Orabrush can thank a $28 Facebook ad buy for helping get its $5 tongue brushers into 3,500 Walmart stores. The retail partnership, announced today by Salt Lake City-based Orabrush, seemed in peril just a few months ago as the brand's marketers felt the big box retailer was icing them.
"We were talking with Walmart, but then they kind of blacked out on us," Jeffrey Harmon, Orabrush's CMO, told ClickZ News. "They stopped returning our emails. For weeks and weeks, they weren't responding. And we didn't want the thing to go cold."
That's when Harmon bought ads on Facebook's self-service platform targeting college graduates in Bentonville, AR, where Walmart is headquartered. The ad copy stated that Walmart employees had bad breath.
Within 48 hours, a Walmart VP and one of its chief wholesale products buyers saw the ad and reached out to Orabrush.
"It shocked us," Harmon said, addressing the swift response by the gigantic retailer. He said the execs were afraid the ad was targeted to all Walmart employees and had called to ask that it be taken down.
Not to worry, folks, the Orabrush CMO assured them, only a thousand or so Bentonville residents could have been served the tongue-in-cheek promo for the tongue brushers. Several weeks later, the two-year-old startup's product has a spot on the shelves of America's largest retailer.
"It worked," Harmon said, chuckling, during an interview with ClickZ.
After Print Ad #Fail, Social Reigns at Orabrush
The resounding success of the $28 Facebook ad campaign underscores how Orabrush's marketing culture has shifted towards social. In late 2010, the company decided to buy $30,000 worth of print ads from retail trade publications to drum up wholesale business.
The digitally minded Harmon, a graduate of Brigham Young University's increasingly prestigious AdLab program, was against the idea due to the challenge of tracking print promo effectiveness. "About the only thing we could track from the print ads," he said, "was the number of phone calls we got from ad salespeople at other trade publications."
It's not as if Harmon's digital focus needed vindication. On the heels of mediocre results from a TV infomercial run in 2009, the CMO and his social media team were given the go-ahead for a "Bad Breath Test" YouTube campaign. It included search ads for whenever site users queried "bad breath." The video (see below) at the center of the effort humorously detailed how bad breath can originate from the tongue.
Two years later, Orabrush's YouTube channel has garnered 39 million views, trailing only pages for Old Spice and Apple on the video site.
So now that the product is in Walmart nationwide, how will Harmon and his team market it to consumers? On Facebook and YouTube, of course.
"It's all we use," he said. "It is our marketing mix."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.