For a company that makes millions a year in the laundry detergent business, Procter & Gamble’s recent online sweepstakes, rewarding contestants for not washing their clothes, seemed a bit counterintuitive.
The “Rewear-a-thon”—with prizes ranging from a month of free pizza to a US$2,500 shopping spree—was part of P&G’s campaign for Swash, its newest line of Tide products. The brand’s five items, including a wrinklesmoothing spray and a stain-removing pen,
are being positioned as an alternative to laundry for college kids. The sell: skip the occasional rinse cycle by freshening up those wellworn jeans or that favourite sweater lying on your dorm-room floor with a quick spritz or two. P&G is also touting the line’s environmental benefits—less laundry equals less water and less electricity.
But before getting too excited that the end of laundry is near, note that the Swash products don’t appear all that revolutionary. Unless, of course, a fresh scent and flashy packaging will improve the effectiveness of a lint brush. P&G’s Allison Yang says the big difference between Swash and its competitors is that it targets, almost exclusively, Generation Y, a group that has overly casual clothes-cleaning habits but still wants to look good. It’s right in the sales pitch: “putting off laundry day gives you more time to procrastinate” and “helps get rid of the hair of the dog that bit you.” Currently the products are only available online and at a test store near Ohio State University in Columbus. P&G has yet to decide if the line will be rolled out on a larger scale. Of course, if Swash speaks to the college slacker in all of us, there’s a chance it could take a cut of the detergent business. As for those who competed in the “Rewear-athon” contest, no word if it paid off at the campus pub. M
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