Friday, August 6, 2010

Downy's Fresh Pitch: Clean Sheets for a Week

Aug 2, 2010

Procter & Gamble's Downy will keep bed sheets smelling fresh for one week. That's the pitch in new ads, which tout the fabric softener's improved formula.

The new formulation, available both on Ultra Downy April Fresh and Sun Blossom, hits shelves this month. The products are being promoted via TV and print ads, as well as social media.

One spot, via the brand's lead agency Grey, New York, shows consumers indulging in a variety of rituals to celebrate their clean sheets. The narrator lists them as the “snow angel,” “the parachute” and “the slide.” As the spot concludes, it's revealed that Downy now has scent pearls that deliver a week of freshness.

Ads also direct consumers to, where they can “share [their] love of clean sheets.” The Facebook page also houses a video that shows Downy hitting the road and asking consumers questions about their sheets. “It’s a real conversation starter,” P&G rep Sarah Pasquinucci said of the effort's social media component.

Print ads, meanwhile, boast: “New Ultra Downy April Fresh has scent pearls that let you climb into renewing freshness for 7 days.” One shows a mother and her daughter sitting under a "clean sheet" parachute.

In addition to Grey, agencies Digitas and DeVries handled digital and public relations duties, respectively.

The effort—part of Downy’s ongoing “Feel More” campaign—builds on P&G's research, which found that 64 percent of consumers wash their sheets at least once a week. That’s usually accompanied by some sort of celebration or relaxation, Pasquinucci said.

P&G, which has seen consumers trading down in a recession, is introducing the bottles at a similar price as the rest of the Downy line. Such a move makes it a value buy for consumers and is a smart way to fend off private label, said Lynn Dornblaser, a new products expert at market research firm Mintel.

“This, to me, seems like one of the classic ways for major companies to try to offset consumers’ move to private label by offering additional benefits that [the latter] doesn’t offer,” she Dornblaser.

P&G spent $66 million advertising Downy in 2009, and $29 million through the first five months of this year, excluding online, per the Nielsen Co.