Case Study: Sometimes the brand is so different that everything we do must be set in its own ecosystem.
Most of the time the core product is the centerpiece of a company. The brand identity is created afterward. In TheBugCo’s case, however, the brand came first, while the products were created to fit the image.
TheBugCo creates mosquito repellent wristbands, mosquito repellant skin sprays and calming after-bite sprays. The products took quite a different approach, being 100% natural and not using DEET - an insecticide used in most anti-mosquito products. The most ubiquitous differentiating factor however, is the marketing approach. The brand has a family feeling and a product design and packaging carefully crafted to the tiniest marketing element.
While having a strong brand can have serious advantages, it can become quite complicated to stay fresh and be creative when confined to such a narrow path. However, the challenge was always set: to make bugs (and products) fun. Let’s be honest, the biggest killer in the animal kingdom, namely the blood-sucking useless (Anopheles) mosquito is not one’s go-to fun creature.
The Bug Co’s international marketing approach is ethnocentric, therefore posing some additional challenges for addressing the global market. The clashes between the brand and its distributors are minimal, but implementing a global strategy can prove almost impossible within the current distribution network frame.
LitAF always thrives to take the ethical path, but we need to adjust to our clients. In this case, we went to an extreme ethical approach as per our client’s demand. In short, any little conflict between sales and ethics is to be resolved in one pre-defined way: always take the ethical path. In effect, we are not even allowed to praise the product’s efficiency in order to avoid misinterpretations over how well the product works.
In order to avoid repetition, we turned towards storytelling. This way we can build infinitely upon a certain frame while being fresh and at the same time keeping within the brand’s confinements. The main target segment is true of middle age, but they buy the products mostly for kids. We knew we had to focus on family, but at the same time keep friendly towards children, or rather convince parents that their kids would like our products. Our approach was to not be anti-mosquito at all. Mosquitoes must be treated fairly, like any other animal or insect. We don’t want to harm the little creatures, we merely want to keep them away from your family.
The three mascots were created as funny, mischievous, anthropomorphized mosquitoes, with backstories aimed at creating the impression for adults that the kids would like them. The kids do like the characters, but our main concern is how much do adults believe that kids like them.
While the challenge of running global campaigns locally can appear daunting, it is in fact quite straightforward. It is a given that the efficiency will be reduced, compared to a polycentric approach, but it is always helpful to have a clear objective. Our goal was to reduce this handicap as much as possible, while at the same time create awareness. Creating a travel blog was a great opportunity, banking on quality content and an apparent lack of alternative motives (i.e. holiday package sales) to differentiate us from competitors’ blogs. Our giveaway and contests were also focused on our key target market of people going on holidays. Since we were confined to online marketing, we aimed our efforts at encouraging clients to create content for us.
Since we are not allowed to mention that our products are efficient, we decided to take a different approach. We treated the matter as a given, not needing to be mentioned but expected to be inferred. In a nutshell, when choosing the anti-mosquito product, we present the brand like: ...; Step 2: pick something eco-friendly; Step 3: pick something for the whole family, child-friendly.
We accompanied our client to international fairs, being involved in strategy, manning the booth, and the life-size mascot. While at a point with a very limited distribution network, we focused on this issue. We knew we had to make some noise. We chose our best-fitted person to man the booth, someone with previous customer service and distribution experience, a highly likable person, and a PR background. For the mascot, we needed something else, we needed balanced-crazy. Since the character is mischievous we had to replicate that. Our mascot would only be buzzing (no speech) with a free slate to appear annoying. It would follow and imitate people, poke them with the „nose”(proboscis), steal bowls of giveaways from other booths and run (before returning them), dancing, doing aerobics, and taking lots of selfies with visitors.
The Bug Co. saw a steady increase in awareness and reach over the length of our partnership, with the brand image being defined even further. The distribution network also expanded significantly, while the prankish mascot became all the buzz, being featured in articles, magazines, and in many many selfies.