How Clorox used AI to educate people on COVID-19

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

The company used machine learning to share relevant information while it faced product shortages early in the pandemic.

Remember last March when everyone was hoarding toilet paper and cleaning products were nearly impossible to find? 

Clorox does, too. 

Since last March, Clorox has faced product shortages as people attempt to keep their homes and themselves clean and infection-free during the pandemic. 

But the company has had to get creative in order to meet demand. After noticing confusion among people trying to protect themselves from COVID-19, Clorox saw an opportunity to use its platform to educate consumers. 

“We're all going through the same thing so it helped us think about how to address it by thinking about our own personal experiences,” said Pam Griffin, associate director of the cleaning division at The Clorox Company. “We wanted to provide resources to our consumers that will be meaningful and a step above sifting through FAQ sheets.”

In December, Clorox began using IBM Watson Advertising Conversations, a machine learning and natural language processing tool that enables brands to “listen” to chatter from consumers within an ad unit. 

The tool helped Clorox understand what exactly consumers wanted to know about COVID-19, such as, the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, and how people should clean their hands when coming in from outside.

Clorox then developed editorial content relying on resources from trusted organizations like the CDC to address those exact questions, which it ran on its own website and on sites such as The Weather Channel. 

“The idea was to make it accessible for people to clarify confusion and to offer resources around making your own [cleaning] product if you can't find any,” Griffin said. 

While Clorox expected the content to run through March, the company has extended the campaign as the pandemic drags on, giving it a firsthand view of how people’s questions about COVID have evolved over the year 

The program will continue running for at least another quarter. 

“Now the anxiety is less about how to protect family at home than it is about protecting family while mobile and going out,” Griffin said “So our [we] will be providing resources for how to get back to normal life.”

 

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