I, like many other consumers, was touched and impressed by HoneyMaid’s recent viral Love video in response to backlash for its original Wholesome campaign. But of course, as a market researcher, it got me thinking about it all on a professional level, and I have to say, it took my admiration for the brand to another level. The question that came to my mind was “Does an ad always have to be liked by the masses in order to be successful or is it enough to just draw attention to the brand?” Ads that are polarizing are not new. And it takes certain guts for a brand to know on some level that they might tick some people off.
A campaign of this size and scope was probably tested, under typical Go/No Go metrics. So often, we’re asked to field message concepts to find the majority winner. And I would believe that HoneyMaid’s Wholesome concept probably didn’t bowl everyone over. But, in this case, someone at HoneyMaid made the call that the brand didn’t need the absolute majority in order to move forward. What a bold decision when we all know that the prevailing direction is to move forward with the highest number. But how often does one challenge this customary approach as the right course? Sometimes the brand is ready to take the messaging plunge, when the traditional research shows that not all of the consumer base is on board. When is it ok to test the boundaries, and alienate some consumers in order to create even deeper bonds with others?
For Honeymaid, the when was now, and the gamble paid off. And that’s the lesson for us in this by-the-numbers game we’ve chosen as a profession – the surface doesn’t always tell the story. That’s why it’s critical to get into the deeper, unconscious and nonverbalized emotions to understand the visceral – because that’s where the deeper consumer/brand connections happen. In Honeymaid’s case, the visceral was expressed so clearly in the flood of social media interaction from both sides of the controversy. And, in the end, more love was evoked by the brand’s portrayal of wholesome than not.