Uni-ball to Young Men: Our Pen is Mightier

How do you get guys to spend more on a pen? Uni-ball decided to align its brand with high-tech toys they love in a campaign emphasizing digital video. The brand relied on a successful campaign last year to inform digital budget allocation this time around, and currently is using creative from the previous effort in pre-roll video spots.

Martin Wodarz, group creative director at digital marketing agency Tris3ct, creator of the campaign, said the goal was to give uni-ball pens “badge value.” In a market flooded with cheap, store-brand stylos, uni-ball needed to not only justify the higher price point but also get it into the shopping cart.

The “Upgrade Your Pen. Upgrade Yourself” campaign aims to get young professional males thinking about uni-balls through creating and sharing videos showing themselves getting upgraded via a Facebook app called the “Upgradinator.”

“The average young male doesn’t really care about the pen he uses, so we had to make him really consider performance pens and uni-ball,” Wodarz said. “We’re trying to shift the perception to the idea that a pen matters; it shows off your commitment to your career and your professionalism.”

The campaign began June 1, when Newell Rubbermaid’s pen maker brand began delivering pens to stores with packaging that included inserts telling shoppers, “You could win instant upgrades!” by going to the brand’s Facebook page. That was followed by the launch of Upgradinator, created by Tris3ct for uni-ball.

The Upgradinator lets them create videos by choosing traits and taglines such as “future trillionaire” or “diplomat” and then share them on their timelines, via Twitter or post them directly to uni-ball’s YouTube page.

The campaign, targeting males aged 18 to 34, includes instant wins such as iTunes gift cards, iPods, Starbucks gift cards, uni-ball Vision Elite pens and a sweepstakes grand prize of a MINI John Cooper Works coupe. Consumers can also like the brand on Facebook in exchange for a $0.75 coupon for a uni-ball pen.

“We needed to get this brand into more of an emotional space, less about price. The instant win items are ‘lifestyle upgrades.’ We made sure the brands represented an upgraded sensibility for the young males,” Wodarz said.

The Upgradinator campaign’s goals are to increase the Facebook fan base while driving purchase through the on-pack promotion and instant wins. There are also engagement targets such length of visit and number of videos created. Wodarz noted that the promotion also helps to get better placement in physical stores.

To build the app, digital agency Mess developed a platform using AVFoundation, OpenGL and Core Video, video-processing technologies found in Apple’s OS X Lion operating system. The Upgradinator generates compressed h.264 video files that can be distributed to iOS devices and uploaded directly to YouTube.

Said Amy Rubin, director, digital strategy at Trisect, “We wanted to be able to output an actual video file because of the portability. We wanted to get every ounce of pass-along out of those videos.”

While it cost between 10 and 20 percent more to develop the videos, Rubin estimated that uni-ball saved more than that because it did not have to pay for uploading, content storage, servers and other streaming infrastructure, as it would have if it used Flash movies.

A digital media buy complementing the Upgradinator app launched this week, with banners on the AdNetik network. Like ads and Sponsored Stories on Facebook are targeted to men aged 18 to 34, as well as to those who like Apple, Bose and Apple product accessory maker InCase. Other ads are running through Silver Chalice, a digital media development and services firm. The buy also includes Google search ads targeted to people searching for funny videos, plus promoted videos and in-stream TrueView ads for humor categories on YouTube.

The digital media campaign will run through September 15; Upgradinator will continue to be live on Facebook after that.

This campaign builds on insights gained through last year’s “Cup of Misfit Pens” campaign, also from Tris3ct, which included videos of men dressed as lousy pens running wild in the office. It garnered more than 3 million video views and completion rates as high as 85 percent. In fact, the video component of the digital campaign drove the most clicks to the Facebook experience. The cost-per-click for video was also more efficient than search or Flash display units – although Facebook ads outperformed the video. (Uni-ball is using the Misfit Pens videos as pre-roll and in-banner video for the current campaign.)

Analysis of the results of Misfit Pens led uni-ball to allot 46 percent of this year’s budget to display ads; 31 percent to pre-roll video; 13 percent to in-banner video; 10 percent to Facebook ads; and 1 percent to Google search.


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