Kristina Stutterheim is Director of Communications at Systembolaget, a government-owned chain of liquor stores that won this year’s Grand Prix award at YouTube Works Sweden. Here, she talks about their winning “One No” multi-channel marketing campaign.
In 1955, the Swedish government decided that the only way to control alcohol consumption would be to monopolise it. And to this day, government-owned Systembolaget is the country’s only retail chain with a license. But with that position also comes a duty to educate the public on responsible alcohol use. As Systembolaget’s Director of Communications, that duty lies partly with me.
Being a retailer as well as an educator is perhaps our biggest challenge, as it can be a delicate balance to strike. We put quite a lot of focus on the retail side in recent years. However, we realised that talking less about what we stand for negatively impacted the public’s awareness, understanding, and support of what we do.
To reinstate our mission to protect public health, we needed a message that reached everyone, including those legally too young to consume and purchase alcohol. We’ve always talked about the importance of keeping minors away from alcohol, but wanted to emphasise this by showing it’s a collective responsibility. Swedes have to be 20 years old to buy alcohol, and it’s not uncommon for younger people to ask those of legal age for a favour.
To reach people of all ages we needed creatives that worked across different platforms, from TV to online video and from radio to podcasts.
However, independent research showed us that 50% of teenagers wouldn’t go to a stranger if someone they know had already refused to buy them alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, this confirms that people have the power to say ‘no’. That’s what formed the basis of our “One No” campaign. From (grand)parents of teenagers to older siblings and friends, we wanted everyone over 20 to know that saying ‘no’ to minors is the right thing to do — even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
One message, a multi-channel campaign
To reach people of all ages we needed creatives that worked across different platforms, from TV to online video and from radio to podcasts. This was challenging at first, but things resolved itself once we knew what story we wanted to tell.
With young adults and parents being our primary target groups, TV and YouTube were the platforms that drove the most impact.
We decided to be candid and focus our storytelling on the frustration of Swedish teenagers. Saying ‘no’ isn’t the route to popularity, but in being honest we wanted to show the audience that this shouldn’t be a reason for saying ‘yes’.
Using a bold tone of voice felt like a risk, but to trigger parents and at least be tolerated by teenagers, we had to throw in a bit of humour and keep it light-hearted. We’d never done that before, and we didn’t know how people would react. But it was very effective.
To ensure it resonated with all audiences, we created multiple storylines featuring different types of households. This also allowed us to create shorter versions of the ad without having to rethink the entire creative. I think that’s why the campaign worked on every channel.
Reaching the masses
Our goal was to reach at least half of the population with this multi-channel marketing campaign. To achieve that, we asked digital agency NORD DDB to set up a mixed media distribution plan. With young adults and parents being our primary target groups, TV and YouTube were the platforms that drove the most impact. While parents of teenagers mostly saw the longer ads on TV, 20-44 year olds and teenagers were reached predominantly with (pre-roll) YouTube ads.
In total, the first two rounds of YouTube campaigns reached 3.2 and 4.1 million people respectively. On TV, the first campaign reached 2,26 million Swedes (57% of the primary target group of 30-59 year olds), while the second was seen by over 1,18 people (55% of primary target group).
The result of our “One No” campaign was strong. Not only did we reach half of Sweden’s population, but we also reversed the decline we had been seeing in our opinion public index (OPI), a survey we run to track the percentage of Sweden’s population in favour of our alcohol monopoly. We started the campaign with a score of 73%, but at 77% it’s now higher than it’s been in years. Respondents also called out our campaign as “important” (77%) and “credible” (59%).
What we learned from this is that we can’t assume that people understand and support what we’re about. We need to actively remind them why we’re here. We discovered that creating story-led campaigns that work on YouTube as well as TV is the most effective way to do that.
What the jury says
The nominees of this year’s YouTube Works Awards in Sweden were selected based on how well they could prove the overall impact of the platform. Systembolaget showed a really good all-round understanding of what an effective YouTube campaign looks like by recognising that the key to success isn’t just strong creatives or good planning, but a combination of both.
In addition, the variety of storylines ensured audiences wouldn’t tire of seeing the same video over and over again, which can be particularly tricky with programmatic buying. So even though they didn’t produce separate creatives for YouTube versus TV, they did have that multi-channel campaign mindset from day one.