Pandas at the zoo

On December 4th the UK’s only pair of giant pandas arrived at Edinburgh Zoo from China. A momentous occasion for animal lovers, this also represented a unique prospect for one of our key clients. Here’s how the brand seized its opportunity.

The connection between Panda Liquorice and panda bears is pretty obvious. The name says it all, but as we’ve already shown in our posts on brand affiliations successful partnerships result from analysis that takes several more factors into account. There’s nothing worse than a poorly conceived link, not least when it leads to embarrassment for either company involved.

In this case the potential for our beloved snack to be affiliated with these rare namesake creatures only became more pronounced with further investigation. Panda Liquorice won the Best Healthy Treat award at the Your Healthy Living Best Products Awards last year, and its policy of ‘no nasties’- whether that’s artificial colours or added sugars- fits in entirely with the image of panda bears living happily on all natural ingredients.
Branding exercises are useless without a great campaign, and here the company tied in a new price point, fresh product, and high profile PR launch to celebrate its deal with Edinburgh Zoo. The success of these initiatives is no real surprise, what with a prior two year relationship with Chester Zoo and a cherry flavoured liquorice red panda tie-in. Nevertheless, few could have expected the new campaign to go quite so well.

This time round Panda introduced Strawberry flavoured treats shaped like bears. Sold in smaller-than-usual 80g bags, the line represents a move into a new niche marketplace, targeting customers on the go and children. The £1 price tag also means Strawberry Bears are competing with different brands when compared to the manufacturer’s other ranges, meaning support through an affiliate campaign was a great idea in order to take this bold step.

The ability to promote a link with a high profile endangered species on packaging is priceless for public recognition; the giant pandas made national headlines, liquorice, on the whole, does not, so new customers will have been introduced to the product. At the same time, donating some of the resulting profits to the costly upkeep of the bears further cements the brand’s reputation as ‘good’.

In return Edinburgh Zoo is now promoted on packs of Panda Liqourice sold up and down the country, and will receive an additional income as a result of this association. During the first weekend the new pandas went on public display we were on site in the Scottish capital handing out Strawberry Bears, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. As such we can say this is another example of brand synergy and well executed PR leading to a truly successful affiliation.