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Romancing the Product Benefit

August 26, 2008

I’ve been thinking about product benefits and product features a lot lately.  Over drinks in the sports bar downstairs with one of my favorite clients tonight I was reminded that clients think about their product benefits and features pretty much all the time.  They’re obsessed with them.  Agency types sometimes work around this product obsession but lately I’ve been taking some lessons from product work that is not just about the product feature per se, but the consumer’s underlying needs and emotional relationship with the product story. 

The product isn’t the enemy.  It’s not a barrier.  It’s not something to wedge in there.  The product itself is a wonderful thing calling out for some love and strategery to showcase it and make it relevant to today’s consumers.

Two campaigns have really stood out to me lateley as examples of taking a product story and merging it with simple truths in interesting ways. 

The first one is A Better Six for Sealy Posturepedic with work from Cramer Krasselt in Chicago.  I think that the fact that people don’t get the eight hours of sleep they need is well known.  We’ve all seen the stories and we’ve felt it ourselves at 7:30 in the morning as we caffeinate.  Sealy has raised the conversation from a discussion about the need for a better mattress to the need for a better six hours of sleep, the amount most of us are getting these days.  Talk about finding a new way into what would normally be a dry product story. 

But my personal favorite right now for romancing (literally) the product benefit in a feature-laden problem/solution campaign is the work from Swiffer by Kaplan Thaler in New York.  This is my favorite spot from the campaign. 

They have break up work for the entire line of Swiffer stuff, taking the basic insight “cleaning sucks” and beating it to within an inch of its life.  The analogy of a mop and broom to that ex you are better off without is just terrific.  I smile when I swiff now, humming that old song from the seventies.  And it has a realness about the consumer relationship with cleaning – it sucks, make it easy, make it better – that resonates.  At least in my house. 

Today Herbn Maid came and defurred my house and it smells like lemon.  But in a few days I’m gonna need to spot clean.  Three dogs, nuff said.  And Swiffer understands my needs to get that done and they have a product that works so well they’re offering coupons and a money-back guarantee. 

That guarantee part reminds me of Schooner Tuna, the tuna with a heart of Mr. Mom fame.  After these trying times are over, Swiffer will probably kill the guarantee.  But the guarantee and all the scrubbing strips and comparison yada-yada doesn’t get in the way … it says kick that old broom to the curb and enjoy a new, fulfilling modern relationship with a Swiffer. 

We talk about consumer inertia and motivating people to switch in low involvement categories pretty much every day in our lair.  When I’m stumped or about to give up, I like to look at work like this.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Evan Willnow permalink
    August 27, 2008 3:29 pm

    Interesting take on the mattress campaign. A couple of weeks ago Penn & Teller’s Bulls…! ran an episode on the business of sleep ( ) that slammed mattress salespeople for promising their mattress would help people get to sleep. Now this Seally campaign isn’t promising more, but rather better. As an occasional insomniac I can tell you that nice mattress or cheap couch never’ve seemed to make a difference on amount of sleep. Quality of sleep. There’s a different story.

  2. Jen Oertli permalink
    September 2, 2008 5:02 pm

    I have to say that I find the Swiffer ads just awful, and cheezy as hell (although I realize that’s intentional cheeziness). I love that song, but now it’s ruined for me.

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