because things can quickly spiral out of control.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Deborah, we can learn a lot from looking at your international campaign experience.
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