What’s the Messiest Food? Cascade Puts It Up to a Vote

Reasoning that dishwashing detergent isn’t likely to spur much discussion but spotty dishes is, Cascade is launching a social media campaign asking consumers to weigh in on their choice of the “messiest food pairings of all time.”

The effort includes a microsite launching this week, dubbed Cascade’s Best Food Mergers Hall of Fame, and the participation of Ted Allen, host of the Food Network’s Chopped, who serves as spokesman. The goal is to highlight Cascade Complete ActionPacs’ ability to clean tough stains via the fusion of the brand’s gel and powder ingredients.

Consumers will be asked to vote on one of three messy food combinations: spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese or fried chicken and gravy. Cascade assistant brand manager David Youn said the three were chosen as they were either tough to scrape off or greasy. The “winner” will be announced in October.

The focus on these three combinations highlights the “torture test” Cascade’s research team goes through to make sure the brand can “clean even the toughest of all food pairings.” Though consumers may only vote on one of the three, they are also free to chime in on “what are other classic combinations of great [foods] that come together?” Youn said.

The social media outreach is one part of the Procter & Gamble brand’s desire to get into the digital space (it’s launching its first Facebook page in July), while driving consumption of its cleaning tablets. Cascade began running television and print creative drawing consumers’ attention to the tablets, also known as unit doses, last month.

A TV ad via the Kaplan Thaler Group, for instance, shows two warriors, representing the product’s gel and powder ingredients, teaming up to fight the evil forces in the dishwasher (stains and grease). Print ads, likewise, show the two “dishwashing forces” coming together to form “one powerful pac.”

Cascade’s move taps into a larger, industrywide shift toward the tablet forms. In recent years, competitors like Reckitt Benckiser’s Finish and retailer store brands have introduced tablet versions of their products, P&G said.

In Europe, likewise, “it is much more common to see dosed formats,” noted Mintel analyst Lynn Dornblaser, who tracks new products.

There are several reasons. For one, the dosed format allows ingredients to combine better. It’s also much more convenient and eliminates over- or underpouring (versus gel or powder cleaners). Plus it has a built-in sustainability hook, Dornblaser added. At retail, Cascade’s ActionPacs are actually “line priced” with the equivalent gel or powder versions, Youn said, so consumers aren’t necessarily forking over more money.

In the automatic dishwasher category, usage across the three main forms—gels, powders and tablets—is split evenly, P&G said. Consumption on the latter, however, is closer to 40 percent.

“Consumers seem to love this form,” Youn said of the trend, adding that the target buyer is someone who seeks “the best performing product out there.” S/he may also be someone who tends to prewash or rinse dishes before and after the wash cycle, but Cascade ActionPacs eliminate that need, P&G said.

Sales of Cascade ActionPacs are certainly growing. In the 52 weeks ended May 16, dollar sales of the latter grew 9.7 percent to $104.5 million versus a 0.1 percent drop for Cascade dishwasher detergent/additive. (Data is per market research firm SymphonyIRI and does not include Walmart sales.)   

Kaplan Thaler Group aside, agencies MS&L, Integer and Barefoot Proximity handled PR, in-store and interactive duties, respectively.