Honesty is a great policy

Huggies and McDonald's connect with consumers on the level of honesty via these two newspaper that took a simple and straight-forward approach.

In April 2012, Huggies, the nappy brand ran an interesting advertisement in the form of an open letter from the GM of Kimberley-Clark Australia [KCA]. huggies-letter-article

In the ‘letter’, Huggies informs its customers that with costs on the rise and without having raised prices in nearly six years, they’re going to be reducing the number of nappies in their jumbo packs.

The letter finishes with the statement: “We thank you for your understanding and your continued support”.

It’s a bold approach by Huggies. The content of the letter is credited as having been written by KCA, not their creative agency.

We tested in this ad in May’s wave of Creative Benchmarking, on the assumption that the ad should exceed RoleMap benchmarks for affinity and re-appraisal, while driving differentiation and relevance.

True to expectations, the ad has helped position Huggies as being different from their competitors. Through providing strong and relevant information of interest to the public agenda (such as pricing), this newspaper ad delivered a significant increase in affinity towards the brand.mccafead

When asked what they thought of the ad, respondents were largely positive. For example:

“It’s good that they’ve taken the effort to address their consumers regarding the changes” and “I thought it made Huggies more reputable because first, they were telling the truth, and second they have done well by keeping prices low for so many years. Furthermore they explained why they needed to increase prices as most companies don’t even bother.”

Another said: “It’s a nice clean ‘ad’ although I wouldn’t really call it an ‘ad’. It highlights an important issue and it is good that they will keep manufacturing nappies in Australia”.

That last verbatim of course picks up on what newspapers can deliver for advertisers, more effectively than any other paid advertising channel; trust.

Of course, not everybody loved the message that the number of nappies in the box would decrease in order to keep costs down: “Dislike that they have decided the number in boxes needs to come back down. They were onto a good thing”.

Ultimately, the most likely action off the back of this newspaper ad was that respondents would “talk to friends and family”. With this ad, Huggies had effectively increased positive feelings for the brand when word-of-mouth, via the parenting grapevine, could have been one-sided and overly negative.

Here’s another win for the “simple honesty” approach. In July 2011, we tested this much publicised newspaper ad for McCafe (right). Also in a letter format, the COO explained that McDonald’s had listened to customers and were determined to make their coffee better, with a replacement guarantee if not satisfied. McDonalds-McCafe-graph

In testing, we found the McCafe ‘letter’ did a really good job at delivering well thought out information to help increase brand affinity and strongly drive re-appraisal.

We asked respondents about their opinion of the ad, and received verbatim responses such as: “It’s an honest and good ad. Usually a company would put an apology in the newspaper for causing a big offence or disaster, but I guess some people do take their coffee very seriously!”

And: “It is not really an ad but a public notice. If they are improving their coffee, that is great as there is a lot of competition out there.”

Overall, the ad was well received and successful at communicating their situation to their customers, by developing an honest response.

Download full-size copies of the ads below.

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