Lynx is dependent on teenage guys.
They account for a big proportion of the brand’s sales.
In the past, Lynx appealed to them with a magical promise of Mating Game success.
The rise of social networks and near total teenage penetration of mobile phones changed the rules of the Game, making it hyper-connected, always on and played across real and virtual contexts.
As digital media changed consumer behaviour, the obvious solution was to develop a digital strategy for the brand.
This is the story of how a new type of planning team – Engagement and Account Planners working together – identified that it wasn’t a digital strategy Lynx needed, but strategy for a digital world.
Planning evolved the brand promise from the traditional ‘emotional selling proposition’ to an ‘interactive selling proposition’.
Lynx’s promise of enhanced confidence to seduce girls was re-expressed as an interactive mating game toolkit, featuring mobile apps and other content that could help guys break the ice with girls.
The idea was wrapped in an engagement theme and delivered across a content network that clustered in the digital places where guys were already hanging out to strengthen Lynx’s role as a guy’s best first move in the mating game.
Get in there; how the Lynx Effect evolved to stay fit
When a new media paradigm changed the Game for young guys, Lynx didn’t need a digital strategy – it needed strategy for a digital world.
This is the story of how Planning helped the Lynx Effect evolve in the digital age.
Keeping teens sweet
Half of all guys start using Lynx in their early teens. They tend to use the brand loyally for a few years, before switching over to competitor brands in their late teens / early twenties.
Lynx penetration by age group
This teenage loyalty is massively valuable to Lynx, contributing over 20% of the brand’s deodorant and bodyspray sales. On the flip side, losing teenage loyalty could be seriously damaging to the brand’s health.
For Lynx, then, it’s important to keep teens sweet.
Magic and the megaphone
In the late 90s and early 00s, Lynx cornered the youth grooming market with a magical Mating Game promise. The brand’s offer of enhanced confidence to seduce resonated strongly with adolescent guys experiencing their first, awkward encounters with girls.
At a product level, this promise was supported by clear sensorial reasons to believe (or suspend disbelief). With fragrances created by top perfumers, Lynx products made you smell, look and feel great.
Magical promise and sensorial support were packaged as The Lynx Effect and broadcast to young guys in a series of famous advertising campaigns.
Digital revolution, virtual problem
Fast forward to 2007. You didn’t need to be a Planner to see that young guys’ media behaviour had changed radically – or that new media behaviours were transforming every part of their lifestyle.
The web had replaced broadcast TV as their favourite source of entertainment. An array of digital communication tools kept them connected to their mates and to girls anytime, anywhere.
What’s more, armed with these tools guys were becoming confident virtual seducers.
They could flirt all night on MSN without the awkwardness of face-to-face meeting; texts could be carefully crafted to impress; Facebook offered a preview of potential talent and a chance to project an idealised image.
This presented a problem for Lynx. In these new virtual contexts the brand’s magical promise of Mating Game success lacked relevance. Guys didn’t really need enhanced confidence or seduction powers online.
Equally impotent was the product’s sensorial support. In cyberspace, nobody can smell your fragrance.
Young guys were spending more time seducing virtually, and virtual seduction was the enemy of the Lynx Effect.
But that wasn't the whole story
To understand the problem, we spoke to young guys about their experience of the modern Mating Game.
They confirmed that virtual seduction was fun and relatively easy – they had more time to plan their moves, more chances to experiment and more control over their presentation.
But they obviously still felt a desire for physical intimacy and real world encounters with girls. They were more desperate than ever to play the Game for real.
Crucially, guys found the shift from virtual to real seduction massively daunting.
The fact that they could carefully manage their online encounters only made it tougher to approach girls in the real world, where they had far less control.
Young guys still needed the shot of confidence that Lynx always promised – but we would have to re-express it for a new Mating Game that was always on, playing out continuously across on and offline.
Engaging digital natives
The guys we spoke to were true digital natives – born at the dawn of the Web, raised on 1s and 0s.
Digital biog of a Lynx guy
Age 0: born as Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the Web
Age 4: read an SMS message on his mum’s mobile
Age 5: dad bought him a book on Amazon.com
Age 6: got a Playstation for Christmas
Age 7: watched his first DVD
Age 8: searched on Google to do his homework
Age 9: family got an iMac computer
Age 10: downloaded a pirate MP3 file from Napster
Age 11: upgraded his console to a Playstation 2
Age 12: got a 3G mobile phone and made a video call
Age 13: created a profile on the Friendster.com social network
Age 14: got an iPod and hooked up to iTunes
Age 15: shared holiday photos on Flickr.com
Age 16: watched a video on Youtube – and another on Youporn
Age 17: joined a Guitar Hero band
Age 18: got his hands on an iPhone touch
Digital wasn’t a new media channel to them, it was their joined-up media experience. Digital technology wasn’t limited to virtual contexts, it was woven into the fabric of their lives.
They used Bebo to organise nights out with friends.
They sent flirty texts to the girls who might be there.
They used cameraphones to capture and publish the action online. They followed-up with girls from last night on Facebook.
Trying to engage these young guys with a separate ‘digital’ strand of communication would have been counter to their lifestyle.
Lynx didn’t need a digital strategy to stay relevant to young guys, it needed strategy fit for their digital world. Strategy as connected as our consumer; strategy that was always-on; strategy that crossed the on / offline divide.
A planning moel fit for purpose
To deliver strategy for a digital world, BBH needed Planning for a digital world.
In the beta-test of a model that would later be adopted across the agency’s account teams, an Account Planner who understood the brand and the business context was paired with an Engagement Planner who understood the target’s joined-up, digital-world behaviour.
This upstream injection of insight into the consumer / media relationship produced a different kind of strategic product better suited to the task.
Instead of a traditional messaging strategy reduced down to a single-minded brand proposition, the Planning Team generated an engagement strategy expressed as a set of guiding principles for brand behaviour.
Five principles for engagement
1. Engage guys where they already hang-out online. Young guys attention is scarce (fig.3). We need to swarm all over the places they visit regularly.
2. Re-express the Lynx promise for a digital world. Digitally-empowered Guys want to engage with brands on their terms. Our emotional selling proposition needs to become an interactive selling proposition.
3. Give guys the confidence to get offline and play the Game for real. Offer them rich interactive experiences of Game play. Provide them with assets and tools to sharpen their Game.
4. Create laughter and conversation as well as great fragrance. Virtual seduction has changed the rules of the Game, making it longer and more playful. Guys need social effects not sensorial magic.
5. Use mobile as a transmedia channel. Mobile phones are a precious link between young guys’ online and offline lives. 94% have one, 20% have a multimedia smartphone (source: Roper).
From experience we knew that a traditional creative briefing with a digital Creative Team would probably get a traditional digital response; i.e. banners and a website, maybe some digital outdoor.
So instead, we mashed together a hybrid Creative Team (with advertising, online and events experience), a Mobile Technologist and a Content Producer in several collaborative sessions with the Planners.
Our active engagement principles provided the only input to these sessions. With a right casting of skills in the room and these five guiding principles in mind we left the traditional creative process behind, getting quickly to a shared vision of digital-world creative.
Idea for a digital world
Our vision was simple: Lynx would extend its role to become a trusted provider of Mating Game services, giving young guys everything they need to get offline and play the Game for real.
The magical Mating Game promise would be re-expressed as a playful Mating Game toolkit (fig.4). The product range wouldn’t just lend support, it would be the first and sharpest tool in the box.
The Lynx Effect would evolve to become an interactive property with digital-world relevance.
Bringing the toolkit to life
The toolkit was expressed as a collection of tips, apps and demonstration videos designed to help guys break the ice with girls.
These icebreakers were accessed online for use offline, where they actively enhanced guys confidence and seduction powers, turning everyday girl encounters into opportunities to play the Game.
Two mobile apps, Lynx FX and Fit Girl Finder, were the sharpest expression of the toolkit and the most innovative creative executions. Unlike existing branded mobile apps that were designed for personal entertainment, our Lynx apps were born out of an engagement strategy focused on social effects: they made her look and laugh and respond.
If you want to experience mobile Mating Game play for yourself, try interacting with Lynx directly from this paper by following the simple instruction below: Text LYNX to 60030. You will receive a link to the Lynx WAP site where you can download the Lynx FX tool.
In line with our engagement principles, the icebreaker content was located in places where young guys already hung-out like Bebo, Youtube and seeding platforms recommended by specialist distribution partners.
We were not pushing a message to guys. And we didn’t just build something, hoping they would come.
We designed a bespoke Lynx presence for each platform and connected them up to create a network of interlinked content that guys could easily travel across, extending their brand experience (fig.5).
The final node in the network was a hub site hosted at lynxeffect.com. This functioned as a destination for search traffic and a portal on the wider network.
Instead of signing-off our icebreaker content with a tagline, we wrapped it with an engagement theme that would re-express the brand promise in a more active way.
The theme was Get In There. A call-to-action. A battle cry. A mantra for players everywhere.
By inspiring guys to download the apps and play the Game for real, this theme was not only expressive of the joined-up strategy, but an active part of delivering it.
Get In There results
Get in There proved to be a hit with consumers, clients and the creative industry.
The Get In There mobile apps have received over 355k downloads since launch, with around half of those coming from viral distribution (where one guy sends the tool to another).
Of the direct downloads, 77% came from seeding platforms like Getjar.com, where they were hosted for free without promotion. Guys were actively searching out the brand on these platforms, and pulling down our apps based on a brief description of their function. A clear vote of confidence for the engagement strategy.
To the app downloads add 1.5m views for the hidden camera videos across the Get In There network.
That makes a total of 1.9m active content engagements, or an estimated 5.7m minutes of rich brand experience.
Millward Brown tracking (fig.6) showed a correlation between the launch period of Get In There and several key brand measures, evidence that the re-expressed Lynx Effect was keeping teens sweet.
Lynx brand perception shift
In addition to high levels of consumer engagement, Get In There attracted attention from Axe marketers across Europe. After a successful UK launch in 2008, 10 countries signed-up to localise Get In There in 2009.
Awards for Get In There
- Cannes Lions – Media Silver Lion: Best Use of Mobile
- D&AD – Yellow Pencil: Best Use of Mobile
- Campaign Big Awards – Fashion and Beauty: Digital (mobile)
- Gramia – Online Award
- Mobile Marketing Awards - Best Use of Mobile in Brand Building, Best Use of Content in Mobile Marketing
What happened next?
One of key tenets of strategy for a digital world is a do-and-learn, always in beta approach.
When the Get In There campaign launched, the role for Planning was only just beginning. Over the following weeks and months a cycle of network-wide analysis and optimisation produced fresh content, additional distribution channels, and several new versions of the hub site.
More broadly, the active engagement principles defined for Get In There helped to shape the brand’s behaviour in other projects. A focus on the joined-up consumer experience and the social effects of marketing activity changed the way we approached every Lynx brief.
Planning processes, too, were adopted across Lynx and the wider agency. The model of a Planning Team collaborating with the right creative and technical specialists for the job is now standard practice at BBH.
What we learned
Sometimes youth marketing stories aren’t that useful if you’re selling bog roll to busy mums. But we’d like to think the key Planning lessons from Get In There apply to many brands and audiences:
- You don’t need a problem to think and act commercially. Every winning formula has a variable. Front-foot Planning can help successful brands evolve to stay fit.
- Digital isn’t a new channel. It’s a paradigm-shift in consumer behaviour with big implications for brand strategy. Stop tweaking the media plan, start changing the promise – make it more interactive.
- Planning for a digital world is different. Planning Teams beat Planning Gurus. Collaboration is king. Message-centric strategy won’t inspire joined-up digital behaviour