Why Clearasil Sees a Blemish-Free Future Online

Less than a week after announcing that it would shift $20 million from TV to Internet advertising, Reckitt Benckiser has launched its first major digital push for Clearasil.

Reckitt Benckiser has embarked on a new strategy that involves a mix of rich media and interactive Web videos that allow users to engage with Clearasil, the No. 2 acne treatment brand worldwide. The company kicked off a campaign across Teen.com, via a partnership with Alloy Media + Marketing, which, in addition to Teen.com, owns teen-oriented entertainment properties such as Gossip Girl and Channel One news.

Unlike traditional video ads, where the call-to-action is often to click through and leave a web site, the new Clearasil interactive ads encourage users to “pause” and engage with the brand’s storyline, said Marc Fonzetti, who oversees Internet advertising strategy for all of Reckitt Benckiser North America.

One such video, for instance, shows a girl hiding a blemish with sunglasses when a boy waves to her. A few seconds into the video, the stream pauses and a bottle of Clearasil StayClear Daily Face Wash appears at the center of the screen. (Clicking through allows the girl to continue washing her face as she discovers the product’s “gentle” properties.)

Rich media in-banner game units are another component of the campaign. One, in which gamesters use the space bar of their keyboards as a “jump key,” shows a boy hopping over various obstacles to meet up with his girlfriend for a date.

Jamie Elden, vp of digital and branded entertainment at Alloy, said the campaign reflects Reckitt Benckiser’s focus on getting both maximum ROI and accountability figures for its digital advertising. Teen.com was ranked the No. 1 online teen community by Internet market research firm comScore through February. (March numbers are not yet available.) It also boasts a network of more than 20 million online users.

Alloy will also target the effort so that each user sees the campaign a specific number of times over its life cycle, Elden said. Such digital capabilities allow clients to measure how effective it was on a per user basis, he added.

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed, but Fonzetti said Clearasil had upped spend from “a few hundred thousand in Web media” last year to “millions of dollars” for this digital launch. Reckitt Benckiser spent $15 million advertising Clearasil in the U.S. in 2008, compared to $14 million in 2007 (excluding online), per Nielsen. Overall, Reckitt Benckiser spent $505 million on measured media in 2008, up from $477 million in 2007.