Water Pik: The Floss Switch Project
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Water Pik: The Floss Switch Project

After recently spinning off from its parent company, Water Pik Technologies, Inc. (WPT) was introducing a product the company hoped would exemplify the new company’s unique vision and modern thinking.

Paul Holmes

  After recently spinning off from its parent company, Water Pik Technologies, Inc. (WPT) was introducing a product the company hoped would exemplify the new company’s unique vision and modern thinking, while maintaining the high standards and quality epitomized by the Water Pik brand.  The battery-operated Waterpik™ Flosser, incorporating iMac-inspired translucent colors with a compact, modern design, would exemplify WPT’s long-standing history in the oral hygiene field and introduce a modern, innovative look and feel to the company.  But would the media notice?
 
Schenkein planned to devise a media kit to depict the Flosser as an invaluable device to give consumers a reason to begin flossing on a regular basis.  The media kit was designed to drive home the importance of flossing and that, as proved by extensive research, without the Flosser most consumers wouldn’t floss at all.  The result was a media kit that helped steer the way for a successful media relations campaign.
 
RESEARCH:
 
Research determined that 65 percent of American consumers buy floss with good intentions, but only 10 percent use it.  Research also revealed that consumers wanted a painless alternative to manual floss without sacrificing the effectiveness that manual floss offers in fighting plaque and promoting oral health.  Studies proved that the Waterpik Flosser was indeed as effective as manual floss in decreasing the chances for gingivitis and reducing plaque.
 
PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
 
Create an attention-grabbing kit that would immediately stand out and create a buzz about the product, aiding in follow up efforts to gain coverage of the new Flosser among select media nationwide.
 
Create a media kit that would effectively support the overall objectives of the media relations campaign to launch the product and aid in achieving the following within a six-month period:

        Four placements in trade media

        60 placements in consumer media

        Inclusion of two or more key messages in 50 percent of placements

        Total impressions of 12,350,000
 
TACTICS/EXECUTION:
 
Schenkein built on the effectiveness of the attractive and unique compact device to create an eye-catching media kit to aid in national media relations surrounding the product launch.  Because the design of the product itself was so unique, Schenkein decided to play off the ease of use and sleek design of the Flosser to highlight the contrast of its clean, one-handed operation as compared to the painful and cumbersome use of manual floss.  Past experience and feedback from the media proved that to break through the barrage of materials reporters receive daily, a successful kit must clearly and creatively cut through the clutter.  The folder grabbed editors with its eye-catching photography of two hands preparing to use a mess of floss and one half of the tagline “Two hands full…” and opens to the smart alternative: a photo of the attractive, modern-looking Flosser with the second half of the tagline “…or one hand free?”  Also inside the folder, kit materials creatively and effectively communicated the product’s key attributes. 
 
Schenkein went a step beyond the folder design and incorporated additional clutter-cutting devices into the media kit.  Playing off the scary stick dolls that became the brand of the successful film “The Blair Witch Project,” Schenkein constructed similar figures made of toothbrushes and floss to convey the fear consumers have of using manual dental floss, and the “Floss Switch Project” was born.  The “Floss Switch Project” figure was another way to keep editors engaged and amused, which was important to identify the project with fun, ease of use, and effectiveness.  It also linked the fear and anxiety that many consumers have with manual flossing, and served as a reminder of the “switch” to the hassle-free Flosser.  The figures accompanied a wad of green mint floss that editors had to dig through to reach the folder and product sample, which further exemplified the burden of using messy, cumbersome manual floss.  As no two editors are alike, Schenkein developed alternative materials to those in the Floss Switch kit, including several Top 10 lists to show the advantage that the Flosser had over manual floss (i.e. “Top 10 Things To Do With Unused Floss”), and customized pitch letters specific to each editor.  The Top 10 lists were also amusing and engaging and provided the media with quick blurbs that editors could use as sidebars or filler for potential feature coverage of the Flosser.
 
The folder’s tagline question, “Two hands full…or one hand free?” gave readers the sense of having a choice between the dreaded manual floss and a new, better alternative.  Inside the kit, the product was revealed and the second half of the question, “…or one hand free?” was posed, giving readers the sense of a better alternative with the Waterpik Flosser.  This theme enabled Schenkein to communicate the usefulness and effectiveness of the product in an easy-to-understand, creative manner.
 
In addition, news releases, fact sheets and background information contained in the kit communicated the overall key messages and supported the smart alternative of the Waterpik Flosser to manual floss.  Each individual insert was developed to communicate product/category information to serve as a supporting piece, yet was strong enough to stand on its own.  Creative photography and diagrams were developed to further illustrate the product’s features, making it possible to clearly understand how the product works.  The end result was a colorful and creative media kit that helped light the way for a successful media relations campaign.
 
RESULTS:
 
The lighthearted tone of the kit and its interesting contents paved the way for pitching efforts.  Based on media feedback, the tangled floss became recognized as the kit’s main hook.  The creativity of the kit helped reporters remember it, making follow-up calls much more effective and aiding in overall media relations.
 
Schenkein received positive feedback from the media on the kit, product and content. A wealth of information was used from the kit in the coverage that was secured, such as the statistics of consumers buying and not using the manual floss.  Several publications, including Men’s Health, Cooking Light, American Woman and Today’s Black Woman have featured the Flosser and several more publications plan to feature the Flosser as well.
 
At the end of the six-month program, the kit proved vital to meeting all established program objectives.  To date, the following have been achieved:

        18 trade media placements have been achieved, 350 percent over the goal of 4 trade media placements;

        107 consumer media placements have been secured, 78 percent above the goal of 60 consumer placements;

        Two or more key messages have been communicated in 33 percent of all placements; and

        Total impressions generated thus far have surpassed the goal of 12,350,000 by reaching 39,162,991.
 
Because of its success, the program has recently been extended by the client, and the agency continues to receive inquiries and requests for media kits because of the value of the information it provides. This has helped further establish WPT as an oral health expert and has greatly enhanced ongoing relationships with key reporters.

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