Gen-Z, Millennial Opps: Duolingo launches branded toilet paper rolls in new campaign amid surge in spend

Language learning app Duolingo recently debuted a new product innovation: the "Duolingo Roll." The company's recent research showed that many Duolingo learners do their daily lessons on toilet visits, so it launched toilet rolls with phrases in different languages. A campaign developed by creative agency Wieden + Kennedy, and a partnership with WeWork was developed that offers this rolls in office bathrooms.

It also hasn't been long since Duolingo landed a venture (series and amount raised unknown) funding round in December 2020. Since this funding left Duolingo with a bigger budget, it may have fueled the spend increases I detail below. Per Crunchbase, this recent funding round left the company with a total valuation of around $183.3m; however, this does not include the unspecified amount of this new round.

According to iSpot, Duolingo first started investing in national TV in Q4 2020. It ended up spending approximately $381.3k by the end of 2020 and has already seriously surpassed that amount, having spent approximately $2.3m on commercials so far this year. Duolingo's 2021 commercials have targeted millennial and Gen-X women watching programs such as CNN Tonight With Don Lemon, Two and a Half Men, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Andy Griffith Show and Friends.

So far this year, Pathmatics reports the company has allocated roughly $341.7k toward digital ads, up 65% from the roughly $266.9k it had allocated by this point last year. Duolingo's estimated full-year 2020 spend of $1.6m more than doubled that of $77.1k in 2019. It has earned around 39.7m digital impressions YTD via Instagram (46%), YouTube (44%), Twitter (9%) and Facebook (1%) ads. 

Duolingo's TV commercial targeting and heavy reliance on Instagram and YouTube advertising, as well as the increases in spend for both channels, show that it's primarily targeting Gen-Z and millennials right now. To do so, it may expand into "new" digital channels such as OTT and/or podcast. It especially targets Spanish-speaking audiences hoping to learn or refresh their English. The company also targets schools and company leaders with offices. 

Agency & martech readers - Nothing points to upcoming reviews, search elsewhere for more immediate opportunities for now. As I briefly mentioned, W+K handled the creative for this new campaign.