Since 2006, Charmin has generated great fanfare and attention — and provided relief to thousands of New York City holiday shoppers — by giving the gift of sparkling public restrooms. Open each year from late November through December 31st, with success evaluated in 2010, Charmin Restrooms are pop-up retail stores in the center of Times Square. Amenities include a dance floor and stroller parking along with ADA-approved luxury stalls — cleaned by attendants after each use. In the past, to generate awareness and drive consumers to the site, MSLGROUP has held celebrity “ceremonial first flushes” and even a wedding where the bride’s dress was made of Charmin toilet paper. The main challenge in 2009 was to overcome the media’s “been there/done that” attitude, creating events that would attract jaded reporters as well as consumers.
The Charmin brand team’s in-depth consumer research, consisting of in-home and proprietary P&G methods, told us that Charmin’s primary target is women aged 25 to 49 with a busy, overstuffed life. The Charmin woman is likely to have children and wants simple solutions when it comes to her family’s bathroom experience. Her main media choices are magazines, newspapers and online sources.
MSLGROUP supplemented this research with an extensive media audit to better understand what else competes for our target’s attention during the holidays. We used Factiva and Google to gather media articles to determine the landscape. We confirmed that both locally and nationally, the economy was still top of mind for our consumer and the media alike. We also confirmed that credible spokespeople and fun activities would help us create media and consumer excitement.
In planning our campaign, we faced several tough challenges: (1) We needed a plan that would take the Charmin Restrooms story beyond New York and into the national news; (2) we had to break through the clutter of Times Square, one of the most branded and busiest places in the world — during one of its busiest times of the year; and (3) we needed to work with Charmin to create an unmistakably Charmin experience — one that would appeal to media who typically shy away from heavily branded stories.
MSLGROUP recommended the following strategies:
• opportunistically seize and create Charmin-relevant moments in time
• leverage events before launch to build momentum for the Restrooms prior to opening day
• develop a variety of media angles and events to sustain momentum after opening day
Our 2009 objective: achieve 1 billion impressions for Charmin Restrooms and Charmin’s new “Enjoy the Go” campaign, sustain media interest throughout the month of December and attract national coverage of the Times Square event.
We developed a multistage plan with pre-launch, launch and post-launch events to keep the media interested and garner continuing national media coverage. Our four-phase approach allowed us to build on and learn from events at each stage. MSLGROUP worked closely with agency partners and the Charmin brand team to ensure a thoroughly holistic campaign.
Phase I: Pre-Launch event
For Phase I, we focused on staffing our Charmin Restrooms, since thousands of consumers inquire about working there every year. We believed that with so many Americans out of work in 2009, holding a job search to recruit the “Go Team” staff to work in the restrooms would generate interest with both media and consumers. On October 20 we announced a search for five people to work for six weeks in the Restrooms as Charmin Ambassadors for a salary of $10,000. In just two days more than 20,000 people went to enjoythego.com to learn more information. A billboard above the Restrooms store also provided details on where to audition. On November 5th, Charmin held open auditions in New York City. People came from as far away as Florida — with over 500 people lining up over night — to show Charmin why they should be part of the Go Team. Each ambassador had to meet certain criteria: they had to love “the go,” be social-media-savvy and be able to greet and entertain Restrooms guests.
Phase II: The Ceremonial First Flush
We knew from our experience in the previous three years that the first ceremonial flush of the Charmin Restrooms would generate additional media coverage. With more than 15 local and national media outlets in attendance, Charmin Restrooms officially opened on November 23, 2009, with Mario Lopez of Saved by the Bell fame handling the first flush honors and introducing the five members of the Go Team. Following the first flush, Mario Lopez, the Go Team and Charmin’s Shawn Pulscher were all available for one-on-one interviews.
Phase III: Going for Good
To keep the momentum building and shift the focus to charitable giving, we created and launched the Going for Good program in mid-December. Charmin partnered the Go Team with four celebrities — Mario Lopez, Martina McBride, Sherri Shepherd and Mario Cantone — to design toilet seats for display in the Charmin Restrooms. For each consumer that came through the doors from December 17 through the 31st, Charmin donated up to $10,000 to a group of five charities: the Boys and Girls Club of America, National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline, the Harlem Children’s Zone, Broadway Cares and Angels in Waiting. We had Mario Cantone on hand to unveil the five toilet seat designs and talk about Charmin’s charitable donations.
Phase IV: Bathrooms Over Broadway
To avoid media fatigue and make the most of the quirky and playful nature of the Charmin brand and Restrooms, we wanted to create a genuinely playful and newsworthy final event. Our solution: the first ever bathroom musical. Charmin partnered with Broadway Cares to create “Bathrooms Over Broadway”, a fifteen-minute musical featuring five loo-loving numbers. The music starred Tony-award nominated Broadway actor Christopher Sieber and The Go Team and featured performances by some of Broadway’s best. Highlights included a love song to Mr. Whipple and a tap-dancing Charmin Bear number. The musical was performed live for media and consumers passing through the Restrooms and was posted on Charmin’s YouTube channel for all to see.
Summary of Results
Objective:1 billion media impressions
Results: The Charmin Restrooms campaign generated 3,028,604,422 impressions,
Objective: Sustained coverage throughout December 2009
Results: Our Phase 1 search announcement of the search and event alone, generated 1.3 billion impressions— surpassing our program
Phase II generated an additional 326MM impressions
We added another 264MM impressions in phase III and 364MM impressions with our final event.
Objective: National media coverage
Results: Charmin Restrooms were featured on national TV shows including The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Jay Leno Show, Fox and Friends and CNN; AP and Reuters wire stories; and print placements in OK!, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, Star Magazine, and the Daily News