Design star Method takes cue from BK

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Scrappy design-centric household brand Method takes a cue from Burger King's Subservient Chicken later this month as it launches a viral campaign from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, around a theme of atonement that seems ideally suited to the post-election season.

The 4-year-old brand already has become a cult hit, registering about $15 million in sales in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 2 across its expanding array of categories, including dish soap, cleaning wipes and liquid laundry detergent, according to Information Resources Inc. Method Home executives said the brand is much bigger than that, hitting a 30% share in some drug chains and cleaning categories, but it declined to provide figures.

Now, household products' first super-premium master brand- one founder Eric Ryan compared to the industry's version of Snapple or Ben & Jerry's-is tapping the same Crispin team that created the ever-compliant chicken to launch a holiday gift pack of hand soap.

"The whole concept is around coming clean, washing your hands clean of any sins you've done in '04, and send the Method holiday kit to those you've wronged," said Ritch Viola, VP-marketing of San Francisco-based Method Home. In a slightly different play on the chicken-who may need to use some Method himself-the campaign will let people choose the sins for which they wish to atone.

It's the perfect theme, Mr. Viola believes, for a brand whose motto is "People Against Dirty."

A viral campaign may seem odd for a brand that operates in some of the lowest-involvement categories around-ones where ads focus on serious solutions to real cleaning problems rather than whimsical solutions for spiritual failings. But it's perfect for Method Home, which is all about turning the conventional wisdom of cleaning on its head, said Mr. Ryan.

"The insight behind the brand is that the home has a very high interest, high emotional place in our life, yet the products we take care of our home with are nothing more than product solutions," Mr. Ryan said. "The idea was to make them more accessories-engaging and fun. And that's where the role of design has come."

novel squeeze

Method's new take on liquid laundry detergent, which launched in August, is three times as concentrated as Procter & Gamble category behemoth Tide, sells at a 20% premium, and comes with a novel squeeze bottle with a flip top.

Mr. Ryan acknowledged Method's appeal is almost perfectly aligned with Target's, but he's also getting growing distribution in such retailers as Wegman's, Stop & Shop and Duane Reade.

Not all retailers are convinced, though. A buyer for one Midwestern chain dropped the dish soap after a trial, finding it too pricey for consumers. Wal-Mart Stores, too, dropped it this year, though its Sam's Club chain and rival Costco carry it.

Laundry detergent is the biggest challenge the brand has taken on yet, Mr. Ryan said. "There's no way anyone is going to believe Method works better than Tide," he said. "What we had to do is work as well as Tide."

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