Peru ad agency awarded for low-priced concrete campaign

By June 3, 2016

Cement company Unacem and the Carne ad agency won Peru’s 2016 Grand Effie advertising award for its Cemento Apu brand and campaign targeting low-income consumers.

The Effie Awards held its annual ceremony at the Grand National Theater in Lima’s San Borja district on Wednesday. The event announced 40 awards across 16 categories, with the top Grand Effie award going to Union Andina de Cementos (UNACEM) and the Carne advertising agency for the Cementos Apu campaign.

Unacem launched the Cementos Apu brand in 2014 to market alongside its Cemento Andino and Cemento Sol brands. The idea was to offer an economy-priced brand for its 90-pound bags of concrete mix which could compete with the long list of lower-cost options in the unforgiving price war of a commodity industry.

Carne creative director Jose Luis Rivera told El Comercio that the companies invested significant resources in developing a profile for socioeconomic levels D and E, Peru’s lowest social classes.

“They are people who build their own houses with help from neighbors, they’re self-builders. Plus, they have very difficult circumstances in life. With Apu, they feel honored,” Rivera said.

“Apu” is a Quechua word which refers to divine beings or gods. It is also used in the Amazon jungle to refer to the chiefs of a tribe. Rivera says their market research showed that they should take a different approach from the existing advertising toward the lower-income segments.

“The chicha music and folk elements were very common and the consumer could tell that the brands were just trying to look good without truly knowing them,” Rivera explains. “We gambled on rock music, optimism and a casual spirit. We managed to tell a truth with charisma.”

The ads focused on the Apu concrete’s attributes of being strong and resistant by showing muscle-bound workers in low-income areas and feats of strength.

The company also held the Apu Challenge, a grip strength contest in which hundreds of construction workers who regularly handle the heavy bags of cement, work with rebar and hammer nails competed in tearing increasingly hardened Cemento Apu flyers strengthened with concrete. Over 3,000 workers from Lima and Ica competed in the final. The winner was given 750 bags of Apu concrete which retails for $5 each.

The brand grew to command 16.2% of the market within two years, giving Unacem almost 70% of the economic concrete segment.

“It is time for more companies marketing commodities to work harder on developing their brands,” Effie Awards’ Peru manager Flavia Maggi told El Comercio.

“The Effie Awards are a global symbol of achievement with award programs honoring effective marketing communications in 42 countries and 6 regions,” according to the organization’s website.

While Unacem took the top Effie award of the ceremony, Nestle Peru won the most with seven award for its brands including D’Onofrio and Purina. Other companies awarded included Backus and Johnston, Entel and Cencosud, as well as ad agencies Wunderman Phantasia, McCann Erickson and Publicis.

Peruvian brewery Backus and Johnston won Peru’s Grand Effie in 2015 for its Pilsen Callao friendship campaign.

Watch “Cemento APU, as strong as you,” one of Cemento Apu’s signature ads below.


Cemento Apu, el gran triunfador de los premios Effie 2016 (El Comercio)

Premios Effie 2016: las mejores campañas publicitarias (El Comercio)

UNACEM se llevó el Gran Effie por su campaña “Los Apus de Apu” (Gana Mas)

El #DesafíoAPU ya tiene ganador! (YouTube)

Ganador del Desafío APU de UNACEM (JC Magazine)

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