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Close alignment drives innovation

Publication Date : 28-05-2012


Take it from last year's Malaysian Media Awards (MMA) winners Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd and Universal McCann that it is very important to have close alignment between the advertising client and the advertising agency in driving innovation.

Dutch Lady was named Advertiser of the Year and also Grand Prix winner, while Universal McCann won Agency of the Year.

Dutch Lady managing director Rahul Colaco said: “Having close alignment helped drive innovation as ideas could come from any side.

“Also, it created a spirit of experimentation in understanding both the business and the consumer. It was a crucial ingredient in making the right choice.”

Dutch Lady is the market leader in the milk industry. Colaco said as a market leader, Dutch Lady saw it as a responsibility to bring innovation to the category, not only in new products and concepts but also bringing it to life in new ways.

At end-2010, Dutch Lady wanted to bring some new innovation into liquid milk for children. Therefore, it introduced its new products Dutch Lady Kid and Dutch Lady School.

“We started providing specialised ingredients and added nutrients in the milk for different age groups,” Colaco said.

Dutch Lady Kid contains both magnesium and zinc to help in optimum development in the child, while Dutch Lady School contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 to help with the mental development and mental performance of children attending school.

This was an innovation in the milk category but Dutch Lady had a challenge in presenting the two products to both mothers and children in a unique way.

Through its partnership with Universal McCann, Dutch Lady saw an opportunity to target mothers who often chose television programmes that their children can watch.

“That's when the idea came about to communicate with them through the TV guide section, and to do it in such a way that stands out from the clutter,” Colaco said.

Using the TV guide section to introduce a new product to consumers is rarely done.

“It was a first in that sense. As a market leader we are keen to try new and innovative strategies to bring new products to consumers. From the media point of view, it was a nice parallel that the mother plays when deciding what her kid should watch,” Colaco added.

As advertising clients, new and innovative methods of communicating with consumers are important. However, these methods need to also make good business sense.

“What was very special is that it was the second full year for us partnering with Universal McCann as a media agency and the awards we received were a mutual celebration. It was a fantastic reason for a joint celebration,” Colaco said.

He added that the challenge for Dutch Lady was finding new ways to repeat its success in the coming years.

IPG Mediabrands Malaysia chief executive officer Prashant Kumar said: “As an agency, we have a cross perspective of things. We have many clients in different categories. Of all the categories, milk is probably one of those categories where it's not easy to do breakthrough innovation. Well, milk is a timeless product.

There is something cool about being original, real, genuine and authentic. There is no fluff to it. Milk is milk and it is what it is.”

IPG Mediabrands Malaysia is the umbrella company for Universal McCann, Initiative, Reprise and Rally.

Kumar added: “To have a breakthrough in this category takes a lot of courage on the part of the marketer along with a certain attitude and mindset. The conviction that you need from the consumer has to be really strong.

“Our team found a perfect resonance in Rahul and his team in being able to share that excitement in taking well-calculated business risks behind these innovations. That, for me, was the centre of the whole series of innovations.”

After 18 months of being in the market, Dutch Lady Kid and Dutch Lady School represent about 6 per cent of the total UHT drinking milk category.

Kumar said: “Six per cent is significant considering the industry doesn't move that much.”

In this current day and age, there is a lot of hype in social media, which makes it easy for advertisers to get carried away with innovations in that medium and leave the print media idle.

“I think because Malaysia is such a unique country where the press is still so relevant that if you do innovative things in the medium it just proves that you can have that effect and an impact on your readers,” Kumar said.

Colaco said moving forward, the campaign would continue but at the same time it would keep evolving. In the past it was about introducing the two new products. Now it is about creating better understanding of the product's nutritional profile.

“We have to constantly be innovative in ways of communicating with consumers. With modern technology, we can have a two-way dialogue with the consumers.

“It's about engaging them, listening to them and working with them in building our brand. It allows us to involve them much more in our products and propositions,” Colaco said.

He opined that there was a huge potential for the milk industry in Malaysia to grow further. The World Health Organisation's recommendation is to drink two glasses of milk per day, while the average Malaysian consumes only one glass per week.

“Therefore, we are still bullish on this market in Malaysia. Our challenge along with our agency partner is to create that continuous sense of excitement,” Colaco said.

The Media Specialists Association, meanwhile, reminds participants to submit their entries for the MMA for 2012 by June 1 at 5:00 p.m.. The media's most prestigious award aims to recognise outstanding innovations in media campaigns within the industry. There will be a one-week window to allow for late submissions.


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