Soap for backpackers2 Hour Campaign SprintsAnother Friday and another opportunity to spin the “wheel of misfortune” and set ourselves a marketing sprint challenge. This week we teamed up with Jordan and Saasha from Housing Hand who were so intrigued by last weeks “Bracelets for Satanists” that they wanted to join us and watch the madness unfurl in person.

For those unaware of our 2 hour campaign sprints, we randomly select a market segment and a product to sell to them. We then have to define our proposition and create a campaign for it within 2 hours. So with barely any further ado… 

A strong choice from the wheel of misfortune: “backpackers”, bringing to mind trekking through the wilderness, moonlit beach parties, discovering yourself… and a hostel full of people with access to one anaemic shower. Out of the 6 items offered to us, soap was the obvious choice for our product! From here we had 5 minutes to individually write down anything and everything, good and bad, that we could think of in terms of this proposition and campaign. Then get them up into Miro.

 We then all voted on our favourite ideas and arranged them by number of votes.

 There were some great ideas here, but we felt that: cloud soap that gets bigger when water is added (from a small travel tab to a usable size), a colour changing property based on water quality, anti-mosquito ingredients and “on a keychain”, could all work well together. Especially if we added in some profits going to clean water charities.

Everlasting soap, seemed a tad… unfeasible whilst a soap kit was extra weight and faff that a backpacker probably wouldn’t want. So we got to work defining our product and campaign for our soap.  After working through our features, we felt convenience and safety were the main benefits it delivered which allowed us to start shaping our positioning and messaging. We all loved the idea of taking the cloud soap feature and turning it into the product name, a few tag lines were enjoyed before we settled on: “A Clean Getaway”. 

There’s a great deal of further segmentation to be done within the group “backpackers” so we aimed for the somewhat stereotypical 18 – 23 year olds, often on a “Gap Yaar”, to help us narrow our targeting. Even within this group you could separate purchasers and consumers and target worried parents not knowing how to keep their little one’s safe on the other side of the world (Cloud Soap, obviously) but we decided to steer toward simplicity.

We then looked at the channels we felt best for marketing our Cloud Soap through, Instagram was an obvious choice, it fitted our age range and it’s full of inspirational travel content and influencers to spread the word. We felt, based on our target market, that University societies would be a sensible channel to use to endorse us as well and we also felt that a partnership campaign aimed at hostels would be a sensible approach to take, not just for marketing but as a distribution channel. With this in mind we got to work on the nitty gritty of the campaigns themselves.


Spending a year and a half in Thailand myself it was easy to relate to the ideas around soap and backpacking. At one point myself, I ran out of money and therefore soap, resulting in having to use washing powder in the shower. It wasn’t great but the up side is I did smell linen fresh for days. 
I didn’t stay in many hostels but when I did, most things were accessible 24 hours supplied by staff or vending machines. So, when Saasha suggested vending machines might be good for our product disruption, I jumped at the chance to start creating what ours might look like.

The biggest problem, as always, with this challenge is time, so deciding from a design point of view to retro fit an existing image of a vending machine or design one from scratch was my first challenge. I had a quick search on google and found a blog on Japanese vending machines, spotting one that I could quickly overlay my own design.

Taking what I learnt from the last challenge, I made sure to communicate with Jamie a lot more and was happy to follow his lead on the design elements. 

I enjoyed the job and was very happy with the result, though realistically the vending machine would be a 10th of the size to fit in most hostels and due to the fact that our product is so small. However, I went for speed and the image was perfect. This challenge did make me miss Asia, especially as February/March are the perfect times to visit. A trip after lockdown might need to happen!


My role within this campaign sprint touched on quite a few areas: I worked very closely with Jordan and Saasha in defining the details of the proposition and the targeting & copy for the ads that would feed off that.
A quick Google search provided me with the best hashtags to use for our IG ads and for our influencers.

After we’d squared this away I set-off to identify influencers and societies suitable for spreading the Cloud Soap gospel.

As many organisations are doing, we felt for authenticity and budgetary reasons we would utilise micro-influencers on Instagram rather than invest in the over-used influencers of more renown. Defining a micro-influencer can be a bit vague and does seem to shift depending on who you speak to. As reach is often directly related to the cost of engaging their services, I decided to cap the influencers followers at 10k.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m playing quite fast and loose with the term “influencer” here. A more accurate way of saying it would be “These are people with the right size following on Instagram whose niche is focused on travelling, backpacking and adventure, who may or may not enter into influencer agreements to promote products but because we were on a short time frame I didn’t have time to investigate this, so was going to assume they all loved the idea of our product and the idea of getting paid to promote it.” But as that’s something of a mouthful I’m going to stick to calling them “influencers.”

I was keen to get a reasonably diverse mix of influencers, and follower numbers under the 10k mark, to evaluate the best ROI based on these variables – the results are below:   As you can see, I managed to achieve a mix of demographics, brands v people and followers. I think testing this spread would be crucial to understanding who our product resonates best with beyond our assumptions. 

Unfortunately, this took a while (a strong argument for why people use influencer agencies and platforms!) so my final piece of work wasn’t as extensive, but certainly gives a glimpse of the partners we could use, potentially as affiliates, to promote Cloud Soap. 


Here comes the science bit…
I wouldn’t say I was the most committed student when I was getting my biochemistry degree, so it’s weird how much I delight in getting into the science behind things these days. Some of that is so I can randomly over-mansplain something to the team on one of our many Google Meets during the day. Amid all the horrors, COVID has been a joy for that at least. 

Imagine my delight at trying to see if expanding soap that can test water quality could be a thing. TL;DR – pretty sure it can.

There might be better base media, but to speed things up I’m going for Sodium Polyacrylate crystals with some surfactant additives. 

Sodium polyacrylate is fake snow. My mother, who refuses to accept that I’m 42, gave me some in a stocking filler, so I can actually demonstrate it on the Christmas tree chopping board I also got that year. 
Not much:


Next – Can we actually test water quality with it. Not sure but I think so. There are plenty of tests that work individually as well as examples of combination tests. There are a few challenges around this; the first is that soap molecules are polar so they can interfere with some of the tests; also, the tests themselves are colour tests so having them all simultaneous is difficult.  The first one would need someone doing a different degree and with better attendance, but it’s probably workoutable.

The interesting stuff comes when we think about what contaminants are. The EPA in the US has this list. Largely heavy metals, microbes, nitrates and chlorides.

I went for a combined test by Novardex on the assumption we could reverse engineer it or come up with a deal for our wildly successful soap. This gives us a test for copper, mercury, nickel and zinc.

Next, Microbes. These are a bit more tricky, but I think we could use Reasurin or an Azo dye test. These take a bit of incubation, but I think it’d be fine to test local water a bit in advance. There’s a whole range of tests being explored as you can see in this NIH article from the US, so I’m confident we could find one that works.

This brings up some cool ideas – mostly that these are all colour tests, so I think with some tweaking and real research it would be possible to come up with a good colour test for contaminants – even microbes. The great thing though is that it backs into a recognised problem and solution – The World Bank is actually keen for this kind of thing to happen as you can see in this article, and they advocate using a colourimetry app.

An App! Finally back in digital marketing territory. 

Happily this app isn’t just a gimmick, it’s a genuine way to test water quality and keep travellers safe. But there’s even more to it. If we can make the product well enough, and from the early research it seems feasible at the very least, we can also contribute thousands more validated, colourimetry-driven contributions to this:

Gemstat is the UN’s water quality monitoring programme, so if we got this right, travellers could contribute to the UN’s fight for clean water everywhere. 

From a digital point of view – apps mean communities and data, so building a community of environmentally-minded travellers around a simple soap product is not far away.

Oh – the Mozzie thing – DEET is fat-soluble so I don’t think it’d work in a soap, but we can use Citronella, so we would.


I was in charge of creating an effective ad that targeted our selected target audience. In order to best target our backpackers, the decision to use Instagram was a no-brainer.

Using the Ad Centre on Facebook Business Manager I created an audience that targeted 18-24 year olds of all genders. based in the UK, we weren’t focusing on a specific area but the country as a whole. This meant we would target interests nation-wide.

Initially I included ‘Frequent Travellers’ and ‘Frequent International Travellers’. This proved to be too large of an audience size. The audience was then refined to interests including ‘Backpackers’ and ‘Travel’ which provided a good size to target with our ad.

Once our audience was set I got to work on the ad itself. We needed to find a reason why our product is essential for our backpackers. I focused on providing raw data targeting our water testing feature. Using statistics found on the internet about all the nasty illnesses that could be caught from contaminated water.

This provided a good base to then add our strap-line of a ‘Clean Getaway’. The rest of the text then fell into place and felt natural, while being aware not to use the word soap too many times. Once adding the final touches with our creative visuals we were set to conquer the backpacking soap industry.


With all the ideas flying around about Cloud Soap, I put myself forward for the task of creating a clear and succinct narrative that captured who the product was aimed at, our route to market as well as the benefits and features of the product for the team. Working collaboratively with Ben Webb I was able to lean on his expertise and direction in how to tackle writing this document. As it was my first time, writing a piece like this let alone under a time constraint! 

 My initial thought was what aspects of the narrative could I easily tackle first, the target audience seemed simple enough considering I once was a backpacker travelling around South-East Asia, it was just a matter of putting myself back into that carefree 20-year old mindset. I used the rest of the time to  flesh out the ideas we brainstormed together as a team prior to everyone breaking off into their respective jobs, picking Ben’s brain if I thought I was veering off in the wrong direction. 

If I had more time…

I would create a robust go to market plan for our Hostel Partners, looking at the commercial benefits that they could reap from including Cloud Soap in their hostel sites. Whilst further segmenting the travel / hostel marketplace and look into targeting small to large franchised hostels for instance the Mad Monkey Hostel. One of the takeaways from the workshop, was how much we can achieve as a team when forced under a time limit. For me personally, the basic framework of what is the product? Who is the product for? How will we market this product? Is applicable to all products irrespective of the market so as long as I stick to this basic framework it makes marketing products easier. 

Jamie – Logo and Ad creative

Learning from the last challenge, Campaign Bracelets for Satanists, Dench and I spent more time to develop cohesive visual identity across the Ad and POS.

As one of the main features was to change colour dependent on the water quality, we thought it would be nice to visually represent that in the ad. I used Unsplash (free stock image library) to look for a soapy coloured image. It didn’t take long before I found the image that we ended up using across the brand. 

Using this as a centre piece that would bring other elements of the product together. I had to make a quick logo. I wanted a simple shape that could be used to express different elements of the product. I went for the obvious shape option of a cloud, as it was in the name, with a word mark included. By using the solid shape, I will be able to use it as a window to images and textures that can represent different aspects of the product. Like we did here with the coloured soapy water.

In order to get things moving and not have people waiting around, I decided to mock up what a quick ad would look like so the rest of the team could visualise the creative direction whilst I was working on how a more polished ad would look. You will be able to see the evolution below.

For next time
As always with this challenge time is against us which can prevent us fully exploring some ideas or having the chance to check back, discuss and pivot if necessary. At the end of our sprint we realised there were two key areas that, with hindsight, we would do differently. 

An App

We discussed App potential early on as a next-stage sort of idea, where people could log the water quality wherever they are, creating an interactive world map. This would create a brilliant community as well as having a great social purpose of feeding data into international bodies dedicated to monitoring water quality. This would elevate the product and the marketing fantastically.  We thought, considering the time constraints and how different the direction of App marketing is, to keep this one in the bag though. As Ed’s research into the practicality of the water-testing technology progressed it became clear an App would be required to match your soap colour to allow you to evaluate the cleanliness of the water. All in all, an App would really need to be central to this concept, and breaking down our working into smaller sprints allowing us to check back and alter our plan would have allowed us to realise this sooner.

Video for Ad

Everyone knows the power of video and as part of everyone, we know this too. Unfortunately, time restraints do not lend themselves to video production but we all felt that a video ad showing the cloud soap expand in contact with water, and change colour, would be far more powerful than a still image.

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