"OpenKnowledge’s strategic advice and very detailed work were of great value in supporting our additional strategic work: they helped us position Mr. Bauknecht as representative of the Bauknecht brand in a way that was then applied to all of the brand’s communication materials."
Cindy Groenke, Brand Leader Bauknecht Europe
Bauknecht is part of the Whirlpool world and is the brand with which the American multinational mainly sells its products – white household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. – in various important Central European markets: above all Germany, then Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary and Russia. Bauknecht is the name of the founder, so a Mr. Bauknecht did actually exist at the beginning of the company’s history. For the German public the notion of a Mr. Bauknecht is connected with the memory and heritage of the brand and therefore has significant value.
Bauknecht is a strong brand with a loyal consumer base built up over the years. But in the last few years the Bauknecht management noticed the need to strengthen the presence of the brand with a younger target audience. In addition to that were the valid communication initiatives of some competitors that in recent years had intensified their competitive pressure. Mainly based on classic methods like TV and press, competitor campaigns, particularly those of Bosch, AEG and Siemens, had attracted many consumers with a crucial socio-demographic profile for this product category, i.e. young or middle-aged women, with an active lifestyle and a good purchasing power. Thus, there was a need to counter the competition with an effective offline and online communication campaign.
The new communication thought up for Bauknecht suggested contrasting competitors aggressively with the introduction of a very strong human presence. Bauknecht has always had a much stronger emotional link with the public than its competitors, but it needed to evolve it in a suitable way to involve younger consumers, conveying at the same time a sense of prestige and modernity. The communication was based initially on a press campaign, but the marketing team immediately felt the need to combine this approach with identifying a storytelling aspect that could be extended to the web and to social media. The character of Mr. Bauknecht had come to life: at this point they needed to decide what his narrative role should be, in a perspective that was already looking at the social world. This was the moment when the collaboration with OpenKnowledge began.
With regard to the narrative pattern, OpenKnowledge used a semiotic and storytelling approach which helped clarify that Mr. Bauknecht could cover the role of Dispatcher (as the brand) or Helper (as the product). However, leaving the choice uncertain would have caused confusion. In addition, the second option was not advisable because expressing Mr. Bauknecht as a product in social media would have been tough – it would have made conversations with the users awkward or bizarre. Analysis therefore led to organizing the narrative pattern as shown in the figure below.
In addition to defining the role of Mr. Bauknecht as Dispatcher (and therefore as a metaphorical representative of the brand), the pattern clarifies the formulation of the story: the fundamental tension is that which connects the Subject/Consumer Hero with its Object of Value (better results in managing food for the fridge, more delicate treatment of clothing items for the washing machine). With respect to this central axis, the role of the products is the Helper of the Subject. In other words, Mr. Bauknecht, who represents the brand, creates the conditions so that the Subject can connect with what she cares about, whilst the Bauknecht products help her to do this. This is a precise and rigorous definition of the narrative roles, the compliance with which allows the marketing team to guide the whole campaign in its multiple media outlets.
The campaign started recently, so quantitative evidence about the results is not yet available. However, preliminary qualitative feedback indicates that the Mr. Bauknecht campaign:
- has made the Bauknecht brand much more visible compared to its previous market presence
- has redefined the relationship between the Bauknecht brand and its young consumer target
- has positively worked on the brand’s image, making Bauknecht appear more modern and attractive.