P&G Offers Money-Back Guarantee on Swiffer

In this sluggish economy, Procter & Gamble has rolled out a new ad campaign for its Swiffer brand that aims to instill consumer confidence in the household care sector.

The marketing effort kicks off today and includes three TV spots and a larger online media buy that emphasizes Swiffer’s value over traditional cleaning tools. Tagline: “Cleans better than a mop and bucket or your money back.”

The 30-second spots direct consumers to Swiffer’s Web site, Swiffer.com, for a $5 discount offer.

This is the first time P&G has offered a money-back guarantee on Swiffer, according to Pete Carter, advertising development director for the Swiffer brand. “About six months ago, we started seeing a looming recession out there and we knew that our potential consumers were going to be concerned about the value of their dollar and what they were purchasing,” he said. “The money-back guarantee makes it a no-lose proposition.”

The ads assert Swiffer is worth the money by humorously comparing it to other cleaning methods. One spot, titled “Flower Man,” shows a woman happily cleaning the floor with her Swiffer WetJet until she is interrupted by a man at the door. The visitor announces,” I have a delivery here from a Mr. Mop,” while a disheveled mop peeks from behind a tree. The woman is not interested and slams the door. Voiceover: “Once you switch to Swiffer WetJet, you’ll never go back to your old mop, again.” The commercial concludes with a side-by-side comparison of Swiffer to a mop. Kaplan Thaler, New York, handles.

In another spot, “Grocery Store,” a store clerk tries to convince a female customer of the benefits of Swiffer. Just then, a straw broom and mop appear, knocking over all the potatoes in one aisle. The customer ignores the ruckus and opts for the Swiffer starter kit.

“That’s the first time we ever positioned our [Swiffer] starter kit in that way,” said Carter. “Before, we had just talked about how it’s better than a mop or broom, but we thought that if a consumer is going to shell out money for our starter kit, they need to know they’re getting a lot of value for it.”

David Becker, president of ad agency PhilippeBecker, San Francisco, which specializes in consumer packaged goods, said the spots are extremely effective because they address the underlying issues: tighter spending habits due to a deepening recession.

“It’s well done because it doesn’t highlight the pain aspect, which is: ‘Gee, we’re all losers. We’re all staying home, but at the same time, we want a clean house.’ That’s a negative message to send,” said Becker. Instead, the Swiffer commercials state the message in a more subtle way by saying “the product is better, we’ll prove it to you, you have nothing to lose and there’s that guarantee.”

The new effort is a sign that Swiffer has identified the need to reposition itself during a recession, Becker added. “The last couple of years have shown, if anything, that established brands cannot rest on their laurels,” he said. “There was a time when, if you were Campbell’s Soup, that was just a license for success. Nowadays, nothing is. You just don’t inherit that anymore . . . And when times are tough, humor goes a long way.”

Spending for the new campaign was not disclosed, though Carter said the ad budget for the Swiffer brand is on par with previous years. Swiffer spent $192 million on advertising last year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, and $50 million through April this year.