Listerine’s Breath of Hot Air

Listerine World Cup Banner

What Is Listerine?

Before we get in to all the detail, here are the basics. Listerine is a mouthwash brand owned by Johnson & Johnson, the FMCG giant. It claims to be the world’s number one mouthwash, with more than 1 billion people in more than 85 countries using it to clean their mouths and get rid of plaque.

2014 FIFA World Cup Sponsorship

So from the above information we can assume the following: the brand is respected, it’s widely used across the globe, and a lot of people think it can improve their oral hygiene. However, research by Johnson & Johnson found that “care was becoming rare” and that the Listerine brand could be used as a vehicle to show consumers how caring for their teeth was a habit they shouldn’t give up lightly. The 2014 FIFA World Cup was pinpointed as a global event that both the Johnson & Johnson and Listerine brand could latch on to in order to broadcast their messages to the largest audience possible.

Listerine World Cup Banner 2

What Does It Involve?

Here’s where things start to miss the mark. The Listerine World Cup campaign is called “Power To Your Mouth” and is the largest global social activation that a Johnson & Johnson brand has undertaken. The problem with this campaign isn’t its size or scope, but its message and content. The #PowerToYourMouth hashtag, @ListerineGlobal Twitter handle and Listerine Global Facebook page is broadcasting messages in English, Spanish, Arabic, Italian Portuguese with content generated by “two newsrooms of sports experts and illustrators”. All the content is lazy, uninspiring and does nothing to promote the brand beyond bombarding readers with messaging, accompanied by illustrations of fans with their mouths open. Take this piece of communication as an example.

Listerine’s 30 second 2014 FIFA World Cup Creative.

The campaign screams of a brand that doesn’t know how to create a truly engaging and relevant digital campaign, so instead chose to post and tweet in real-time simply because that’s what everybody else is doing. The result is Listerine being lost in the crowd throughout the World Cup so far. An accompanying TV spot running in 40 countries is the only vaguely redeeming aspect of the campaign, choosing to focus on “what goes in a fan’s mouth” during the course of a day when they’re supporting their team. It’s an association at a stretch for a brand that seems to be clutching at straws. A special edition World Cup mouth rinsing cap being sold with promotional bottles is just plain silly.

Listerine Matchday

I suppose that sponsoring such a large global event was the next logical step for Listerine, but you can’t help but feel that how this campaign has been executed will leave a bad taste in some consumer’s mouths. The campaign was created by digital agency MRY and JWT UK.


One comment

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