Challenge

Unilever’s detergent brands (OMO, Persil, Surf Excel, etc) operate in a low interest, low engagement category, where preference is usually stimulated by emphasising product attributes and functionality…and more often through price promotion.

Overall category growth was stagnating as the consumer found it difficult to differentiate between increasingly commoditised brands.

The challenge was finding an idea that could genuinely differentiate Persil/OMO in the consumer’s eyes AND win the support of multiple markets.

Creative Approach

We articulated this distinctly anti-category view as a shift from ‘stains are the enemy’ to ‘stains are a child’s best friend and developed the globally renowned Organising Idea ‘Dirt is Good’ (‘DiG’.)

‘DiG’ became the radical new expression of our Brand Purpose for Persil/OMO that ‘to develop their potential, human beings need to be free to experience their world.’

Crucially, the brand and agency team enshrined this thinking in a ‘Brand Triangle’ (an exercise that we at the agency now apply to every major brand repositioning exercise) that firmly ties together product benefit and brand purpose with product functionality, to ensure all communication is grounded in a credible product truth.

Insight

We aimed to identify the motivations and drivers of modern parents through research. It threw up many insights, but one was very striking in its simplicity and truth: a child’s development will always be a mother’s first priority (and never a detergent!). Progressive mothers everywhere recognised intuitively that their child’s development required them to play and in that process they get dirty.

This led us to a key question: if getting dirty actually helps a child, what is the role of a detergent brand that wants to be the friend and champion of modern mums? 

The insight led to the brand team’s decision to overturn the category convention that a ‘Good mum keeps her kids clean’ and begin championing the mother who encourages her child to develop their potential – regardless of dirt.

Recent Developments

‘Dirt is Good’, was designed to function as a ‘North Star’ and rallying cry for a brand that championed child development. Over the last decade, the DiG team has gone on to work with governments, NGOs, parents, educators and other brands to create opportunities for children everywhere to play, get dirty, and learn from experience.

 Most recently, we’ve worked with Persil to adapt our long running ‘Dirt is Good’ positioning and reaffirm its relevance in the time of COVID-19. As the crisis came closer to home, we had 10 days (working in isolation) from kick-off to campaign to evolve our positioning to ‘Home is Good’ - Allowing Persil to celebrate and encourage people to stay at home. Social channels have been key in driving our message across.

8.1%
Compound Annual Growth in last three years

Results

Persil has grown into the world’s No.1 fabric cleaning brand (in the markets we operate) and Unilever’s second-biggest brand.

From a €250 million brand to a €4 billion brand – a staggering 1,500% increase, adding €828 million in the last three years alone.

Growing at 8.1% in Compound Annual Growth in the last three years.

One of the most awarded global campaigns for advertising’s oldest and traditionally most functional category clocking over 10 effectiveness awards including nine Cannes Lions.


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Dirt is Good

This is the brand story behind the creation and implantation of the Dirt is Good positioning.