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An Emotional Mess

June 15, 2015

Clorox teams with Pixar to explore the Gestalt of spills, germs and other household messes.

Clorox is going Hollywood in a big way. The household cleaning product maker has teamed up with Pixar, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, to reach parents through a creative movie integration involving Disney's new Inside Out movie, which debuts in theaters on June 19. The idea for the collaboration, besides selling more cleaning products, is to show is a unique way to reach parents because where’s there’s mess, there’s emotion. But by using Clorox cleaners, parents can power through the mess to find the joy in their messy moments, according to the company.
“Messes come with a variety of emotion, (such as) anger or sadness,” explained Molly Steinkrauss, associate director, marketing communications, Clorox. “We want people to find joy in everyday moments. That’s a life well lived. Clorox can help you clean up and have more of them.”

As Disney/Pixar explains it, Inside Out follows the travails of nine year-old Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like everyone, Riley is guided by her emotions: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). All of them live in “Headquarters,” the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Not your conventional family movie, but Clorox appears to have latched on to a winner. In fact, Forbes’ Scott Mendelson wrote:
Inside Out gets Pixar back to doing what they do best, which is crafting unconventional and original melodramatic fables that entertain the kid while threatening to make their parents cry through their 3D glasses.”
If all the reviews are similar, the film should provide a lift to Clorox and its product sales. The TV ads, animated by Pixar, debut this week when Inside Out is released and will reappear in the fall, when Clorox sponsors a sweepstakes for a family trip to San Francisco and a shopping spree at the Disney store. Clorox will pursue 5,000-store retail activation in cleaning aisles nationally around the movie premiere, in addition to a national activation at Sam’s Club in mid-June, according to the company. Overall, the Clorox integrated marketing and communications plan is expected to reach 200 million consumers in the theatrical window.
This isn’t Clorox first Hollywood role. Over the years, Glad partnered with King Kong and the Incredible Hulk films, while Brita teamed up with the Oceans franchise. But the Pixar deal is unique in that Inside Out and other Pixar films resonate with families and not just kids or adults, noted Steinkrauss.
“With movies such as Toy Story and Up, Pixar and Disney are experts in the space,” added Steinkrauss, who said Disney approached Clorox through previous work between the two companies. Clorox executives reviewed some cuts and realized that it felt right for the brand.
Of course, the obvious question is: Will there be a sequel? But before Clorox starts thinking about Inside Out 2, the bleach maker has a lot of data to crunch and messages to adjust.
“This is new for us, so we want to see how this plays out,” Steinkrauss told Happi. “We’ll take the lessons learned from this initial campaign and make adjustments in time for the cold and flu spots.”
And while Clorox executives have been happy working with Disney, Steinkrauss said the company is always looking for creative partnerships in whatever form they take.
“We don't just want to be a logo partner,” she explained. “In the end, we want to work with partners who emanate the message we are trying to convey.”

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