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Henkel Detergent Case Study



"To position the company as a brand customers and consumers can trust and to make people's lives easier, better and more beautiful with our products and technologies".


Henkel – A Brand


a Friend


The mission statement of Henkel has the basic characteristics such as


– it is very easy for anyone to understand and also remember.

The statement is also


. It can accommodate changes at any pointof time if needed.

But on the other hand Henkel's mission statement is

not distinct

. Similar statements have been previously formulated by other companies as well. For example: - Unilever's mission statement "To add Vitality to life. To meeteveryday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life."

It also does not clearly define the products and technologies it offers

It's strategy is very general and unclear from the statement.


Through its business activities and products the maon focus of Henkel is on:

The efficient utilization of energy resources, and hence climate protection.

Resource conservation and environmental protection through transfer andimplementation of latest production technologies.

Continuous improvement of the performance and value-based corporateculture.

Clear focus on improving leadership skills of employees and increasedemphasis on discussion of codes

A safe and healthy environment for the employees, neighbours, customersand consumers

The efficient utilization of available raw materials and the avoidance of waste and2

Each year, the Communicus Super Bowl ad effectiveness study uses the longitudinal design method to identify the Super Bowl commercials that engage and persuade. It’s not uncommon for the commercials that excel when viewed through this lens to be a different set than those that win the popularity contests like the USA Today Ad Meter. But it surprised even us when the results of our 2016 Super Bowl ad effectiveness study came in.

Out of the fifty-one Super Bowl ads included in the research, the commercial that combined strong branded engagement and significant persuasive impact for the highest ‘Commercial Effectiveness Score’ was a fifteen second spot for Henkel’s Persil ProClean Laundry Detergent.

What on earth is happening here? Other advertisers were far funnier, used much better special effects, featured better known celebrities, bought up to four times as much time to tell their stories, and utilized far more aggressive pre-game publicity to draw attention to their ads. In contrast, this ad was about as straightforward as it gets.

In this fifteen second spot, tuxedo-clad celebrity Peter Hermann (‘The Professional’) stands on a set in front of washing machines and a banner depicting a Persil detergent bottle to announce that “a leading consumer testing publication” found that Persil ProClean beat “not only Tide but every single other detergent tested”. The visual cuts to a bottle of Persil ProClean, as a voiceover encourages viewers to “switch to Persil”.

Is the spot parodying ads in which consumer tests results are presented? Or is it just a straightforward announcement of consumer test results? To mis-quote the classic Clairol hair color ad line ‘Only her hairdresser knows for sure…’  – only Henkel and ad agency TBWA/Chiat Day know for sure whether the ad was intended as a parody or not. After all, Peter Hermann is wearing a tuxedo. And the spot does have a washing machine with an oversized bottle of Persil laundry detergent emerge, hero-like, from a hole in the floor. And the Montell Jordan tune ‘This Is How We Do It’ is playing in the background. But to a casual observer, the spot is just another commercial – not by any means an over the top parody.

What did this commercial have going for it that caused it to perform so well? Two main things:

  1. The spot stood out because it was so unassuming, so different from the expected on Super Bowl Sunday. It was the only fifteen second product spot in the game, and arguably the most ‘workman-like’ commercial of the afternoon.
  2. It introduced viewers to a brand many had not heard of before. While the majority of Super Bowl commercials are for established brands, most of these don’t produce an impact on the brand – it’s nearly impossible to change someone’s mind about something they already believe in a single exposure. In contrast, one exposure can inform an audience about something new. Anders Hartleb, Henkel Senior VP knew this when he decided to buy Super Bowl time for Persil ProClean “There is no better time or audience than the Super Bowl and its 100 million plus viewers to build brand awareness.”

Along with Persil, three other Super Bowl 50 ads for relatively unfamiliar brands succeeded in both engaging and persuading. These include Budweiser’s Shock Top, Dollar Shave Club and Amazon’s Echo. Two auto manufacturers who were introducing new models made the list, Acura for its NSX ‘Super Car’ and Honda for the new Ridgeline truck model. All in all, only eleven of the fifty one Super Bowl spots included in the Communicus Super Bowl 50 Advertising Effectiveness study built their brands –  maintaining the one-in-five success ratio that we’ve seen in past Super Bowl studies.

While others debate whether Hyundai’s First Date or Ryanville commercial was more entertaining, or whether Snickers or Skittles aired a better spot, here’s a shout out for … Persil ProClean.  But don’t get me wrong, the entertaining commercials are, well, very entertaining. As long as so many advertisers are more interested in winning the popularity contests than in maximizing the brand-building impact of their commercials, we can look forward to a highly enjoyable advertising spectacle every year on Super Bowl Sunday.

To view the Commercial Rankings that resulted from the Communicus 2016 Super Bowl Ad Effectiveness Study, CLICK HERE.

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