Unilever’s “Rookie”

I just came across “The Rookie” — a series of short videos sponsored by Unilever, the makers of the deodorant Degree. The videos have the look and feel of “24,” the Fox series, but feature a character called Jason Blaine as said Rookie (rather than Jack Bauer). They lives on their own Fox website, with the obligatory sweepstake and link to the Degree site.  I was interested to know if this was bought off-the-shelf by Unilever/ Mindshare or a true co-creation. It turns out that it was conceived by Mindshare’s Entertainment division and shot by 24’s DP. (Pretty collaborative, then!)

unliever rookie

Interestingly, according to David Lang of MindShare Entertainment, Blaine’s character is “based solely on Degree’s brand positioning.” Degree for Men, which claims to be adrenaline-activated, “protects men who take risks,” its website proclaims. And Blaine is a guy who takes adrenaline-pumping risks aplenty but never sweats through his shirt.

Says Unilever’s deodorant supremo Sam Chadha: “Degree is about embracing challenge and giving men more confidence by equipping them with more power than they need for the one day they do need it, ’24’ is just a perfect fit. It’s one of those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments you get in your career with marketing where everything fits together.”

Hmm. Not so sure about that, but all in all it has to be more interesting than traditional advertising. The 1.4MM site visits it generated doesn’t sound much, but the 5 minute average spent on the site does.

Mindshare also have some figures that show a 22% sales increase and brand score improvements. These can be apparently be attributed to the “Rookie” effort, as it was the only communication in market during the survey period, say Mindshare. Viewers were apparently driven to the web via Rookie teasers in TV, print, online, mobile channels. (This activity might have done some of the “heavy lifting” in terms of audience).

Mindshare need to work on their own copy-writing skills though … “Unilever needed a communication activity that would help grow Degree for Men faster than the antiperspirant/deodorant category, and increase the brand’s relevancy with Men. The partner needed to align with the brand’s consumer insight around risk and reach a broad audience of men.” Groo!
(tags: brandedentertainment rookie unilever)

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