by Morgan Kumm
Sennheiser had a problem. The company had close to no brand equity with millennials and only a small fraction of the budget of its biggest competitor. To solve this problem, they got a little weird, about love…ear love.
The WARC Sennheiser case study tells the story of the German headphone company that was looking for a way to tap into the millenial market with the launch of its new Urbanite headphones. It faced the problem of Beats by Dre headphones already having a strong presence in this target market, and Beats had a much larger budget than Sennheiser’s mere $500,000. Beats by Dre has a reputation of being “premium” and what the “cool kids wear.” After research, one insight that Sennheiser discovered was, “If Beats owned image, we had to find millennials who cared about substance.” They go on to say how their goal was to find the group of “cool kid” millennials who aren’t afraid to wear an alternative headphone and tap into said group.
Sennheiser decided to find these alternative cool kids through a combination of earned, and paid media revolving owned media as a microsite. They created their “Let your Ears be Loved” campaign. The company brought the product to life with a character that would convey the passion the brand has for music. They embraced this authentic passion that is valued by millennials through their personification of Urbanite headphones as a person with a heavy German accent who is obsessed, if not infatuated, with ears. In videos, the Urbanite treated the ears as if they were a love interest, going as far as massages and bubble baths. “Sennheiser did not merely do audio; they were obsessive about it. The German engineers we met were pure sound geeks. Despite their thick accents, we could hear the passion behind even the smallest design details.”
The videos and the use of the company’s #EarLove brought in current customers and even potential customers to the landing site. Sennheiser used owned (rented) media in the form of social to generate earned media through Instagram and with it the use of hashtags. Users of the microsite could learn more about the headphones and the Sennheiser company, and in return they had the chance to win a pair of headphones. Customers gained value by learning about the product through the microsite and by actually winning a pair of headphones. Not only this, but the customers were also receiving entertainment from the videos produced by the company.
Ear love may have been considered a little weird, but for Sennheiser it worked. The campaign achieved all of its objectives and according to the WARC case study, the microsite had 180,000 visits that lead into sales.