Procter & Gamble is betting that a cartoon character created to promote its dishwashing liquids in Latin America will increase sales of Joy in the United States.
The company introduced a television advertising campaign on July 1 featuring a character it calls Droppy, an animated yellow soap drop wearing sunglasses. The campaign, by the New York office of Grey Worldwide, a unit of the Grey Global Group, is P& G's first television advertising for Joy in five years.
It is rare for a product mascot to make the jump to the United States from another country. The Charmin bear, which Procter & Gamble has used since 2000 in United States campaigns for Charmin toilet paper, originated in Britain. (It has also appeared in Austria, Germany, Mexico and Switzerland.) Far more common, however, is the export of American advertising icons to other markets. Mr. Clean and Mr. Pringles from Procter & Gamble are two examples of American creations now seen on several continents.
In the past, "there was this arrogance that anything good had to emanate from the U.S.," said Neil I. Kreisberg, group executive vice president and executive managing director at the Grey Global Group. "We've come a long way since then."
Procter & Gamble dominates the market for dishwashing liquid in the United States, according to Information Resources Inc., a market research company. Dawn, its leading brand, generated close to 35 percent of all sales of these products in the 52-week period ended June 15. It was followed by Palmolive, a Colgate-Palmolive product, with approximately 28 percent of sales, and Joy, with 11.2 percent. Ivory, another P.& G. brand, was seventh, with 4.8 percent of sales.
Aaron Eisel, assistant brand manager for Joy, said that of Procter & Gamble's three dishwashing liquids, Joy was the midpriced brand. He said the company considers Dawn a premium product and in advertising focuses on its grease-cutting abilities and cleaning efficiency.
Procter & Gamble has done very limited advertising for Joy in the last five years. TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, which tracks advertising expenditures, says the company did not advertise the brand at all in 2000 and 2001. It spent $255,000 last year, according to TNS.
Ernesto Levy, Joy's brand manager for North America, said recent promotions for Joy had been limited to coupons and minimal advertising. Procter & Gamble chose to return to television, he said, because it was the best way to communicate Joy's selling points: "scent, shine and suds."
Created by Grey Latin America last year, Droppy has been used by P.& G. and Grey to pitch Dawn in Chile, Salvo in Mexico and Magistral in Argentina. Salvo and Magistral are similar to Dawn.
Procter & Gamble decided to adapt Droppy for the United States market because research found that Joy's actual and prospective users considered "dishwashing an escape," said Elana Grasmann, a New York-based account executive at Grey. "If we can make the experience better, it's important to them."
Created in 15- and 30-second versions, the new commercial shows a woman washing dishes in her kitchen. The animated character says: "Admit it, you just can't resist. Is it my suds, my shine or my long-lasting scent?" The spot ends with shots of Joy's four varieties - lemon, citrus, berry and green tea - and the tagline, "Put a little Joy in your life."
The commercial is more whimsical than earlier advertising for Joy, which stressed its grease-cutting abilities.
Ms. Grasmann said the Droppy character used in the United States was "a little more modernized, a little more playful, a little more warm and endearing" than the Latin character. "He has suds and sunglasses for shine, and is transparent like the product," she said.
The character, Mr. Eisel added, is "about enjoying the process when you do the dishes."
Posted on aef.com: July 21, 2003
Jane L. Levere, The New York Times. July 17, 2003
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