Surf - Happiness Operator

Surf - Happiness Operator
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Surf – Happiness operator 2015 project, which starts from March, 2015 to July 2015 nationwide rural areas of Vietnam, focuses on both communication and business objectives of strengthening brand message “ daily happy moments lift up my life " and gaining market share.

Bối cảnh

The business challenge comes from the severe competition between Surf with other washing powder brands of local manufacturers. Taking advantage of low price and heavy promotion, local brands aggressively gain sales and market share across rural nationwide, especially in Mekong Delta where consumers can easily switch the brands. With the mission of putting people first, Surf is the pioneer to differentiate the game plan to explore the new mechanic: Surf Happiness Operator, coming from insights and Media habit of rural consumers.

Mục tiêu

The target consumers of Surf are housewives living in rural nationwide, aged from 25 to 40 years old, class CD. Most of her time is for house chords such as cooking, taking care of families. Some go to the rice fields and raise cattle… Despite the current hardship, Surf woman is very optimistic and delightful. Daily happy moments mean a lot to her. She is totally happy with her simple and peaceful life, with the thinking that: Tomorrow will be better.


Driving rural is the top agenda of many brands with the fact that 70% consumers are living in rural areas. Our Surf Happiness Operator has the same mechanic with the “Missed Call” campaign of Active Wheel in India, using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. What we do differently is content development and Mobile exploration of the local context. Our feature phone penetration is more than 90%. This is the perfect channel to deliver brand message and drive consumption via a holistic experience that consumers have never had before. 
Vietnam is the second country of Unilever to introduce this mechanic to the market and this is well aligned with the brand’s global agenda. 

Our key metrics focus on: participation rate, unique numbers opted in, call duration (to show how consumers engage with the content), sales uplift, and share of market improvement. All the KPIs can be accurately measured by report of Tel Co and Unilever tracking system.

For the media strategy, we mainly focus on feature phones. We also leverage radio and activation at launching stage to build up awareness. The rest is all bout word of mouth thanks to the engaging content that really walks the talk. 

IVR technology is not new in Vietnam but we have tailored made it for Surf to require consumers to key the code and share the profile (location, brand preferences) before listening to the stories. This is very useful for the brand filter consumer database. We also build a web tool that helps monitor real time results. A dedicate team to work 24/7 to ensure flawless executions. Daily reports, weekly reports and monthly reports are made with detailed analysis and solutions to optimize Media efficiency.

Hoạt động thực thi

With Surf Fiesta campaign, 70% marketing investment is for mobile, 15% for talent fee and just 15% for activation on ground. There are 4 factors making the success for Fiesta: Hoai Linh – celebrity, the content, the reward and the mechanic. 

Video Case-study

Case-study Surf: Happiness Operator


Quảng cáo bột giặt Surf (2015)


Surf Happiness Operator 2015 is a nationwide version of Surf Happiness Operator 2014. In 2014, with the same insights, we created the operator which allowed consumers to make free calls to interact with the celebrity. Using Mekong Delta, the most receptive market, we wanted consumers to familiarize with the operator. After one month, the campaign turned out to be extremely successful with more than 800,000 calls within one month. 

This initial success allows us to come up with a more complicated mechanic including lucky code identification, location filtering, brand references, top-up money via both SMS and calls. The ultimate objective of 2015 version is driving sales and improve market share on the base that we have built. We keep the celebrity, diversify the pool of content to expand the reach to rural Central and North. The sales lift up and share increase proves the fact that: Mobile can drive business .

We use top adorable celebrity in Vietnam as a natural hook and set up the awareness about campaign for consumers, that’s why we don’t need much investment for media (TV) & activation.

Hoai Linh is also guarantee for good content due to his talent and experience in making humorous but meaningful stories, leading to high engagement rate (80% the length of designed call). Majority of investment is for top-up mobile and calling fees paid for telco companies. The reward should be appealing so that consumers are irresistible to join the promotion.

As mentioned earlier, IVR technology is not new in Vietnam but we have tailored made it for Surf to not only drive sales abut also build up consumer database. Our system can allow real time tracking and flexible change in algorithm. Daily tracking helps us monitor consumer actions and adjust the system. Of course, execution is our top concern to detect, pre-empt possible risks and flaws. The campaign was compliant with MMA guidelines and best practices.

Based on the U.S Consumer best practices for messaging, from the pricing perspective, our campaign is considered as a free to end user category. The consumer incurs no charges at all for participating in the program. The carrier waives standard message and calling fees for these programs.

For most, the campaign was compliant with the general guideline of FTEU. Scanning through the guidelines for advertising messaging programs, Surf – Happiness Operator 2015 meets all criteria of the guidelines. Due to the simple mechanic, consumers buy Surf to get codes and call or text to the operator then the system will call back, there is no requirement for any log-ins or registrations. Hence, opt-ins or opt-out functions are not involved too much in our process. In general, we could conclude that our campaign was compliant with MMA guidelines and best practices.


Kết quả

Has been set in low tier segment, Surf washing detergent products serve consumers with low income & living mainly in rural areas and semi urban areas. With the fact that 70% of Vietnamese population are living in rural areas, this segment is huge potential with the size of market over 80 million Euro.

However, there are still some obstacles which bring us a lot of challenges. These difficulties come from the fact that there is no efficient business model to approach rural consumers, all efforts are costly and consumer behavior itself is different from urban residents. In addition, the number of media exposed is limited, and there is no tracking system to measure the effectiveness until now. Moreover, costly activation is a major problem due to distance and poor infrastructure. As a small in this segment, Surf even has the double challenge since marketing budget is not much. Hence, Surf needs a practical, efficient and unique approach to win this segment. That was the state of the brand before our effort had begun.

The campaign objective is set: Market share gains 100 bps & penetration gains 100 bps. Thanks to Fiesta, Surf did achieve the objective. Market share gains 100 bps across regions. Sales volume increases 18% in comparison with prior period. 

The system recognizes over 8.8 million calls and SMS. We have nearly 220,000 unique participants helping Surf to increase the database to 700,000. Total activated codes are 320,000 – equal to OMO Text to win in Tet campaign (noted that OMO size is 10 times bigger than Surf). This campaign also helps us to improve the competition when switching 24% users from them. 

And for most, we also bring happiness to consumers and lift our brand image into a brighter side. Conducting this campaign with mobile platform brings us positive impact on the business situation and branding value. 

Surf Happiness Operator was a successful case for applying first IVR campaign in Vietnam market. The innovation of the campaign comes from deep understanding about consumers, applying advances technology and creating a creative concept which is not only suitable but also meaningful.

After the campaign, the consumers react positively with the campaign. With 8% of participation, most of them found the campaign unique, exciting and meaningful. However, outstanding from most campaigns in washing detergent market in Vietnam, the campaign brings out a lot of practical figures relating to sales volume.

After the campaign, Surf’s sales volume grows 18%, market share gains more 100 bps. For technical system, we received more than 8.8 million calls from consumers, over 600,000 unique number interacting with operator, 320,000 activated codes. Engagement level is also a big success for Surf when designed length gets more than 80% and 96% our consumers talk with Hoai Linh.

For further plans, we also collect a huge data sources about regions, usage information from our system. We totally believe that this will be the long-term platform for Surf to drive rural business and add more values to consumers.

Source: MMA

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