How 170-year-old Arm & Hammer is passing torch to next generation

The Church & Dwight brand partnered with Via Agency to transform its voice and push its huge variety of products which includes cat litter in a spot over Super Bowl weekend and beyond.

It would be weird if you didn’t have an Arm & Hammer product hidden away somewhere in your home right now.

The 170-year-old brand claims more supermarket aisles and shows up in more household than any other CPG brand in the U.S.

But with great age comes great responsibility. And while we’re unlikely to boycott its infamous baking soda anytime soon, Arm & Hammer recently came under increasing pressure to be more culturally relevant.

"We are stewards of this brand, and we wanted to make sure it passes onto the next generation," said Britta Bomhard, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at the brand’s parent company Church & Dwight.

"We want to celebrate our consumers -- we wouldn’t have this history of success if we didn’t have the people who loved the brand."

Last year, Arm & Hammer embarked on a journey to transform its voice. It asked Maine-based Via Agency to lead the charge.

The team immediately looked out how consumers were shaping the brand by constantly reinventing its uses. Over recent months there’s been an explosion of social activity around the brand’s previously untapped value as a major ingredient in making slime (slime porn’s a thing -- look it up). Elsewhere, beauty bloggers were raving about its uses as a face mask.

Bomhard continued: "Consumers actually build the brand and usages with us, and we thought that’s a great insight to give back and say, ‘we are here to help you’ and celebrate their ingenuity."

Creatives coined the new tagline, "More Power To You," which now serves as Arm & Hammer’s anchor campaign.

It was put to the test over December 15 and 16 in New York City’s Bryant Park Winter Village. The team quite literally put customers front and center by asking them to "Show Us Their Flex" inside Arm and Hammer's iconic logo.

The "Casting Call to Arms" was extended via paid social post on Facebook and Instagram featuring footage from the event. This was followed by a three consecutive-page buy in the January 7 issue of People magazine. The content will be further pushed this year.

"We don’t say anything that consumers wouldn’t say for themselves," said Bomhard, speaking to the campaign’s authenticity. "We are not saying anything artificial, we are just amplifying what consumers are already saying today.

"The cultural movement in general is that people have changed their relationship with brands and want to be participating in them and co-creating."

Now the real work begins. Arm & Hammer is gearing up to launch a series of new campaign for products across multiple categories. Each will have a unique voice but fall back on the "More Power To You" theme.

It starts with an effort to push its cat litter during the Kitty Halftime Show as part of the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet this weekend.

Leeann Leahy, CEO of Via Agency, explained: "‘More Power To You’ is an overarching celebration of consumers and the power of strength they get when they interact with the brand. So every product line is going to have that call to action. When it came to cat litter, we wanted to break through in the category but show the fun-loving relationship people have with their pets."

How did they do this? Well, by personifying cats with human bodies and feline heads, of course (which is actually not as creepy as you’d imagine).

The spot is part of a series of work that will include TV, digital, print spots and another product innovation to be released in early April.

Bomhard praised Via’s role in redefining Arm & Hammer’s voice and stressed the importance of agency input when building brands.

"We had a bit of a courting process getting here," She joked. "But Via is fully immersed in the brand with their own opinion that challenges the brand. It’s very important in the early stage that the agency has a voice and that voice is heard. Agency clients are really important relationships in building and furthering brands. We’re very happy."

The CMO is confident about Arm & Hammer’s future, citing major challenges as the roller coaster economy and the temptation to get trigger-happy and throw more creative work out in the world before the voice has a chance to resonate with consumers.

She added: "We need to be very aware that we circle around the brand all the time and consumers might not be as much. But if consumers have "More Power To You" as a catchphrase and it makes it into local lingual that would be perfection, that would be my dream."

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