Dr. Squatch, the men's natural soap brand, is introducing a partnership with the NFL's Justin Herbert -- its first celebrity endorser. The company says the new campaign is the next step in its growth phase as it tries to big-foot its way from the smaller pond of men's natural brands to the larger personal care universe.
Dejan Rankovic, senior director of growth for the Los Angeles-based company, details the shift in strategy.
Marketing D2C Weekly: The new ads with Herbert, the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback, are breaking with the beginning of the new season. What's your new marketing strategy?
Dejan Rankovic: We were curious to step into this space. We've seen other brands succeed with celebrity spokespeople, like Old Spice with Kevin Hart. We wanted to take a big swing and go with a more macro personality. We narrowed it down to football because we had such a strong reaction to our Super Bowl ad.
We focused on Herbert. He's a high performer. He's a bit underdog and was drafted late–that resonates with our brand. He fits our personality. He's funny. He's an outdoors person. Once we met him, we knew he was the right fit. The goal is for him to function as a surrogate for the brand to new customers.
Marketing D2C Weekly: Who are the new customers you're after? And who are your current customers?
Rankovic: Your average everyday man, between 20 and 40.
Marketing D2C Weekly: In a category that routinely dives into multiple Gen Z subsegments, that sounds really broad.
Rankovic: For sure. But that's not me being unspecific–that literally is our core market. And it's a tremendously underserved market -- guys who have been using the same basic products since high school. They haven't had the interest to switch.
Marketing D2C Weekly: What's the brand's personality?
Rankovic: Our mission is to inspire men to be happier and healthier with high-performing products. Traditionally these have been viewed as inaccessible to everyday men. Maybe they're seen as very expensive or maybe even feminine. We're able to bridge that gap with our funny and disruptive marketing. Our goofy type of humor makes us accessible.
Marketing D2C Weekly: Who do you see as your primary competitors?
Rankovic: Our goal is to transition from the No. 1 natural personal care brand for men to the No. 1 personal care brand for men. That means we need to grow this category by creating top-performing products and communicating their value through our disruptive, edgy marketing.
Marketing D2C Weekly: This is a category that loves comedy. Old Spice, Axe, Dollar Shave Club, Harry's -- there are many brand comedians. What makes you different?
Rankovic: We lean into outdoorsy elements, mostly because that fits the products that we create.
Marketing D2C Weekly: I guess there's no such thing as an indoor Sasquatch. Explain the role of the other two people in the ad.
Rankovic: James Schrader, a comedian, has been in many of our ads, as has Mike Langsdale. They're kind of our OG spokespeople. James is front and center and functions as a kind of expert, with Mike representing the audience. This ad, like all our ads, is funny. But they're also educational, as we explain the benefits of natural products. We do it in a fun way.
Marketing D2C Weekly: What's the gateway Dr. Squatch product?
Rankovic: Our flagship product is pine tar soap.
Marketing D2C Weekly: Does this campaign reflect new thinking on media buys?
Rankovic: Yes. It's running now on our YouTube channel, as well as Facebook and Instagram, including Justin's social media channels. We'll be on traditional TV. And we'll run on Thursday Night Football on Amazon and sports networks.
Marketing D2C Weekly: Although you are a natural products company, you talk little about sustainability in your marketing. Why?
Rankovic: We pride ourselves on producing all our products in an eco-friendly way, and we have our manufacturing facility here in Compton. But we only have so much time with the consumer to drive the messaging home. So we focus more on the problems we solve. As a customer gets further along in the lifecycle marketing, we communicate more about environmental benefits. And we don't feel it helps us acquire customers–but it helps us keep them.
Marketing D2C Weekly: How are you measuring the success of this new campaign besides watching sales?
Rankovic: We are the market leader within this category and feel a responsibility to continue to grow it. So we want to acquire new customers, engage our base, and create exciting marketing that builds momentum.
Marketing D2C Weekly: What's next?
Rankovic: There's a good chance you'll see us doing more partnerships with other brand ambassadors in the future. They'll likely fit that similar mold–people who are disruptive and ascending within their specific domain.