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How a Swedish Hardware Chain Reinvented Brand Awareness with Community-Focused Native Advertising

XL-BYGG

Goals and objectives

”XL-BYGG” is one of the biggest chains of hardware stores/lumber yards in Sweden. The market is saturated with all competitors communicating in similar ways, price point being king. Having a solid local presence, XL-BYGG has long seen that associations and organizations all over Sweden need help with construction projects, which they do not have the opportunity or financial means to carry out themselves. That became the spark that started a small initiative but with a huge heart - XL-Hjälpen (”XL-Aid”) in 2019.

A deserving corporate sponsorship initiative that had been around for years, but that most people did not know existed, or that it was connected to XL-Bygg. This is where Bonnier News Brand Studio (BNBS) came in, planning a full-year transformative/communications strategy.

The mission was built around an all-year marketing campaign with the initiative XL-Hjälpen at the centre, and the extra mission to boost the brand XL-Bygg as well. The objective was to clarify and spread the project's knowledge, create a sense of honor and pride, and make the connection between XL-Hjälpen and XL-Bygg. Externally to the consumer, but equally important internally throughout the organisation. BNBS created a strategy in 4 phases from January to December, educating about XL-Hjälpen, boosting XL-Bygg and keeping the brands updated and top of mind.

KPI's

The client's main KPIs with the campaign during 2022:

  • to spread the word about XL-Hjälpen’s existence, educating people on the initiative.
  • to get 700 submitted applications from associations seeking help during the nomination phase (5 weeks)
  • a brand building focus, focusing on high time spent with the audience
  • increase the knowledge of XL-Hjälpen within the company; the franchisees, professional builders and their partners/sponsors.

Target audience

  • People involved in association life and organisations across Sweden and close to the 80+ XL-Bygg department stores (ex. Sports associations, Animal programs, Sea Rescue Societies, Volunteer Organizations etc.)
  • XL-Bygg's main suppliers (turning XL-Bygg suppliers in to XL-Hjälpen sponsors, thus giving them PR and credit towards buyers at other hardware stores)
  • Professional carpenters and small-mid size construction firms (Locally based, recurrent purchases, larger quantities. Prone to help out with the labour part of the XL-Hjälpen sponsorship)
  • Home owners (prone to renovating, building patios, tending to their property)
  • XL-Bygg employees (the workforce of local XL-Bygg franchises, employer branding)

Strategic approach

Our strategy was to educate, document, distribute and celebrate throughout 2022, creating a strategic loop that would be easy, and even more effective, to apply to a second year. The strategy was built on 4 phases:

  1. "Nomination phase" (Jan-Feb). We created expectations, built a competitive nerve and demonstrated XL-Bygg's generosity. Using project winners from previous years, we went back and filmed the projects, interviewed the winners/associations, wrote captivating and informative native articles highlighting the how associations could apply for the same sponsored help building their dream project, produced Social Media posts, display and print ads distributed on a mix of Bonnier News owned national and local sites. The winning associations were selected by a jury at XL-Bygg.
  2. "Production and Always-on" - (spring/summer) We documented the 6 winners with our TV-team and editors, from the surprise moment to finished project, interviewing the local XL-Bygg store manager, the builders, the driven people at the associations and sponsors. Surprising the winners was a well-known Swedish profile Hans Fahlén, acting as host and appearing in the materials to enhance the distribution at later phases. During production time, we also did an always-on Display ad campaign distributed on expressen.se.
  3. "Reveal phase" (Sept-Oct) - The 6 finished dream projects and all the content built around them, video clips, native articles went live on a campaign site with national spread on expressen.se, as well as Social Media posts, display and print ads. We tell the fascinating backstories, talk about dreams, visions and the benefits that help brought.
  4. "Giving thanks phase" (Nov-Dec)- We finished the year off with a premium live broadcast on the main page of expressen.se on Thanksgiving. The backdrop, or studio if you will, for the live broadcast was a XL-Bygg store, letting us utilize the natural and recognizable setting while celebrating the winning associations, the franchisees, builders and sponsors, all attending the broadcast. This idea also simultaneously worked as an event for XL-Bygg, enabling networking and employer branding. The live broadcast ended with the opening of the nomination phase, thus closing the circle on a heartfelt year long strategy and smoothly starting over.

Insights from Bonnier news Insights department concluded that Expressen was the place to reach the many stakeholders/target audiences. Figures showed that correctly targeted, we reached both XL-Byggs large quantity buyers and the home owner building a patio.

Creative idea

The content was centered around the fantastic work of non-profit associations around Sweden. The people working for free on their spare time so that kids and teenagers get a chance to learn horse back riding, play soccer, join a hockey team, or organizations helping the communities. Together with XL-Bygg, we set to continue to build on the century-long journalistic tradition of standing on the side of the little person and of giving positive and inclusive forces a boost and recognition.

We created a campaign site for XL-Hjälpen under Expressen.se which we filled with high quality videos, crisp images and informative articles that spread wide and far through selected Bonnier News publishers and beyond. The content maintained the highest journalistic and television quality, fitting perfectly on expressen.se. Besides creating a hub to tell heartwarming stories about the initiative, we also made sure to highlight the clients partners and sponsors, clickable illustrations inspired by the projects, fact boxes about XL-Hjälpen and XL-Bygg and banners.

Channels used

  • Expressen.se - Sweden's largest daily news magazine
  • Expressen - Print ads newspaper
  • Local press - 8 local Bonnier News-owned publishers
  • Social media - Expressen's Facebook and Instagram

Content distribution and promotion efforts

  • Custom built digital campaign site with native articles
  • Native campaign distributed on Expressen.se's main page, Expressen subsections with pin-pointed verticals such as health, local titles
  • Live broadcast on expressen.se, with ”Supernative” - auto-started teaser on expressen.se's main page + looped re-run of the entire broadcast for 24h on main page. Followed by 2-week long highlight edit of the broadcast distributed on ”Sports” and "Entertainment" subsections of expressen.se including native articles.
  • Display and print ads on Expressen.se
  • Earned press in local media, ex. in the local magazine Dala-Demokraten about one of the projects conducted

Campaign results, ROI, and efficiency

Before, XL-Hjälpen communicated solely through their website (xlhjalpen.se) and classic PR outreach, which in general generated poor numbers of views. With the launch in collaboration with Brand Studio 2022 we have seen incredible reach for XL-Hjälpen and thereby the positive associations reflected on XL-Bygg.

Results:
Phase 1 - digital native campaign:

  • Goal: 180 000 clicked page views
  • Result: 230 418 clicked page views

Phase 3 - digital native campaign:

  • Goal: 150 000 clicked page views
  • Result: 267 527 clicked page views

Phase 4 - live broadcast:
The live broadcast gathered nearly 1 200 000 streams, and alone racked up 2220 hours spent by the Swedish people together with our heartfelt XL-Hjälpen content, filmed inside an actual XL-Bygg store.
Digital native campaign:

  • Goal: 60 000 clicked page views
  • Result: 80 273 clicked page views

With an average time spent on native campaign site of over 4 minutes, people within the target audience have spent a total of 2 311 720 minutes together with XL-Hjälpen and XL-Bygg in 2022.

Our insight team also conducted a panel study towards the 252 panelists connected to Expressen.se, asking questions about XL-Bygg and XL-Hjälpen in connection to the native campaigns:
Summary:

  • 41.3% state that they have taken part in or seen the campaign, which is clearly above the benchmark for campaigns that run in Expressen (28%)
  • The difference in awareness of XL-Bygg is noticeable when we compare those who have observed the campaign and those who have not observed the campaign. Top marks in the first-mentioned group is a whopping 57.7%, while the the latter is 25%.
  • A similar pattern recurs when asking about liking. Among those who observed the campaign, the opinion of XL-Bygg is considerably more positive. Over half, 50.9%, have answered 4 or 5 on the scale. Among those who did not take part in the campaign, the percentage is 21%.
  • 69,2% of those who observed the campaign feel that the campaign increased their knowledge of XL-BYGG and XL-Hjälpen.
  • No one who observed the campaign has had a negative reaction about XL-Bygg - over half (52.9%) have received a directly positive attitude towards XL-Bygg, as a result of the content of the campaign.

Maria Mellström, Project Manager XL-Hjälpen
”We have seen an increased number as well as a rise in quality of the nominations received and judged by the jury in 2022 compared to the years before.”

Mischa Moszkowicz, Head of Marketing XL-Bygg
”Brand Studio really succeeded to put XL-Hjälpen and XL-Byggs strong local connection, knowledge, and commitment to service in focus. We consider this a multi-year relationship but Brand Studio has taken XL-Hjälpen to the next level already.”

Internally at XL-Bygg the marketing team has since the start of our campaigns throughout 2022 been getting a lot of curious questions and local stores wanting to be a part of XL-Hjälpen. The part of the strategy that aims at increasing awareness and participation internally has been a success. Happily, we got approved for a second year, and are already in full swing!