Oral Health Month was created by Colgate Palmolive to raise awareness of the importance of oral and dental health for everyone in the family.

Last month I was invited to a brunch that was held by Colgate announcing that in the lead up to Oral Health Month, Colgate have been voted as the most trusted brand and most trusted Oral Health Brand in Australia. (Reader’s Digest 2011, conducted by McCrindle Research)

Quite the achievement. Which got me thinking how long does a brand need to market themselves, in order to be voted ‘most trusted brand’.

Initiatives such as Oral Health Month and being in partnership with the Australian Dental Association (ADA) certainly help. As are other campaigns such as the Bright Smiles Bright Future initiative which is aimed at encouraging children to take care of their teeth.

And the key is if you can get the kids to recognize Colgate and trust them, then that will go long way to ensuring loyalty in years to come.

And it was here that the Colgate people brought out the big guns.

Remember Mrs Marsh with her purple liquid and chalk? Out came Mrs Marsh herself to talk to us and I tell you the whole room just gasped. That was Mrs Marsh; she was like a second mum to all of us. We instantly felt 12 again. And all those warm and fuzzy feelings came flooding back.

“The fluoride in Colgate certainly strengthens teeth, gets right into teeth, like this liquid gets into to chalk.”

The Mrs Marsh campaign, that ran during the 1970’s and 1980’s, along with the ‘liquid gets into chalk’ demonstration was genius. It was instantly memorable and recognizable and as soon as I told family and friends that I met Mrs Marsh, they all quoted me “like this liquid gets into chalk”.

See how convincing kids can go a long way in future market share?

Now I can’t tell you if the ad campaign was marketed at parents or kids because to watch these ads back now, Mrs Marsh does impart a lot of information about the usefulness of the product, especially in the early television advertisements. Boring for kids, but we kids got a kick out of the liquid and chalk. And the campaign worked.

Mrs Marsh became a sort of hero if you like; a champion of good causes.

Today Colgate uses Dr Rabbit in the Bright Smiles Bright Futures initiative to appeal to the kids.

Let’s face it, brushing our teeth is probably one of the most boring things you can do during your day. But, no-one will deny, one of the most necessary.

Putting a hero on a product has an enormous affect when it comes to messages received by kids and we’re not just talking about toothpaste. So much so that The Australian Association of National Advertisers Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children that states that:

2.11 Popular Personalities
Advertising or Marketing Communications to Children must not use popular personalities or celebrities (live or animated) to advertise or market Products or Premiums in a manner that obscures the distinction between commercial promotions and program or editorial content.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council states that:

Advertising Messaging
Participants will not advertise food and beverage products to children under 12 in media unless:
1. those products represent healthy dietary choices, consistent with established scientific or Australian government standards.
2. the advertising and/or marketing communication activities reference, or are in the context of a healthy lifestyle, designed to appeal to the intended audience through messaging that ?encourages:
– good dietary habits, consistent with established scientific or government criteria?- physical activity.

Use of Popular Personalities and Licensed Characters
Participants will not use Popular Personalities, program characters or Licensed characters’ in advertising primarily directed to children under 12 unless such advertising complies with the messaging options set out above. This is in addition to the requirements under Children’s Television Standards 2009 covering C and P periods (CTS section 35).

These guidelines are specific for food and beverage but it illustrates just how pervasive using a hero can be when advertising, especially to children.

Does that mean Colgate is exempt from the regulation? They do use Dr Rabbit and essentially toothpaste is a good thing.

Now I really don’t think Colgate had any untoward agenda using the Mrs Marsh campaign and they probably don’t with Dr Rabbit. They just want to sell their product and they are doing it in a way that does benefit everyone is some small way. Whether it be giving kids a reachable goal with printable worksheets, or the free toothpaste that I usually get every time I visit the dentist; I am well aware of how I am being marketed to and people are becoming more media savvy and can see how advertising and marketing works.

To be voted ‘Most Trusted Brand’ takes years of cultivating a relationship between the consumers and the brand to build that trust.

For me, I think the next step to maintaining that trust is transparency in advertising and the brand’s effort and involvement to give back to society.

Do you think Colgate does those things?


  • At 2011.08.11 09:07, Warren said:

    Well, you’ve done some research, haven’t you? 😛 I’ve long thought that advertising is highly subversive and it’s not just on children. In fact, I think all advertising needs to be more accountable – unfortunately, though, you can’t save people from their stupidity, even though you can protect children in their innocence. I think at the moment, children are pretty well protected in advertising, but it still suffers from the same problem as adult advertising…
    Forgive the word, but it seems the most applicable… Colgate, like every other company, is guilty of a little bulls**** in their advertising to get ahead. An ad campaign here started recently about how brushing cleans only 30% of your tooth, as 70% lies under the gum. It dances around a clear explanation to make it sound like Colgate is the ONLY paste that protects that other 70% – just because they made you aware of it and nobody else used the same explicit words and explanation. Clearly nobody else thought about that other 70% when they were killing mouth bacteria and fighting gum disease. That kind’ve wordplay that really bugs me.
    They’re not as bad as some, though… Companies that trademark inconsequential combinations of chemicals so they can claim they’re the only product that contains it are worse… everything from Dove (NutriumMoisture – check ‘how it works’ on their site) to an ad i heard on the radio there for Testoroid muscle gain formula that contains ‘testofen’ uses the same subversive tactic to try and dupe people…
    Whether they do good things or not, is it not, for them, just another marketing strategy? Isn’t it still about the money? >_>

    • At 2011.08.15 12:51, Maria said:

      Advertising does have bad name I agree but we have become far more savvy and can see though the bulls***

      Yes companies will give information like they are the only ones who are honest enough to clever enough to let you know that, for example, your teeth only account for 30% of oral health. Here use our product. That’s just the nature of the business. Companies are entitled to sell their product. If they happen to get the jump on the competitor then more power to them.

      Truth in advertising… it’s an interesting notion isn’t it? In that case that haven’t been totally dishonest but maybe they haven’t been totally honest. I don’t know. That’s where a clever competitor will find that point of difference and exploit it. Competition is good.

      Question everything.

      Outright dishonestly is bad, very very bad.

      Advertisers can be sly. Maybe it is a little bit of hard work on our part but you can see through their tactics. Like where products are placed on supermarket shelves. The colours and style of packaging.

      For me, I don’t care if a company exploits every avenue they have at their disposal, as long as they are transparent in doing so and are honest in their claims.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2011.08.11 23:20, Nicole @ myIdeaLife said:

      As a marketer myself I know that the culture of the company you work for determines the level of unscrupulousness that is expected to hit revenue or profit targets. Once a brand gets as big as Colgate, KPIs would be attached to building and retaining the ‘most trusted brand’ value so they’d have to balance short term $ with mid- long term brand strength and value. So I think Colgate would be investing in maintaining that trust… just guessing though! Nic x

      p.s. I’m feeling inspired to eventually do my Colgate post… even though it won’t be nearly as mature and informative as yours… heehe

      • At 2011.08.15 12:57, Maria said:

        Hi Nicole,

        No doubt Colgate will want to hang onto that ‘Most Trusted Brand’ with all their might. For sure, because that is the one point of difference that competitors cannot claim for their own product.

        And yes companies will lose their way and become unscrupulous in their ways BUT I have absolutely not doubt that dishonest marketing will be a company’s undoing. Remember Ribena with their claim to how much Vitamin C they had in their drink. All those marketing dollars undone by a couple of science students.

        As a marketer, knowing that the consumer is more savvy, do you think loyalty is as strong as it used to be? And do you think the marketing/advertising world has shifted their approach to ‘truth in advertising’?

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

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