Science For Better: China embraces ONE Bayer brand with a creative campaign
How do you adopt a global Brand Communication Platform to address the core needs of a target audience thousands of miles away? By offering a unified framework that helps Bayer present a powerful, consistent brand everywhere, while still leaving plenty of room for local interpretation and optimization. We explore how the communication team in China collaborated to activate Science for Better locally and set the brand up for future success.
The Bayer brand is on a journey to becoming more likeable and creating more personal connections with stakeholders on a human level. That is summarized by our brand platform Science For Better, which offers a consistent way to communicate the benefits Bayer solutions deliver to people, across all our business functions and geographies.
As local teams – supported by the global branding team – activate Science For Better in line with their own needs, China has set a powerful example. The country launched an integrated Science For Better campaign that started with internal colleague-facing assets, then progressed to key external stakeholders and the general public. At every stage, it balanced the global guidelines with a local understanding – and best of all, it isn’t just a short-term campaign but has laid the foundation for longer-term awareness and reputation growth powered by Science For Better.
External success starts on the inside
The China team first worked locally, engaging communications partners and divisional colleagues, to identify local needs and challenges and devise a campaign centered on them. Next, they aligned with the global team to ensure the planned activations were in line with corporate messaging and the global Science For Better concept.
Their philosophy was that local market and grower realities needed to be embedded in the campaign, and that the brand should reach target groups in their lives and on their terms.
The result? A campaign that started with Bayer colleagues, helping them understand the concept and the strategy behind it, before expanding to partners and finally giving the public the opportunity to find out how Science For Better makes a positive impact in their lives.
“In the first instance, visibility is fundamental,” says Jun Tang, Brand Inclusion & Assets Management from Bayer Germany. “Bayer China has such a large employee base, and it can be difficult to make everybody aware that there is a new campaign! So employee engagement and education for this new campaign was critical.
The internal activations took the form of a full set of visual assets, complemented by a ‘frisbee relay’ video starring many different Bayer colleagues, who each contributed their own expression of what Science For Better means to them. “Employees are our best brand ambassadors,” remarks Elyn Qiu, from the Corporate Communications team in China. “In the case of the video, lots of employees showed enthusiasm to join this activity and give us their personal interpretations of Science For Better. Even more shared the video on their own social media channels, helping amplify the impact externally. That was the first way in which audiences could feel the passion and vitality of the unified Bayer brand, and of Team Bayer.”
Science For Better hits the real world
The next step was to bring the brand to life for customers, stakeholders and external media in China. With a message like Science For Better, that means showing real ways in which Bayer’s people and solutions make individual lives better. So the team devised the most tangible format of all: a live event, B-Space, jointly organized by Bayer China and the local media outlet GOGOShanghai.
It was the first in-person public event they had organized since the pandemic. Combined with the technical subject matter, that made for a unique challenge. “We needed to engage the public in an accessible way,” says Elyn Qiu. “The format of a live event can be fun and relaxing, but at the same time, we needed to get the audience to know some very scientific subjects across pharmaceuticals, consumer health, and crop science. How could we make these quick to understand?
Their ideas clearly worked, judging by the reactions to the event. In a survey conducted afterwards, 97% of respondents said they knew the brand better after attending. There were also more than 120 mentions of the event in the press and online, and 21 million reach in total.
To complement this, a targeted media event took place in Beijing, with 18 partners attending across the general, industrial and financial sectors. “This was also effective outreach. The China team completed three-dimensional engagements: employees, media, public,” says Jun Tang.
There is more to come
To achieve all this in just a few months is an impressive feat. But the China team are clear that they are only just getting started with Science For Better. “We are happy with the result. But it’s just the beginning of a journey to create awareness, understanding and engagement,” says Elyn Qiu. “It’s set to be a three-to-five-year branding campaign. Locally, we will continue to find new ways to leverage it to build up our unique brand image, persona and story.”
Jun Tang adds:
So, what’s next? The team are already preparing division-specific stories – featuring Bayer colleagues, patients, farmers, and others whose worlds we interact with – to be produced in written format and poster format supported by the key Science For Better visuals. “While the first phase was about awareness and visibility, the second is more about content and outreach: how we can interpret Science For Better in concrete use cases and business stories,” explains Jun Tang. “So we need to collect real examples of our positive impact and tell them to our audiences – from the point-of-view of our customers, employees, business partners, and end-users. This way, we take the original design concept and turn it into a long-term proposition.”
This November, Bayer will exhibit at China’s largest import trade fair, CIIE (which had 461,000 visitors in 2022) with a booth up to 600 sq/m. This six-day trade fair will be a platform to meet customers, stakeholders and government officials, using Science For Better as the theme to tell a compelling Bayer story.
Bayer in China was in a strong position to launch a Science For Better campaign. It recently celebrated 140 years of operation in the Chinese market, and already enjoys higher-than-average brand reputation in China. But its immediate goals are the same as for many other territories: build greater brand awareness, and reputation. That means China’s example is one that many could follow. “Building a brand connection and likability with Bayer’s local stakeholders and the public is a long-term task,” says Sven Theobald, Global Head of Brand Management, Bayer AG. “The Bayer China team outstandingly collaborated with the global team and delivered a compelling and impactful program to bring Science for Better to life in the local market. Better, where health is for all, and hunger is for none.”