Loctite made a bold move last year, putting its entire $4.5 million TV budget and the vast majority of its paid media behind a single Super Bowl ad.
The somewhat surreal ad from Fallon showed people dancing to reggae hip-hop in Loctite fanny packs, pulling out glue and fixing stuff, including a magical winking unicorn brooch. And it featured the Henkel brand's #WinAtGlue hashtag.
But did Loctite win at glue? A year's worth of data shows the brand did a lot better after running the ad. Yet the glue category ultimately won more than Loctite. And rival Gorilla Glue won most of all, following a very different strategy by spending a little more than Loctite on a much broader media plan.
It's hard to know exactly how much of a role Loctite's single ad played. But it appeared to help the glue category, and Loctite specifically, both of which were shuffling along before Henkel got into the big game last year. For the 52 weeks ended Oct. 5, 2014, overall category sales rose less than 1% as Loctite fell 4.2%, according to IRI.
Loctite got a nice bounce after the Super Bowl, with sales up 8.6% for the four weeks ended Feb. 22 versus the prior-year period. But strangely, the ad seemed to give the whole category a nice bounce too, with sales up 6.5% overall. Even stranger, Gorilla Glue, with no Super Bowl ad, did far better than Loctite: Its sales rose nearly 45% during Super Bowl month, more than double its already robust prior growth rate.
For the full year ended Dec. 27, IRI shows Loctite sales rose a nice 6.7%. But it actually lost share, as the category rose 7.3%, led by Gorilla, which soared 36.2% and ended the year just shy of overtaking Loctite to become No. 2 in the category, with sales of $44.1 million to Loctite's $44.6 million. Category leader Elmer's, with sales up 2.7% to $148.5 million, saw its growth rate more than double vs. the previous year.
Loctite Marketing Director Pierre Tannoux said in an email that all-channel data including home-improvement stores show the brand doing better than IRI. The Super Bowl, he said, "definitely put us on the map," increasing brand awareness by 5 percentage points overnight. But he said "doing it again would probably feel limiting," adding that "we never intended to enter the 'club' of guys who 'have' to be in the Super Bowl every year." Explaining the impact on the whole category, Mr. Tannoux said glue is rarely a "planned purchase," and the activity around the Super Bowl showed retailers "if they just put Super Glue in front of shoppers, they sell more."
Gorilla VP-Marketing and Innovation Mark Mercurio, a Procter & Gamble Co. alum, declined to comment on why his company is growing so fast, citing a preference to keep a low profile.
But iSpot.tv data show the brand spent $5.9 million on TV for the year ended Jan. 21, more than the $4.5 million Loctite spent on the Super Bowl. Gorilla spread its buy over two lengthy stretches in the winter, spring and fall, mostly on cable. Interestingly, Gorilla advertised during the December-to-February period last year, but not during those same periods in 2014 or this year, so it seemingly extended its buy into the winter last year to counter Loctite's push.
Cincinnati-based Empower MediaMarketing handles media for Gorilla, which does creative in-house with help on a project basis on digital from Curiosity Advertising Cincinnati.
Loctite's Super Bowl ad scored 103.5 from Advertising Benchmark Index, which uses online consumer surveys to rate all ads on factors including likeability and purchase intent. That put Loctite above the 100 average for all ads, but below the 108.5 average for TV, and its purchase-intent score was a well-below-average 90.4. In comparison, most Gorilla Glue ads score above 120 with ABX, particularly on purchase intent; one showing a couple talking about fixing an Adirondack chair scored 230.
Loctite's Super Bowl ad "was a charming ad and cute creative concept, but it didn't really break through," said Jeri Smith, CEO of Communicus, which tested last year's Super Bowl ads with consumers. Loctite's was recalled by only 13% of people after the game, Ms. Smith said, versus 43% ad recall for the average Super Bowl ad, and only 5% of people remembered what brand it was for.