Whirlpool is launching a decidedly low-tech marketing campaign in a category where tech is everything. Targeting millennials and Gen Z, the campaign is less focused on the advanced features that dominate the category. Instead, it aims to show how appliances create more time for what matters: the people we love.
"We wanted to make sure that this new campaign is bringing the modern family to life," says Nelly Martínez Garza, senior brand leader for Whirlpool and Amana. "Whirlpool has always been about care. We wanted to showcase what care looks like in modern millennial and Gen Z homes."
The effort grew out of the perception that "younger customers are finding the brand a little vanilla," says Chris Jansma, group creative director at Digitas in Chicago, which created the campaign.
"We wanted to inject some new energy and a new tone into this existing brand purpose -- about care -- that we know still resonates. And we wanted to show how Whirlpool helps you spend less time on the have-to-dos and more time on the love-to-dos."
Martínez Garza tells Marketing Daily that Whirlpool competes most directly with brands like Samsung and LG and offers a wide range of high-tech and interconnective options.
But the campaign deliberately veers away from those benefits, mentioning only the break-through functions that free up the most time, from the company's two-in-one washer to its smart range oven.
"We're almost encouraging people to care less about this stuff, even though it's so important," says Jansma. "The idea is that Whirlpool can help you manage so that you can then go worry about the other aspects of care–cutting your kid's hair in the kitchen, a backyard picnic or playing music."
On average, people replace major appliances every eight to 10 years. "It's important to us that we keep ourselves fresh because people are often coming into the category after years of not paying attention," Martínez Garza, says. "We want to be top of mind in a meaningful and real way for them."
Ads are running on premium video, online video and social media, and moving into TikTok, a first for the brand. "Many purchases are made under duress. When a dishwasher breaks, it needs replacing," Jansma says. But many are made earlier, during significant life changes like buying a home, remodeling or having a baby.
In those cases, people invest more time in research. "They're taking longer to learn about new features and products out there."
To capture both types of shoppers, Jansma says the campaign uses traditional 15 and 30-second spots on digital media. But it's also using a strong social presence, including Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
"There, we're targeting people based on behaviors and interests, reaching them at key moments."'
Martínez Garza says the ultimate success of the effort won't be measured just in how it impacts sales but in how well it drives preference and awareness among younger shoppers. "That's why we've worked so hard to create content for where millennials are most likely to be online."
Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, recently cut its sales forecast. While replacement demand is steady, it noted declines in discretionary spending.
Industrywide, sales of appliances fell 4.9% in the first half of this year, reports the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, with the steepest declines in washers and dryers.