Midol Makes a Game of Marketing to Teen Girls

For its first venture into online marketing, Midol targeted more than 1 million teen-age girls earlier this month with an e-mail campaign that features an interactive video game starring three heroines known as the Mighty Midols. The characters help young girls battle with the perils of menstruation, including cramps, fatigue and bloating, by destroying them in the video game and providing advice.

Working with the teen site Alloy.com, New York, Midol sent more than 1 million e-mails on April 4 to registered Alloy members age 12 to 18. Other parts of the campaign include banner ads and access to the game on Alloy until July 1, as well as a contest that will award a $100 Alloy shopping spree to the girl who forwards the e-mail the most number of times.

The campaign's overall click-through rate is currently 2.3 percent, according to Heather Shirley, brand manager at Midol. Certain portions of the campaign have generated nearly a 6 percent click-through rate, she said. The company will wait until July to analyze all the results and see which segment of the campaign generated the best response.

Based on early results, Internet marketing is already figuring to play a larger role in Midol's future marketing plans.

“We've made a commitment to double the Internet advertising budget for next year based on what we've seen,” Shirley said. “The Web allows us to stay in touch with the teen audience, which is a hard demographic to reach through traditional media.”

The campaign is part of a Web initiative that began at the end of last year with the relaunch of the Midol Web site. The new site, like the campaign, is focused on teen-age girls. Midol's original Web site was “merely an online brochure,” but focus groups with girls age 12 to 14 and age 15 to 18 indicated that they liked the content and felt it was relevant but wanted more interaction and better navigation.

“We refocused the Web site on teen-age girls because our research showed them to be very loyal customers,” Shirley said. “When deciding how to market to them, the Internet seemed a very appropriate fit. Menstruation is a private thing, and this provides girls with a forum to discuss and find answers from a trusted and reliable source.”

When recipients open the e-mail, they are linked to a site where they can take a quiz of their knowledge on how to deal with menstruation and can see which of the characters are most similar to them. They also can just play the game, forward the message to friends or link to Midol.com.

Shirley said one of the main obstacles for Midol was figuring out how to “market a regular household product on the Internet” while generating interest and excitement for it. Once again, Midol let the girls in the focus groups decide.

“We provided three options — a screensaver, a quiz or the video game — and asked which way they preferred to receive information,” Shirley explained. “The 12- to 14-year-old girls liked the quiz, and the 15- to 18-year-old girls preferred the video game. So we combined the two of them.”

The game begins with a short animation in which the characters — Marissa Midol, Mimi Midol and Maya Midol — are asked to help a young girl who is bloated. The game then begins, and the user must set out to destroy cramps, fatigue and bloating. After that, they must destroy the “monsteruation” monster.

Once the game is completed, another brief animation shows the characters discussing the benefits of Midol, and users are given another link to Midol.com.

Myles Kleeger, director of ad sales for the East Coast at Alloy, said the video game distinguishes Midol from all other companies it has worked with in promoting these types of products.

“All of the others' attempts have been about advice and what to do about it,” he said. “Never has anyone tried to get them to have fun with it and discuss it like Midol has done here.”

Midol worked with Tatham, an interactive ad agency in Chicago, to develop the concept, while iToons, Chicago, developed the video game.

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