Female Buzz! Barbie, Kotex ... Harley Davidson?

by , Aug 24, 2011, 4:09 PM
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Frito-Lay and CVS Pharmacy were among the brands that made the biggest impact on women over a 12-month period, ending June 30, according to Women at NBCU's Brand Power Index (BPI). Surprised? Check out the others: Barbie, Kotex and Harley Davidson!

What brings them together? Among other things, risk-taking, category redefinition, social media experimentation and humorous messaging, says Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP of trends and strategic insights, Integrated Media at NBCU.

The index measures brands that garner the most female attention, based on the monthly analysis of 500 brands. From most controversial chatter to loudest social media buzz, the year-in-review study spotlights the brands that made the list, and the innovative techniques that got them there.

  • Kotex won Best Controversial Buzz. The brand took it up 130 notches after it broke the silence around feminine care in the spring with "U by Kotex Tween" aimed at pre-teens and meant to encourage conversation between moms and daughters. The brand also created an online forum for girls and moms to discuss health issues and their first periods.

    "Humor was particularly effective for brands that needed some serious comic relief," LaVigne-Deville tells Marketing Daily. "Periods and tampons aren't funny, but the awkward conversations and marketing around them are. Kotex wins because the brand embraced the stigma surrounding 'the talk' between mothers and daughters, making light of a topic that is important but, let's face it, not one that most want to have a 'deep' discussion about.

    This comes on the heels of a series of U by Kotex commercials where Kotex pokes fun at itself and its competitors' marketing campaign which tend to overuse cliché images, such as women dancing in white leotards, hugging soft things and running on the beach while expressing how they feel about their period."
  • Barbie won Best Viral Buzz. Mattel Inc. flirted with the idea of whether she should take Ken back or remain independent across Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and YouTube. The company also launched a reality web series to find the next "Great American boyfriend." On a traditional billboard, Ken professed his love for Barbie. These campaigns coincided with Barbie's rise on the BPI to 74, not to mention a happy ending: Barbie's Facebook status now says "in a relationship."

"Barbie is a lot of things ... but funny hasn't typically been her strong suit," says Lavigne-Delville. "And until 'Toy Story 3' brought Ken back with a dream house and a nice ascot, he didn't seem to have much personality at all, let alone a sense of humor. Barbie's search for the genuine Ken campaign lightened up these iconic dolls, not to mention poked more than a little fun at modern day dating culture à la reality TV."

  • Frito Lay won Best Social Media Buzz. According to NBCU, the brand set the Guinness World Record on Facebook this spring with 1.5 million new "likes" in 24 hours, climbing 159 points up the BPI. The company partnered with Zynga to create a Frito Lay farm on FarmVille, where players could harvest and package their own wholesome virtual goods. Frito Lay also replicated its famous "Flavor Kitchen" in New York's Time Square, a live cooking demonstration with simple solutions for busy moms, which was simultaneously streamed on Frito Lay's Facebook page.
  • Harley Davidson won Best Breakthrough Buzz. This was the brand's first appearance in the index, at 194. The male-associated brand undertook several initiatives to celebrate the growing number of female enthusiasts, including women-only garage parties, a first-ever female "biker boot camp," and the launch of "women riders month." The company also gave women the chance to interact with fellow female riders on a new Web site.
  • CVS Pharmacy won Best Steady Buzz. The brand climbed for eight consecutive months up the index, peaking at number 27, as it diversified beyond the pharmacy category, focusing especially on lifestyle and beauty. CVS partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to launch the "Life Grows On" photo contest, aimed at raising awareness around conservation. In addition, it launched the "Beauty Board," a panel of lifestyle experts, on its Facebook page.

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