%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%%CINCINNATI -- When mold strikes, the doctors of the fictional Rittenhouse Women's Health Center on Lifetime's Strong Medicine are there to help -- and Clorox Co.'s Tilex will be right there with them.
Tilex, a household cleaner positioned primarily as a mold fighter, has purchased an in-depth content integration for a show that airs Jan. 26, and will feature a plot that centers on health problems related to mold.
Besides running conventional 30-second ads during the program, Tilex and Strong Medicine will present a 10-second trailer immediately following the show in which one of the stars delivers "a message about mold at home and the importance of being able to address it," said Derek Gordon, Clorox's vice president for marketing.
Clorox declined to disclose just how much it is spending on the integration and advertising during and around the episode.
However, the Lifetime integration is the latest in a series of nontraditional marketing efforts Clorox is putting behind a brand it has identified as one of its top growth drivers.
30 million impressions
A public-relations effort about mold-related allergies and other health issues generated 30 million impressions last year, Mr. Gordon said, and is among factors that has helped drive the well-established mold-fighting product to a 10-point share gain in the past year.
Mold-related health problems have been getting growing media coverage in recent years, and mold-related claims have become a bane to homeowners insurance underwriters. Several have issued riders to existing policies exempting or limiting mold claims or offered stand-alone policies to cover mold damage. Mr. Gordon believes Clorox's PR efforts have been responsible for at least some of the heightened awareness, and hopes content integration into entertainment can do even more.
"An important portion of what we do as a company now is making sure we are using the full range of tools to be able to reach our target consumers as opposed to just traditional advertising," he said. "Advertising is and always will be important, but now PR and the retail environment and the general home environment are also critically important."
Other brand content integration
Clorox %%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% is also looking to use more content integration in coming months across a broad range of its brands, which also include Clorox bleach, Brita water filters, Kingford Charcoal and Glad storage products, though Mr. Gordon declined to provide details.
Another effort linking Clorox to Lifetime and Strong Medicine kicked off in December: a sweepstakes shoppers can enter at Kmart for a chance to win $1,000 and a trip to Hollywood to meet what promotional materials bill as "Strong Medicine's resident hunk" Josh Coxx and make a cameo appearance on an episode of the show.
Lifetime and Clorox are part of a veritable gold rush of household-products brands and female-oriented shows striking integration deals.
Rival P&G and 'Trading Spaces'
Rival Procter & Gamble Co. got the movement started in 2002 with a sponsorship of TLC's Trading Spaces that includes a Swiffer logo plastered on smocks of the show's rehabbers and obligatory Swiffering of each newly decorated room. Lifetime's How Clean Is Your House?, in which two British housekeepers give untidy American homes a dressing down and spiffing up, has become a not-too-subtle showcase for P&G cleaning brands such as Mr. Clean, Dawn and Febreze.
The movement has spawned some detractors, including newspaper TV critics who have panned obvious placements in How Clean Is Your House?
Gary Ruskin, executive director of the advocacy group Commercial Watch, believes the Tilex-Strong Medicine integration "injects a strong whiff of commercialism into the program."
He added: "Increasingly these home-repair and decorating shows have become more infomercials than programming. To the extent some of them claim to have a pro-consumer or documentary function, that is entirely subverted."