SCA, the manufacturer of tissue and personal hygiene brands such as Plenty, Bodyform and Velvet, wants to become a true FMCG player, moving away from its hundred-year history primarily as a supplier of timber products.
With the aspiration to get the SCA corporate brand recognised by consumers, it created Team SCA, which saw the organisation sponsor an all-female sailing crew that took part in the nine-month Volvo Ocean Race around the world.
SCA’s marketing director Nicola Coronado talks about why Team SCA was part of the company’s journey from B2B supplier to a recognised consumer goods company, new product development including launching Tena for Men incontinence products and why it needed to inject humour back into the hygiene category.
Q. Why did SCA want to sponsor a sailing team?
There has been an aspiration to evolve the image, to make our corporate brand name known and move from a timber company to an FMCG player. At the heart of SCA we have an ethos of empowering women to be who they want to be and to break through any glass ceilings that may exist. With that in mind and with 80% of our global customers being women, it seemed sensible to work on a project about putting them at the core.
Q. What was the biggest outcome from the sponsorship?
The coverage that we have had at a corporate level just in the UK has been phenomenal. Globally we had a readership of 150 million and in the UK the advertising value was £750,000. The key message of what SCA is, the brands we have and making the corporate brand relevant was delivered.
Q. Team SCA is the first all-female crew in the Volvo Ocean Race in over a decade. How does that reflect on the business?
The Volvo Ocean Race is tough; it’s round-the-world sailing and has been male-dominated. This was about saying that with the right support network, investment and training you could be whatever you want to be. The team won the penultimate leg of the race, between Lorient and Lisbon and was the first all-female team in 25 years to win a leg of the race.
From an external perspective, in the struggles to bond as a team and work together, there is messaging about female empowerment and internally there are a lot of parallels about how a good team works together to be more effective.
Q. How does the empowerment message affect the culture
of the business?
It has given everyone a common focus and something to get behind. The team that worked on the activity gave every one of our 83,000 employees a chance to participate and view some
of the legs through internal competitions. In all the [SCA office] sites, themed events were held based on which part of the journey the girls were on. There was food from the area and opportunities for people to share stories of women that inspire them in their professional or personal lives.
Q. The Like a Girl campaign run by Procter & Gamble’s Always brand pushes a similar message of female empowerment. How closely do you watch what competitors are doing?
We do monitor competitors but we like to craft our own path. For 20 years Bodyform has been talking about not being held back, so has been at the forefront of empowering women. The thing about insights is that if they are compelling, they are usually universal, so it is not strange that branded manufacturers develop similar insights. We have a good internal process of collecting insight.
Q. What is the focus in the coming months?
We have launched a digital campaign for Bodyform, using the hashtag #LiveFearless. Women who send in videos or photos of themselves living fearlessly have a chance to win a trip around the world.
Our new Tena campaign launched recently too, driving Tena for Men as a new product category in the bladder weakness market. Bladder weakness for men is a very common occurrence but does not receive much coverage. The ‘Keep control’ campaign, where we are driving awareness that there are products created with men in mind, is done in a very tongue-in-cheek way.
It has new packaging to show it is for men and a character called Stirling Gravitas, who is ‘a man of a certain age’, shows how he likes to be in control of all areas of his life and will not let bladder weakness get in the way.
Q. Do you think the category needs a shake-up, especially
in the personal care and hygiene category?
Definitely. If you look at kitchen towel brand Plenty with [brand character] Juan Sheet, that is seven years old but for the category it was breakthrough and our ad tracking supports that belief. He was certainly tongue-in-cheek.
When you take him into different marketing touchpoints there is humour in how he interacts with people on his Facebook page, or digital content where you see even more personality.
In the Tena for Men range, the creation of the Stirling character and how we talk about bladder weakness is [another example of] breakthrough advertising. I would like to think we can do the same for all of our products; the recipe isn’t always to have a funny character but humour can play a huge part.
Q. Has the opportunity to inject humour come from a changing media mix for SCA?
The bar is now raised and standing out is more difficult than before. Every touchpoint has its own strengths and weaknesses. How Juan Sheet interacts on an online video in two minutes is different to how we used him in a 30-second TV commercial.
You will always have a campaign where you need to deliver a core message but generally the idea of one strapline delivered exactly the same in every touchpoint feels passé.
Q. Are there any channels that dominate in your media spend?
We have mass-market products so TV will continue to dominate but I would say there has been an increase in digital exponentially – there is a lot more focus there as it allows us to tell brand and product stories.
Finding your purpose as a brand is key – it would be pointless to be on social media just to talk about toilet tissue. You want to talk about how consumers can make better and more meaningful choices in life.
There is purpose there: by buying Velvet you are putting more into the world than you take out, for example. If you take that as your purpose, you use the platforms in different ways.
Q. As a marketer today do you feel there is more to do because of the speed of change in the media?
The complexity of getting your message out is greater but the opportunity is also greater. For some brands we want to talk to mass audiences in TV, but we are getting much better at targeting more precise audiences that are relevant for our brand and our messaging.
The more targeted you become, the more complex and time consuming that is. We have different touchpoints to manage and as a marketer you are constantly juggling the balance of short-term delivery of business results with long-term strategy and visions for the brand.
Q. In the 14 years you have been at SCA how do you feel the company has changed?
When I joined we were a timber and forestry company with a consumer element added on. The heart and ethos of our company is now FMCG.
The balance between private label and branded products has shifted [towards the latter] and the internal knowledge about brand building and strategy, communication and innovation has come a long way in 14 years.