Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Take My Money!

What convinces us to buy something? How do you get people excited about a stepping stool that makes you poop better?

A pooping unicorn! That’s exactly what you were thinking, wasn’t it?

Well, if you’ve seen the following commercial before, than maybe it was. If you haven’t, I can almost promise you that you won’t forgot this stepping stool after watching this:

Did you watch that until the end? Tell me you didn’t, at the very least, watch the first 30 seconds. Scrolling through your Facebook or other social media, what kind of videos catch your attention to the point where you may turn on the volume or stop scrolling to watch the whole thing?

These are the kinds of questions that the Harmon Brothers aim to solve. Namely, how to get people excited about a mattress, a poop stool, or duct tape? The Harmon Brothers are not coming up with things you see from most ad agencies and commercials day to day, and that’s why they are currently one of the most desired ad agencies in the nation. Their most well-known clients include Poo Pourri, Squatty Potty, OraBrush, Purple, VidAngel and FiberFix.

Who Are The Harmon Brothers?

The Harmon Brothers agency is in fact headed by four brothers – Jeffrey, Neal, Daniel and Theron.

Daniel Harmon and his brothers aren’t new to the sales world. They were raised in a poor Mormon family with nine siblings. As teenagers, they would collect potatoes from their Uncle’s Idaho Potato farm and go door to door to sell them to raise money for their needs. As they grew older, they gained experienced through missionary work, and even selling ADT alarm systems.

Today, with all the incoming job proposals stemming from their increasing success, the brothers hold one thing close (in addition to their religious beliefs): “if we don’t believe in it, we don’t sell it. Period.”

In a study collected by Amabile, Torance mentioned that “people who were doing what they loved were more creative in their pursuits.”(Collins and Amabile, Motivation and Creativity). So, similarly, in order to come up with a creative way to sell a product, the agency has to believe in the product. But Jeffrey Harmon wants to ensure that while the agency is working on selling unique or taboo products, they also try to demonstrate their creative range (for example their Moving Christmas Hymn which they filmed with The Piano Guys, which broke the Guinness World Record for most living figures in a Nativity scene (1,039 people).

So, what exactly is a Harmon Brothers Video and why is it unique?

*Not their brands

The Harmon Brothers have combined two types of advertising: branding and infomercials. One of the first things the brothers and their colleagues ask themselves when tackling a risky or taboo topic is, “How do we make it so that people want to talk about this at the dinner table?

With most of their products, this doesn’t come easy simply due to the nature of the product. In the past, disgust towards bodily function was maintained in the commercial industry. However, fairly recently, there has been a drive for change. Playful and brave ads, like the Harmon brothers, are leading the industry because they not only have kept up with the expansion of social media but figured out a way to make provocative or taboo topics feel more comfortable to discuss. Additionally, people are more likely to stay through the whole video if it is comedic and educational. Otherwise, why waste time watching an ad?

While creativity is always a goal in mind, the agency never “banks on virality”. In other words, while in the process of making the campaign, the agency never plans for their videos to go viral. Just as mentioned by Collins, creativity is “evidenced by active engagement with the challenges of the task and total immersion in the activity without regard to the possible rewards awaiting the creator” (Collins and Amabile, Motivation and Creativity). The brothers build their campaigns with the intention of driving sales and making people want to buy the product, virality is usually an unexpected reward for their creativity. 

How Do They Do It?

Most importantly they work on engaging people, learning their product, mastering the platform of distribution and aiming to understand what their audience wants. For example, they know to release videos simultaneously to Facebook and YouTube, and understand that a great chunk of Facebook users (roughly 25%) are using their smart phones. As a solution, they integrate subtitles into the mobile videos to try to lure customers in. As Sternberg puts it “knowledge of the ‘state of the market’ in a domain helps a person avoid reinventing ideas or products that society already experience” (Lubart and Sternberg – The Investment Approach to Creativity).

Due to their acquired knowledge, research and creativity, many of the agency’s videos have gone viral. For example, the Chatbook Promo landed 1 million views in the first 24 hours. Currently, the video has over 75 million views.

Bobby Edwards, the CEO of Squatty Potty, said that the Harmon Brother’s ad transformed his product from “something you’d hide in the shower before guests arrived into a conversation piece”. Not only that but, 3 months after the video was release, the company saw a 600 percent increase in online sales!

The Harmon Brother have received well deserved wide recognition. They were honored for Video at Utah Business’ 2017 “Sales Marketer of the Year (SAMY), AdWeek’s 5th most viewed video in 2013, and have been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and more.

Of course, the success of the Harmon Brothers did not come without a few fails and mistakes. For one, they have learned that they cannot take on a client who hasn’t completely figured out their product because a good product is a pillar to a successful campaign. However, they also quickly take the opportunity to learn from their failures, as Neal Harmon said in an interview, “you never fail until you quit”. Benton Crane, managing director of the Harmon Brother’s agency, summaries the Harmon Brother’s strategy as so: the key is to take on projects the agency is passionate about and to let creativity be the number one rule.

And, if you want more, here is the Sequel to the Squatty Potty video, also now a direct competitor for Poo-Pouri):

 Here is an additional presentation that Daniel Harmon put together at a conference, giving advice on what makes advertising successful.

1 comment:

  1. I thought this post was an interesting take on creativity! Rather thank focusing on a creative product, I think it definitely is important to creatively present the product as well. It's so often that sometimes there's a really good product, or even just regular products, that are put in very cheesy or boring commercials that basically makes people uninterested in it. By creatively presenting such products, it catches people's attention and makes them want to know more (or at least about the commercial itself). I wonder though, why did the brothers decide to start off with such tough products as they did? Why did they feel like that was the right direction to go for a growing company whereas it could have easily backfired? Although it's good they did that, seeing their growth, but I'm also interested in that thought process behind their creativity. Otherwise, great post!


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