Case Example (disguised) — Molly Low-Fat Hi-Calcium

Exhibit 23.12  Telepic of Molly LFHC’s advertisement. This tactical campaign is saying that Molly LFHC is fresh milk, whereas Holly HL is recombined milk.

Depending on the way it is treated, milk found in supermarkets can broadly be categorized as UHT (ultra-heat treated), pasteurized or recombined.

Ultra-heat treatment sterilizes the milk by heating it above 135 °C (275 °F) — the temperature required to kill spores in milk — for 1 to 2 seconds. However, due the high temperature, the milk loses some nutritional value.

Pasteurized milk, also referred to as fresh milk, is heated at relatively lower temperatures and for longer periods. Unlike sterilization, pasteurization does not kill all microorganisms in the food. It reduces the number of viable pathogens so they are unlikely to cause disease.

Recombined milk is obtained by adding water to skim milk powder, and adding milk fat separately such that the desired fat content is achieved. Recombined milk does not taste as good as fresh milk, and it has slightly lesser nutritional value. It is one of the preferred options in territories where there are no dairy farms, and where milk is imported from long distances.

This case example pertains to Molly low-fat high-calcium (Molly LFHC), a variant of Molly (not real name), a major liquid milk brand. When Molly LFHC was launched, a tactical advertising campaign was aired on a number of online platforms and on TV to raise awareness of the low-fat high-calcium variant, and to communicate that it was fresh and natural, unlike the leading brand, Holly HL, which was recombined milk.

The desired consumer response from the commercial was to create the perception that Molly LFHC was superior (fresh, natural) to Holly HL (recombined), and to trigger consumers to switch from Holly HL to Molly LFHC. Molly LFHC could gain substantially if it succeeded in cannibalizing Holly HL, which had 40% share of market volume.

The telepic of this commercial is shown in Exhibit 23.12. On TV it was aired over a 3-week, 420 GRP burst.

The online ad generated only a meagre 220 views, and no “likes” or “dislikes”. Holly’s online commercial, on the other hand, had achieved about 15,500 views, and triggered 15 “likes”.

Note that for a mass market product, this level of engagement is not significant, even for a relatively small geographical territory. To generate higher reach and frequency, these brands needed to rely on conventional television advertising.

A research study was conducted to assess whether the advertisement was achieving its desired objectives. The key findings from this study are portrayed in exhibits 23.13 to 23.20.

Findings and Conclusions

Exhibit 23.13  Advertising awareness.

As can be seen from Exhibit 23.13, the campaign failed to generate salience. Advertising awareness for Molly Low-Fat High-Calcium was only 3% top of mind, and 5% spontaneous.

The most likely reasons for a campaign to fail to generate salience are:

  1. Low GRPs. This was not the case for Molly LFHC.
  2. Weak brand recognition. Viewers are unable to recognize the brand that is advertised.
  3. Lack of involvement. The advertisement lacks creativity and is unable to generate interest, in which case viewers are unlikely to remember it.

Assessment of brand recognition was based on the commercial’s telepic (Exhibit 23.12) which is presented unbranded to respondents, i.e., the brand name and logo is removed from all the frames comprising the telepic.

Exhibit 23.14  De-branded recognition of advertising.

It is clear from Exhibit 23.14 that brand recognition was very weak. Of the respondents who claimed they saw the commercial, only 23% could correctly identify the brand. This is well below the norm of 54%.

Besides, a greater proportion (26%) of the respondents thought the telepic pertained to Holly, the competing brand. This was a major concern, one that made it clear Molly LFHC advertisement was not achieving its desired objectives.

Diagnosis of the advertisement helped reveal the major factors contributing to the lack of performance of the ad.

Exhibit 23.15  Disposition towards the Molly Low-Fat High-Calcium ad.

Disposition towards the advertisement, Exhibit 23.15, was relatively weak. The proportion of respondents who liked the advertisement (46%) was below the norm of 54%, and only 1% claimed they very much liked the ad.

Exhibit 23.16  Spontaneous message recall of Molly Low-Fat High-Calcium ad.

That the spontaneous message recall, Exhibit 23.16, was poor, confirmed that the commercial was not generating interest, and that viewers were not getting involved.

Of the respondents who claimed they had seen the advertisement, 40% could not recall any message. Recollections by the other respondents pertained mainly to generic aspects about liquid milks such as low fat, high calcium, and good for body, health and bones. These benefits were also being offered and advertised by Holly HL, and most of the other major brands in the market.

Importantly, not a single respondent mentioned the intended message — i.e., Holly HL is made by recombining milk powder with water, whereas Molly LFHC is fresh milk.

Exhibit 23.17  Aided recall: “Some brands of fresh milk are made with milk powder”.

Exhibit 23.18  Aided recall: Prompted communication of key messages.

Even when aided (Exhibit 23.17), only 25% of the respondents who claimed they had seen the ad said they were aware the ad’s message was that some brands of fresh milk are made with milk powder. Moreover, a high proportion of these respondents (58%) could not recall the brand name of the recombined milk, and many others incorrectly identified the brand. This proportion alarmingly included 13% who claimed that Molly LFHC was the brand made from milk powder.

One may conclude that viewers did not pay much attention to the advertisement, which is usually the case for advertisements that fail to generate interest.

Exhibit 23.19  Claimed behavioural response after intended message of ad is explained. Base — Holly HL most often drinkers.

The objective of the question in Exhibit 23.19 was to comprehend the extent that the tactical approach might achieve the desired objective, if the campaign could more effectively communicate the intended message.

The 2% who claimed “I am likely to stop drinking Holly HL, and switch to Molly Low-Fat High-Calcium” plus the 8% who claimed “I am likely to stop drinking Holly HL, and switch to some other brands” was quite significant. Molly LFHC could gain a share point if it cannibalized 2 to 3% of the 40% share of Holly HL’s market volume.

Though a percent point gain is significant for a small new brand, these findings should be viewed in the context that for such questions, respondents have the tendency to substantially overstate the extent to which their behaviour is likely to change.

Exhibit 23.20  Claimed behavioural response after intended message of ad is explained. Base — Holly HL most often drinkers.

The concluding exhibit, Exhibit 23.20, tells us that those respondents who believed Molly Low-Fat High-Calcium was natural and/or fresher had significantly greater inclination to switch to the new brand. For the tactical campaign to work, it was therefore important that these messages got through.

From Exhibit 23.18 we know that 37% of the respondents agreed that Molly LFHC was more natural than some other brands of fresh milk, and 36% agreed that it was fresher. These proportions will need to be substantially higher for the advertisement campaign to deliver on its core objectives.


Based on these findings, it was strongly recommended that the advertising campaign be terminated.

Salience is weak (5% spontaneous ad awareness), and brand recall is only 23%. Moreover, considering the nature of the ad campaign, the lack of brand recognition is a very big concern.

The ad was also weak on comprehension — there was no spontaneous recall of the intended message, and aided recall was fuzzy and in many cases, incorrect.

The intended message had some relevance. After they were told that Holly HL is made with milk powder, a small but significant (10%) proportion of respondents claimed that they would switch brands. Yet, considering the likelihood of overstatement, and that the proportion of respondents claiming they will switch specifically to Molly LFHC is merely 2%, it was recommended that the tactics used in the commercial be discontinued.

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