Word of mouth makes the cut for Philips Norelco Bodygroom

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NEW YORK - Philips Norelco had an issue: How to stimulate interest in a men's body grooming shaver in a space that's fairly stagnant? Talk of longer blades or sharper ones wasn't exciting enough.

After all, men have been doing the same thing on their face for a long time, a company executive told ad:tech New York session attendees Nov. 7. But Zdenek C. Kratky, brand manager for shaving and beauty at Philips DAP North America, had a mandate to fulfill.

"What about shaving anything but the face?" Mr. Kratky said. "[It's] really shaving anything below the neck."

That was how the company was positioning Philips Norelco Bodygroom, a product that trims and shaves all body zones. Among the challenges: the product had a small budget of less than $1 million, the concept was new and the audience was media-saturated.

Philips Norelco, however, was not lacking in chutzpah. So it turned to word of mouth marketing to target men ages 25 to 44 who may want to shave below the neck, but don't like discussing it.

The site at http://www.shaveeverywhere.com/ was the key vehicle of the viral marketing effort.

Created by TribalDDB, the site shows a man in a bathrobe discussing body parts that can be shaved easily and those that are hard to reach. His voice is blipped when discussing some body parts, with visuals of lemons and a peach substituting for words.

Also, the tongue-in-cheek banter continues if visitors mouse over the shaver's icon to reveal a section devoted to the basics, where to shave, how to buy and a music video along with testimonials, test drive, product details and something called "optical inch."

In the basics area, for instance, the model walks over to the director's chair. Philips Norelco Bodygroom in hand, he gets chatty and then crosses his legs "Basic Instinct" style. An exposed part is blurred with that movement.

With such material, Philips Norelco wanted to generate awareness and involvement with the brand and meet sales goals while creating this buzz.

The company, which competes with Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette, relied on a combination of online banners, talking panels in New York and Los Angeles bathrooms and wild postings in New York's Manhattan borough. The only other push was a skit on Howard Stern's show, albeit on satellite radio.

Since its launch this spring, shaveeverywhere.com generated traffic pass-along of 31 percent, Mr. Kratky said. The first week generated 313,000 unique visitors, a number that was doubled the following week. Year to date, the site has recorded 1.73 million unique visitors, each spending 7 minutes.

"That's the same as getting a primetime message across," Mr. Kratky said.

The campaign was tracked to sales. A button on shaveeverywhere.com directed visitors to buy the product on Amazon.com, drugstore.com or target.com.

It was one of the more successful launches on Amazon for eight consecutive weeks, Mr. Kratky said. Also, it was the third-largest selling SKU in the men's grooming category at target.com.

The campaign won a gold Cyber Lions in the most recent Cannes Lions festival in Cannes, France.

Mr. Kratky admitted there was a lot of pushback on the effort. But tests with the target audience proved the word of mouth effort had legs. This is crucial when combining humor with a product that's difficult to pitch in a non-traditional way.

"We did a lot of consumer research that this will resonate with our consumers," Mr. Kratky said. "We had a lot of believers behind us."


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