Is There Some Madness Come to Method?

The new campaign for Method, the San Francisco-based soap company, is taking the David vs. Goliath approach, targeting Procter & Gamble's Tide brand, the market leader. From the NY Times:


The campaign, now under way, takes the cheeky tone typical of Method’s marketing by mocking mainstream products as feeding a household’s heinous “jug” habit — jugs being the large, handled bottles that rival brands use rather than the small pump bottles of Method.
“Say no to jugs,” the headlines of print and online ads declare. Other ads proclaim that Method stands “for a jug-free America.”
And the following is a sequence of online banner ads: “Are you a jug addict? Frequently overdosing? Heavy and bloated? We can help. Get off the jugs and get clean.”
The campaign, by Droga5 in New York, can also be seen on a microsite, or special Web site, methodlaundry.com.


Method has become a popular hand soap brand through the combination of attractive packaging and subtle product attributes (color, fragrance) paired with its claims of environmentally-friendly ingredients.

I'm not certain this new campaign, with it's oddly prurient message, is consistent with the brand's core attributes. And this isn't the first time Method and Droga5 have stumbled in their strategy to take on the big boys, as they did with the leering "Shiny Bubbles" ad.


Here is that ad, with some lame commentary from the Young Turks.


Again, from the NY Times:


To underline their nasty nature, the Suds were shown leering at a woman while she showered. Among the many comments about the video on Web sites were hundreds that complained the clip degraded women and condoned sexual harassment. Chastened, Method withdrew the video.
“We were taken aback a little bit by a vocal minority,” said David Droga, creative chairman at Droga5. “It was something we didn’t anticipate.”
“But this is a people-focused company,” he said of Method, “so we had to respond to those concerns.”
As for the brazenness of likening detergent jugs to drugs, Mr. Droga described it as “the starting point to create a conversation.”


I guess the conversation this latest ad campaign makes me have is why, when they've been quietly building a loyal following among a desirable consumer demographic by leveraging good product and packaging design, does Method and Droga5 feel they've got to suddenly become the people's sex-soap champion?

If it works, of course, I'll have to eat my hat. But for now, I'd have to say this seems like another ill-considered campaign by the agency and its client.

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