How does a CMO for a company with some twenty top brands create an emotional connection with consumers and still succeed with performance marketing? In this episode of Insider InSites, Eric Reynolds, Chief Marketing Officer of The Clorox Company met up with E.B. Moss, Head of Content Strategy for MediaVillage at the ANA Masters of Marketing to tell all – from how they tap the world of influencers, to their strategy for voice... and even how to compete with challenger brands like Jessica Alba’s Honest Company. The following topline has been edited for length and clarity; listen to the full conversation on staying ahead of the marketing curve at a hundred-year-old company.
E.B. Moss: Eric, you have global responsibility for all marketing functions -- brand strategy to personnel, media buying to advanced analytics -- at The Clorox Company. That ranges from Clorox Bleach and Lysol to Burt’s Bees and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. How do you create an emotional connection with such diverse customers?
Eric Reynolds: ...You've got to make an idea that connects with the head and the heart, that's relevant for the category and the brand, but also to that person. That takes a lot of hard work, insight and getting that tonality right. People, particular younger consumers, want to feel like they understand the values and the ideas and the beliefs of the brands they buy. So, we work really hard to bring that to life through all kinds of storytelling.
Moss: What’s your approach to influencer marketing?
Reynolds: ... Influencer is a bigger and bigger piece of our marketing mix because having other trusted people tell our brand's story is essential to getting the word out and are essential to our overall strategies for keeping our brands fresh and relevant. Because guess what? People want to hear about our brands from people that they feel like they know and trust, and they put a lot of weight on those messages. ...Whether it's a big celebrity influencer or micro-influencers, really depends on the brand, the question, the strategy.
[As a celebrity example] Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors, came to us because he was so committed to people using less plastic in drinking water. He could have signed a big sugary beverage contract with almost any major manufacturer, but he said, "no, I believe in Brita," and he's been an outstanding spokesperson and he particularly talks to that younger Brita user we're trying to bring in the franchise to lure them into filtered water. And could anything be more everyday than Liquid-Plumr? We found influencer work through creators making videos about gross stuff getting clogged is an exceptional way to get people to engage in the category. The organic views have been incredible, and it's been so strong we’re taking influencer-generated content and putting it on TV. In the old days it would have been [the other way around.]
Our main channels still continue to deliver beautifully but a lot of our spend and focus is digital video, which [has become] terribly important to tell our story across most of our brands, and the ability to reach people in search at moment of intent has grown, but the new channel is Amazon, Target, Walmart, where it’s not just a place to buy, but a place to tell our story.
We're also watching the voice trend and participating in its development very closely. Consumers go to things that are easier and faster and better and voice is a way to do that.
Moss: I ask for Clorox, I don't ask Amazon or Alexa for bleach.
Reynolds: Yes. Or if you say, "bleach," because the algorithm knows we overwhelmingly win purchases of branded bleach on Amazon, Amazon will make us that the first choice. ...
Reynolds goes on to explain how their approach to brands has to be holistic – from package design that reads well on Instagram or ships via Amazon more sustainably – and considers the total consumer experience versus just “the goo in the jar.” New tools range from AR to chatbots, to predicting areas of flu outbreaks via aggregated healthcare data in order to encourage retailers to stock up on Clorox. Hear how he described balancing classic brand marketing and performance marketing the stepped up responsibilities for their in-house agency of 20 years and how there’s little new in social platforms, but better ways to use them.
Finally, on trust and inclusion, Reynolds notes: I think it's a great privilege to be a brand builder. People take hard-earned money out of their wallets and they choose our products to do something useful for them, and there's an expectation that our products work. There's also an expectation that we use the data that comes from that responsibly. ...We believe a brand should stand for values that matters to others too...that a brand is an idea and it has to fight for something beyond just being a product. And advancing values where people feel they are seen and heard is our job. ...
Now, as a company, with lots of resources and employees, we're absolutely accountable to civil society. If we are an inclusive, fully representative company, we can serve people who are in fact no different than the people who work in our company. If we don't look, feel, and act like, in this case, the American population, then why would consumers put their faith in us in the long run? It all fits together. Social responsibility. Values. Inclusion and diversity. These are all essential to the long-term health of our company and our brands.