SC Johnson recently put this commercial on the air. And it makes a lot of promises. Promises that, as a proponent of transparency, I’m excited to see. But from the tone of the ad, you can already tell that they don’t seem to completely get the world they now live in. Instead of suggesting there might be some ingredients that they will need to remove or improve on, they instead attempt to project an image that suggests there will be no ugly surprises. In the ad, they go on to say that we will get to know everything they know; that there will be no asymmetry of information; and that even those sneaky compounds that fall under the catch-all of “fragrance” will be revealed. It’s worth mentioning that there are hundreds of compounds that can be listed under this single term, “fragrance,” and that is a big problem for transparency.
A quick perusal of their site reveals that a breakdown of fragrance has not been revealed and the structure of the site suggests that, even when it is, it will be an extra click away. As the control of data shifts away from sellers towards buyers, the new opportunity is to become not just a force of transparency in your business, but in your entire category. Transparency is a potential silver bullet for marketers, and consumers will race to support those brands which transform themselves into advocates for their customers’ health and well-being in the cleaning category. But the way it works is, you lose the slick and happy veneer and instead create really powerful tools for your customer. I’m not seeing that yet, but I’m hoping it is the next step.
SC Johnson feels like they are making the mistake (which I’ve written about here before) of trying to be a little bit transparent.
For transparency to be effective for SC Johnson, they also need to strongly consider inviting their customers into the dialogue. An open dialogue with consumers about how they would like to see compounds and products improved. Remember, your customers are ready and anxious to join your mission if you let them in. Again, maybe that’s coming but I’m missing it here. Keep it coming, SC Johnson. Put some transparency in your transparency…