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Monday 19 February 2007

Ariel asks customers to do their washing at 30 degrees

In the first of a new kind of proposition in the mass market – one that we expect to see a lot more of over the coming months – Ariel launch a very cool campaign to get people to turn down their washing machines. This could begin to show that behavioural energy/ carbon marketing works, which is essential for most non-energy businesses to join in with the carbon debate. With TV, web and print applications, P&G are building green credibility and home-sense for Ariel by inviting people to change their behaviour, and strongly leading everyone to infer a key product benefit (washes better at lower temperatures, saving you money), while never actually stating it!

Interesting features: P&G are promoting efficient lifestyles by cutting back on consumption of someone else's product, and building thier own market at the same time. Genius! (theste tricks will only work for so long, obviously) It's likely that as a result of this campaign more people will wash at 30, even if they're not Ariel customers (Will P&G research this?). To an extent, are P&G doing now in washing powders what BP did in petrochemicals with its Beyond Petroleum work of 2000?

The message might succeed in distracting people from mooted nasty Ariel chemistry, so P&G might have found something that will trump Ecover in the minds of customers. How can consumers equate the Ariel's energy savings with Ecover's biodiversity argument? Might this force Ecover to do what they always should have, and go for the 'It cleans well and it smells nice, plus it's the least evil' proposition? This raises a lot of scoping and language questions for the future: According to Ariel, all of us working together could save enough energy to power n villages of unspecified size! They will get away with a bit of outrageous abstract claim-staking because they're the first, but this is set to change sooner rather than later. Across sectors, we are seeing people's desire to be first becoming more acute, and I reckon Ariel will do pretty well against Persil for this inventive step. To an extent, this is a test-case: the customers they win over with this one could change a lot of positionings across sectors. This campaign is a definite departure from previous efforts like HSBC's green sale.

If you want every big business to play for carbon and energy efficiency, buy Ariel for a few months and when you start refilling the empties with Ecover, tell them what you're doing and why :)