In praise of…Nivea Protege

David Wilding, our Head of Planning, has some interesting thoughts on the new Nivea Protege product:


Last week, via Twitter (and specifically via @SassTate – thank you Sarah) I stumbled upon a link to something Nivea have done in Brazil for Nivea protégé.

The full story is on YouTube here and it’s well worth spending a couple of minutes watching it but the topline story is that they’ve supplied Bluetooth enabled wristbands in magazines for parents to rip out and give to their children on the beach. These wristbands then alert parents (via their mobiles) if their child wanders off beyond a safe distance.

There’s a lot to admire about this idea but 3 things in particular in my view;

  1. It’s a genuinely useful thing for Nivea to do for people.

The concept of brand utility is far from a new one of course but it’s still very good to see such a well thought through and generous idea as this one – coming as it does from an understanding of how people behave and what parents worry about at the beach.

  1. It comes from rethinking the ‘business’ that the brand is in.

Nivea are obviously in the vertical category of skincare and – for this particular product – skincare in the sun. In this context they compete against every other sun protection cream.

But rather than focusing inwardly on their category as many brands do, Nivea have looked outside it and reframed the broader ‘business’ they are in around their values and brand positioning.

So while functionally they are still in the business of skincare, emotionally they are in the ‘business’ of protecting children in the sun.

It’s a subtle reframe but this idea shows the benefits. A skincare business almost certainly wouldn’t provide wristbands for children on a beach to stop them wandering off. But if you’re in the ‘business’ of protecting children then you certainly would.

  1. It has the potential to pay back in ways we can’t ever measure

And then there is the question of ‘ROI’ on an idea like this.

We can estimate the cost and time spent on conceiving the idea and creating the wristbands, the number of people who’ll receive one and use one, the number of people those people will tell, the amount of media exposure it will get and any uplift in Nivea sales as a result.

But of course if the Nivea wristbands help keep even one child safe they will have paid back in a way that rightly makes all of that look entirely meaningless. And that’s an incredibly powerful thing for a brand to be able to do.

Any quibbles?  Certainly. The user experience certainly isn’t frictionless.  To use the wristband parents need to buy a magazine, tear a wristband from it, download an app and link the wristband to their phones via Bluetooth. It’s certainly possible to argue that sampling teams could have helped strip out at least a couple of stages in that process for people.

So we can quibble away if we like.

Or we can take inspiration from this and try to do something equally remarkable and generous.

We should probably do the latter.


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