Here’s a marketing success story for you.

The Orabrush tongue cleaner case study is a remarkable example of hitting it big using creative video and YouTube Promoted Videos. I first heard the story in a presentation by Jeffrey Harmon, Orabrush marketing head.  Intrigued, I gathered more details from an Inc. Magazine article.  The short version:

The Orabrush tongue cleaner was developed in 2000, but had sold fewer than 100 units by 2009.  A TV infomercial and attempts to break into retail had both flopped.  In a last ditch effort, the product’s inventor asked students in a Brigham Young marketing class for ideas. One of the more enterprising students in the class, Jeffrey Harmon, convinced him to explore on-line tactics.  They produced their first light-hearted video for less than $500 and gave YouTube Promoted Videos a try. They started with a $40 per day spend, and then began reinvesting all profits back into the campaign.  The video went viral and Orabrush sold out 10,000 units within five weeks.  They ordered more inventory and sold out again. “It exploded,” Harmon says.  The company has now passed $1 million in sales and you can find the Orabrush at 3,500 Walmart stores throughout the United States.

My takeaways from the Orabrush story …

  • Ideas can come from anywhere.  Experience and deep knowledge are great, but younger people can offer a fresh, non-biased perspective uninhibited by all the reasons “that won’t work”.  Mediocre ideas come from doing what is traditional and safe.  Great ideas come from unbridled thought and often from the minds of beginners.
  • It is difficult, but brands can be built on little or no media.  A great story, an engaging store experience, strong brand affinity with a social movement, or in Orabrush’s case, a video that was more creative and funny than it was advertorial.  In fact, these alternative strategies are often the only feasible way to for start ups and little brands to grow.  But beware, as easy as it sounds when you hear the stories, it’s far easier said than done.
  • These stories are fascinating to marketers who spend millions to get noticed.  The fact is that it is very difficult for big brands to embrace alternative approaches. The environments that create successful viral creative tend to be small with fun cultures and happy employees. Such settings are easier for bootstrap entrepreneurs to come by than the larger establishment with shorter time frames, larger financial overheads, and higher success bars.

Leaders take the road less traveled and are not afraid to do things differently.  What have you done differently lately?

 Check out these two short videos.  Very cool.