Product: Brand Purpose Activation
Title: Rephrasing "Parenthood"
Country: Middle East, South East Asia
Date Of Campaign: March 2020
Background: THE MOST PERTINENT QUESTION BEING ASKED AROUND RETAIL CIRCLES WAS: “WILL CONVENTIONAL RETAILERS THRIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?”Industry watchers and analysts have raised this question and debated endlessly in every retail focused congregation, online forums and in articles. But the necessary question is what do consumers want and how do retail brands win them in today's world of choices?IN THE RACE TO TEMPORARILY WIN “SHARE-OF-WALLET”, RETAIL BRANDS HAVE FORGOTTEN THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARE-OF-HEART AND WINNING RESPECT. In the Middle East, owing to a challenging socio-economic environment, the retail category is getting more competitive, with every brand losing focus on what people want, hence losing focus on building its equity and affinity, and instead, ending up playing the price-offs and discounts game.ARAB MOTHERS PREFER BUYING BRANDS THAT ARE PURPOSEFUL. 86% of Arab mothers, the primary retail spenders in the Middle East, prefer buying from brands that mean something to them. Even though discounts tempt their purse strings, they prefer to buy into what the brand stands for, and then, buy into the products sold by the brands.MOTHERS INFLUENCE PURCHASE DECISIONS ACROSS TYPICAL HOUSEHOLDS IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Hence, most brands clamour for Arab mothers’ attention. This is even truer in the retail category where mothers drive volumes and value. Brands and marketers are on the lookout for occasions to appeal to mothers. Several brands appeal to the emotions of mothers, with a gamut of loving, celebratory and gratitude-filled messages, with promotions to “gift something” to mothers. THE CHALLENGE: STAND OUT AND STAND WITH ARAB MOTHERS.How could Babyshop, the leading children’s retailer in the middle east, hailing from Bahrain, with a majority presence in Saudi Arabia and the gulf region, stand out for and stand with Arab mothers?
Idea: A POTENTIALLY POWERFUL AND COMPLETELY UNTAPPED CULTURAL INSIGHT: THE ARABIC WORD FOR “PARENTHOOD” LEAVES “MOTHER” OUT.Babyshop has everything a parent needs, right from when kids are born to throughout their childhood. As a brand, it has always stood for being an ally in parenthood, with its brand purpose being “Celebrating Parenthood”. Now, “Celebrating Parenthood”, in Arabic, directly implies “Celebrating Fatherhood”. Arabic, like a few other languages in the world, contains a variety of words that stem from paternal-centric roots. The word “parenthood” (Al Obuwah) is one such word. Although, many Arabs have, over time, understood that word to mean both - father and mother - the word “parenthood”, in Arabic, actually translates into “fatherhood” in verbal usage. The Arabic word for “Parenthood” leaves the word “mother" out.Despite recent progress in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East around women’s rights and equality (women driving, women pay gap improving, better employment opportunities), there was NO word for “parenthood” that included or implied "mother". CULTURAL AMBITION: THE FIRST BRAND (EVER) TO CREATE AN ARABIC WORD.In a very judgmental region, for Babyshop (previously seen as simply a children’s retail store), we wanted to create a new Arabic word for “Parenthood”. It’d be an unexpected and game-changing retail marketing approach.• A new standard for marketing to moms: Showing that brands could really create vs. typical “thank you” offers, messages and promotions that felt like “limited time love”.• Breaking the mould for retailers: We didn’t want to create advertising as we know it, nor a conventional retail marketing campaign targeting Arab mom shoppers.STRATEGIC BRAVERY: ADDING TO THE ARABIC LANGUAGE, A LANGUAGE NO ONE DARED TO TOUCH.Arabic is not a language that brands change around or play around with. Whenever brands, abroad, have attempted to tinker with the language, they’ve either been banned or had sanctions or very negative press against them in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Just ask Nike with its shoes or Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld with Arabic verses on Claudia Schiffer’s gown. Yet, we persuaded Babyshop to be brave and do a meaningful act for Arab mothers. Because like parenthood is an equal responsibility, giving mothers an equal place in the Arabic word for “Parenthood” was ours. STRATEGIC TASKS: IMPACT PEOPLE, BRAND AND CULTURE. 1 - People: We had an opportunity to bring Babyshop's brand purpose to the retailer's primary target audience across the Middle East: Arab Mothers. And in doing so, make Arab mothers feel recognised and acknowledged.2 - Culture: Influence culture and make the word endorsed and propagated.3 - Business: We needed to genuinely propagate and own the word, consistently communicating it across Babyshop's ecosystem, and in doing so, build brand equity and acquire customers and wallet volumes.THE WORD: AL UMOBUWAH. We helped Babyshop celebrated mothers every day, by working with linguists from esteemed organizations in Jordan and Egypt, creating a new Arabic word for “parenthood”: "Al Umobuwah" (meaning “motherhood and fatherhood”).LAUNCHING THE WORD:• An online video propagated the word.FACING NEGATIVE BACKLASH:Nearly 50% Arabs (mainly men, both traditional and progressive) did not like the idea in the first one week - a typical, prejudiced knee-jerk reaction. They felt Babyshop was blasphemous to the language by creating a new word, that wasn’t acceptable based on their deep-rooted cultural biases. And there were calls and comments for the brand to be boycotted and the campaign to be taken down. In fact, Babyshop considered taking the campaign down but because we had a plan, they gave it 48 hours for the tide to turn a little positive.FUELLING THE CONVERSATION BY COLLABORATING WITH ARABIC INFLUENCERS:Now, we had prepared for the backlash. This negative sentiment and hate gave us opportunities to have a conversation about why the word mattered. • We invited 43 Arabic Female AND Male Influencers to endorse the word, engaging with negative commentators. These weren’t ‘bought’ influencers. These were micro-influencers with credibility in speaking about topics regarding parenting. They endorsed the word across social media, engaging with the negative commentators. ACTIVATING CULTURAL COLLABORATIONS VERSUS SIMPLY ADVERTISING, EARNED ATTENTION TOWARDS BABYSHOP:• Interactive audio-based learning experiences educated in-store and online; in-store, through interactive videos that were activated as the word was spoken, making more people familiar with the word.• Posters in-store created interaction with the word and the initiative further, as shoppers saw an incomplete word they were obliged to complete. • We engaged school students across the region with the word, encouraging linguistic learning and usage in a place for learning, as the word was integrated and shared in classrooms by Arabic teachers.• Launching a new magazine that was circulated in-store, we created an owned media channel endorsing the word, giving Babyshop a branded asset and property.• Clothes and fashion-based merchandising, besides making the word a product line, helped create visibility and become one more “user-generated” channel; where our customers would become our medium to further propagate the word.• We further engaged the next generation and drove the word to be used in different visual forms, beyond language, through art events around the region where children were asked to express the word through colors and art.• By creating a sustainable giving model, we made the fashion show events and the product line more meaningful, as sales proceeds went to mothers and children in underprivileged areas.
Results: (A) EFFECTIVENESS LEVELS: INFLUENTIAL IDEA.Influencing endorsements from leading media channels and influential voices, propagated the word and the initiative. Baria Alamuddin, 70, Bahrain & UK, International Arab journalist and a leading media voice on socio-political topics, says: "This idea is brave and bold because it’s helping add to the language. And in no way, does it disrespect the language. The language is rich, beautiful and is actually constantly enriched and added to. It has new words added to it every year. The language isn’t linked to a religion; it existed before religions. What I like about this idea and why it will get the support it deserves is because it actually has meaning behind it and it stands for something. If parents play an equal role, why shouldn't the word for parenthood not imply both too? It has spread because of this. So, our community is pleased to support this word being included and used by people.”Generating credibility for the initiative, news channels and talk shows across the region, covered the idea organically (without charging for it), how the word appealed. how it translated well across markets and that it wasn’t offensive.With a total media and production budget of just $65,000, we earned:• 2.7 billion free earned media impressions.• 240 million reach (over 90% of the region).• $4.7 million earned media value.• +45% conversations.• +44% brand respect.(B) EFFECTIVENESS LEVEL: BEHAVIOUR BREAKTHROUGH.• Positive WOM was generated through real-world conversations.• We earned 430,000+ recorded uses across “public” profiles / posts.• The word was adopted and spoken across Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and places like Malaysia and Indonesia.• Importantly, despite the initial 50% negative sentiments, the ratio changed in favour of the word and Babyshop at the end of the activity’s period.(C) EFFECTIVENESS LEVELS: SALES SPIKE, BRAND BUILDER, COMMERCIAL TRIUMPH.Being an effective business move, it got Babyshop's core target of Arab mothers resonating more with the brand.Note: There was no other collection-based marketing effort running during its activity, but only standard POS-led communication and social content (that hadn’t peaked brand nor business scores earlier). So, the incremental marketing, communication and commercial growth vs. the KPIs can be attributed to its influence. • Effect 1 - Brand Buzz: +45% vs. +20% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +29%, UAE: +32%, Qatar: +22%, Oman: +29%, Kuwait: +26%, Bahrain: +24%).• Effect 2 - Brand Love: +42% vs. 20% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +33%, UAE: +37%, Qatar: +26%, Oman: +34%, Kuwait: +31%, Bahrain: +31%).• Effect 3 - Brand Relevance: +37% vs. 10% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +20%, UAE: +25%, Qatar: +19%, Oman: +24%, Kuwait: +17%, Bahrain: +21%).• Effect 4 - Consideration: +25% vs. 10% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +12.3%, UAE: +15%, Qatar: +11.7%, Oman: +12.8%, Kuwait: +10.2%, Bahrain: +10%).• Effect 5 - New Customers: +6.3% vs. 2% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +4.2%, UAE: +4.6%, Qatar: +3.6%, Oman: +3.7%, Kuwait: +4,2%, Bahrain: +3.7%).• Effect 6 - Wallet Volumes: 4.1% vs. 1% regional and pan-market target (Saudi Arabia: +2.2%, UAE: +2.7%, Qatar: +1.9%, Oman: +2.6%, Kuwait: +2%, Bahrain: +2.4%).(D) EFFECTIVENESS LEVEL: ENDURING ICON.• Becoming enduring, it was featured in Arabic poetry published offline.• And being used linguistically and with people’s support through petitions and official support from Arab speakers, we earned endorsements from Arabic language institutions and in turn, earned a place in a published Arabic dictionary.