Canada’s 150th anniversary provided an opportunity for brands to integrate themselves in the national zeitgeist. To promote the brand, OH Henry! created a limited edition candy bar with the goal of selling out of the product in time for Canada's birthday fireworks.
With so many advertisers creating noise around Canada’s 150th, Oh Henry! needed a scrappy way to break through and connect with consumers in a way that other advertisers were not capitalizing on.
We dissected how Canadians dress, their polite manner, maple syrup, and of course Canadians' colloquial use of a certain syllable ("eh?") for key insights into how to tap into our national identity. But to make a deep connection with Canada, we decided to look at the most ubiquitous of digital activities – the Google search.
What makes a search Canadian? We looked at two key streams – how we spell and how we measure. Official spelling for Canadian English was established in 1962 with the publishing of the first Canadian English dictionary. Similarly, the Metric system was officially adopted by the Canadian government in 1970 relegating the Imperial system to a bygone era. But when we dug into the data, we found our searches weren’t as Canadian as they should be:
• Canadians are 25% more likely to use the American spelling than the official Canadian spelling - e.g. "color" not "colour".
• Canadians are 39% more likely to search for converting Metric to Imperial, rather than converting Imperial to Metric.
There is a common misperception in media: “Search isn’t sexy, but it works.” For OH Henry!, we made it our mission to ensure that those two concepts were not mutually exclusive – we made search sexy! Better data insight, drives better creative fun!
Search and its DSPs are designed to be performance powerhouses – targeting and converting on the demand closest to a brand’s core value. However, for this campaign, we bucked the trend. True innovation in search was not simply a race to the bottom of the funnel, we built an approach that boosted relevancy for OH Henry!
We unmasked basic human truths yielded in the search bar and used them to craft a message that is singularly relevant in a particular moment in time. These searches had nothing to do with OH Henry! However, by leveraging a powerful insight of how Canadians search and how it relates to their national identity, we were able to hijack a key cultural moment and create a unique branding opportunity that was not being capitalized on by other brands.
Our approach allowed OH Henry! to disrupt this behaviour and put the spotlight on the brand. Using search, OH Henry! was able to intercept “un-Canadian” searches and propose the Oh Canada! candy bar as an easy way to get back to being Canadian. It also allowed the brand to congratulate proper use of "Canadian speak" – and offer the OH Canada! candy bar as a clear reward.
Our search campaign broke out into two main tactics. The first spoke to searches that use words with specific Canadian or American spellings. We partnered with Google to find the most common searches that used each specific spelling and paired those searches with hundreds of tailored headlines.
Our second tactic – Metric to Imperial conversions – was designed to be as disruptive & entertaining as possible to gain traction on what is very common search behaviour.
To maximize certain efficiencies AdWords has made it so all keywords match for “close variants” meaning any search for “favorite” would match for “favourite” and vice versa. This feature ran counter to the addressable nature of what we were trying to accomplish. We were able to overcome with a clever mix of positive and negative targeting to ensure each ad made it to the moment where it would be most impactful.