Off!: an America's Hottest Brands Case Study

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Insect repellents aren't the sort of things that usually generate tons of excitement, but SC Johnson's Off! Clip-On fan has been a decided exception.

Upon their launch this spring, the clip-on fans exceeded SCJ's expectations by 400%, according to people familiar with the matter. A wet, mosquito-infested summer in much of the U.S. helped, but so did a smart proposition and marketing plan.

A 30-second TV ad , from DraftFCB, Chicago, delivered the highest score to date from Ace Metrix, which measures customer engagement and sales effectiveness.

By July, demand had outstripped supply sufficiently enough that Amazon was charging $12.89 for a starter kit and $8.49 for refills, both well above the suggested retail prices of $8.99 and $3.99, respectively. The clip-on product generated $11.8 million in sales in less than five months ended Oct. 4, according to Information Resources Inc. data, which doesn't include considerable sales from Walmart, club or hardware and home-improvement stores.

"The idea for Off! Clip-On originated with consumers," said Drew Franklin, director of pest control for SCJ, in an e-mail statement. "We just listened to them."

Specifically, SCJ's consumer research indicated a substantial need, particularly among women, for an odorless product that would provide effective protection with no skin application. It took a bit of courage to launch a new product by dissing the old one that built the brand. The Clip-On ad starts with the rhetorical question: "What's worse ... mosquitoes or mosquito-repellent sprays?" The data suggests some declines in Off!'s other mosquito products, but those were more than offset by the Clip-On.

TV advertising may have been effective, but SCJ went after the new market with a widely varied, integrated plan that also included PR, shopper marketing and promotions. A PR campaign by Edelman focused on women and mommy bloggers that were put off by applying chemicals to their skin to fend off bugs.

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