Whirlpool Corporation had a problem. They have great products in a boring consumer products segment. According to the Shorty Awards who rated Whirlpool’s strategy as Best Social Media Tool, “In the past, the only reason people had to engage with Whirlpool was when they had a product complaint. Whirlpool wanted to change the conversation and give consumers a reason and interest to engage with the brand beyond the product.” (#EveryDayCare – Whirlpool, DigitasLBi and Crowdtap – The Shorty Awards, 2012)
Whirlpool focused their efforts around engaging consumers by the soliciting, amplifying and promoting of those stories where everyday appliances played a role in a bigger positive story. Stories about how the simple tasks of cooking, cleaning or doing laundry could impact people’s lives, along with their schools, communities and families. Other content is around the impact of missing out on school because a child doesn’t have clean clothes to wear, and how Whirlpool helps take that challenge head on. Finally there are also constructive recipes and ideas geared to introducing important household chores to children in a fun and positive way. (Every Day, Care® by Whirlpool, 2019)
For the most part, the content Whirlpool promotes, and the User Generated Content, is in no way product or sales focused. Instead these real life stories and actionable ideas positioned Whirlpool as a thought leader in a way. The mechanics of the campaign were simple – hashtags that identified #EveryDayContent across all social media platforms, along with a Whirlpool website that was dedicated to the narrative they were developing. Organic submissions from Users (UGC) defines Earned Media, as submissions spread through their clients social channels and footprint – truly what we call Earned Media. Content was curated and then promoted across owned and paid media as well.
A look at Whirpool’s social media accounts tells part of the story as to the impact of this clever campaign. Followers netted through the campaign were pushed in to social platforms, and were opted in to multi-touch omni-channel campaigns. It worked – Facebook shows over 1.1 Million followers! That is incredible for a company that quite possibly makes the most boring products in the world. Yet they effectively leverage that platform for not just promoting their product, but for reputation management. As recently as today I saw a post from a consumer who was very upset that they were having issues with a product, and customer service, through social listening platforms, jumped right on to the problem and will most certainly correct the issue.
The results of the campaign back in 2011 are amazing (#EveryDayCare – Whirlpool, DigitasLBi and Crowdtap – The Shorty Awards, 2012):
- 44K stories were collected and shared
- Consumer satisfaction grew from -.3 to +4.6 on a 5 point scale
- 12% YOY Growth vs 6% Industry Avg
- 6.6% Sales Growth vs 4.9%
While this growth was for the fiscal year 2011, the Whirlpool site and hashtag are still very active. Such longevity in a social media/digital marketing campaign is rare and speaks to its root humanity.
The company’s CEO in 1969, Elisha Gray II , once made a comment about Whirlpool’s core values as it relates to this topic, as well as their commitment to the environment. He said “We cannot separate our business from the communities in which we operate, and hope to grow and prosper.” (Environmental Sustainability | Whirlpool Corporation, 2018) This commitment to sustainability extends to their reduction of environmental impact not only in manufacturing, but in the use of their machines in the marketplace. This last component speaks to the development of their app.
The Whirlpool app provides consumers further engagement opportunities with the Brand, wrapped around a clever app that allows you to monitor and control your Whirlpool appliances, for a subscription fee of $.99 per month (Connected Subscription | Whirlpool, 2021). This connection can then be used to funnel back in to direct to consumer advertising and further engagement with the #EveryDayCare program.
Ultimately, Whirlpool has done very well to expand their market, digital footprint, community & environment focus, and overall relevance. Hard to do for a company that sells a boring product! Although in reality, is a refrigerator that can tell me that I’m out of bacon boring? I think not! In truth I don’t know if it can tell me that anyway, but I can dream.
Every Day, Care® by Whirlpool. (2019). Whirlpool.com; Whirlpool. https://www.whirlpool.com/everydaycare.html
#EveryDayCare – Whirlpool, DigitasLBi and Crowdtap – The Shorty Awards. (2012). Shortyawards.com. https://shortyawards.com/8th/everydaycare-whirlpool-digitaslbi-and-crowdtap-2
Environmental Sustainability | Whirlpool Corporation. (2018). Whirlpool Corporation. https://www.whirlpoolcorp.com/environmental-sustainability/
Connected Subscription | Whirlpool. (2021). Whirlpool.com; Whirlpool. https://www.whirlpool.com/laundry/connect-to-more.html#what-app