Woolite's 'heroic' campaign helps freshen up the brand

Woolite is breaking out of its normal marketing routine with "The Torturer," a campaign created with the idea that Woolite can rescue people's clothes from the torture of washing them with heavy detergents.

Company: Reckitt Benckiser - Woolite
Campaign: The Torturer
Agency mix: Euro RSCG (creative); Porter Novelli (media outreach, PR); Iris Worldwide (digital)
In-house team: Jiri Kulik, GM of marketing, and Caroline Hey, communications manager, Reckitt Benckiser; Christian Ortiz, brand manager, and Steven Lambrecht, associate brand manager, Woolite
Budget: $15 million

Woolite is breaking out of its normal marketing routine with "The Torturer," a campaign created by Euro RSCG with the idea that Woolite can rescue people's clothes from the torture of washing them with heavy detergents.

"Most of us don't get dirty during the day," says Caroline Hey, US communications manager at Reckitt Benckiser, Woolite's parent company. "We're dealing with sweat, perfume, and the occasional coffee spill. If we use a gentler detergent such as Woolite in these cost-conscious times, we'll keep them better looking for longer."

To grab consumers' attention, Euro RSCG brought in Rob Zombie to direct the ads.

The unique commercials were featured at cinemas in various cities. Reckitt launched the effort online, while Iris Worldwide worked to ensure ads and concepts were released on Facebook and YouTube and created the banners and Facebook applications.

The brand's YouTube channel received more than 100,000 views within two months. Fans then uploaded the videos onto their own channels, leading to nearly 500,000 views.

In late August, a Woolite Washing Savior contest kicked off on Facebook to find a "nemesis" to the Torturer. Fans uploaded photos of themselves in "savior" garb.

Porter Novelli, which has worked with Reckitt in a corporate capacity, helped get the message out that Woolite is an "edgy brand," says agency SVP Kristin Sadlon.

The firm created buzz by gaining coverage in outlets including The New York Times, Gawker, and PerezHilton.com.

Rahul Sabnis, executive creative director at Euro RSCG, says "The Torturer" was successful because of its "interesting cultural mash-up" that put Woolite on the forward edge.

"Sometimes you don't realize what you're missing creatively until you get a chance to see something really take off," he says. "We will look back to this campaign launch as a watershed moment for Reckitt Benckiser in the way they perceive themselves."

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