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Whirlpool Taps Into People-Powered Marketing

When most of us think of a brand like Whirlpool, chores come to mind.

You think of cooking or washing. Frankly, it’s a company synonymous with home appliances needed for the perhaps not-so-fun stuff in life. And although making it easier to do the perfunctory household tasks will always be part of its 104-year history, marketers for Whirlpool Corporation are hoping to add another dimension to the way consumers think about the brand—emotion.

“When you put [the brand] in that context of emotion and care, the creative canvas becomes much wider,” says Jon Hall, senior brand manager at Whirlpool. “The idea of creating stories that people connect with becomes a real idea as opposed to a piece of technology that’s cold and metal.”

In fact, Hall says that one of the best ways to evoke emotions in shoppers—and even employees at Whirlpool—is strong storytelling. “A lot of what we’re doing is storytelling,” Hall continues. “And for us it’s about telling the story in the right moment in the path to purchase and complementing it with the logical, rational conversation that comes with the big-ticket purchase. So now, the idea is to make the emotional and the rational work together.”

But even with such a strong history with shoppers, marketers at Whirlpool initially didn’t know what stories to tell that would boost connections, affinity, and, ultimately, purchases.

“When searching for the right story to tell, we discovered that it’s the real stories of how cleaning, cooking, and washing affect [consumers’] everyday lives,” says Mark Book, VP, director of social content at agency DigitasLBi, while explaining how the agency helped marketers at Whirlpool cull the right narratives. Book says that his team and marketers at Whirlpool recognized that each chore has a deeper element behind it—acts of love, care, and responsibility. “The overall strategy was to focus on kind of moving from more of a functional message to more of an emotional one—not the how are chores getting done but rather the why,” Book says.

So in October marketers put in place a new campaign, The Every Day, Care Project, designed to tell the personal stories of shoppers. Every Day, Care has several moving parts—TV spots, print ads, popular hashtags—including #EveryDayCare, #CareCrowd, and #ItsAllCare—a microsite, and lots of user-generated content.

Marketers at Whirlpool encouraged consumers to tweet the ways that their families care, in particular with Whirlpool products. The social media posts feed a collective of images on the microsite and continually fuel the hashtag momentum. Whirlpool has released several poignant videos that highlight family challenges and intimate moments of customers. The short films vividly illustrate how people are making room for their families, supporting their children, and finding time for their loved ones—all, of course, in connection with the brand’s products. Whirlpool is even calling attention to social issues by sharing sobering facts, such as how a lack of clean clothes has a direct effect on truancy rates among high school students.

And marketers even took it a step further—by creating a fervent digital community outside of traditional social media. “We believe that it’s critical for the brands of tomorrow to embrace a new relationship with their consumers,” says Matthew Scott, SVP of business development and strategy at consumer community platform Crowdtap. The relationship, Scott says, needs to be more engaging, inspiring, and devoted. “Bring them into the fabric of the brand, and they’ll continue to be part of that brand franchise. The future of marketing is putting people at the center of brand strategy.”

So with tools from Crowdtap, marketers for Whirlpool have built a community that’s more than 17,000 strong on the platform. Fans of the brand simply join the Crowdtap communities of their favorite brands and then take several actions that fuel engagement and build affinity, like taking quizzes, watching and sharing videos, or receiving product samples—all of which educate users about their brands of choice.

So far, Whirlpool has seen a reported 31% increase in their Twitter followers; it’s boosted the brand’s online sentiment by about 4.7 points on a five-point DigitasLBi scale. In fact, one Crowdtap member video (the first shared in this DM News story) has garnered more than two million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, with more than 63,000 engagements. That’s just one video.

Whirlpool’s Hall says that the integral part of the brand’s marketing strategy is sharing those same core convictions with each loving family: “Really, it’s a simple idea. Behind every choice is an act of love. Taking the customer’s point of view is fueling our innovation today and into the future.”

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