Mr. Viola, 33, may have started as a CPA before turning to brand management, but he was chafing in the left-brained world of package-goods. When he discovered Method was across the bay in San Francisco, he sent his resume, which founder Eric Ryan kept pinned on his wall for nearly a year until he could hire him as VP-marketing.
Crossing the bay meant traversing a philosophical gulf. Mr. Viola left behind 30-second spots and ultra-analytic pre-qualification for trial-and-error testing and shoestring budgets. But Method's magnetism also attracted hot shop Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, which barged uninvited but highly welcome into its agency review.
Under Mr. Viola and Crispin, Method has produced such novel marketing vehicles as a pop-up store in San Francisco to showcase its now 125-item product line, a 16-page "People Against Dirty" book stitched into two national magazines, and ComeClean.com-a Cannes Grand Prix-winning interactive effort that let people wash their sins away virtually with Method hand soap.
ComeClean.com may have won a Grand Prix, but the pop-up shop and booklet won more customers. They'll be repeated on a larger scale this year and next. The upside-down dish soap may have gotten attention, but Method has since turned it right-side up again to win over less-adventurous consumers.
Such flips would make most package-goods executives nauseous, but Method remains very much on the uphill slope. It's on pace to double sales this year, with sales in outlets measured by Information Resources Inc. at $25 million for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, up from a $15 million run rate 10 months earlier.