How Unilever's former global brand chief has brought purposeful marketing to Beko

Home appliance brand Beko is serious about tackling the world's childhood obesity problem - so much so that it recently removed its logo from the shirts of FC Barcelona players in one of the world's biggest sporting fixtures in order to get social media talking about it.

Beko launched #EatLikeAPro last August – a drive to influence children’s eating habits by encouraging them to adopt the healthy behaviours of their sporting heroes.

"Everyone agrees that healthy eating is important, but it’s very difficult for parents to get their kids to eat healthily," Zeynep Yalim Uzun, chief marketing officer at Beko’s parent company Arçelik, said.

The brand is now working with UN children’s charity and Spanish football's league champions FC Barcelona on the campaign. Beko has had a commercial relationship with the club for a number of years as a secondary shirt sponsor, with its logo appearing on the sleeve of the Barcelona strip.

Beko launched a digital video campaign in February, created by McCann Barcelona, and starring some of the club's top players, including Lionel Messi.

"What we thought would be the best approach is to give some really good role modelling," Uzun said. "The Barcelona players are idols."

In the recent "El Classico" fixture against Real Madrid on 6 May, Barcelona wore shirts with the Beko logo removed from its usual spot and replaced with the hashtag #EatLikeAPro.

It might seem counterintuitive to remove the visual presence of your brand from an event with such a vast audience – but the decision to substitute the logo for a point of conversation seems to paid off. The move has resulted in around 1.2 million uses of the hashtag on social media, with a potential reach of about 740 million, Uzun said.

Beko had pledged to donate €1 (£0.87) to Unicef for every use of the hashtag, and has now exceeded its target of €1m.

"We are more and more looking for ways to add some value to society," said Uzun. "We wanted to do something good for society – but also increase engagement with our consumers. 80% of consumer preference can be affected by purpose."

Both partners were of huge importance, she said – working with Unicef gave the campaign credibility and ensured it would have a real impact. "The collaboration between brands and non-governmental organisations is very important in landing purpose driven marketing," she said, adding that the El Classico activation is the first step of a two-year partnership.

Uzun joined Beko last October from Unilever, where she was based in London as global vice-president for Dirt Is Good, the laundry brand known as Persil in the UK and various other names internationally.

While Beko’s involvement with promoting healthy eating was already established, Uzun said that her experience with the FMCG giant led her to bring a sharp focus on purpose-led marketing to her new role.

"I was very pleasantly surprised after I joined Beko that it was already a company that has a strong heritage in this area," she said.

"I was very happy with the idea of Eat Like A Pro – I decided I wanted to focus all our efforts on it." Her objective was to instil a "more integrated vision of marketing", she said, where the same message is spread through many different channels, and with consistency over time.