By Bryan Stapp
One of the things I love about marketing is the ability for marketers and branders to create “shorthand” ways to communicate with consumers. Mostly this is done with icons, packaging, brand names, and mnemonics (like the “Intel Inside” chime sound). These are not easy to create, so once you build one – don’t mess with it. So why did P&G mess with me?
They convinced me (my wife, really) to buy the Downy in the purple bottle. This was quite a feat actually, since Downy usually comes in a blue bottle. But in this case the new vanilla and lavender scent really needed a purple bottle and it works. So now I tuck that piece of shorthand away – the vanilla and lavender scent of Downy comes in a purple bottle. I got it.
Time to buy more….the grocery list says “Downy” but I know what that really means: I am going to the store to buy a purple bottle. Specifically the purple bottle with the white top and graphics with a candle and “Simple Pleasures” name. I got it.
I come home with a purple bottle with a candle and “Simple Pleasures” on it. Only to learn later that this is not Downy softener, but Tide detergent.
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! the purple bottle is supposed to be Downy Softener – that’s what they taught me! How was I supposed to know the difference? Was I supposed to notice the small “Tide” logo? This can’t be Tide because Tide comes in the red bottle – everyone knows that!! Was I supposed to read the small print that says laundry detergent underneath the candle?
Now I have to find the receipt, take it back, admit to the person at the return counter that I am an idiot… all because P&G decided to undo what they already taught me. Who knows what’s next….maybe a Coke that tastes like Pepsi?