Estrella, the second largest snack brand in Finland, had failed to break into the shaped snacks (‘shapes’) category despite serious launch attempts during recent years. Shapes currently stand for 8% of the total snacks category and hold considerable potential for future growth. A classic favourite shapes product from the 90s, Kickers was withdrawn from the market by Estrella 15 years ago. Ever since, consumers have been requesting it back.
Could bringing Kickers back turn Estrella’s fortunes in the shapes category? The re-launch faced a couple of major challenges: First, the marketing budget available for the project was very limited. Second, the snacks category is highly competitive and impulse driven. Third, even though Kickers had its loyal fans from the 90s, the main consumers of shapes are 16-25 year-olds - far too young to remember the previous golden era of Kickers. Having no equity in the market was both a blessing and a curse. In the mind of the target group Estrella didn’t have much to build on, yet it had every opportunity to introduce Kickers to a new generation of fans and make it a superstar again. How could it capture their attention, and make them try Kickers?
It was clear from the start that the target group had certain special characteristics that needed to be considered. Authenticity is highly valued by young people today, so Dagmar saw an opportunity to focus on something that was genuine for Finnish youth. The Finns are rightly proud of their heritage, but at the same time aware of being from a small country. Hence, they are extremely flattered when a foreigner shows interest in them. It also found that music plays an important role in the everyday life of young people, and Finnish rap music in particular has become very popular. Young people see themselves as forerunners and like to participate in new phenomena.
Dagmar knew that a traditional media campaign would not solve the challenges, so it needed to find something new and unusual. The solution slowly emerged from a totally unknown young Danish guy called Andreas with a unique talent. Together with its production company, they discovered this crazy Dane who had uploaded a YouTube a video of himself rapping a well-known song in Finnish. Linguistically it was perfect but the guy didn’t know a word of Finnish. How did he do it? Why? There was massive potential for a cool and targeted comeback for Kickers.
Dagmar decided to get this charming, funny and talented Danish rapper on-board - and four months before the launch of Kickers, met with Andreas and developed a communication plan. First, Dagmar needed to make the Kickers name recognisable among the target group. The Danish rapper claimed the stage name ‘K1ckerz’ and was filmed performing popular Finnish rap songs. He created a YouTube channel for his work. When the original artists of these songs heard about this, they got so inspired by K1ckerz that they started sharing his videos with their own fans. This gave K1ckerz instant credibility. The mass media also spotted the crazy Dane. Soon K1ckerz video was the most viewed entertainment clip on Iltalehti, the largest online newspaper in Finland. K1ckerz was also interviewed on national radio.
The media raised K1ckerz visibility and credibility which, in turn, ramped up commentary on YouTube. The YouTube channel quickly grew in numbers of views. Facebook comments skyrocketed. A quirky new phenomenon was born. To take Kickers to the next level of stardom, the campaign team helped him write and perform his own rap song, carefully written as a parody of a first love; a first love of Kickers. Finland’s No.1 music video production company produced a professional music video for the song in which Kickers starred. It became the official re-launch platform for the Kickers brand, with subtle but relevant and self-ironic product placement throughout.
The execution of the Kickers launch was a major success. The critical target group did not react negatively to the product placement – because it just made sense. Estrella created a new phenomenon which raised a lot of earned media. In a population of five million the music video got over 400,000 views, fueled solely through social media and PR. The consumers didn’t consider K1ckerz a ‘fake’ artist – they think he made a good first single and has a promising future.
During the launch there was a moment of Kickers-mania when stores simply ran out of the product and the Estrella factory had to work through the night to meet the sudden explosion demand. A smart idea followed by excellent and fearless execution pushed Estrella Kickers into the big league of the Finnish snacks market. A quite unusual relaunch.