Preparation H: Preparation H "Back There Care" Campaign


Campaign Summary

Preparation H launched a social media campaign on mobile devices to target younger audiences.


Objective and Context:

Preparation H found itself at a crossroads in 2019. While it was the top-selling hemorrhoid brand with 60 percent market share and a loyal base of older buyers, it was losing relevance with a large group of younger, male-skewing consumers suffering in silence, often unaware of the brand, in denial of their symptoms, or too embarrassed to buy Preparation H products.

Despite this troubling shift, other converging market trends indicated white space opportunities for the brand. The rear-end care category was having a pop-culture renaissance. Poop and peach emojis, butt humor, and butt influencers became social-media mainstays, and digital-native flushable wipes, bidets, and toilet scent diffusers became must-have household items. People had never been more obsessed with rear ends, yet butt health, hemorrhoids, and Preparation H were still taboo.

There are 200 million people in the U.S. and 44 percent of them experience rear-end discomfort. The brand needed to make bold moves, leaning into the playful cultural moment and innovation the butt care category was experiencing all while appealing to younger audiences in a modern and attention-grabbing way.

Preparation H set out to design a digital campaign that would reimagine the brand's traditional TV campaign, with success measured by reach and impressions, engagement, and e-commerce traffic. This was the first year the brand launched a social and digital-led campaign focused on the new growth target of young consumers. While top-of-mind brand awareness among an older consumer base was high (around 76 percent) after decades of linear TV-heavy campaigns and media strategies, top-of-mind brand awareness was only 24 percent among "insecure cleansers" (younger consumers).

Target Audience:

"Insecure cleansers," from age 25 to 54 and 60 percent male, are a digital-native, affluent, well-educated, driven, appearance-conscious, and overwhelmed segment often preparing for or in the midst of major events like buying a house or becoming a parent. Butt discomfort takes their stress to new levels and leaves them feeling insecure and incapable. With the stigma surrounding rear-end issues, they resist identifying as having hemorrhoids, which is what comes to mind when they think of Preparation H, if they think of it at all. Opting for less-embarrassing alternatives like baby wipes, their symptoms go untreated, leaving them motivated to try new products.

Creative Strategy:

The brand's creative strategy was built on two core principles:

  1. Provide relief: The brand's stressed and insecure target audience who looked to mobile devices for product discovery and entertainment needed content that provided comic relief and normalized their emotions. At the same time, the content had to communicate Preparation H's superiority in treating rear-end discomfort, empowering the target audience to take action.
  2. Look modern and relatable: With "insecure cleansers" being appearance-conscious and preferring digital-native brands with strong word-of-mouth and reviews, Preparation H redrew the competitive landscape and studied why up-and-coming brands like Hims, Roman, and Keeps were so captivating and compelling to younger men grappling with commonly stigmatized issues. Preparation H used key takeaways from that analysis to inspire a new, modern, and mobile-first look and feel and an authentic tone of voice that would break through the clutter.

With the brand's creative being mobile-first, media worked in tandem to focus on the most target-relevant channels: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and keyword-contextual, purchase-based, and affinity-based display placements.

Since launching in October 2019, Preparation H has continuously optimized creative based on performance indicators like mixed media/placement asset customization (PAC) placement, creative auto-optimization, click-through rate (CTR), engagement rate (ER), video view rate (VVR), and video completion rate (VCR).


Overall Campaign Execution:

Roughly 80 percent of the full digital media budget supported mobile placements.

With regard to the target consumers' media consumption habits, "insecure cleansers" demonstrated a 153 index versus the general U.S. consumer population for mobile consumption.

Coupled with similarly strong over-indices against the general U.S. consumer population for the use of social media (167 index), display ads (113 index), streamed TV (116 index), and digital video (124 index), campaign creative and paid media strategy were strongly driven by the target audience's preference for mobile devices and digital media. This audience segment averaged 47 hours per week consuming digital media and 13 hours per week consuming traditional media (linear TV and print).

Mobile Execution:

With mobile being core to the creative and media approach of the campaign, Preparation H was laser-focused on seizing the opportunities of mobile devices that are uniquely possible, including: immersive experiences, tailored affinity-based, purchase-based, and keyword-contextual targeting to serve relevant ads to relevant people, and discreet e-commerce experiences in a sensitive category.

From a social standpoint, Preparation H pretested social creative on consumer research platform Suzy in mobile-first Instagram Stories ad formats and developed work reflective of mobile contextual nuances and best practices, featuring:

  • A user-generated look and feel
  • A relatable and humorous brand tone of voice
  • Cognitively-surprising visual perspectives (e.g. car back-up camera angles)
  • Device-inspired animated elements (e.g. mimicking phone notifications)

The brand also focused on providing mobile-optimized end-to-end user experiences from impression to potential conversion by partnering with MikMak to provide retailer add-to-cart functionality within each ad call-to-action. Knowing the target dreads the idea of shopping in stores or visibly browsing online for butt discomfort products, the brand felt it was important to reduce the number of clicks and amount of time needed to get to checkout. There was a recognition that each step had the potential to cause the target audience undue stress or embarrassment.

In crafting a YouTube strategy, Preparation H sought to earn mobile users' attention by licensing viral videos through Jukin Media. The videos would be repurposed within branded ads that attracted consumers with authentically engaging viral content before serving up branded messaging to a more primed and attentive audience.

The creative optimization approach for media buys also played a large role in the campaign's success, and in ways unachievable within traditional media channels. Through mixed media buys and PAC placements, social creative optimized to serve the ad creative, formats, and platforms that reached the target audience most effectively and efficiently. The brand was able to glean audience and creative insights that were used to improve later work.

Mobile was foundational to this campaign from start to finish, and Preparation H's creative use of mobile ad placements and content best practices produced a campaign that achieved the goal of reaching "insecure cleansers."

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

While Preparation H was the hemorrhoid category leader with 60 percent market share, the broader butt care category competition was growing increasingly fierce with new entrants and product innovations. As a result, Preparation H was losing relevance with younger consumers despite its strong brand loyalty and top-of-mind awareness among older consumers. In order to future-proof the brand and gain relevance with a new breed of younger and more digitally-savvy consumers, it was clear that Preparation H needed to invest more heavily in innovative mobile-first work to stay competitive in the short and long term.

Since its launch in October 2019, the Preparation H "Back There Care" campaign has been a huge success. The campaign garnered 371.5 million digital campaign impressions across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and display placements.

On YouTube, the brand achieved 38 million impressions and a 70 percent video completion rate across video ad units, with creative success further evidenced by a 10 percent awareness lift and 13.4 percent consideration lift among target consumers (between the ages 25 to34), and a 571 percent increase in branded searches on the platform.

Facebook and Instagram executions were also extremely successful, with 157 million impressions served since October 2019 and creative effectiveness demonstrated by a more-than-doubling of many cross-brand company benchmarks. Engagement rates and video view rates of 10 percent and video completion rates of 36 percent were significant accomplishments, particularly for a heavily stigmatized category.

While the campaign is still running in accordance with its planned significant investment in mobile media, the results to date have been reaffirming and point toward a continued emphasis on mobile investment through the end of the year and moving into 2021.

In addition to its success in-market from an advertising metric and consumer feedback standpoint, the "Back There Care" campaign resulted in strong business results and e-commerce sales upticks among the target audience as well.

Knowing that the "insecure cleanser" is more likely to shop online, especially when buying butt care products, the brand saw tangible results on Amazon in Q1 2020, with the 25 to 34 year-old buying demographic driving the highest number of purchases among all buying demographics, and with the 35 to 44 year-old age group coming in at a close second.

While the campaign is still running, e-commerce success and macro increases in Preparation H sales, consumption, and household penetration indicate the campaign is well-positioned for future growth.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Brand Awareness, Cross-Media, Mobile Social, Mobile Video | Awards: NA Gold Winner, NA Silver Winner

Add This To Your Own
Case Study Hub
Member Log In

Not an MMA Member?
Join the MMA to build your case study hub and share with your team.
More Related Case Studies