Romantic stories increase sales of Nina

Challenge - After a solid launch in 2008, Nina faced a difficult consolidation year. With no new news, creative or celebrity endorsement, we had to restoke the flames of interest in a hyper-competitive fragrance market. A great brand proposition rooted in a world of fantasy and romance was our greatest asset, but research from the launch year revealed that although awareness was strong, brand equity measures were flat, with romance not even registering. Display advertising in TV and press was getting our name out but little more.

Nina: sales increased 20%
Nina: sales increased 20%

Fragrance company Puig's
Nina by Nina Ricci
Nik Wheatley

The romance genre is about escapism and indulgence. A 20-second brand commercial can only ever partially satisfy this, so our strategy sought to replicate moments of romantic fulfilment. To pull this off, we needed a credible partner and a great idea. Elle provided that credible meeting point and together we developed "Dear Nina: Confessions of a True Romantic" - a (near) fully user-generated content approach that would live or die by the readership's inclination to get involved.

The strategy was simple but powerful: Nina featured in Elle as a romantic temptress, imploring readers to write short stories, confessing their innermost romantic desires. We offered no cash prizes or rewards beyond the promise that every story would be published on a Nina-branded zone of Elle's website for the next three months. The best were featured in the magazine, until an eventual best of the best became a six-page glossy photo shoot in the Christmas issue.

Sales of Nina are up 20% in a flat market. "Dear Nina" attracted more than 500 short story entrants and was viewed online almost 100,000 times, with average page views increasing from five to 13. The magazine took the content to 819,000 monthly readers, but we also tagged our TV ads and provided cut-out-and-keep postcards from the gallery. This rewarded the community and took the concept deeper than display advertising ever could.

Nik Wheatley, Lead planner, MPG

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