KitchenAid brand internal creative team activates award-winning campaign for new KitchenAid® FreeFlex Rack Dishwasher
Whirlpool Corporation’s in-house creative team for KitchenAid brand was recently given a 2021 Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Gold Reggie Award for its campaign launch supporting the brand’s new third rack FreeFlex dishwasher. The Reggie Award (“Reggie” is short for cash register) is a yearly award representing the best Brand Activation marketing campaigns of 2020 across 23 different categories. More than 200 judges — all industry experts at the Director/VP level or higher — score entries based on criteria including marketing strategy, concept originality, campaign execution, brand alignment, and strong results.
Standing out amongst the competition during the shopper journey isn’t easy. When a consumer walks into a retail environment, there’s a sea of stainless steel, and shoppers don’t always know what to buy, because the purchase cycle happens generally every 10 years or so.
“When someone goes to shop for a dishwasher, they’re completely overwhelmed in their journey,” says Renee Mahoney, who leads the creative team. “Shoppers can’t see what’s different about FreeFlex Rack Dishwashers until opening the door. Even then, they can’t understand the benefits of the new rack design just by looking at it. So, we needed to bring the benefits to life in the context of what’s important to the KitchenAid consumer.”
Research shows that KitchenAid brand’s target consumer, known as a “Passionate Maker,” loves cooking, but doesn’t love cleaning up the mess. As they explore new techniques and share their creations, they make lots of dirty dishes, from prep bowls and pans to pint glasses and platters. This mess gets in the way of their process and enjoyment.
The KitchenAid creative team knew that Makers need dishwashers that will keep up with these ambitious cooking endeavors, freeing them to follow their inspiration. To win with its story of loading versatility, the brand developed a three-part creative strategy to bring the new third rack benefits to life outside the dishwasher, grab attention in the aisle, open the door to loading possibilities inside the dishwasher, and ground storytelling in “the excitement of making” to create an emotional connection with the consumer.
To accomplish these goals, KitchenAid positioned new FreeFlex Rack models as “the dishwasher that keeps up with everything you cook up,” taking shoppers on a journey that transforms loading possibilities into cooking possibilities. By showing how much more fits inside, the brand sought to entice passionate cooks with how much more they can make.
Campaign tactics were designed with multiple consumer insights in mind. Shoppers on the sales floor can touch and see firsthand the third rack outside of the dishwasher, and trade sales teams are provided with actual dishes to load so consumers can see for themselves the additional capacity created by the third rack. One of those “props” is an actual KitchenAid stand mixer bowl. “Incorporating the iconic mixer bowl went beyond just showing what fit on the rack to making a powerful connection to the KitchenAid brand while the shopper was exploring the inside of the dishwasher,” Mahoney says.
QR codes included on Point of Purchase marketing for the product links to a video that brings user reviews to life, reassuring shoppers on the sales floor. Additional content includes a product walkthrough, a lively head-to-head dishwasher loading competition against a competitor, food-focused product feature videos, and social media snippets. “By making an emotional connection through storytelling grounded in the excitement of making, we flipped dishwasher shopping from buying a utility to investing in a passion,” says Mahoney.
The result was record-setting retailer participation in the campaign in 16,000 stores, soaring to the #1 selling dishwasher one month after displays reached stores, and boosting sales by 12 percent. In addition to producing solid results, this award represents how a talented team of internal creatives employed by Whirlpool Corporation can create campaigns that rivals those of the largest outside agency, and produces excellent results. “This is a big honor for a start-up in-house team to win gold in a rigorous competition that’s traditionally dominated by world-class external brand activation agencies with deep support and experience,” says Mahoney.
At the end of the day, it’s not about winning awards — it’s about meeting the needs of the consumer every step of the way during the purchase journey. “My job, and the job of my team, is trying to help someone make a decision that’s ultimately going to improve life at home for them. That’s really what this product and this whole campaign does.”