.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Branding by brainwashing

Repeat after me:

HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!
HeadOn—apply directly to the forehead!

Ah, the HeadOn TV spot. Annoying? You bet—but that’s what makes it so cunning. HeadOn is a homeopathic remedy for headache pain made by Miralus Healthcare. According to
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Miralus focus-group tested a number of potential commercials for HeadOn. The winner was the spot that focused solely on repetition (see above). It’s sort of the updated version of water torture, where droplets of water are “applied” to your forehead until you go insane.

Does the stuff work? According to the same Wikipedia article, Chemical analysis has shown that the product consists almost entirely of wax. The two listed active ingredients, white bryony (a type of vine) and potassium dichromate, are diluted to .000001 PPM and 1 PPM respectively. This amount of dilution essentially leaves no trace of the active ingredients whatsoever, so the product is essentially a placebo. [That’s not all bad. An article in the September 21st
FORTUNE.COM tells of how physicians are now discovering the healing power of placebos.]

Building the HeadOn brand will make branding history. I haven’t found any research on it, but I would bet HeadOn’s unaided recall is through the roof. Best of all, their spots are super cheap to produce. Compare that to what Cingular probably spent to launch their brand. Another interesting thing, the HeadOn spots never mention what the product should be used for.

Recently, HeadOn introduced a variation in their ad. Now a live talent walks on camera and interrupts the voiceover, saying that the ad is really annoying but the product is excellent. There’s also a brand extension called ActivOn, which you can “apply directly where it hurts.” The company also makes Freedhem Hemorrhoidal Cream—Apply, well, you know where…

Friday, September 08, 2006

The war of the beds – Part II

Two more contenders have joined the hospitality industry's ongoing bedding war: Residence Inn (owned by Marriott) and Hampton Inn (owned by Hilton). Both are advertising a more comfortable and relaxing bed for weary business travelers.

No doubt, each company hopes to differentiate and add value to their brand through the unique bed experience it offers. But judging from these two ads in the 2006 issue of Business 2.0, they're having a hard time identifying the differences themselves, or at least their advertising agencies are.

Take the visual in the two ads. Both show a young woman snuggled in fluffy, cloudlike bed linens. Her eyes ask: Must I get out of bed?

Or take the bedclothes. Residence Inn describes theirs as "Crisp, white linens," while Hampton Inn mentions their "Crisp, white duvet."

One day, I suppose, virtually all hotel rooms will come with comfortable, luxurious beds. Then what? The industry will have to find new sensory branding experiences for its guests. As I write this, I imagine there's at least one hotel chain out there that's secretly working on adding cashmere to toilet tissue.

For more on sensory branding in the hospitality industry, see my June 2005 post, The war of the beds (and the chairs...and the showerheads).

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