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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ant bait marketing

Marketing item #2 occurred at the hardware store. It’s spring and as usual we have small ants in the house, so I was at Ace Hardware picking up some ant traps. I bought two brands, because they had different active ingredients. That might get rid of the pests sooner.

Black or white? Somebody picked the color for these. Was it operations, figuring out machine switchout,  thoughput of the different gauge plastic, and inventory cost issues? Was it purchasing, looking at the relative cost of these two plastics? Was it R&D, looking at the relative tendency of ants to be attracted to each color? Or was it marketing, trying to get some edge in the market? Let’s suppose marketing had input.

Nothing says “death” like black, so that choice is easy to see.  But off-white will fit in with more decors (and my prior would be that S.C. Johnson’s Raid brand would be more likely to have done research on this topic).  Off-white is an unthreatening, background color and this is a product you don’t want others to see in your home.



This is also a product with an interesting purchase cycle. Without looking at data, one might suspect it goes something like this: Buy the traps.  If they work, forget about them until next spring. Then, if you can remember the brand name from last time, consider buying that brand again. That gives a strong priority to familiar brand names (Raid) and to memorable package graphics (both brands; I know I bought Raid last year, but also remember I’ve bought either Hot Shot or at least some brand with bright black and red graphics before).

If they don’t work, you either buy more of the same brand (one wonders why you would), or switches brands (check those active ingredients) or switches categories (where’s the Orkin number?)

Of course, none of these can compete for memorability with the classic line for Black Flag Roach Motels – ‘Roaches check in – but they don’t check out!’   Oddly enough, this line does not show up prominently on the current product website.  That’s from a 40 year old campaign still widely remembered.


1981 execution, with this comment on YouTube from @TimFrith24 Mary Jo Catlett and Michael Vale creamed my roaches constantly in these BF ads for about 10 years. Catlett was usually alone in the 70's. Then from about 1980 on, Vale always accompanied her. You can check out my list of Black Flag commercials in my site. Go into flickr/groups. Type Raid Bug Drama in the search window. Yes it's mainly about the Raid characters, but anything to do with bugs is welcome.

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