Product PR: K-Y takes intimate view of the brand to reposition itself

As the producers of one of the most well-known brands of lubricant on the market, K-Y Brand had an enviable problem - it was too well-known.

As the producers of one of the most well-known brands of lubricant on the market, K-Y Brand had an enviable problem - it was too well-known.

Although it had added several products to its lubricant line, K-Y was primarily known as the maker of K-Y Jelly, which had a distinctly medicinal stigma.

Looking to move forward, it asked Euro RSCG Magnet to help it shed its clinical image and promote an intimacy enhancement platform. "We wanted something that was ownable and campaignable, and that consumers would tightly associate with the brand," says Danielle Devine, VP of PR for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Co.


K-Y and Magnet decided to target women in committed relationships, a group they knew would be open to intimacy enhancement. Tasked with creating an event to reinforce this position, Magnet looked at K-Y's sales research, which identified popular "sex holidays," such as Valentine's Day and New Year's. Magnet concluded that rather than playing into a message as overtly sexual as that of the holidays, it would create its own holiday, one stressing the need for intimacy with a partner.

"The whole mantra was just to make time to be romantic," says Lisa Eggerton Pearson, SVP of Magnet. "We didn't want to convolute or cloud it with other messages; we wanted it to be simple and realistic."

Ideals firmly in place, K-Y Brand National Date Night was set for August 7, 2004. Hot on the heels of Labor Day, but before mothers would be busy preparing for school, Magnet went about getting people to act on their most wholesome desires.


The campaign began with a phone survey asking 500 women about the state of their relationships. Finding that 77% desired more intimate time with their partners, the firm hired an author and board-certified marriage counselor, Michele Weiner-Davis, to act as a spokes- woman in broadcast and print interviews, SMTs, and news programs. Davis spoke of the need for National Date Night, calling upon her therapy background and the K-Y Brand survey and products to illustrate her point.

Magnet was careful to make sure the message never became too overtly sexual so as not to put off any mainstream media outlets. "We didn't want to make this a mandatory day on which you had to have sex," says Pearson. "We were just trying to associate the product with intimacy and get it away from the idea of problem-solution."

Magnet also ran radio promotions in eight major markets, giving away "romance rescue kits" and hotel getaways. Utilizing K-Y's website, the team set up a National Date Night sweepstakes contest in which a couple could win a double date with Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter from TV's The Bachelorette. With goodies flowing, people started taking notice.


The overall campaign generated more than 28 million media impressions, 95% of which promoted the desired brand messages. Almost all coverage, whether radio, print, or online, mentioned the product and always in relation to romance and intimacy. K-Y Brand spokesperson pieces were also heavily picked up.

Meanwhile, the online sweepstakes saw more than 2,100 entries in the 10 days it ran, a record number for the production agency. "This is a brand that has historically found it incredibly challenging to get mainstream media to cover what it's doing, so this is viewed as a big success," says Pearson.


Magnet remains the agency of record for K-Y Brand, which has plans to make National Date Night an annual event. Next year's Date Night has already been reserved and will be anchored by a new product launch under the K-Y name.

"National Date Night is very meaningful to our retailers, and it's something consumers really respond to," says Devine.

PR team: K-Y Brand and Euro RSCG Magnet (New York)

Campaign: K-Y Brand National Date Night

Time frame: April to August 2004

Budget: $350,000 (including agency fees, spokesperson fees, and out-of-pocket expenses)

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