Cannes Lions

Turnaround story for a mature brand in decline.

THE SHIPYARD, Columbus / WELEDA / 2019

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Reverse declining sales for a mature brand in a fast-growing category while competing against newer entrants with much bigger budgets.


The challenge is to find a way to make Weleda’s much smaller budgets resonate deeply enough to break through amongst the larger spending brands.


1. Stabilize and grow the core – Turn around the biggest customer: Whole Foods, which

was declining at -6% prior to the campaign, while the category was growing at +7.4%.

Therefore, we can’t alienate core natural consumers.

2. Drive growth by penetrating new consumers that are shopping outside the Natural

Category and Online where the category was growing fastest (“Conventional,” retailers

like Target and Online at or Amazon).



The campaign was brought to life through documentary-style content, rather than advertising, featuring influencers in the “Green” beauty make-up artists, yoga, wellness, personal training, and natural moms. Unscripted interviews covered topics such as their personal connection with nature, mindfulness, what Inner Nature meant to them, natural self-care rituals, and importance of natural skin care products for themselves and for babies to promote happiness, serenity, balance and beautiful skin.

Taking it even further to make the limited dollars even more efficient, each audience was

scored on their propensity to purchase and the bidding strategy for every ad served was

automated to directly tie the amount spent against each person to the opportunity. In fact,

every single programmatic ad impression was decisioned individually using artificial

intelligence to size them up based on whether they were an attractive prospect, read their

browsing interests, and determine the right message to serve them – all within fractions

of a second as the user loaded the webpage where the ad appeared.


Given the massive disparity of spend in comparison to much bigger competitors, we employed a sophisticated tech stack to deliver surgically precise targeting. While the content clearly struck a chord with the audience, the way it was delivered was perhaps the most dynamic, yet invisible, reason the campaign succeeded.

An exhaustive real-time message testing program (Creative Experimentation) was deployed against millions of customers in-market utilizing 70+ different messages against the 575 audiences to identify cohorts that were susceptible to different messages. The result was hundreds of micro-campaigns that were personalized to deliver the most motivating message to each audience and proven to deliver sales.


By every measure, the campaign far exceeded expectations:

1. Sales responded immediately in the first 3 months of the campaign’s launch, propelling Weleda from the #9 in the Natural Category up to #4.

2. Stabilize and Grow the Core: Turnaround Biggest Customer, Whole Foods:

• Pre-Campaign -6% decline in Whole Foods

(Source: Whole Foods Consumption Data, July 2016 - June 2017)

• Post Campaign Launch: +22% Growth in Whole Foods

(Source: Whole Foods Consumption Data Year to Date, January 2018 - August 2018)

• +25% growth in overall Natural Category in 2018

(Source: Whole Foods + “Spins” Natural Retailers 10 periods since launch vs. the prior 10 periods (October 2017 – July 2018 vs. December 2016 – September 2017))

3. Drive Growth beyond the Natural Category where the category is growing the fastest.

• +55% Growth in Online sales ( and; 52 weeks ending July 2018

• 140% sales lift on (Source: Internal Weleda Sales Tracking: Jan 1, 2018 – Aug 31, 2018 vs Jan 1, 2017 – Aug 31, 2017)

• +61% Growth in the new Conventional retailers (non-Natural retailers: Target and Wegmans); 52 weeks ending July 2018

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