Australia’s Berlei Takes on the Big Brands With a Powerful YouTube Campaign

Zoe Hayes / July 2017

Australia’s Berlei is well known for making sports bras with superior fit and quality. In 2016, big brands entered the market, connecting with women on a more emotional level. Here, Berlei’s Senior Marketing Manager Zoe Hayes details the breakthrough YouTube campaign that drove brand consideration.

Berlei has been a leading underwear brand in Australia for over 100 years. In 2016, a flurry of big sports apparel brands entered the category, exciting and engaging audiences on digital. We were stuck in the past a bit, primarily using traditional media with more rational messaging. We needed to bring the love for Berlei back.

Our commitment to celebrating women’s investment in themselves provided the north star for our new campaign. And Serena Williams, a long-time fan of the brand and one of the most powerful women in sports, was the perfect inspirational voice to deliver that message.

Together with our creative agency, Emotive, we created a powerful YouTube campaign that connected with women from a position of inner strength and body acceptance—exemplifying the brand’s history of support for women and love of the female form.

Shifting storytelling from functional to emotional

During the creative process, we learned that Serena’s perfect day off from tennis would involve dancing. Who knew? While the whole world could watch her on the tennis court, dancing was something she did for herself. The campaign centered on Serena performing an emotionally charged, uninhibited dance routine. This spectacular piece was performed to The Donnas' cover of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself,” powerfully delivering the message #doitforyourself.

To elevate the emotional message and give this campaign the platform it deserved, we decided to go all digital—a first for Berlei. The campaign was spearheaded on YouTube with support from other social and digital channels.

A YouTube format for every occasion

YouTube made perfect sense for our campaign because we know that people who come to YouTube are leaned-in and choosing to consume the content. Our phased plan was to first launch with the entertaining, magical drama of dance, then contextualise the “Do It for Yourself” message and conclude with a product-focused sales pitch.

Building intrigue with bumper ads
We got the ball rolling with bumper ads. These quick-hit, six-second ads gave a snippet of the song and the sense that Serena was dancing in an unusual setting. Our bumper ads teased the campaign ahead of our hero pieces.

Six-second teaser ad

Growing awareness with hero pieces
Our two long-format hero pieces, served with YouTube’s TrueView, allowed us to tell a full story about women and their inner strength. The first, “#DoItForYourself” features Serena dancing alone with abandon in a studio.

Long-form hero video

The second, “Behind the Dance,” was a two-minute film that gave the audience more intimate access to Serena. We hear from her directly and see behind-the-scenes footage of her learning the dance.

Nailing the first five seconds was important for us. We knew that many people watch YouTube on mobile and we would need to grab their attention quickly. It was a balancing act to grab audience attention, build momentum, and avoid giving away the climax. We tested and gathered feedback, leading us to clarify the campaign background in the copy. Crucially, we also made sure we had Serena looking at the screen in close up in the first few seconds.

Increasing brand consideration with TrueView ads
Next, we established context for the campaign’s messaging. We served “Believe in Yourself” and “Be Strong” as TrueView ads targeted to sports-minded women. In these pieces, Serena delivers unscripted, sincere thoughts on why women should invest in themselves.

Selling product with bumper ads
The last step was acquisition. After building up a large audience from the first three phases of the campaign, we had a great pool of viewers we could retarget and serve product ads to. These bumper ads drove purchase by highlighting product features and range and offering options to buy directly from or a number of Berlei’s retailers.

For Berlei, YouTube content helped drive commerce

Our suite of seven different pieces of content came together as a harmonious collection to tell a provocative brand and product story that truly connected with women.  

We were thrilled to see that the YouTube campaign contributed to Berlei’s highest top-of-mind awareness amongst bra shoppers in three years—and the highest consideration score in one and a half years.

In the three months after the campaign, consideration amongst the core audience of 25–34-year-olds was +10% higher than the closest competitor. And even though 18–24-year-old women weren’t part of our core target, the +28% consideration increase amongst this group was a certain sign of Berlei’s revival.


The in-store and online sales figures were enormously exciting too. Both online and offline sales of the featured styles exceeded all goals in the three months following the campaign. This momentum even carried over to non-campaign featured styles, including the full range of Berlei bras and underwear. These results showcase the power of video in a proven, content-to-commerce approach.

All evidence suggests that our innovative, more emotionally driven YouTube campaign helped motivate women to invest in the right bras and inspired them to invest in themselves personally. When we surveyed women who had seen the campaign, their strongest message takeaway was “Berlei believes women should feel empowered,” with “be yourself and be comfortable with how you look” coming in at a close second. This sentiment was further validated when the NPS score reached the highest level ever seen for the brand since tracking started seven years ago. A rekindled spark and a powerful message that celebrates the female spirit have put Berlei back on the map.

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