When Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn logged on to a video call on Tuesday to share the company’s campaign to take the brand international, there were thousands of loyal fans hanging on his every word. Thankyou’s “moon shot”, as it was described, sees the social enterprise propose a first-of-its-kind global partnership with the biggest names in FMCG – Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Unilever. “It’s an invitation – not to buy Thankyou, Thankyou is not for sale
r sale and never has been and never will be – but to help make and distribute Thankyou products to the world,” Flynn said. “We’re talking about going from two countries to, in time, over 190 countries.” Launched in 2008, the business pours profits from sales into projects to end poverty and according to Flynn, the timing is right and “the world is waking up” to the need for change. Similar to Adidas’ production of Yeezy sneakers and Nestle’s partnership with Starbucks, Thankyou is hoping that it can strike a deal with a consumer goods partner to manufacture and distribute its products. “If the world can turn this key for a shoe and a coffee pod, and in that same process unlock billions of dollars for shareholders, could the world not turn that same key for a product that breathes in profit and breathes out social impact?” Flynn explained. In true Thankyou style, the brand is calling on fans to engage in a global social movement to get the attention of the big players. Fans have been asked to share the campaign video on any and every social media platform, tagging the big two brands, along with the words,‘I’m in, are you?’ and the hashtag #thankyoutotheworld. “This would be a first of its kind in a space like this,” Flynn said. On November 5, Thankyou plans to announce its global partner on one of the largest digital billboards in the world, in Times Square, New York. Why social? Social media campaigns have been at the heart of Thankyou’s success story since day one and pivotal in the nation’s biggest supermarkets stocking the brand on shelves. Back in 2011, after three years of knockbacks from every national retailer, Thankyou launched a video campaign to get its water stocked at 7-Eleven Australia stores two weeks ahead of a meeting with the convenience store chain. Thousands of fans shared the video and flooded 7-Eleven’s Facebook page with calls to support the brand. Within a month of the meeting, Thankyou hit shelves. Two years later, Coles and Woolworths became the target of a similar video campaign. This time, Thankyou went a step further by flying helicopters over the Coles’ and Woolworths’ head offices emblazoned with the message: “Together we can change the world (if you say ‘yes’)”. Social campaigns also supported Thankyou’s entry into the baby category, and the company’s expansion into New Zealand. So why wouldn’t it work this time? Can it work? Katrina McCarter, marketing strategist and founder and CEO of Marketing to Mums, told Inside Retail that the timing for a social media campaign like this couldn’t be better. “Social media use has surged as a result of Covid. Research shows this is most prevalent among women and younger generations. Given this is Thankyou’s core audience, it makes sense for them to be running a social campaign,” she said. McCarter said it’s a “very smart, well executed” campaign which showcases Thankyou’s unique approach to tackling problems. “Thankyou understands the power of the collective voice of its community,” she said. “Rather than pitching directly, Thankyou is asking its community to pitch with them. It’s a tactic rarely used by brands and for this alone, it will gather great interest and provide significant social proof to both Unilever and P&G of the merits of Thankyou’s partnership pitch.” Why the big guys? It’s been a tough year for Thankyou. The retailer was forced to shut its online store and halt numerous projects in order to focus all its energy on restoring product levels after the intense stockpiling of March and April. Supply issues meant Thankyou was unable to source the ingredients and packaging components for many of its products were hard to come by, even when demand normalised raw materials, particularly for its nappy range. Flynn told Inside Retail in June: “We’ve had ingredients and componentry that have gone from a few weeks’ lead time to 30-40 weeks.” Partnering with an FMCG giant would certainly alleviate any supply issues and now that Unilever is focusing more heavily on purpose-led brands, the prospect of a partnership like this makes sense. Last year, Unilever CEO Alan Jope announced that purpose-led brands were responsible for 75 per cent of the company’s growth and that “in the future, every Unilever brand will be a brand with purpose”. “Two-thirds of consumers around the world say they choose brands because of their stand on social issues, and over 90 per cent of millennials say they would switch brands for one which champions a cause,” he said at the time. McCarter believes the synergy between the brands looks promising. “With a commitment of Unilever to ensure all their brands be purpose-led, the alignment between Thankyou and Unilever appears strong. Combine this with the powerful voice of the Thankyou community delivered across social media channels, they just might pull this off,” she said. So what makes a social media campaign a success? Talia Datt, founder and director of digital marketing agency The Social Cliq, told Inside Retail it’s all about reaching “the right people in the right places”. Datt said the four pillars essential to any successful social media media campaign are visibility, accessibility, brand authenticity and education. “In order to achieve your campaign’s objectives, you must be seen – and there’s a bit more to it than just plastering your business across every billboard in town. For a social media campaign such as Thankyou’s, it’s imperative to tap into the organic follower base to drive awareness. Simply put, you need to post about your campaign so that those already interested in your brand can see it,” Datt said. She also recommends collaboration. While some brands engage influencers to spread their message, Thankyou is using their entire follower base to do so. Paid advertising is also essential to increase visibility of the campaign beyond the current follower base. “Word-of-mouth may seem old school, but it is still one of the most powerful marketing tools there is. And it works,” Datt said. Regarding accessibility, Datt said it’s simple: “Be where your customers are”. Through the power of social media analytics, Thankyou has a deep insight into the interests and demographics of its audiences. Given that Thankyou, Unilever and P&G all stock their products in supermarkets, they can accurately cater to the supermarket customer and are accessible to them, Datt explains. Authenticity has never been more important to consumers and Datt said consumers can sniff out inconsistencies in brand messaging a mile off. “Thankyou’s campaign reads as authentic, as it is exactly in line with its brand identity and vision. If uniting with huge corporations such as Unilever and P&G to increase production and distribution of Thankyou products (which may at first seem counterintuitive) means the brand is able to help more people out of poverty, then that’s what Thankyou needs to be doing.” Lastly, education is needed to drive consumer consideration. “The more informed a consumer is about your product or mission, the more inclined they are to choose you over a competitor.” Judging by past social media ventures, consumer demand for big brands to deliver on key values and looming fears over cancel culture, Thankyou is in with a good shot.