Eco-friendly cleaning brand Mrs. Meyer’s brought its Clean Day products to San Francisco last month—and dumped them into the fountain in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli. It wasn’t an act of vandalism; far from it. The company was taking advantage of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival to launch a charity fund drive for a city beautification agency and doing a bit of product sampling in the bargain.
The even turned the fountain into a super-sized kitchen sink, complete with a cup and saucer suited for a giant, a life raft-sized sponge, and a huge bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day detergent Also in the sink where hundreds of white balloons to suggest soap suds.
The gimmick: Each balloon contained sample packets of Mrs. Meyers’ non-harsh cleaning products. Passersby were encouraged to take a balloon, and for everyone they picked up, Mrs. Meyer’s promised to donate $2 to the San Francisco Clean City Coalition.
The campaign, created by Minneapolis-based agency Mono, was designed to provide a sampling opportunity that was less intrusive and more participatory than usual, says Riley Kane, Mono creative director. “We wanted something that was actually engaging and that people would seek out,” he says. “We didn’t want it to be just another person in your way, putting a sample into your hand.”
The company had already hit on the kitchen sink idea but went looking for a fountain that would make it work. That was harder than you might imagine, says Mono founder and creative co-chairman Chris Lange. For one thing, they needed a fountain small enough to create the illusion of an overflowing sink without requiring too many balloons. For another, it would be best to find one without a central statue. Mono also wanted to tie the promotion into a charity that made sense for Mrs. Meyer’s brand.
They found both those requirements in San Francisco. The Ghirardelli Plaza fountain was perfectly sized for the illusion, and the Clean City Coalition—whose motto is “cleaning, greening and beautifying”—was a great fit for the brand.
While San Francisco is one of the top five strong markets for Mrs. Meyer products, the company felt that it could grow in the region by making sure to get more of its detergent products—one each scented with basil, lemon, verbena, and lavender—into the hands of consumers who might not have experienced it yet.
The event, which lasted for five hours each on September 11-12, produced an estimated 30,000 impressions, Lange says, with more than 2,000 balloons taken over the two-day event and more than $3,500 raised for the Clean City Coalition. Participants were also given the chance to sign up for clean City’s mailing list, although Mrs. Meyer’s did no recruitment for its own house list.
“It became hard to keep the attraction stocked with suds,” Kane says. “We have these periodic balloon releases, and within 4 or 5 minutes we’d have to refresh the fountain again.” The balloons were made of biodegradable materials and, since they were designed to be popped to get at the samples inside, Mrs. Meyer’s made sure to assign crews to ongoing cleanup detail during the event.
Street teams were also brought in to supplement the balloon drop with more conventional sampling. Video of the event has been posted to Mrs. Meyer’s YouTube channel, where they have gathered about 4,000 views. A gallery of event pictures was also posted to the brand’s Facebook page.
The company and its agency are in the middle of a national promotion involving print and online ads. While there are no firm plans to replicate Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day in other cities or water sources, Lange says the agency will certainly be on the lookout for other opportunities—if they can find the right fountain and the right charitable partner. “After all, we’ve already got the giant sponge,” he says. “Maybe somewhere warm for the winter.”