ORLANDO, FL: Clorox, the cleaning brand, successfully managed to overcome a case of “short-termitis” by taking a more human-centric, and purpose-driven, approach to marketing.

Eric Reynolds, Clorox’s Chief Marketing Officer, discussed this subject during a keynote session at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2017 Masters of Marketing Conference.

More specifically, he referenced how the company’s eponymous cleaning brand had adopted a purpose premised around the notion that “Clorox Champions a Clean World Where People Can Thrive”.

This mission was based in large part on the insight that while people may not enjoy the process of cleaning, the end results are extremely valuable.

“Cleaning happens before almost anything major, or minor, happens in life. It resets the stage for life's possibilities,” said Reynolds. (For more, read WARC’s exclusive report: How Clorox moved beyond data to a new human-centric brand focus.)

In bringing that proposition to life, Clorox focused on real people. “We decided to follow them on their journey – to celebrate the fact that, even though people hate cleaning, they love clean,” said Reynolds.

Implementing this type of approach, he continued, followed on from a period where the brand put too much emphasis on tactics like programmatic advertising.

“We did a huge bid early on in programmatic media,” Reynolds said. “We bought trainloads of banner ads as a major commitment to try to get to that right person, the right time, very first, blah, blah, blah.”

This strategy delivered some strong results: “It absolutely worked marvelously. Between 2014 and 2015 – in that sleepy, old, boring cleaning category – we grew by double digits,” he added.

But a report from brand consultancy Prophet identified another, and uglier, quantitative truth: Out of 400 brands, Clorox checked in the bottom third, occupying 278th place.

“It was really a wake-up call for us that said, ‘Okay, if we're being so successful, why is the brand deteriorating?’” said Reynolds

The answer reflected a “huge case of ‘short-termitis,’” where data and technology were afforded an undue level of predominance.

“In our rush to get so focused and get so data-enabled, we realized we were filling those moments that matter with cheaply-produced, hollow, vacuous, brand moments,” said Reynolds. “This was not storytelling.”

Data sourced from WARC