What it says on the tin
If it is the size of the gap between the status quo and something new that helps determine to what degree that something grabs people’s attention, it would explain why a tampon ad made my day, despite the obvious demographic mismatch. HelloFlo takes a category so riddled with clichés it makes the average sports journalist blush, and turns it upside down, leaving no convention untouched by fresh thinking.
(I must admit I’ve become numb to YouTube views, but 20m views in a week sounds pretty good)
And importantly: this TVC is but one part of a holistic strategy, where everything from product and distribution to communication and brand personality are parts of a coherent whole. In other words the opposite result of what you get when half a dozen specialist agencies are forced to battle it out for marketing budgets on an arena designed to reduce client accountability and flatter their egos.
In Australia, over the last few years, the category has moved on from the worst clichés. The efforts, however, are limited to one TV ad – and I’m sure some token social media stuff – that could’ve been produced by any one of their competitors. As is the case with so many other categories, these are simply advertisements for a single insight. Following the misunderstood notion of simplicity, a key insight is generated, creative wrapping added, then fed back to the customers.
The emotional message – We know you – presumes a license has been earned to finally push the functional messages; i.e.: so we made our product thinner/thicker/better etc. I think I prefer blue liquid ads, at least there’s an honesty in the absence of creative pretensions.
HelloFlo uses insights – in plural – into the awkwardness and insecurities that exists around having one’s period for the first time, to define the problems – also plural – they must solve for their audience. And then, using the entire range of touchpoints available to them, they design a range of solutions to solve these problems.
All of which form part of a coherent brand strategy and a bigger idea.
Here are some of the things they do different:
Product: Care packages that include, not just the obvious, but also treats, such as lollies and chocolate; making the pie bigger through added value that justifies a higher price.
Distribution: Ensuring loyalty, subscription service is perfect for this rather regular and predictable occurrence and for a product that is presumably a bit awkward to buy in the supermarket.
Communication: The TVC is funny, insightful and refreshingly politically incorrect. Being but one element of a greater strategy, it ends up advertising an idea and an ideology rather than just an insight.
Audience: Their audience was actually young girls and mothers, not middle-aged risk-averse male marketing managers, more concerned with office politics than gender politics.
Brand personality: Free of euphemisms and not afraid of using crude humour, it comes across as a trustworthy, credible and relevant brand.
Messages: It’s not about the technical intricacies of the production processes of the product, or the presumed category drivers. It’s something much more important and relevant: It’s a message of empowerment of women, saying that their periods are not something to be ashamed of. And it’s a message that permeates everything the brand does, not simply paid lip-service to in a 30 sec. spot.
So on the face of it, HelloFlo doesn’t solve trivial problems related to leakage, but higher-level problems related to identity and belonging, creating an emotional connection that is much stronger than what could ever result from so-called emotional propositions and messaging and other nonsense.
Crucially, this emotional connection affects traditional brand metrics, like perceived quality of the product. Cognitive dissonance makes sure that if people like a brand they will justify buying the product, thereby convincing themselves the product is of good quality. And let’s face it, these days, with all products being pretty damn good and pretty damn similar, this is not a big leap of cognitive faith.
By allowing people to reach their own conclusions instead of shoving it down their throats they may actually believe it. They might even recommend it to their friends.
Does the TVC appeal to young girls? Rob Campbell doesn’t seem to think so. Which made me think. Perhaps I was too enthusiastic too quickly. Perhaps I;m seeing this purely from a marketing professional’s p.o.v. and one who places too much emphasis on irreverence and differentiation at that. On the other hand, I don’t know what the objectives were and where it sits in the overall strategy. Perhaps it’s just a big call for attention. In which case it succeeds. However, I still think it conveys the sentiment that the period is something to be treated differently from what is currently the case. Which is empowering and presumably resonates. Right? Hmmm, I don’t know. Guess the jury just went out again for me, at least on the TVC aspect of the brand. I’ll have a think.