Dolmio cracks it - Pepper Hacker drives 11% sales boost

By Sarah Homewood and Rachael Micallef | 30 August 2016

Dolmio and Clemenger BBDO's viral campaign that centres around a technologically jacked pepper grinder, has seen the Mars-owned brand record an 11% lift in sales.

The Pepper Hacker was first prototyped and used last year, as an innovative way to start a conversation about a gripe faced by many parents; getting kids to put down the device at dinner time. The corresponding campaign received a mammoth 100 million views across Facebook and YouTube, but more than that it actually positively affected the brand's bottom dollar.

Marketing director for Mars Foods Australia, Tim Hicks, told AdNews there was a clear sales correlation driven by the campaign, with the brand growing its overall sales at 11.4% in the quarter when most views came in, and its 'Italian Sauces' category grew at 4.6% for the same time period.

Mars revealed last week that is was turning the campaign into a reality, with the brand launching a new push that includes in-store promotions and a competition that will see Australians get the opportunity to win one of 3,500 Pepper Hackers.

The most important thing for us is Pepper Hacker took the brand from being the spark to enjoying great food, to being the spark that got families enjoying great food and conversation,” he says. “As an Italian brand that celebrates togetherness and families, great food and sharing great conversation - that’s the most important thing for us.”

The campaign also includes a new film based on the same insights from Clemenger BBDO Sydney and London sister agency AMV BBDO.

Clemenger BBDO Sydney head of planning Kit Landsell says finding a fresh way to present the theme of the campaign was a challenge given the huge success of the first execution, but says the key was making it entertaining.

It's a bit like a follow-up album – how do you make it a success?” Landsell says. “But first and foremost it had to be entertaining. It's the challenge we all have, people aren't really all that interested in what advertisers do and we have to make it entertaining and make it moving to make it something that they'll spend a minute of their time with. So it was really trying to find if there was a different way to dramatise this insight.”

Last year when the campaign first rolled out, there was some scepticism in market about the legitimacy of the product, with a few saying the Pepper Hacker was simply a gimmick. Answering those critics, Hicks told AdNews: “The first thing that comes to mind is anything that gets families around the table talking to each other for me is not a gimmick.

We know from the success of the online video this is something that mums and dads are crying out to get; quality conversation around the dinner table. We also know that a third of parents have tried to ban technology at dinner time, and anything we can give parents to get their kids to pop their heads up and talk to each other we definitely don't think is a gimmick,” he added.

Questions also arose on the legitimacy of the campaign from an agency perspective with some labelling the work as 'scam'. Landsell says proving those critics wrong was never part of its rationale to make the Pepper Hacker a reality.

It wasn't a factor at all,” he says. “It was the strength of the response that made us ask, 'can we explore the feasibility of making this at a large scale'.”

Hicks wouldn't be led about how much the brand is spending on this new push and competition, saying only it's a “significant investment”. And while the film is being shown in other markets, he wouldn't rule out taking the entire initiative global.

That's certainly what we're looking to do for the future,” he says. “We're really proud that this is an Australian invention and that we've taken it from a prototype and an idea to a real life product for 3,500 Aussie families. Our intention is how do we make this bigger and better because we know it really resonates not just in Australia, but globally as well.”

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