Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why Energizer's new tagline might be a bit weak

It keeps going. And going. And going.

The tag line with the pink-Terminator-isqe Energizer bunny has stuck with us for as long as we can remember. From Darth Vader, to Elvis, to alien abductions, these spots all ended with the pink bunny and the famous tag line, "It keeps going.". I even remember being teased by friends in middle school because I ran longer on the track than most kids in gym class, "Does he eat Energizer batteries for breakfast? He keeps going!". (Outrunning Counter-Strike playing gurus wasn't difficult, I should add.)

"Nothing outlasts the Energizer battery", proclaims the 1994 Energizer/Darth Vader spot. Well, except for the tag line, I guess. After twenty years, Energizer Battery Co. (with the help of TBWA Canada) has changed its tag line from "Keep going" to "Now that's positivenergy", which is part of a new initiative including "pay it forward" - an online pledge that encourages consumers to perform random acts of kindness ("Do something little. Help something big."). Ever since Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" went Hollywood in 2006, companies from across all industries have been trying to re-brand themselves as "green". You see, branding yourself as environmentally friendly becomes more than just reducing carbon dioxide emissions, so we won't all die in xyz years. It's a message to us that we can change the world, but more importantly - we can become better people by doing these things. And isn't saving the world so much more sexier than just surviving?

However, with so many brands claiming to be "green" and claiming that you can do good for the planet by using their products, this "green" aspect is becoming a commodity amongst every company, and the message is getting a bit old (much like how a company can't get excited about having a website now... who doesn't?).

Although the consumer attention on global warming has faded a little with time, I don't believe that we don't care about "saving the planet" anymore. A lot of decisions we make do consider the environment (for example, we've stepped away from gas guzzling vehicles and turned off our computers overnight). A more effective campaign that encouraged social action is of course the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project. For the first time 23 years, Pepsi took a pass on a Superbowl spot in 2010, and instead, used their $20 million dollar Superbowl budget as grants ($5,000 to $250,000 per grant) for consumer initiated ideas that impact the world in a positive way. This accomplished a couple of things. In an interview with Rob Schwartz (CCO at TBWA\Chiat Day\L.A.) by Teressa Iezzi (former editor of Creativity Magazine), Schwartz stated, "The original idea was kept intact: Every Pepsi Refreshes The World, not just a slogan, but as real action. Oh, and give people a concrete reason to choose Pepsi over Coke." It was about real action. And it worked. (Just a small example, this past semester, my Entrepreneurship professor even spent time pitching some of his former student's product to the class so we would go to and vote. Talk about a project that scales...)

Is Energizer's new tag line just another brand jumping on to the "green" bandwagon, that's quite frankly getting a bit full? Is the message a bit weak? In Friday's article by the Financial Post, Alan Middleton of York University stated, "'positive energy' is a much softer, mushier message...This is a more abstract, cerebral concept. And those don't usually work in advertising -they either get dramatically misunderstood or ignored."

I think it's a little too early to tell what type of response and buzz that Energizer's call to action will create, and if the message will stick with consumers. Who knows, maybe mushy works now. Let's give it more time. Let's keep going.

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