June 27, 2019

The best way to influence a community is to create it

The challenge

Unilever Food Solutions has historically been a sales-driven operation that relied heavily on its distribution network to provide products to its well-established network of hospitality professionals. However, social media and the rise of influencer chefs was eroding the traditional model. Amid this change, UFS needed to solidify and increased its brand recognition among a new era of food professionals.  

We needed to reach the community of chefs online – however, this community did not exist. Professional chefs are largely not content creators, and the audience of popular chefs are largely mothers and food enthusiasts not professionals in the food industry that UFS seeks to target.

The objective

A content solution that would place UFS at the forefront of the social conversation across the community of food professionals in the GCC, Egypt, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Bring to like the UFS core proposition of “Chefs supporting chefs” in a manner that would enable the creation and multiplication of meaningful content.

The context

Unilever has historically been a sales-driven operation that relied heavily on its distribution network to provide products to its hospitality professionals. The brand’s approach evolved to “Chefs supporting chefs” – a move that required direct engagement and was hindered by several challenges.

Firstly, individual products were recognized but there was little awareness of the overarching UFS brand.

Secondly, the rise of social media brought with it a shift in the chef community – with new millennial influencer chefs that broke the old and stable model and relationships. However this shift proved to be an opportunity as the social media chefs were equally seeking sustainable content production for their online platforms.

Original high-quality content creation is expensive and was not able to yield the desired ROI and targeting was sub-optimal particularly as Facebook limits targeting based on job-roles and titles.

Our strategy & work

We decided that the best way to influence a community is to create it.

In line with the UFS core value of from ‘chefs to chefs’; we capitalized on chefs themselves as third-party content creators, for several reasons.

Firstly, the ability to multiply content through co-creation ensures a steady flow of content, topics and relevant nuances. Secondly, it activates the brand’s story and role within the chef’s world in an organic and believable manner. Thirdly, this type of content goes far beyond education and education – reaching into entertainment, inspiration and above all, real engagement.

We created several community pages that were not branded by UFS. With an approach to have local chefs engaging other local chefs; educating, entertaining and inspiriting. We developed influencers so as to produce daily content and reduce content development costs, at the same time growing a niche community.

Chef Forum is a non-branded community page that brings together chefs from designated markets and features entertaining content centered on ‘tips and trick’ with attitude and boldness.

Meanwhile, Chef Network is a series of model chef’s channels that aggregates relatable, educational and inspiring content around tip & tricks, plating and new trends.

Owned by UFS the growing network was tapped so as to remarketed to each chef’s responsive audiences through brand voice to generate lead conversions. Additionally, performing content was amplified to expand the community of chefs and the reach of Chef Forum across social media, through lookalikes and the brand CRM.

By using multiple voices to address this niche market, the risk of audience exhaustion was minimized. Meanwhile, audiences were segmented by behaviors and types of content consumption.

Neither platform was flooded with UFS content; instead the brand was the initiating enabler and true collaborator. Product placement was natural and believable in each video, with no other brands encroaching on the space.

The results

We built a community of 102,000 unique chefs and professionals out of a total addressable market of 122,000.
Chef Network grew to attract the following of 68,000 real chefs, meanwhile Chef Forum attracted 47,000.
In total, 88 videos were produced that delivered a 43% decrease in CPL cost, 83% following from TAM and 42,000 leads generated.

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