Hossam Sherif is the business unit director at OMD Middle East and North Africa. He works on the Lays Arabia account, among others, overseeing marketing and advertising strategies and new agency projects.
There’s something satisfying about digging into a savoury snack while watching an edge-of-your-seat sports match. Which is why, during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, potato chip brand Lays wanted to make sure their crisps were the snack of choice for football fans in Saudi Arabia.
But every other food and drink brand had the same idea. The cluttered marketplace made impactful advertising even more challenging than usual.
Introducing celebratory eats (with a catch)
Having the World Cup taking place in the Middle East for the first time was a historic moment. It was important that Lays’ campaign reflected that once-in-a-lifetime, celebratory feeling.
The chip brand kicked off by producing a range of limited-edition crisp flavours for the tournament, with this range being the key focus of a creative video campaign in Saudi Arabia.
But there was a catch. We took their videos live in every Saudi city, except Dammam and Khobar. Leaving these two cities out would later help us more effectively compare chip sales in areas where video ads were run vs. the two cities in which they weren’t.
Creating a feast for the eyes
With the campaign running only in Saudi Arabia, it was vital to channel the kingdom’s football fever in our video ads. Especially considering that the country’s national football team would be playing.
Lays created a one-minute-long, superhero-inspired video campaign featuring six Saudi football stars wearing Lays-branded sports jerseys and showcasing superhuman abilities.
For example, Salem Al-Dawsari spins a CGI tornado out of his hands while Mohammed Al-Owais creates a shockwave that keeps the opposing team back. The Arabic tagline at the end is “football needs Lays”.
Enlisting the support of snackable short-form videos
With their longer format hero video ad ready, we worked to ensure we put the right ad formats in play. These needed to reach as wide an audience as possible in the regions in which they were running — and also boost engagement.
For the longer video, we opted for skippable TrueView ads. Brands only pay for this format if someone watches 30 seconds or more of an ad, or engages with it by watching ten seconds or more and then takes action. We also used TrueView for Reach, a skippable ad format optimised for efficient reach and featuring cost per mille (CPM) buying. Cost per mille is a way to bid where you pay per one thousand views (impressions) on the Google Display Network.
Six-second bumper ads, meanwhile, helped us drive further reach by increasing awareness with a quick, memorable message. Here’s an example of a bumper ad:
Putting the campaign to the ultimate (taste) test
Once the campaign was over, we wanted to know: did it actually help Lays increase their sales? A campaign level market-lift analysis by Nielsen helped to answer that question.
This tactical study ran from just before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 started to after the tournament ended. It helped us isolate the impact of the YouTube ad campaign on offline sales by comparing sales metrics against two or more geographical groups. In this case, Nielsen used cities to measure the sales impact from an exposed group (where a live YouTube campaign ran) vs. a control group (where YouTube activity did not run).
The remaining Lays ads across all platforms continued to run nationally across Saudi without geo interference. This means the exposed vs. the control group only differed for our YouTube ad activity.
Because Nielsen has access to Lays’ sales data, they were able to maintain control for covariates, including regular and promotional product prices as well as distribution on a store level. All of this was removed from YouTube impact.
With that information at hand, Lays could isolate the impact of sales related to non-media stimuli vs. actual sales uplift through YouTube activity. This helped them understand the platform’s impact.
Opening up a crispy bag of success
Lays’ YouTube campaign reached more than 8 million people in the month and a half it was running. On top of that, Nielsen’s analysis revealed it also led to a 3% incremental increase in offline sales in Saudi. This is a significant lift for a large, global consumer packaged goods brand like Lays. And the cities in which the ads were run clearly showed more product purchases than in Dammam and Khobar, the two cities in which the ads were not.1
We always knew we’d be able to generate awareness for Lays’ new products by using strategic video ad formats showcasing relevant and eye-catching creative featuring well-known footballers.
By comparing geographies that were exposed to the ads versus geographies that were not, we were able to reliably prove that Lays’ YouTube campaign effectively reached people. And, more importantly, that it also turned them into new customers.