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  • Date:

    19 January 2024


“Working with Women’s Health allowed us to leverage their trusted voice amongst our core target audience. The ‘Gut Feelings’ partnership allowed us to engage and educate our consumers so they truly understood the benefits of looking after your gut.

The results speak for themselves, exceeding targets across all KPI’s for this campaign and more importantly giving our audience a deeper understanding of the importance of having a healthy gut and how Activia can help along the way.”

Jules Smith – Head of paid and earned media, Danone UK and Ireland 

The Challenge 

The year was 2023. The time was January. With prices rising and inflation exceeding 10%, the nation’s usual health kick was being trumped by a need to save money. 

This was a tough time to be a premium yoghurt health brand, particularly one that was about to face another price increase. 

But Activia’s story is one of a deeper challenge. 

As a yoghurt brand that improves gut health, it seemed the nation didn’t understand what or why gut health was important (9 in 10 have little to no knowledge). Which meant the nation didn’t understand why Activia was worth the extra cost. 

Despite an increase in conversation about Gut Health, +15% more products to market in 2022 and £22m spend on ‘gut health’ messages in Q1 alone, no one really understood it and this noise was simply adding to the confusion. 

“Gut Health feels like another one of those marketing ploys …it’s everywhere, but no one explains what it is or why it’s better than others” Debbie, 56 

To deliver on our bold ambition of being the nation’s number 1 yoghurt brand, this meant taking the high ground as experts in gut health, act like the leader brand and shift from simple salience to a deeper more educational body language. 

The Big Idea 

To make Activia The UK’s Gut Health Coach and embody all of the winning traits that make coaches so successful, making it easy for the target audience to understand all of the benefits of looking after their Gut Health (GH) with Activia. 

Positive vibes:
Short sharp bench presses – keeping them going with positivity and leaning into human, personal stories to motivate and inspire our audience on the benefits of looking after their GH. 

Coaching podium:
Standing Activia on a pedestal – in the places and spaces that our audience trusted for health information to explain why Activia was so pivotal in their GH journey. 

Rigorous intensity:
Keep up momentum – provide frequent nudges, prompting the target audience to not only purchase, but stay committed to their new GH regime. 

With such an evolution in strategy, it was only fitting that Activia shifted from an AV-dominant strategy and approached Hearst for a partnership-only campaign which could deliver the positive energy, expert platform, and frequency needed. 

Through a bespoke and engaging ‘Gut Feelings’ partnership, Activia worked with Women’s Health, the UK’s number one authority on health and wellness to highlight the importance of GH. 

Packed full of talent, content, and real stories, this three-month partnership enabled Activia to coach their key audience in a human, inspiring and trusted way, resulting in (spoiler alert) smashing all targets. 

To create an award-winning content partnership, Activia and Wavemaker started by going back to their research and unearthing the myths, confusion and GH needs of their audience. Social listening was paired with a bespoke quantitative study to understand the views of over 1,200 people, whilst Hearst brought their unrivalled audience health and wellness experience to create the Activia x Gut Feelings Hub – the epicentre of this partnership. 

At the heart of this hub, video content series stole the spotlight, sharing the inspiring journeys of three incredible women: Amy Robson, Madeline Shaw and Lauren Johnson Reynolds. These tales illuminated the myriad benefits of GH and spread positive vibes: from the profound impact on mental wellbeing to a surge in energy levels and the delicate balance of hormone health. 

But the partnership didn’t stop at video. These stories transformed into powerful written narratives, offering trusted advice and firsthand testimonials that showcased how Activia became an integral part of their GH transformation. 

Madeline shared how she overcame brain fog by managing her GH, Amy reflected on GH’s vitalness for living with Crohn’s, whilst Lauren shared how GH helps her manage her overall health, hormones, and mental wellbeing. 

Underpinning these inspiring and motivational stories sat a robust and rigorous media plan that reverberated our content across Women’s Health social channels (Meta & YouTube) and the Hearst Network. In addition, we ran exclusive branding across the Activia x Gut Feelings hub which featured large format display and pre-roll. Ensuring the partnership ran across all podiums with rigorous intensity which would cement the role of coach. 

But here’s where the magic happened. The partnership took the streets, inviting the Women’s Health editorial team to Activia’s first-ever ‘What the Gut’ museum. This immersive, educational experience in Soho seamlessly integrated earned and paid elements, setting new standards for partnership.


Engagement metrics soared above expectations, with the target audience spending more time immersed in the content than anyone had imagined. The articles smashed their personal bests, with dwell times reaching 2:58 minutes (vs. 1:48 benchmarks) – an astonishing feat. 

And the real showstopper? The partnership achieved its grand ambition of demystifying GH. The campaign successfully coached the audience in an engaging and relatable manner, with 80% understanding the importance of GH in an easy way (vs. 64% unexposed). 

This partnership not only improved understanding but also supercharged brand metrics. Hearst’s benchmarks were exceeded across the board, with a 15% increase in consideration, a 26% rise in favourability and a whopping 27% surge in purchase intent (vs. benchmarks of 10%, 10% and 18% respectively). The target audience didn’t just listen; they acted. 

Lastly, campaign analysis was able to prove Activia was worth paying more for, with 32% going onto purchase Activia Yoghurt vs. 20% unexposed. One in four now considers Activia a staple in their diet, with an additional 17% enthusiastically recommending it to others. 

With a modest budget, the camapign proved that daring to be different and rewriting the rules yields remarkable rewards. It dove deep into consumers’ psyche, crafting a media strategy that resonated with their needs. The Gut Health Coach strategy, brought to life authentically with Hearst, delivered some of the strongest results both Activia and Hearst have ever witnessed. 

“Activia has high awareness, but as a brand we wanted to really build on its position as a product that’s good for your Gut. Wavemaker’s new strategy of becoming the Gut Coach tapped into a very real consumer insight – that people really understand the importance of Gut Health in their daily lives.”

Jules Smith – Head of paid and earned media, Danone UK and Ireland