By Samantha Tierney
Proctor & Gamble, the largest advertising company currently in the market uses a lot of tactics to separate themselves from the competition. Targeting mom’s, the main purchaser of household goods, Proctor & Gamble’s ads goes out of their way to market beauty (Covergirl, Pantene, etc), household cleanliness (Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Dawn, etc), and to hit their heart string (safety of products, commercials dedicated to moms, etc). But, no marketing move by Proctor & Gamble has gone as far as Bounty did in 1988.
We are all very aware that when you put spaghetti sauce in the microwave, you have to cover it with a paper towel to prevent the tragedy of a red spotted microwave from over-boiling. But who would have thought you could market a paper towel that was specifically microwave safe. Proctor & Gamble did. In 1988, Bounty decided that this was a marketing niche that could potentially separate them from the pack. The household microwave boomed in the 1980s, as did the amount of microwavable products: in 1971, only 1% of households owned a microwave. But by 1985, 25% of households owned a microwave oven. And in 1986, microwaved goods were up 176 million dollars from the previous year.
Therefore, in this time of advancing technology with possibly unknown side effects (microwaves), was marketing to mothers inclined to buy the safest product possible a genius or ignorant idea? If the marketing was successful, Bounty’s revenue should steeply increase as they separated themselves from competitors such as Scott, Sparkle, and other store brands. If one can have a paper towel that is not only the “Quicker Picker Upper” - the fastest absorbing paper towel - as well as proven to be microwave safe, they will separate themselves far from the competition thus giving them more pricing power. Also, some mother’s may opt for two types of Bounty in the kitchen, giving Proctor & Gamble a chance to double Bounty’s revenue.
To understand the marketing strategy in detail, we must first determine whether the marketing has any footing - are all paper towels already microwavable safe? Studies were done and found that no matter how long you microwaved 1 to 2 paper towels in the microwave, they would not spontaneously ignite. However, if you decided to microwave 12 paper towels, they would ignite. Which begs the question, does your pasta sauce really need twelve paper towels worth of coverage?
Was the marketing of a microwavable safe paper towel a sucess or a flop? The graph says it all:
Although only temporary, the initial reaction to the new paper towel caused an increase in the sales of Bounty paper towels by about 70 million dollars in 1988 alone.
Bounty Microwave may been an empty advertising ploy in attempts to differentiate their product from all the others on the market, but successful it was. The household moms, not wanting their paper towels to leak dye into their children’s Mac and Cheese, went out and bought the new, “safe” paper towels thereby making the advertisement a success. Bravo, Proctor & Gamble, bravo.