How Clorox Used Earned Media to Revive Brita

Geoffrey Precourt

Even the world's most powerful marketers would be hard-pressed to find the funds for a sustained brand-endorsement programs from the likes of U2, Dave Matthews Band, Lady Antebellum, Justin Timberlake, and the Black Eyed Peas.

Step into the ecosystem of earned media, however, and the rules – and costs – of engagement change. An example comes from Clorox's Brita Water Filters.

By 2007, the Brita brand was all but dead, a product that had run its full life cycle, Drew McGowan, Clorox Senior Director for entertainment marketing, told the 2012 ad:tech San Francisco assembly. It was seemingly the end of a 20-year run. In the 1980s, Brita's water pitchers not only had a certain ecological/good-health cachet (its filters eliminated chlorine and lead), but also an edge in quality – Brita water tasted better than most tap waters. And the message got out in a most natural fashion. "It was the ultimate word-of-mouth product," McGowan said. "There was no advertising. People just heard about it. They tried it. They told their friends about it. And the product took off." There was interest internationally, from markets as far away as Germany.