McClain Finlon Aims Johns Manville at Consumers

Rather than assure jittery consumers that chemicals used in building-insulation materials pose no heath risks, Johns Manville is suggesting the opposite.

The largest campaign ever launched in the company’s 144-year history focuses on its decision to remove a suspect material from its products. The new spots, created by McClain Finlon, even suggest consumer fears were well-founded.

The campaign, breaking in mid-April, introduces the building supply company’s new line of formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation. The client said the product was created in part to address consumer health concerns about formaldehyde.

“Based on our research, we felt this was really a consumer-friendly product,” said Bill Blalock, group marketing manager at Johns Man ville. He declined to reveal spending, but said it is “significantly more than we have invested in past years.” The company spent $1.5 million in 2000 and $650,000 in 2001, per CMR.

Marie Revenew, management supervisor at the Denver shop, acknowledged that home insulation is “traditionally a low-interest category” among consumers. But because of the formaldehyde-free innovation, the agency decided to build awareness for the first time with consumers before moving on to builders and contractors.

TV, print and outdoor ads are tagged: “Smart ideas. Better insulation.” In one TV and print ad, a rescue dog has a cask labeled “formalde hyde” around its neck. The headline reads: “It makes even less sense in your insulation.” Other ads put formaldehyde in similarly odd places, like in beverage cups at stadiums.

The ads will begin airing on the West Coast on April 15, in the Midwest May 1, on the East Coast June 1 and will break nationally July 1. The TV spot is slated to run on national cable networks. Print will run in national consumer publications such as Home, Country Living and This Old House.

McClain Finlon has had the account since 1998. Its other clients include Xcel Energy, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and the Denver Zoo. The agency has a staff of 110 and annual billings of $65 million.

The Denver-based client has some 9,500 employees in 52 facilities and annual sales of more than $2 billion.