Creating an advertising strategy that delivers what it promises is a long process built on coherence. First off you need the magic ingredient that makes your product truly different and better. Then you think profit. And only then comes the advertising and copy strategy. Keep reading. Using a real case from a giant brand that invests billions of dollars a year in advertising, this article shows how to select and execute claims that add value to the brand.
Choosy advertising strategies are powerful
Advertising claims, market shares, and prices of competing brands reveal interesting facts about brand attractiveness and strategic meaning.
Baby Wipes, for instance, is a global market worth some $4 billion. There are two major brands: Pampers Baby Wipes (PBW, Procter & Gamble) and Huggies (Kimberly Clark); these are followed by many store labels and smaller brands.
Table 1 shows brand claim, price per wipe, and market shares in 2016 for the major players in the US.
|PBW||Keep baby’s delicate skin looking healthy||277||64||5.31||100||22||11|
|J&J||Gently and effectively remove dirt and germs from baby’s delicate hands and face anywhere, anytime||7||56||5.27||99||<1||<1|
|Huggies||Wipe away messes to keep your baby’s skin feeling as soft, gentle and natural as a hug||416||56||4.01||76||34||22|
|Store labels||Low price and quality proximity||494||80||1.69||32||40||63|
Table 1: Baby Wipes brand claim, price, and share. USA, 2016.
This table suggests two things:
- Strong strategic claims can deliver higher profit and significant share levels
- Weak strategic claims command lower prices or your brand won’t stay around for long
Brand claims move from Health to Convenience on the horizontal axis of Map 1.
Map 1: Baby Wipes competition map.
Johnson’s effectiveness in removing dirt and germs and Huggies’ ability to wipe away mess make them task convenient brands. These are messages centered on the mom and her job. They are egoist claims. Pampers instead calibrated the message on the baby and its healthy skin. This is an altruistic, caring and loving message.
Based on straight common sense, which claim would you choose to communicate about the needs of helpless, tender, sweet babies? I can’t vote for task efficiency. Babies call for health, care and love, and not for “jobs quickly done”. Pampers were smart enough to fill this space, leaving Johnson and Huggies no other choice than positioning on convenience. But convenience has a cost in this market, and Johnson learned it the hard way: they capitulated. Huggies did a better job, yet they had to give up a quarter of Pampers price in order to stay abreast.
This means Pampers is way more profitable, which allows them to research and bring new and improved products to the market, and customer appreciation is shown by the fact that 22% of the money spent on baby wipes goes to Pampers. Pampers is more profitable because it speaks to persons, who are ready to pay a premium in order to have the necessary quality for the loving care of their babies.
The bottom line: when positioning brands, consider what market segment may generate your profit. Otherwise you are destined to follow rather than lead through innovation, and ultimately have to either cut profits or leave the market.
Keep reading. This article is about communication claims that deliver what they promise.
A real advertising strategy, aka copy strategy
Pampers is the leading baby diaper brand. In their Baby Discovery Center near Cincinnati every year they run hundreds of tests to find out what is meaningful to parents and babies about diapers. This led to the introduction of Pampers Baby Wipes (PBW), wet tissues used to cleanse babies (primarily when changing diapers). At launch time in 1994, the copy strategy of PBW read:
|Benefit||PBW cleanse baby’s skin more gently than traditional thin wet wipes.|
|Reason why||PBW are softer than traditional thin wipes because they are three times thicker.|
|Brand character||Trusted expert in baby care who knows how to satisfy baby’s needs and helps create a loving and caring relationship between mother and baby.|
Table 2: Advertising Strategy of Pampers Baby Wipes.
Disarmingly simple, isn’t it? Common sense and surveys inspired this advertising strategy while massive investments have established the brand.
The product first
First create the product for the job. A copy strategy can only deliver as much as the product does.
Moms answered marketing research studies on their expectations about baby wipes. In order of importance, they said baby wipes should be:
- Friendly to the baby’s skin
- Smooth and tender
- With cleaning power
- Easy to use
- Reasonably priced
So P&G went to the lab and learned how to make wet wipes according to the expectations of moms and the needs of babies from newborn to 36 months old. Wipes are either a paper product or a synthetic fabric. Image 3 shows (toilet) paper isn’t quite smooth and tender when observed under the microscope, and neither is it friendly to skin.
Image 1: Microscopic image of (l.) toilet paper and (r.) paper with a smoother texture.</span></p>
Modifying paper texture fixed the “smooth and tender” issue. When moms said the solution was ok (with product tests in comparison to direct competitors) and the product could be profitable enough they launched on heavy advertising and promotional activities.
How to execute the copy strategy
Watch the following commercials from 1995 and 2014 respectively. They say a lot about how to execute the advertising strategy.
Video 1: Pampers Baby Wipes. UK, TV advert 1995.
|0-9’’||Opening||Mom’s problem: Cleaning baby’s sensitive skin|
|10’’||Strategic issue||To switch from a traditional habit to a new, modern way of
Cleaning her baby as gently as a bath cloth
|13’’||The solution||Pampers Sensitive Wipes
It also demonstrates the “ease of product use” concept, according to moms’ expectations.
|16’’||Big visual||Split screen – Only Pampers has the new soft care system|
|18’’||Reason why||PBW have many more long soft fibers that clean much more easily and more gently|
|28’’||Benefit||Text over – For cleaner happier babies (selling idea)
Voice over – Recall to solution: New Pampers wipes, a gentler way to clean (payoff)
|0-30’’||Brand character||Loving, caring, and modern (expert) mom other moms can trust|
Table 3: Summary script of Pampers Baby Wipes. UK, TV advert from 1995.
This video’s script, although 20+ years old, follows a pattern still in use today. It makes moms aware of the new product while giving them a reason to change their habits. It opens with the problem; it suggests a solution and gives a reason to believe it. And it does so in a calm, warm, and conscious way moms can trust (character).
Although brands evolve and new competitors enter the playing field, the copy strategy stays coherent over time with its original meaning. This doesn’t mean you can’t extend the benefit. Just don’t compromise the brand.
Now watch this 2014 PBW commercial from the USA.
Video 2: Pampers Baby Wipes. US, TV advert 2014.
|0’’||Opening||Brand name, logo, and payoff (memorization)|
|3’’||Benefit||Keep your baby’s delicate skin looking healthy with Pampers Sensitive Wipes|
|15’’||Reason why||Pampers have unique buffering lotion that helps lower and maintain the natural pH|
|26’’||Big visual||Split screen – Pampers vs. washcloth with plain water|
|33’’||Reason why||The #1 choice of hospitals (Reinforcement due to ad length)|
|37’’||Closing||Brand name, logo, and payoff (including company name)|
|0’’-43’’||Brand character||Expert brand who knows the needs of babies and helps make changing time even better by creating a caring and loving relationship between mom and baby.|
Table 4: Summary script of Pampers Baby Wipes. US, TV advert from 2014.
The product was improved (buffering lotion), the reason why was reinforced (hospitals’ choice), and the benefit extended (skin looking healthy), but without compromising the original “gentle cleaning” concept, which in fact is contained in the “healthy skin” concept.
The brand remained loyal to its heritage, and it executed the same strategic concept throughout all communication channels and media.
Ad opening and brand name
Interestingly, these TV spots have two completely different openings. The 2014 ad begins with the brand name while the 1995 one opens on mom and baby and the brand name appears only at second 11-13.
You might have heard that the brand should be mentioned within the first 6 seconds of TV commercials. The reason to mention the brand early is to build awareness quickly. This rule permits an exception, however, when the ad captures the attention, for instance with a new solution to an old problem. This is the case of the 1995 ad which in fact suggests a modern and improved way of cleaning babies as opposed to the traditional washcloth.
Humor is another way to keep the audience watching. Watch how Febreze did it with DavesBleepDontStink. Humor, however, is a tricky one. It works only when linked to the product technical performance, otherwise it may choke the brand and waste resources.
Longitudinal analysis of the advertising strategy execution
The copy strategy doesn’t change over time. What does change is the execution of the strategy.
Pampers Baby Wipes have always offered gentle cleaning. Over time, however, despite the many commercial variations, the Copy strategy hasn’t substantially changed from the original version of “Pampers Baby Wipes clean easily and gently”. They:
- Reinforced the concept of gentleness (to maintain product superiority)
- Spoke to different customers (to extend the user base and reach the market leadership objective)
- Suggested product use in different situations (to broaden the source of business)
Creating a copy strategy that delivers what it promises is a long process built on coherence. The key steps are:
- Define a realistic role your brand may play on the market (leader, challenger, follower, or niche player)
- Select the people to speak to
- Make the product your audience wants
- Make it profitable
- Seize the strongest claim
- Execute the copy strategy consistently over time
I hope you found this article interesting. Read also this article on how to judge a copy strategy according to the principles of strategic marketing.
Thank you for reading!
#Strategy, #Marketing, #Advertising
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 The modern way is symbolized with a few frames around second 8. The kitchen is modern and neat, not cheap; it is presumably a family-house, not a condo, in a pleasant neighborhood; she looks happy and dynamic; both mom and baby are well groomed and dressed in a fashionable, fresh manner. This is an image many moms may like to be associated with, and this is the kind of positive reaction the management aims for, in an attempt to add value to the brand.
 From the traditional washcloth and water to a new, modern alternative to clean babies.