Free the Kids
South Africa
Stella Kimani
University of Southern California on the Psychology of Advertising

Unilever taps emotional appeal in Omo selling drive

Multinational takes the Dirt is Good campaign — which encourages children to play outdoors instead of spending time online — a notch higher with new book.

Unilever compared children spending a lot of time indoors on digital gadgets to maximum security prisoners. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Consumer goods company Unilever this month created the world’s first dirt-activated book in South Africa in a marketing effort to enhance its global Dirt is Good campaign which encourages children to play outside instead of spending time online. The advertisement evokes childhood memories, revealing a message that resonates with its target consumers, showing that dirt is a natural experience for children in a move that could influence consumer purchase.The book, called The Omo Book of Dirt, is created using a multi-sensory experience and when dirt — soil in this case — is rubbed on the pages an African fable about unity is revealed titled The Tale of Spots and Stripes. It comprises pictures of wild animals in a jungle.“It tells the story of two rival packs divided by patterns on their fur. We launched the book by trading the classroom for the outdoors and got school children to experience first-hand why dirt is good.

“As the children discovered the beautifully illustrated story, they also exercised key child development skills such as tactile and fine motor skills, visual perception, language development and education,” said Unilever in a statement.The company is also seeking to showcase the quality of its washing detergent, Omo, emphasising that it can easily wash out stains such as grass, soil and mud that are accumulated when children play outside.Therefore parents and guardians should not worry about dirt on their children’s clothes as it is a sign of development, a way of expressing their creativity and the dirt can easily be washed out by Omo.In Kenya, the Dirt is Good campaign has been running for over 10 years with advertisements on different platforms. Such marketing strategies, with an emotional appeal, tug at the heartstrings of consumers influencing their purchase decisions.According to research conducted by the University of Southern California on the Psychology of Advertising, 31 per cent of adverts with an emotional pull succeeded compared to 16 per cent success for those that focused on rational content.As such, emotional response in an advert has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy a product.The most appealing themes were found to be; pride, love, unique achievement, empathy, loneliness, friendship, and memories.“Omo is addressing a current concern for parents and guardians in this generation who are worried that their children are becoming digital zombies and the health implications associated with it.“The message relates to consumers who feel heard and are therefore likely to buy the washing detergent,” said Stella Kimani, a brand strategist.In its 2016 UK Dirt is Good drive Unilever created a campaign named Free the Kids. It emphasised that children were spending a lot of time indoors on digital gadgets which had become the centre of their lives and little time outdoors — just like maximum security prisoners.In fact, in its study for the campaign Unilever surveyed parents of who 78 per cent admitted that their children often refused to play without some form of technology being involved, while 80 per cent revealed that their children preferred playing virtual sports on a screen inside rather than play actual sports outside.The firm launched adverts that compared children to prisoners, highlighted alarming statistics and partnered with different parenting organisations to share the importance of outdoor play for children.The firm also asked consumers to post photos of their children enjoying outdoor games — using the hashtag #dirtisgood — and share how they got them to do so.The campaign resulted in over 293 pieces of media coverage globally, with a potential reach of 58 million impressions and #dirtisgood trended on Twitter. The official Dirt Is Good website attracted about 20,000 visits.

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