Worldwide Sika campaign "Beyond the Expected": Diverse and uniform at the same time

Under the motto "Beyond the Expected", the globally active Swiss company Sika is launching a campaign that was created together with the agency Serviceplan Suisse. Werbewoche m&k spoke to Dominik Slappnig from Sika and Marcin Baba from Serviceplan Suisse about its development.

Dominik Slappnig, Head Corporate Communications & Investor Relations and Marcin Baba, Executive Creative Director at Serviceplan Suisse.

Sika AG is a specialty chemicals company with subsidiaries in 101 countries worldwide. Each of them has different communication needs - in order to cover them all, the demand was high, which had to be met with the new campaign "Beyond the Expected". In collaboration with the agency Serviceplan Suisse, a lively brand presence was created that is both diverse and consistent and actively integrates target markets, reference projects and the more than 27,000 Sika employees.

The core components of the campaign are modular key visuals that can be freely combined for different themes, regions and target groups. The text mechanics also work for a wide variety of messages and can be easily translated into all languages. In a toolbox, everything is provided for Sika employees to create communication tools adapted to their needs.

Werbewoche m&k spoke with Dominik Slappnig, Head Corporate Communications & Investor Relations and Marcin Baba, Executive Creative Director at Serviceplan Suisse, about the development and launch of the brand identity.

Werbewoche m&k: What particular challenges and needs did you have, Mr. Slappnig, that this campaign had to meet?

Dominik Slappnig: Sika is at home in over 100 countries around the world. On the one hand, we want a strong, uniform brand presence, but on the other hand, communication must also do justice to the various markets and meet their very different needs. Sika cultivates a corporate culture with a lot of individual responsibility; we give our subsidiaries a lot of freedom to make decisions; after all, the general managers are also responsible for their operating success. This means that we cannot dictate to them how to design their campaigns. It was therefore very important to have all the teams on board right from the start, so that their needs and opinions could be incorporated right from the start.

How was this achieved?

Dominik Slappnig: At the beginning ten agencies were visited, in a first step we reduced the selection to four, then to two agencies. The two remaining agencies presented their concepts in a large curling hall in Flims, at a Global Management Meeting with 200 people.

Marcin Baba: Presenting in this huge curling hall like Steve Jobs in front of a 25-meter screen was an experience I won't forget: It was an impressive setup and also very emotional - because we had telephone contact with the people in the different countries beforehand and because the pitch process took so long.

So the selection process for the new communications agency took several months? 

Dominik Slappnig: We took our time. Because we weren't under any pressure to move, we didn't have to have a new campaign right away. We plan for the long term and sustainably, elements of our last image campaign from 2014 are still in use, for example. Sika is on the one hand a very agile organization, but on the other hand also one with a lot of consistency. For ten years, we have achieved between 8 and 10 percent more growth and disproportionate profit increases every year. We serve over one million customers, and by the end of this year we will have generated over 10 billion in sales. We therefore wanted to address the new campaign not only to our customers and suppliers, but also to our own employees, to whom we owe this great success. This requires very complex communication, a big task for an agency, so we didn't want to add the stress factor of "time".

Can you tell us about all the demands you made on the campaign?

Dominik Slappnig: One important requirement was that the campaign should make employees proud of their employer and that they should be able to identify with the images, worldwide. To achieve this, the communication must reflect the corporate values and trigger emotions. Of course, the campaign should also be able to depict projects and solutions. And it should be adaptable to all possible advertising media, both on and offline. Another requirement was that the measures be measurable and traceable.

How did you fulfill all these wishes, Mr. Baba?

Marcin Baba: We have combined people and projects on which they have worked. This means that we always combine a Sika reference project, which stands for a target market, and Sika employees who represent the claim of "Beyond the Expected" - which means mastering all challenges and going beyond the ordinary. Right from the start of the campaign's development, we decided to build the key visuals in a modular way.

There are 18 portraits, 15 backgrounds, all in moving and static form - a total of 520 combinations are possible. So we have developed a solution that works for all markets and can cover quite a lot of needs. We have developed a toolbox that employees in all countries can access and create their own advertising materials, which makes the work much easier. For measurability, a performance framework with relevant KPIs was developed for Sika, which can be applied in the individual countries.

Many different cultures must feel addressed by the campaign, how did you ensure that?

Marcin Baba: That's why it was important to involve people from the different countries in the development - we Europeans may have a cliché idea of what a South American looks like - and we also received valuable input from Africa, for example, on what the braids should look like. In this way, we were able to ensure that authenticity was guaranteed and that the countries had appropriate key visuals for their markets.

Was creating the campaign also a technical challenge?

Marcin Baba: In any case: the best creative idea is no use if the implementation doesn't work. That's why, during the conception phase, I already thought about how we could manage the implementation and got the right experts involved early on. To create the key visuals, we defined a grid for the image structure. This grid ensures that all key visuals can be used on all common formats. We then created the individual image components. The backgrounds were created using stock images and Sika archive material, and we photographed the people. Then we had an automation process written in Photoshop, which generated the key visuals from the individual components.

All motifs are also available in animated version.

What in particular contributed to the successful realization of this campaign, Mr. Baba?

Marcin BabaDominik worked very closely with us and, above all, told us a lot about Sika as a company. We quickly noticed that the attitude of "Beyond the Expected" is in the company and the employees. That there is a very good exchange of ideas at Sika and an open company culture is something I really experienced. We didn't have to invent anything because of that, but find the right expression for it. That also inspired me to think beyond the expectation. And I've often felt like Alice in Wonderland, going deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. It's a complex business with many different products and application areas.

Mr. Slappnig, you mentioned at the beginning that employees are very important because, after all, they embody Sika's values. How did they get involved in the campaign?

Dominik Slappnig: We are "global but local" and have a strong corporate culture that is lived by the employees - and you can feel it: When I visit the countries, I find the same values everywhere and a very strong identification of the employees with the company. We have therefore developed an app that enables our employees to involve themselves in the campaign. They can take a photo of themselves and then combine it with one of the 15 project images; this allows them to show their involvement. In this way, we let them become part of the campaign. We have received a lot of positive feedback for this.

Should the campaign be expanded further?

Marcin Baba: Of course, we could add more motifs. But now we want to see how the implementations work in the countries.

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