Brand advertising campaign: strategic Marketing example No. 2 with... Swile
Updated: Oct 24, 2021
As a marketer, I am obsessed with the notion of momentum. So when I discovered some days ago the last brand advertising campaign of the FinTech start-up, Swile, it naturally caught my interest. Indeed, the campaign's slogan is "The most useless card of the moment" (La carte la plus inutile du moment). The slogan is definitively an audacious angle when you know that the product is a payment card for employees to pay for their meals (among others)... what they cannot do is because of the COVID context. Besides the slogan, the campaign strategy and execution are intelligent and, therefore, an excellent example of marketing for a B2B brand. I show you how in this No 2 from my newly launched series of strategic Marketing examples.
Greet the brand: Swile!
Date of birth: founded in 2017.
Place of birth: France, with activities in France and Brazil (by acquisition).
Profession: Fintech specialized in employee benefit payment cards.
Distinguishing feature: the first brand name of the start-up was "Lunchr".
Focus on... its brand campaign
Starting on the 26th of April to end up on the 11th of May, the advertising brand campaign of the Swile start-up targets France, the first market of the B2B Fintech. The main goal is to create awareness about the launch of the "Swile card".
The slogan of the advertising campaign is:
"The most useless card of the moment."
The following messaging accompanies the slogan:
"Accepted in all the restaurants, shops, cinemas, theaters and even the gym. This is what you name, having the sense of the timing."
The brand campaign is promoted through Out-of-Home in 5 big French cities with the booking of 5 570 billboards in the street, in the metro and train stations, and on buses. In addition, the campaign is visible in the regional press (La Provence, Sud-Ouest, and Ouest-France daily newspapers) and online, including social media. The marketing team created a dedicated landing page for the brand advertising campaign: https://enattendant.swile.co/, which means "waiting for" as a wink to the current pandemic situation.
Even though the campaign's slogan is very catchy, it should not hide the marketing strategy behind, as well as the execution, both aspects having a crucial impact on the impact of the campaign.
How the campaign strategy makes the most of the advertising
Doing some observations and analysis around this advertising example, I found out three reasons which explain why the brand campaign of Swile is brilliant and, therefore, a valuable inspiration for marketers, mainly when those focus on marketing campaigns and advertising:
1 > The No-Momentum becomes a noticeable event.
"Did you ever see a ski station doing advertising in summer?": this is how Swile employees write some posts on Linkedin, to sum up, the bad timing of the advertising campaign. In the press release, the start-up said that instead of waiting for a good moment to launch the card (which looks very uncertain due to the COVID development and the lockdowns ending up in a home office for many French employees), they decided to go for it. This is a risky decision. However, instead of launching the product as they would have done in a context without COVID, they focused on the lack of momentum for the launch as their core message for the advertising. I like this strategy that entirely takes into account the context. It is pretty clever from a commercial point of view, too, if you know the seasonality of the French market, where nothing happens much in July and August. It means that creating awareness for the product before the summer holidays should secure the start-ups some new customers for the traditional big "back to the office" in September.
This No-Momentum is at the heart of the messaging strategy:
As seen, the slogan is based on the idea of bad timing, with the mention of uselessness due to the actual context. Indirectly, the motto also says that en life is again, the Swile card will be the most useful.
The comparison with the ski stations read in the employees' posts enhances the idea in another very efficient way. The engagement rate definitively shows that it works and creates a (very positive) reaction in the audience.
The sub-domain of the campaign, "waitingfor" / enattendant.swile.co, is a friendly and straightforward path to underline the non-momentum. Nonetheless, the dedicated campaign page is successful in twisting this angle to present what you can do with the card in "normal" times ("Yes, because at the moment everything is closed... But in normal times, you can do so much with it!"), with even a lead generation placement by giving the possibility to book a presentation meeting:
I think that this focus on the no-momentum is also brilliant to develop empathy with the brand itself and every one of us. Indeed, with the COVID situation, is there any good moment to start doing something? Not really. We are all waiting for something. But the show must go on.
2> Honesty and self-irony of the messaging make the ad very likeable.
The campaign messaging relies on transparency and plays with self-irony. In this sense, it is very post-modern. Nowadays, good brands don't try to sell you something directly; they instead underline what they are, their brand identity. And for Swile, at this moment, this is being a useless card. They don't try to hide the reality or embellish it. They tell the sad truth. This public (and advertised) confession generates an indirect but strong trust on the audience's side.
In addition, by using his product and advertising campaign as a reason for laughing, Swile practices self-irony and therefore propagates natural and enjoyable humour. Laughing about a card is harmless for everyone. With the COVID situation, this is even more welcome to relax a bit.
How do they do it? Here are some tactics:
The focus on the "uselessness" is visible in all the communications, whether on Print, OoH, or digital. Even the contest was named "'Useless for the moment' Contest" / JEU-CONCOURS « Inutile pour le moment ». This consistency of the message is a strength.
The choice of relying on Out-of-Home as one of the selected media is exciting too because it reinforces this feeling of uselessness, as fewer people are in the streets due to lockdowns and that there is less drive time because of the home office. But the people who see the billboards are even more in a situation to feel addressed to. With fewer people in the streets, you also see better billboards. In addition, Out-of-Home is probably still cheap at this moment due to the COVID crisis, which affected the advertising sector quite directly.
The video of the campaign, promoted on Linkedin, plays directly on the fact that the card of Swile is useless (for the moment) and do it with humour based on the exaggeration, as transported in the text presenting the video:
Three> A well-orchestrated digital virality.
The following is maybe the aspect I like the most in the advertising campaign: the efficient way of using digital to leverage the campaign to the next level and generate more word-of-mouth. Indeed, if you look at the company page of Swile on Linkedin, you will only find three posts related to the advertising campaign. All the rest of the visibility is done by employees, partners, customers, or just people who enjoyed the advertising (as I did). The intrinsic virality potential of the messaging finds a relay in the mobilized joint promotion of the campaign... and becomes even more viral.
In the facts:
The posts regarding the campaign are pretty numerous on Social Media. On Linkedin, I identified 18 dedicated posts (status: 9th of May 2021, with the hashtag #swile). There are probably many more without hashtags and with only a mention of the brand.
The content (text and images) is often the same, which may sound strange at first glance. However, this repetition creates consistency in the communication and, as a result, high clarity in the message and a recognition of the brand's tone of voice.
A contest accompanies the campaign for a multiplied visibility:
If I were the CMO: I would push this virality one step further. For example, the challenge can be reworked. Hence, the participants post an image of their favourite shop, restaurant, or cultural place, which is still closed, with a dedicated hashtag, like "#uselesscardforusefulbusinesses. This can be done more positively, orientating the challenge to post a picture of businesses newly opened with a specific hashtag.
A successful brand strategy for Swile
The overall strategy of the start-up, including this brand advertising campaign, seems fruitful:
400.000 employees as daily users.
The supermarket giant, Carrefour, is a customer of Swile.
+ 600 million € of meals vouchers issued.
The brand campaign strategy of Swile: summary
Even though the brand advertising campaign of the start-up may look simple, the marketing strategy in the background is precise. It gives birth to an original and exciting campaign example.
Landing page of the campaign (in French)
Copyright pictures: Swile