Downy Wants Consumers to ‘Feel More’

Procter & Gamble is unveiling its first big campaign for Downy fabric softener since this summer’s launch of Tide and Downy Total Care. Only this time, emotion will be the central theme of ads that invite consumers to “Feel More.”

The campaign, via Grey, New York, breaks during CBS’ Jan. 7 broadcast of the 35th annual People’s Choice Awards. A TV spot features consumers who are so caught up in everyday life that they forget to relax. It then goes on to show how they are able to indulge in everyday moments when they are around good smelling fabric. P&G will run 30-second and longer renditions of the spot during the televised event.

“With all the uncertainty around us today, it’s more important than ever for each of us to take solace and find pleasure in the simple things in life. Consumers have really resonated with our message,” said Marty Vanderstelt, brand manager for Downy North America.

P&G, which spent $42 million advertising Downy through September of this year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, also will run ads in the February issues of Better Homes and Gardens and Redbook. One execution shows a woman indulging in the scent of Downy on her turtleneck while on a bus.

The ads are meant to relay the campaign’s core messaging: “When you put a capful of Downy in your laundry, you’re putting in a capful of feeling,” said Grey executive creative director Rob Baiocco.

Household goods rival Kimberly-Clark used a similar approach in a campaign called “It Feels Good to Feel” for its facial tissue with lotion. The ads, via JWT, New York, showed a mother touching various objects throughout the day, but never really grasping the meaning of “feeling” until she reached for a tissue.

Marti Barletta, founder of The TrendSight Group in Winnetka, Ill., said P&G is harkening back to the brand’s heritage as a “comfort brand.” “What they are clearly tapping into is in difficult times like these, consumers are looking for comfort and good feeling in everyday activity,” Barletta said.

Jack Trout, who heads up Trout and Partners in Old Greenwich, Conn., however, is not convinced that creating an emotional association with the Downy brand is the best business strategy for P&G. Sentiment may not resonate well with consumers in a tough economy, he said.

To cover all the bases, P&G will introduce a separate commercial next month, which plays up the value proposition of Downy. According to John Paquin, evp, global account director at Grey, there are two sides to Downy’s value pitch: Price and what consumers get out of the brand.

Agency executives said the “Feel More” campaign is on a much larger scale than the one that launched for Downy as part of Tide and Downy Total Care. (The exact spend was not disclosed.) That campaign, also via Grey, New York, positioned “washable as fashionable” by touting the fabric softener and detergent line’s use on laundry-sensitive clothes.

“Feel More” also includes a tie-in with arts and entertainment organization Gen Art. Through Dec. 30, consumers can go to and vote for one of four films created by emerging artists. The films expand on P&G’s brand messaging on what that “feel more” emotion is. “This is another way for Downy to reach their audience in a fun way,” said Anthony Bovino, Gen Art’s business development manager.