Household appliances are a product category where the advertising has traditionally been pretty bland, with most ads appealing to consumers' rational, functional motives. Television commercials generally would show the capacity of a refrigerator, explain how a washer or dryer works, or tout their reliability; while print ads would feature a shot of the appliance and give a detailed description of how it functions. For example, among the most memorable appliance ads are those from the campaign featuring the Maytag repairman who would wait in vain for a repair call. The campaign was created more than 30 years ago, and the lonely Maytag repairman is still waiting for the phone to ring.
In recent years appliance companies have been focusing on form as well as function and have been touting the design of their products as much as their functionality in their ads. However, one company that has taken a very unique approach to its advertising is Whirlpool, whose "Just Imagine" campaign features Household Goddesses—five ethereal female figures who use water, fire, or air to take control of their environments while promoting various Whirlpool appliances. The campaign is designed to connect with the modern-day "supermoms," working women between the ages of 25 and 54 with children. These women's homes are very important to them; the women are challenged, yet capable of handling a very demanding and busy lifestyle, and they want control of their lives and acknowledgment for all they do and for being very capable. They set new standards and appreciate beauty in their environments. They do not give appliances a great deal of thought until there is a moment of need, such as a broken appliance or a home renovation. Innovation, style, and time saving are all important factors to these women.
The idea for the "Just Imagine" campaign originated in the late 90s in Europe, where Whirlpool was eager to build its brand name and capture a larger share of the appliance market, having acquired the appliance division of the Dutch firm Philips Electronics. The campaign connected well with women in Europe, so in 1999 Whirlpool and its French agency Publicis decided to adapt it to women in the U.S. market. However, before bringing the campaign to the
States, Whirlpool conducted more than 20 focus groups with women throughout the country to test their reaction to the goddesses.
According to Whirlpool's manager of brand communica-tion,the ads with the goddesses celebrate the growing power of women in the 21st century.They are aimed at striking an emotional cord with modern-day women, showing them as strong females in control of their environments who can be made even stronger through the latest Whirlpool technology. The mythical figures in the ads include a blue-skinned ice diva who represents the Whirlpool Conquest refrigerator, a silken-robed water nymph who appears in commercials for the Catalyst washer,a heat maiden in cascading red robes who promotes the Senson and Duet dryers, a fire-breathing goddess who helps sell the Speed Cook range, and a flying blonde clean-air angel who extols the virtues of Whirlpool's dehumidifiers and air-conditioners. The goddesses promote many of the innovative features found on Whirlpool appliances, such as a dryer that gently dries clothes in the time it takes to wash them, a washing machine that does not require pretreating because concentrated water and detergent spray through clothes before they are washed, and a refrigerator with more space inside.
The goal of the "Just Imagine" campaign is to use the stylish and dramatic commercials to get consumers to take notice of Whirlpool appliances and make them feel the brand is in tune with their changing needs and values and thus has something more to offer than competing brands. In addition to being in the television commercials, the goddesses appear in print ads, on the Whirlpool website, on company brochures, on billboards on the side of the company's trucks, and in point-of-purchase displays for local retailers. The campaign is the biggest in the appliance maker's history. To many women, using a washing machine or dryer means nothing more than cleaning clothes. However, Whirlpool hopes this campaign will help them feel they are taking control of their lives when they use its appliances.
Sources: "Whirlpool's Worship-Worthy Goddess," Brand Marketing, June 2000, p. 33; Katheryn Dranhold,"Whirlpool Conjures Up Appliance Divas," The Wall Street Journal, Apr.27,2000, p. BI4.
The hierarchical response models were for many years the primary focus of approaches for studying the receivers' responses to marketing communications. Attention centered on identifying relationships between specific controllable variables (such as source and message factors) and outcome or response variables (such as attention, comprehension, attitudes, and purchase intentions). This approach has been criticized on a number of fronts, including its black-box nature, since it can't explain what is causing these reactions.25 In response to these concerns, researchers began trying to understand the nature of cognitive reactions to persuasive messages. Several approaches have been developed to examine the nature of consumers' cognitive processing of advertising messages.
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