The Care Giver: 5 Questions with Whirlpool Senior Brand Manager Jon Hall

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As home sales continue to build momentum, appliance manufacturers are seeing the best market opportunity they’ve had in a very long time.

But even these days, America’s biggest appliance-maker, Whirlpool, is focusing on the top of the appliance purchase funnel—brand awareness and equity—rather than the bottom, where washers, dryers and dishwashers are sold.

Last fall, Whirlpool launched the “Every day, care” campaign as a platform to tie the emotion invested in mundane household chores—performed with its appliances, of course—to the broader emotional connections between family members and loved ones.[more]

The emphasis on those connections continued through the Consumer Electronics Show in January and new research into what consumers want.

And then, thanks to a music video contest that inspired an unprecedented response by consumers to the brand, the emotional groundswell culminated on Sunday in a 60-second ad that aired during the GRAMMY Awards.

That’s where country music star Hunter Hayes introduced the Whirlpool brand’s “Care is Musical” contest winner Alex Bell. The 19-year-old then appeared in a moving national ad singing “You Are My Sunshine” for her grandmother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2010.

brandchannel spoke with Jon Hall, Senior Brand Manager for Whirlpool, about the “Every day, care” campaign and its GRAMMY bow. His message is simple: care for your customers and you’ll find they care for your brand—and what it stands for.

brandchannel: What’s the market opportunity for Whirlpool now that the housing market is slowly rebounding and GE is pulling back on appliances?

Jon Hall: We have learned that appliances are part of something so much bigger than we’ve given them credit for. Typically, they’re considered part of mundane chores. But we spent time with consumers and found these chores go far beyond mundane tasks—they’re actually acts of love. That’s the reason people do these chores.

bc: Still, why take a gentler, pro-social “Every day, care” approach rather than a more direct one?

Hall: We wanted to put it in place to generate more engagement. We feel we’re champions of real family care for the industry and beyond.

“Every day, care” is the biggest marketing investment in our over 100-year history.

At the core, it is proving the value of these everyday chores that make a huge difference in people’s lives. That’s where we draw our inspiration.

bc: How have consumers reacted to “Every day, care”?

Hall: We have far exceeded our wildest expectations for benchmarks, and sentiment has been through the roof.

There has been a 180-degree change in how people talk about appliances, our brand and the context we’re operating in. And we’re seeing significant movement in brand-health metrics.

No doubt, at the heart of this, we’re connecting with consumers and reminding them that caring for the people around them day-in and day-out is tremendously important. We want to continue to place value there.

bc: Has the GRAMMY spot helped you forge even deeper emotional connections?

Hall: Yes, many parts of the campaign are emotional but seeing Alex on national TV—and getting her backstory on digital media—was very emotional. It’s been an important part of this campaign.

Whirlpool has been able to differentiate itself from competitors through an emotional connection. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we talked about how “Every day, care” inspires us. We won six (innovation) awards at CES, and the response from consumers was overwhelming.

We showcased new products that we’re launching this year and demonstrated how our lens of “Every day, care” enables us to develop products for the future.

bc: Why choose the GRAMMYs as such an important platform?

Hall: Both care and music require commitment and sacrifice, and both have power to transform and enable great things. We wanted to have real consumer dedication, and in this case, it was Alex singing “You Are My Sunshine” to her grandmother.

It was an amazing tribute that expressed exactly what we wanted to communicate, and has had an amazingly positive response from consumers.

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