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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scrubbing Bubbles Hits The Mark On Cool Product...But Misses On Targeting

I'm probably pretty late to the game, but just saw one of these commercials (on late night TV of all times) and felt like posting about it. The Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner is quite possibly the coolest innovation in bathtub cleaning I can recall seeing (not that I pay much attention to the category...but still). What has been nagging at me though, is the fact that in their advertising (specifically the target that seems to be depicted in the spots), they position the product toward a familiar audience because it may have seemed to make the most sense or was the safest route at the time (and perhaps it does/is in some way). Check one of the spots here:

I think this is an example of a HUGE missed opportunity in reframing who your target market is. Personally, I think this product is made with- and could have been marketed with- young guys in mind (or, to steal a term from Seth, Gen GuYs). As a member of this group myself- twenty something, still getting used to this idea of being a "professional" and that having clothes strewn about the apartment and dirty bathrooms are no longer socially acceptable as they were in college- a product that allows us to achieve a reasonable level of clean, while requiring the bare minimum of effort, is a god send. Having a clean bathtub and yet not having to spend a minute with a sponge, or can of cleaning solution? Sign me up.

Yet the ads depict the type of out of touch, 1950s style, women who are oh so happy that cleaning is a part of their day that is so typical of commercials in the cleaning product category (always makes me think of the Swiffer campaign...another missed opportunity to go after young guys who would never "dust", but find no issue with grabbing a swiffer cloth and wiping down the TV).

I'd be curious to understand better what the client/agency thought process was. I really think there are plenty of guys that would go for this easy fix cleaning solution, but the company isn't trying to get to them (to my knowledge), maybe out of fear of alienating what they see as their base. Anyone else have thoughts on this (even if it is just to call me a bum for not commenting on these spots sooner)?


Cameron said...

As a guy who cleans his shower seasonally, I do completely agree that this product has a huge dude appeal. However, I needed no motivation beyond product description. Clean your shower with no effort. cool. (If only they made one for every room ... wow, what if they had one for the closet! Just hang dirty clothes at night, fresh in the morning...)

Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if people who regularly clean showers and such sanitary measures of acceptable social behavior, may need more motivation, right? Therefore a creative execution saying that this was more than cleaning; this was a "maid who could reach every area." Something to eliminate what I would assume are the primary doubts: that it would KIND OF clean ONLY the main area of the shower.

My only concern as a guy is "how much?" (or do I need to buy beer on special this week?)

But, I do agree, regardless of target - they feel so tired for the overwrought cleaning category.

Thanks for the great blog; I regularly recommend it to our students.

El Gaffney said...

I'm sold at 360 degrees. Agree with Cameron's thoughts on overcoming the major hurdle for whom they seem to see as their target. I think you're right in missing on target opportunity (that's prob what the title should read). If they add a no fogging mirror and mp3 player for the same price :) they'll "own the shower!" I think if they decide to take your advice and target Gen GuYs, the no effort angle (and price) matter but could have some really interesting stuff around the moment of realization - when girls see your shower and are repulsed or when you start wearing sandals in it, etc. could be viral stuff. i've already given props to some of tide's moves: i love that they are going there to learn rather than sell sell sell.

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Age said...

Great post and I completely agree.

Though as a member of the "missed opportunity target"... I can't see that thing delivering a clean like it promises.

The execution for me would have to be a lot different, or maybe I'm just cynical.

Ad Society said...

I agree because I, a Gen GuY, own one. The “shower cleaning thing” isn't perfect but it does keep the shower an acceptable clean longer. Which creates an interesting dilemma, when the product fails the fifty-something's definition of clean- how quickly will they toss it and go back to scrubbing for a third of the price? Paying the price for something that fails to deliver is a recipe for disaster, especially since I need to buy Scrubbing Bubble refills.

As I load my second bottle from the starter kit, I am left disappointed. It appears that the maid has been sleeping on the job and I’ll have to get to work. However, there is hope (for all of us)! Add one part bleach and nine parts water and you've made an affordable shower cleanser. Which means, the 3 dollars I just shelled out to P & G is going to last me a year of carefree clean showering. The next test… how long will this “shower cleaning thing” last?

Brands need to wake up, build a relationship with me or I will dump you. In fact, I’ll tell my friends where to score a lower maintenance, cheaper version of you.

avin said...

Thanks for all the comments guys.

"Brands need to wake up, build a relationship with me or I will dump you. In fact, I’ll tell my friends where to score a lower maintenance, cheaper version of you."

Well said, ad society.

Seth, also like the "moment of realization" angle, and agreed the Tide stuff isn't bad.

I figure sooner or later someone in the category will realize there's some untapped opportunities for them, but seems they're a bit slow to realize life has progressed since the days of the 'typical' nuclear family.

MP said...

I actually did a campaign when I was in college for this product, along with the Scrubbing Bubbles Flushable Toilet wipes and the Toilet wand. I immediately thought of all my lazy friends (girls and guys) who loathed cleaning, and therefore, did not clean, so that became my target. I agree...they should not be targeting Moms, because most Moms (like my own) already have a routine of cleaning that works for them. It would have been wiser to target young adults/people who are getting their own place and have no clue how to clean it. Or they do, but they just don't want to do it.

Good observation.