CAMPAIGNS: Dial parlays public favor out of Queen of Clean's approval

PR Team: Dial Corporation (Scottsdale, AZ) and CKPR (Phoenix, AZ) Campaign: Purex/Zout Laundry Room Makeover Time Frame: January-December 2002 Budget: $200,000

PR Team: Dial Corporation (Scottsdale, AZ) and CKPR (Phoenix, AZ) Campaign: Purex/Zout Laundry Room Makeover Time Frame: January-December 2002 Budget: $200,000

A cleaning product can get no better recommendation than one from Linda Cobb, a.k.a. the Queen of Clean. A daytime-TV fixture, Cobb is the super-heroine of US housewives. Equipped with a roll of paper towels and a recipe to eradicate any stain, she has reached millions with her quick-fix cleaning tips and Seal of Approval endorsements on more than 70 local and national TV and radio talk shows, including Oprah and NBC's Today. Never relying on PR pitches, Cobb's Seal of Approval is only endowed upon items she's personally tested, then promoted in her appearances and six books (some of which are available in Spanish). So when Dial Corporation's laundry brands - detergent Purex and stain remover Zout - earned a spot on the Queen's list of Palace Picks, the company called CKPR to create broader awareness of the products in the crowded marketplace. The team faced several challenges, such as the overexposure of the Queen in national media, no new product developments, and a low-interest category. Strategy "Having pitched similar products in the past, we know it's hard to market a cleaning product. Reporters don't want to discuss laundry," says Traci Weber, associate director at CKPR. "We had to find a new twist." Their new twist came in the form of a partnership with Woman's Day magazine that was prompted by media buys of print ads. On top of the buys, the PR team would work with Woman's Day's editors to increase awareness of both brands. Tactics The team came up with the idea of an essay contest to get Woman's Day's readers involved. "We wanted to do something humorous that would involve consumers," Weber explains. The contest, called "America's Messiest Laundry Room," got consumers to vie for a chance to use Dial's products. Contestants would write in about why their house had the messiest laundry room in the US, and the winner would get a $10,000 laundry-room makeover, including new appliances, decorating and laundry products, and a personal session with Cobb about how to simplify the normally tedious and mundane laundry routine. The other side of the campaign was a quiz for the magazine, entitled "What your laundry says about you," with customized tips from Cobb for each archetype. After all of the Woman's Day elements were in place, CKPR focused on strategic media relations pitches, as well as an SMT, VNR, and ANR. "We did a lot of targeted pitching about the contest, the announcement, and the winner," says Weber. Results All parties considered the yearlong campaign a success. While ads may have been the catalyst for the program, the initiative unfolded with very little ad support. In addition, Dial's overall growth numbers for 2002 showed that sales volumes for Purex were up 21%, while Zout showed a 15.3% growth. According to Woman's Day editors, the "America's Messiest Laundry Room" contest was the most successful such endeavor in the title's history, garnering more responses than any other. Media relations efforts won quality placement in the winner's local media and outlets in other large markets such as Minneapolis and Denver papers, as well as household-products trade titles. Overall, the campaign racked up 48 million media impressions, exceeding its expectations and proving that America can't get enough of the Queen of Clean. Future Dial and CKPR will work with Woman's Day again on another contest for the magazine's readers in 2003.

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