Graham Robertson brings 20 years of experience running some of the most beloved brands
The four case studies listed here showcase how I have found growth where others couldn’t, whether it’s through a re-positioning, turnaround, launch of managing through change. These cases include:
- The Repositioning of Listerine
- Turnaround Plan for Nicoderm
- Launch of Listerine PocketPaks
- Leading a team through a Major Merger between J&J and Pfize
Re-positioning a brand
- Problem: In 1998, Listerine was a 27% share, battling for #1 with Scope. The fact that stood out was consumers only used it 20 times per year compared to an upside potential of 700+ per year brushing occasions. Consumers were using it as a problem solver for bad breath occasions, not a proactive solution for a healthy mouth. That needed to change. The big win was to drive usage frequency with a stated vision to become part of the twice daily brushing routine. Even if we could get 1% of current users to use it twice a day, the brand would grow by 10% per year.
- Solution: To establish it as part of the routine, we needed to r-position Listerine, so that consumers saw it as more than just an occasional breath freshener. We targeted proactive preventers and promised that if they added Listerine to their brushing routine, they would fight off gingivitis and maintain a “healthy mouth”. We used a combination of new advertising to help change the positioning, Dental recommendations to help re-enforce the routine and new flavour options to make regular usage a little easier for consumers.
- Action: We launched “Listerine Bottle Guy”, which was a very unique over-the-top campaign that gave us strong breakthrough with an exceptional 85% brand link. We later partnered him up with “Toothbrush Guy” to drive home the routine. Consumers loved these ads–even dressing up as “Bottle guy” at Halloween–which helped to give us immediate breakthrough on every ad in the 10-year life of the campaign.
- Results: Ten Years of 12% Annual Growth: By staying true to the “brushing routine” strategy, Listerine achieved $75 Million and hit a record high 60% share in 2008. Also, the image tracking (chart below) demonstrates that we doubled the scores of those who said that Listerine fights gingivitis. We also saw big increases on overall awareness and usage frequency. Listerine moved from a “Like It” to “Love It” by more than doubling of the score for “only brand for me”. In 5 years, we had managed to re-position a 124-year old brand. The ads won a Cassie Gold Advertising Award for driving business results
Leading a brand turnaround
- Problem: In 2005, Nicoderm was declining 20% per year. At my first team meeting, I asked “what drives growth?” All I heard were factors outside our control like Tax Increases and Smoking Bans. I probed on what makes us different and then I heard the nasty words: “Nothing,we are a Monopoly!!!” At the time, Nicoderm had very boring TV ads, with a doctor talking on camera. Classic Doctor Recommended TV ad. Digging deeper, we learned most consumers quit Smoking “Cold Turkey” 6 times before even trying a patch. We calculated that if “Cold Turkey” was a brand, it would be a 75% share, giving Nicoderm only a 25% share. The monopoly was over and we now had a formidable competitor to attack. We had to attack cold turkey!
- Solution: The Big Win was getting to the Frustrated Consumers struggling to quit “cold turkey”. The key insight was around the psychology of quitting. Quitting smoking sucks. It changed moods, and after a few times trying to quit, smokers thought it just wasn’t worth the aggravation. Nicoderm promised a higher success rate, more confidence and less symptoms such as mood swings As motivation and focus for my team, we did up a mock package of a “Cold Turkey” box and put it on everyone’s desk.
- Action: Our “Flight Attendant” TV ad focused squarely on “Cold Turkey” and the mood swings consumers go through when they quit on their own. The ad showed our “sweet” flight attendant talking about how rough it was the last time she tried to quit smoking on her own. Nicoderm promised to make it easier and help them quit successfully. The ads tested in the top 5% any ad.
- Results: Immediate momentum and a 20% growth rate for Nicoderm. The “Flight Attendant” won J&J’s Global Advertising Award for Best Global Ad. Consumers absolutely loved the ad, generating over 1 million unsolicited views on youtube.
Launching in a new brand
- Situation: In 2000, I launched Listerine PocketPaks, with Canada selected as the lead market globally. PocketPaks were such an exciting product and so different that we knew we had to focus on getting consumers to experience it to really understand and appreciate it.
- Solution: The big win was to get to Key Opinion Leaders and let them spread their influence. We focused all our year one work on the coolest of the cool in the 16-24 year olds. We knew this younger group would be an easy early win, and would help spread the word to the bigger audience who were our real target at 25-40 year olds. As creative inspiration, we looked at how movies generated such a quick awareness. I was amazed that within a weekend, they could create brand name awareness and desire. We even started the marketing support 2 months before the launch, almost unheard of for a CPG product.
- Action Plan: 1) Heavy Sampling at big social events with samplers dressed in tight blue silk, as aliens with something truly out of this world, which helped to capture attention. Consumers were blown away–talking to samplers for 5-10 minutes. We sampled full packs knowing people would give away half the strips–our consumers took sampling to the next level. On average, early adopters shared the product with 10+ people. 2) Advertising was a parody of the alien movie with a female Action Hero in a cave defeating Evil Breath Bacteria. So inspired by the movie marketing, we even developed a 90-second Movie Trailer version to get to the youth target. Exceptional advertising results with great ad recall, 82% brand link and 73% for main message.3) Distribution: To achieve the needed front end distribution, we had to get around the Adam’s/Wrigley’s domination. We got creative, developing counter units and shelf extenders that affixed to gum rack
- Amazing Launch: Listerine PocketPaks first year Sales finished 50% above plan. All that pre-launch activity paid off, with such pent up demand that it led to a remarkable 55% share in first month. After 6 months, we had a 95% awareness for 16-24 year olds (vs norm of 50%) and we over-delivered an aggressive year one target by 50%. We also won Grand Prix New Product of the Year and Cassie Gold for the Advertising. With Canada as the lead market, we shared all our learnings with markets from around the world. Many picked up on our ideas and execution.
Case #4: Leading team through a merger
- Problem: In 2006, Johnson and Johnson acquired Pfizer’s consumer business. As the Head of Marketing for Canada, I had to keep my team focused during the year when the merger was happening, and the year after. Experts predict a 10% sales decline usually happens with heavy voluntary exits, especially some of your best people during a merger year.
- Solution: I worked hard to inspire and challenge the marketing team by developing a new mission statement: “Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind”, tapping into why many people joined a CPG marketing team, to really understand consumers and find ways to meet the needs of consumers. It was inspiring to know we were going to use the lens of the consumer on everything, not just pushing for sales, but rather creating demand and desire. I also talked about personal development and “if we each get better, we all get better”. Training programs in most companies had fallen over the last decade and employees felt they weren’t getting the training of past generations of marketers.
- Action Plan: 1) Consumer Focus: Challenged team to think like consumers and build insights into their strategies and executions. Encouraged them to push good work to make it great work and reject “ok” work. 2) Development: I developed and conducted a 3-day Learning Session with classic CPG training around brand analytics, brand planning, writing a creative brief, media options and how to judge good advertising. I wrote a 110 page learning guide on everything I knew about marketing. People tell me they still refer to it on a weekly basis.
- Results: Very receptive team with motivation way up, even with merger talks going on throughout the year. We had Zero voluntary exits heading into merger. We had a great year, with a spike in consumption results, with growth on all 12 brands, share gains on 9 of 12 helping to over-deliver stretch sales target. My business unit had the best results of any country globally, on either the J&J or Pfizer side, in both the year prior and continued that growth in the year after the merger.
If you or team has any interest in a training program, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org