P&G's signature white soap, Ivory, is getting a colorful re-packaging after 132 years, but maintaining the same product and the same brand message. The nearly all-white packages will be more colorful, highlight 10 bars compared to 8 or 6-packs and a retro logo and slogan, "pure, clean & simple."
"The heritage has always been about purity, and the fact that it does what it says it's going to do. It cleans really well," said Kevin Hochman, P&G marketing director, to the Associated Press. "Ivory is where our origins are. It has a special place in a lot of people's hearts around here. It's incredibly important to keep it alive and growing."
Procter & Gamble's new campaign (from Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy, fresh off their Old Spice Guy success), uses "Ivoryisms" or everyday truths about soap and life and an emergent emphasis on simplicity and traditionalism in five television spots breaking this month.
"Ivoryisms" include: "When dirt changes its formula so will we;" "Just add water;" and "Cleanliness needn't involve costliness." One spot addresses inevitable soap-sculpting over time, asking, "At what point does soap stop being soap?"
Noting the irony, Karl Lieberman, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy, told AP, “In an effort to make life simpler, we have somehow made life more complicated. Ivory has stayed true to its equity. It has remained the antithesis of the overly complicated — it's a throwback to an era where there wasn't time for such things."
Ivory was the first brand mass-marketed by P&G, but in a highly competitive soap market, the plain white bar has lagged in sales behind Dove, Dial and Irish Spring. Mintel Group market research estimates U.S. soap, bath and shower product sales grew 4.1% to $2.1 billion last year, and in the nondeodorant bar soap category, Unilever's Dove brand held 35.3% of the market, with Ivory at 5.8%, down from 2009.
According to Julie Eddleman, P&G marketing director of North American media and shopper marketing for the company, "When we think about brands, we think brand purpose; it's a high-level, deeply emotional thing. Each brand has a purpose that leads to a big idea that has to be transferred across all screens — social, the printed page, and mobile devices — inviting participation with our brands."
P&G wants to preserve core brand attributes such as, "99.44" pure soap, and the 1882 ad claim, "the cheapest soap for everybody and every want." (At right, an ad that ran in Cosmopolitan in 1896.)
"There's never been a better time to relaunch this," said Hochman. "There is so much tail wind at our back: the economic environment, this trend of getting back to things that work, and reminding us of a time when things were a bit simpler."
The new look is already evident on the brand's Facebook page, where a fan named Jeff Parsons commented, "no other brand compares to the pure and simple clean i get every time i shower or bathe with ivory." The people have spoken!