Markets Focus: Who Wears the Pants?

Savvy woman-oriented campaigns follow the apron strings to the purse strings

Old Spice Musafa
If you want to move product, cherchez la femme. Women in the U.S. control 73 percent of household spending, according to Boston Consulting Group. And they're expected to drive $5 trillion in incremental global spending over the next five years.

Old Spice's latest TV campaign, featuring half-naked Isaiah Mustafa, plays unabashedly to women with the fairytale settings, ripped abs, and his self-introduction as "the man your man could smell like." The spots acknowledge the reality of most families, that it's the woman doing the shopping for essentials, including personal care products for her man.

At the same time, with its surreal scenes, and Mustafa's smoky-smirky delivery, the campaign is edgy and funny enough to appeal to men - just in case they are moved to visit the drugstore on their own.

Now that even consumers are handicapping Super Bowl commercials, Old Spice and its agency, Wieden+Kennedy, decided to build a viral buzz before the big game. The original spot was seeded to Old Spice's Facebook fans the Friday before the weekend. It quickly went viral, spreading through YouTube and Twitter, and even into traditional news media, faster than a case of jock itch makes its way through a locker room.

"When we sat down to think about creating a sequel, there was a pretty high bar set, but we wanted to outdo the original," says James Moorehead, Old Spice brand manager. And they did.

It was a publicity stunt on, um, steroids: The company put out the word on Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter that Mustafa would answer fans' questions personally. Then, in a marathon 48-hour session, Wieden+Kennedy recorded Mustafa in 187 videos that were posted on YouTube almost immediately, and went on to dominate the Top Ten list for the month.

Was it a stretch for parent company P&G to let a brand be so nimble? "There wasn't exactly a whole lot of practice," Moorehead says. "We got Isaiah and our writers together and listened to our consumers. It was about conversation, not about traditional advertising that might need guidelines."

Good call. ROI on the campaign was "about a bazillion," Moorehead says a little less precisely than some, and sales more than doubled in July (a little more precisely).

Old Spice was big in the '50s, before losing cachet to upstarts like Hai Karate. The brand's marketing makeover began in 1999, when it skipped a generation and began handing out samples of High Endurance to fifth graders - the grandsons of the original Old Spice Man.

"We are now talking to women deliberately and trying to create a conversation between men and women," Moorehead says. "Some of our marketing has been driven by the insight that not only is Mom buying for the household; she is also making some of the decisions."

Purse Strings Tied to Apron Strings
While women dominate household spending, they still bear the brunt of getting food on the table and taking care of kids, handling 91 percent of the household chores, according to Boston Consulting Group. She'd love to lure her husband into the kitchen to help plan and cook family meals, and maybe Big Fork, Little Fork will help. The iPad app from Kraft Foods combines recipes, nutrition tips, and cooking how-to videos with a very soft brand message.

Created in conjunction with Meredith Integrated Marketing and Hyperfactory, it was designed to help parents instill smart eating habits and a foodie sensibility into kids 6- to 12-years-old. "There are 37 million online searches per year on kids' food, but not a dominant source for that type of information," says Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation in Kraft's consumer experiences department. "So we saw an opportunity to become a source for parents in the food challenges they're facing - getting their children to try new foods, learn smart eating habits, and making meal-time more enjoyable."

Despite the limited number of iPads in consumers' hands, says Kaczmarek, "We think the iPad is an incredibly interactive device that will be used not only in [the] kitchen but around the whole home."

Recipes would be the obvious thing to do, but Hyperfactory, a mobile marketing agency recently acquired by Meredith, tried to reinvent the experience, according to Hyperfactory CEO Derek Handley. "This isn't a magazine or a Web site, it's an interactive experience that uses a new surface that's great for games, great for swiping through big rich images, and a surface that can delight the consumer with little surprises." For example, tapping on an image of an egg will cause it to crack; tapping a tomato makes it go splat.

"You can definitely pack in a lot more content on the iPad; the bigger screen has more room for inspirational imagery," says Handley. The large screen is also better for sharing and, because the app is downloaded, it can be used offline.

Big Fork, Little Fork is expandable, too. After the initial $1.99 download from iTunes, creative moms will be able to go back for additional free and premium content, including chef-branded content packs from the likes of Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson.

We only hope that it doesn't end up with Mom doing all the cooking while Dad and the kids play with the iPad.

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