Method Mickey Bottle or Lost in Deep Water

November 25, 2013

Branding/Marketing

Method bottleI know Method and I love Method. I have learned to trust the brand over the years because the soap works, and it is clearly made from a straightforward point of view about design, environment and health.

You know Method, too: the company that packages soap in strange-shaped, but well designed bottles. The company that uses design to communicate an ethic and practice that a product should be well designed and healthy, even if it is “only” soap.

So I was shocked when I walked into the bathroom at my office and saw this bottle. Shocked, yes. But more disoriented and uneasy. I know it’s a funny reaction to a bottle of soap! But it really messed with my feelings about Method: Mickey Mouse? WTF?! What the heck does Mickey Mouse have to do with well-designed, healthy soap!?

Method mickeyI’m an expert in understanding how teens and tweens think and react. Here is a brand that has done a great job of positioning itself with adults to garner tremendous commercial success ($100M of revenue in 2012). You can guess that they want to address kids and perhaps get more kids to ask their parents to buy the Method brand. (Another company bought Method earlier this year, so perhaps there is some pressure to expand their markets?)

But they should have talked to me (or someone like me) before they did this really stupid approach to kids. First of all, Mickey Mouse is not a brand that fits with Method. Mickey represents anti-elegant design, anti-healthy/natural living — just look at the candies and food kids binge on in Disney parks. Disney branding isn’t about innovation. They have to buy innovation (Pixar & Club Penguin, for example) and only reduce its value by trying to make Disney the primary brand.

Don’t they know that kids are smarter than that? Putting your product in a Mickey bottle might work for the very young (2 to 5), but certainly not for the older ones.

The more important factor, the one that really got to me as a visceral reaction in that bathroom is that this isn’t a “Method” bottle. Putting Mickey ears on a bottle is a huge departure from their sleek, unique packaging, which is exactly what makes them so recognizable and different. They started, grew and capitalized on their design, then followed with all-natural, non-chemical products, which was pure innovation in the category.

May I remind you dear folks at Method that your main customers are mothers. Do you really want to piss them off?

It’s worse than using the Disney brand incorrectly. It hurts Method’s image and brand with their core audience – adults who care about the environment and design! Do you really want to get your hand soap from a Mickey Mouse bottle (in an office bathroom, not to mention!)

In one swift move, Method managed to botch the approach to kids (or to parents through their kids) and jeopardize their relationship with the customers they’ve already worked so hard to acquire! There is a great story in Method for tweens and teens (not the under 10 set). Teens can understand the positioning of the brand with its design and its “battle” for chemical freedom. Engaging tweens and teens through a theme they care about is a good way to build a real and strong relationship with them, their potential future customers.

Please Method, come back to your roots, return to your innovative thinking and leave Mickey Mouse where he belongs, at the theme park.

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