When in doubt, ask your customers

Companies try many different marketing tools and techniques in their quest to increase sales. Caroline Harrison has recently noticed a particularly unusual promotion offered by one of America’s leading toothpaste brands.

I’d like to make it clear from the start that there is more to my life than watching TV.  Please don’t read too much into the fact that, for the second time in a month, I am writing a Thursday Night Insight article about a commercial I have seen on TV!  However, once again a television advertisement caught my attention.

The commercial in question was for Crest’s Whitening Expressions toothpaste.  In it, Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse is seen filming a commercial to promote the fourth and newest product in this toothpaste range.  Whilst cleaning his teeth, he is so impressed by the bold flavor that he feels obliged to repeat his favorite catch phrase bam!”  At this point, I have to say I was fairly unimpressed by the advert, not finding it the slightest bit amusing.

Lagasse, however, was clearly struggling with the exclamation bam!”  It just wouldn’t suffice; it simply wasn’t powerful enough to convey what he was feeling as he brushed his teeth with Whitening Expressions.  When the director shouts cut” and they begin to discuss how the shoot is progressing, Lagasse explains his conundrum: This new product might be bigger than bam!” 

What could be bigger than bam?” asks an astonished assistant.

Lagasse’s response: I dunno.  Let’s ask America”

And here we come to the part where I really started to pay attention.  Because the advert ends with an invitation for the Great American Public to submit its own suggestions for a brand tagline.

From September 15 through October 17, consumers can upload their suggestion on video to the YouTube website, capturing, in 10 words or less, what they feel to be the essence of this brand.

Clever, huh?

From the public’s point of view, there’s a real incentive to take part.  An incentive in the shape of $5,000, a trip to New York City, and the chance to see your winning idea become a reality in a TV commercial.

And those lazy Crest marketing executives?  Well, they can just sit back, relax, and wait for the good ideas to come flooding in.  America will come up with an ingenious, inspired, and creative strapline, and they won’t have to tax their brains or lift a finger.

Of course, I realize that it’s not really as simple as that.  Obviously a great deal of thought, discussion, hard work, and money has already gone into this campaign.

What’s more, those cunning folk at Crest are actually employing some of the golden rules of marketing:

  • They’re opening a dialogue with their customers;
  • They’re actively engaging them with their product;
  • They’re incentivizing and encouraging new people to try their brand (sure, you’re not obliged to buy the product if you want to enter the competition, but you must stand a better chance of submitting that winning slogan if you’ve truly experienced the product and understand all the benefits it brings);
  • They are, in a manner of speaking, getting feedback on what the public thinks of their product, which will no doubt help to shape future branding, advertising, and marketing decisions; and
  • Through the unusual execution of this campaign they’re showing themselves to be innovative and somewhat cutting edge.

By using the YouTube website, the marketing team behind Crest is potentially appealing to a whole new group of purchasers.  But by doing this, will they alienate their older, more established, or less technology-savvy customers? 

Maybe they will a little, but I doubt it will have much of a negative effect.  Whilst the campaign may not be to everyone’s taste, I think those consumers who buy this brand of toothpaste week-in, week-out would be unlikely to stop because of this commercial. 

Any who do cease, will, I suspect, be far outnumbered by those who decide to give it a try for a once. 

As for those toothpaste purchasers who are not brand loyal and who switch between a number of different products depending on special offers, current promotions and the like – well I would hazard a guess that some may be tempted to buy Crest this week on the back of the hype and publicity surrounding this campaign.

Of course, Procter & Gamble who manufactures Crest is not the first corporation to use the idea of a competition as a promotional tool, but it is still a fairly unusual and unique concept.  What’s more, as technology advances and companies seek more creative and innovative ways to market their offerings, I feel pretty sure we’re only going to see more of this type of campaign.

If you want to stand a chance of winning, click here to check the competition rules and find out how to submit your entry.  Good luck!

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