We are in the season of post-pandemic ad campaigns. Brands are trying to thread the needle - find ways of alluding to the past 15 months of lockdowns, grief and social unrest, while pointing towards brighter days.
The Clif line of health bars recently launched its “Let’s Move the World” messaging, which strikes light notes of return-to-normal and purposeful branding in an overall theme of adventure. As Senior Director, Clif Brand Portfolio, Liza Darnell explains, “Let’s Move the World” is designed for open interpretation – to accommodate many evolving notions of adventure, movement and social impact. While “Let’s Move the World” recalls the fleeting age of big idea advertising, Darnell and co. are executing the campaign in many iterations and across a wide range of video, display and marketing partnerships to reach new consumers at every imaginable touchpoint. The big idea meets the fragmented customer journey.
MediaPost: So, “Let’s Move the World” ---that's a big message and a big ask. Take us inside the germination of this idea.
Liza Darnell: So for us it was celebrating this chance for people to get back out into the world, to rediscover what it means to them to be fully alive: embracing small movements, everyday activity, all the way to some of the more epic adventures that we’re known for. So it's that genesis of celebrating our foundations and energy, our purpose of getting people out there, moving and embracing this moment in time when I think all of us are ready to do more than maybe we've ever thought possible, either individually or even collectively.
MP: You're taking a much lighter touch than many brands have, while still alluding to and touching upon the realities of not only the pandemic, but also a year of social activism. How does this messaging align with the way that Clif brands think about these crises?
Darnell: With this campaign, you mentioned that it may feel lighter. For us it's about positivity, and it's about celebrating and providing the energy that it takes to be part of this human adventure, and talking to and showing people that are doing what they love. So we've got six spots in this total campaign -- more will come out soon. And it's about showing real people doing what they love.
We run our business on what we call a Five Aspirations model: five bottom lines. Those are sustaining our people, sustaining our communities, sustaining our planet, sustaining our brands, and sustaining our business.
Every decision that we make goes through all of those filters. It's not about making the choice to support one individual cause or putting our efforts behind one group. It's looking at our full value chain and everything that we impact throughout a food system, and making it better so that we are really raising the bar for health, for equity across the value chain, and for earth.
MP: Those are pretty audacious KPIs -- double our impact on the world. How are you measuring impact?
Darnell: Well that's also constantly evolving. We also have commitments to reducing our plastic waste. We are committed to organic farming and making sure that we are endowing organic research in a big way, so that we're putting back that important agriculture step in our food system. But never have I been at a company where you make a decision on a new product you want to launch, and you have to make sure that each of those five pieces [are] working together.
MP: The first wave of the new campaign focuses on digital channels, digital video especially, across a lot of different channels -- everything from YouTube to TikTok and other social platforms. Why those channels, and does traditional linear TV play a role in any of this?
Darnell: So you're not going to have a campaign without digital channels these days, obviously that's part of life. And we have chosen a diverse set of channels for a couple of reasons. One is, we want to make sure that we are reaching a broader audience. We've got to have some high-reach mechanism, whether that's connected TV or even linear.
And then we have to look across the whole consumer journey and make sure that we are dialing in the moments when people are making their choices and talking to them about relevant products that would be right for them -- whether that's through online shopping that they're doing or grocery pickup, and making sure that we’re there at that moment. Or even connecting with them when they're in maybe some of their more relaxed moments, but planning for future movement.
Spotify and Pandora and TikTok -- we love those because they're associated with movement. When people are listening to Spotify, they're dancing, they're at the gym, they're riding their bike. Music is so connected to movements that we wanted to make sure we’re part of that, and being involved in every different way that people move.
Similarly with TikTok, it is a platform that is celebrating movement in all forms, whether it's dogs doing yoga or people doing the latest TikTok dance.
MP: Like many CPGs now, Clif has a D2C ecommerce channel. What role does ecommerce play in the larger marketing mix and data strategy?
Darnell: Everyone has something to learn from D2Cs, and I think that's a critical component for us in building a stronger relationship with our consumers.
If I talk about our sports nutrition, we are a source for so many athletes, for people learning new ways of movement and new sports. And being able to buy all of that directly from us, and find the right nutrition on our site, and understand everything that's gone into our products, is really important for those particular smaller product lines that are made for athletes.
The other piece is being able to test new innovations, and bring products to market to our most loyal consumers, and find out what they love about it, and start to understand if it's something that they would continue to buy, and what adjustments they might make. That's an awesome opportunity for all big companies within CPG, and we are figuring out how to do that better.
MP: As a CPG brand strategist, what will be the guiding principles of brand building, both in terms of messaging and also media in the next five years or so?
Darnell: I wish I had a crystal ball for the next five years across what's going to happen in the marketplace and what's going to happen with media, but I think I will always tie it back to two things. One is understanding your consumer. All good marketers will focus on that. And then also understanding what are the parts about your brand that you do better than anyone else -- and what are the pieces that you own, but can evolve over time.
And so for us, I'll just use an example and talk about adventure. Clif has always been known as an epic adventure brand. We have a climber rock climbing on our flagship Clif Bar product, and that is something that is so core to us.
But one of the things that we have seen over the last couple years is, what does adventure mean to our consumer, and how has that evolved?
It's a much broader and fresher sense of adventure. It means trying new foods; it means exploring new cities; it means getting out and taking a risk standing up for something that gives you a rush of energy. That's how they're defining adventure. It's creativity, it's spontaneity.
So one of the things that you'll see play out in this campaign is that celebration of self-expression, of adventure through the way that you dance, of discovering ways to impact your community and creating art or creating a garden, things that for people today are their daily adventures and are part of this human adventure that we're all on.
So we have continued to evolve that sense of adventure, and I think you'll notice that the past couple years we had some limited time packaging, and we put athletes on our packaging -- some well-known athletes like Megan Rapinoe or Venus Williams, but also athletes like John Florence or Jordyn Barratt, who's a skateboarder.
That's an evolution of us from going from that epic adventure into a broader scale, and that is something that more people can relate to. Those are those different types of sports, different ways to move your body.
So we have evolved our thinking over the past couple of years. To me that's the key, finding that critical piece that's your core, that adventure, and lining it up with how consumers relate to that and how they are evolving it, and the magic then unfolds there.