Consumers Like Brands That Are Family-Owned

Conveys honesty

Headshot of Robert Klara

In the large and largely anonymous world of home cleaning products, it would probably come as a surprise to most consumers that the Bissell brand is a family-owned company that’s been run by Bissells for 137 years. And while the Bissells are obviously proud of their vacuums, they never saw family ownership as a marketing tool—until now. The company’s new ad campaign stars Cathy Bissell, wife of CEO Mark Bissell, and two of the family dogs.

Bissell hopes that her appearance in TV spots will give the brand an attribute that mega corporations have a tougher time conveying—honesty. “I am the tester for every one of our products that comes out,” Cathy Bissell told Adweek. “I have a large family, and I’m an obsessive cleaner. I care about every product. Hopefully that’ll come though.”

The evidence suggests it will. Studies have shown that conveying family ownership prompts consumers to view a brand in a more positive light and also affects purchasing decisions. John Tanner, evp of global design and branding agency Dragon Rouge, added that “for a brand like Bissell, where there is a relative sameness between competitors, showcasing one of the family owners may be what the brand needs to establish a point of difference.”

The family-owner-as-pitchman is a tactic that actually goes way back. Sy Syms touted Syms’ reduced-price suits throughout the 1970s. Frank Perdue famously hawked Perdue chickens in hundreds of TV spots. And 49-year-old Wendy Thomas is back on camera for Wendy’s, the burger chain her father named after her when she was 8 years old.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.