NEWS16 March 2016

‘Incredible things happen when you have the right insight,’ says Reckitt Benckiser

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UK - "Incredible things happen when you have the right insight," according to Reckitt Benckiser, which used consumer insight to give its market-leading but "stagnant" Finish brand a much-needed shot in the arm.

Marc Edwards, senior consumer and insights manager at Reckitt Benckiser, was addressing delegates at the annual MRS conference, Impact 2016 during a session examining the role of insight in the creative process, chaired by Samantha Bond, research manager of Northstar Research.

Edwards described how Finish was in a good place in 2014, in a dominant market position, with a "solid equity place" and the number one dishwasher detergent brand in the world. "We were dominant but we were stagnant," he said.

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy produced a film for Reckitt Benckiser which highlighted the homogeneity of all dishwasher tablet ads, whatever the brand. The video showed the cliched tropes, such as shots of gleaming glass and graphical swashes representing the flow of water over dirty plates.

“When we saw the film, it was a rather sobering moment,” Edwards said. "We realised we’d become too close to the brand, to the subject. We’d elevated Finish to this mythical place that didn’t resonate with consumers."

In a bid to differentiate its brand positioning from its rivals, Reckitt Benckiser brought research firm BAMM onboard. 

Ailean Mills, BAMM’s global insight director, stressed the importance of her agency being brought in at the "right side of the creative birthing process".

The agency took an ethnographic approach to research, not a representative sample, embedding its teams in 14 households in the UK, US and Turkey.

“Two person tag-teams went into the homes on low intervention, five-hour missions," Mills said. "The key thing to this was stillness, with the teams staying there and being quiet."

Insights gleaned included that the dishwasher was the “social turntable of the house” and that it played a role in myriad social and familial occasions. The insights were used to inform and shape the subsequent advertising campaign.

“In the past, we’d got the context wrong,” Edwards said. “It wasn’t about shiny glass. It was about dirty dishes.”

Finish’s new advertising stance positioned the dishwasher at the centre of family life, showing it as the functional centrepiece at occasions such as breakfast, dinner, weddings, and even funerals; using the slogan “Everything in life creates dirty dishes. Love your dishwasher. Give it Finish.”

The campaign launched in April 2015 and received great feedback, including winning a silver trophy at the Cannes Lions in June.

“It was very different from everything we’d done in the past,” explained Edwards. “Incredible things happen when you have the right insight.

“From now on we’re taking this idea of using insight and rolling it out to other parts of our business.”

The rest of the session saw presentations from Kelly Parkinson, head of news audiences at the BBC, who explained how insights put at the heart of consumer affairs programming; while Paul Leatherdale, director of Insight Inside, and Christina Carlsson, project manager at PriestmanGoode, explained how they used insight to redesign the interior of the Embraer E-Jets E2.