In 2015, PENNY inadvertently caused a national crisis: “The beginning of the end for Christmas and Christianity in Germany”. The so-called Zipfelmann, a religion-neutral chocolate treat from the Douceur brand, was going to stand next to the beloved chocolate Santa Claus that PENNY has every year. Only through the courageous postings of concerned PENNY customers and the nationwide coverage on television, blogs, and newspapers could this catastrophe be uncovered. In the end, we all know there are always two sides to every story … and Christmas is doing just fine.
In order to fully understand what exactly happened, we need to take a trip back in time. It all began in 2013 when PENNY first placed their “Zipfelmann” on the shelves of the 2,150+ supermarkets throughout Germany.
It was not until 2 years later that one PENNY customer took a stand, risked it all and shared her voice on Facebook.
This was triggered by a whole series of “concerned” PENNY customers who feared the downfall of the Christian tradition and St Nicholas with the listing of the “Zipfelmann” in November. The initial comment, with it all began was posted by Claudia M. on the wall of the PENNY Facebook fanpage.
Moments later PENNY responded, assuring Claudia that Christmas wasn’t going anywhere and that she could choose either figure. After all, under their packaging they are the same.
The week was a busy one as the response from PENNY set off an enormous press response. The story spread through various online news channels such as Der Spiegel, Focus, and other various blogger forums – causing the single comment to receive upwards of 3,000 responses.
We welcomed the “Zipfelmann” back for another season by posting a simple Facebook post to warn our “concerned” customers. We wanted to let everyone know that their friend is back but there was no need to be shocked or fearful.
As the end of 2017 crept closer, it was pretty safe to say that the same groups were waiting for us, ready and willing to spread their baseless messages of hate. Together with the Serviceplan agency, we decided there was no better way to combat “Hate” than with “Love” and launched a redesign of the “Zipfelmann” packaging in a rainbow print. The new design was a colorful statement of tolerance, love, and equality. This year though the new design would be accompanied by a three-stage release campaign.
It started with a joint press conference where St Nicholas and the “Zipfelmann” from previous years apologized for the problems they may have caused. The animated group then announced that a new design would be released, one that was collectively created, and the majority of Germany would stand behind. (As same-sex marriage was legally passed into law only a month before.)
The design was released and PENNY was ready!
Thousands of comments poured in, some support but of course a lot of hate. PENNY answered each of the comments with a specially created rainbow GIF in order to take a clear stand and avoid unnecessary discussions. The launch of the design was also coupled with each of the supermarkets hanging a rainbow flag in their front entrance.
After the dust had settled, we revealed our hidden plan to the community. Each rainbow GIF represented a part of a donation that totaled EUR 10,000. The large donation was then sent to three organizations that were chosen by PENNY: “Gesicht zeigen”, “Coming Out Day”, and “Bund für Anti-Diskriminierung & Bildungsarbeit”
The small social campaign was able to hit a 70% organic reach, more than 47,300 interactions, and recognition across television as well as all major online portals. The “Zipfelmann” campaign was the best-performing piece of content, with the highest engagement, since PENNY’s launch on Facebook. Never before has such a high organic reach been achieved in terms of budget used and creative effort. 1.3 mill. reach; 47,300 interactions; 4,500 shares; 200,000 “Zipfelmann” chocolates sold in 3 days; over 13,000 comments
Winning campaign in the category “Viral Communication” at the Digital Communication Awards 2018