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Origin's sweet marketing makes facts sticky

Origin's sweet marketing makes facts sticky

In a sweet marketing deal, Origin Energy paid confectionery company Allens to repurpose Fantales as 'Energy Tales'. The correlation of sugar fix and energy certainly caused a buzz, but could it also give your studies a boost?

How does an energy company cut through the less-than-favourable public opinion about energy companies while also demystifying the process of energy production and consumption? Simple: it bribes people with lollies.

I must admit I hadn't eaten a Fantale for several years before Origin Energy decided to launch what was reportedly a multi-million dollar national campaign that had Allens print 25 special energy related message as its iconic Fantales wrapper.

For those who don't know, a Fantale is a hard chewy caramel block covered in chocolate. A traditional Fantales wrapper carries facts about celebrities, films and TV shows. The idea is that you read the trivia out to a friend and then your friend has to guess the celebrity, movie or show. Origin thought Fantales would be a novel way to deliver facts and trivia about energy.

Did it work? Well, I certainly ate as many Fantales as I could get my hands on. I also read each of the wrappers and got annoyed when I kept getting the same facts, although that may have been an excuse to source more choc-covered caramel.

The mix of trivia and stories with more factual messages made all the content palatable. The stickiest message for me was 'Your bill as a train' but I also enjoyed how much attention the British National Electricity Grid pays to customers making tea during TV ad breaks.

Origin supported its Energy Tales campaign with a dedicated website, Knowledge is Power, and encouraged Twitter users to use the hashtag #knowledgeispower (which I think suffers from being a bit long for 140-character tweets but I'll leave it for now).

I think they did two things right: made 'learning' fun and chose to market itself differently compared to other energy companies. Marketing students take note. Complementing that was the absence of excessive brand push, the brand's colours and a link to its website was as far as it went. The content stood alone as being interesting in its own right and by association, Origin came off looking helpful and fun rather than a big brand awkwardly trying to be mates with its customers and potential customers.

The one thing I think could've been done better? Upping the interactivity factor. Fantales works best when one person has the facts and the other tries to guess the answer. Origin replaced the question and answer aspect with trivia and sharing via social media, which probably worked from a marketing perspective, but better learning comes from that moment of friendly teaching and sharing.

This made me think: what if we could help people study this way? I'm not advocating a study method that would see students risk diabetes to achieve a diploma but I think the morsel method might be a good way to feed information to students to help them remember key facts or principles. Fact followed by a reward, sweet or not, would provide an incentive to study and retain knowledge. Learning plus sweetener, isn't that a good way to cement information into your memory? (Or is that just the caramel stuck in my teeth?)


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