Armor All maps out big push behind numerous changes

The car care brand returns to television in support of a new formula, simplified packaging and a growing air freshener business.
Armor All

Armor All has returned to television with a new campaign calling attention to a number of changes that have recently taken place within the car care products company.

The multi-faceted effort promotes improvements to the formula of Armor All’s line of interior protectants, its growing air fresheners business, as well as redesigned packaging across several SKUs and a new “Protector of cars, defenders of fresh” tagline.

Creative for the North American campaign kicked off in April (after debuting in the U.S. around 10 days earlier) and was led by Phoenix, Arizona-based agency OH Partners. The main 30-second spot features vikings working out – so that they can “harness the power of the viking” – and describing the rust- and grime-fighting qualities of Armor All protectant.

In addition to Canadian TV buys on specialty sports stations and the Weather Network beginning later this month, the campaign’s Canadian adaptation includes original OOH in Toronto, a content partnership and ad takeover with The Score sports app and an influencer play running from late May through June that includes promotion through automotive website Daily Driven Exotics, auto racer James Vancee and car enthusiast Karl Conrad from Toronto, as well as everyday dads.

It’s the first time Armor All has worked with influencers, although it has run a similar play for its STP brand through parent company Energizer Holdings, says Megan Currie, senior marketing manager for Armor All Canada, whose duties also include oversight of STP.

After running digital-only campaigns for the last few years, she says Armor All decided to return to television, feeling it “had a lot to talk about,” namely when it came to new product formulas and reminding Canadian drivers of its expanded product offering, such as air fresheners. The air freshener category as a whole has been growing steadily across both in-home and in-car products, and some 40% of Canadian drivers who own cars use air fresheners today, according to Currie.

After reintroducing its air freshener lineup three years ago – switching from the oil wick format to the vent clip format (currently the number one category-driver) – Armor All has continued to earn market share. And last year, it introduced a new brand called Essential Blends, which has been nominated for a Canadian Grand Prix at the Retail Council of Canada awards.

Essential Blends has a different target market than Armor All’s core range of Fresh FX air fresheners, Currie notes, as it plays more directly on the “significant mood-enhancement benefits” that have driven growth in in-home use of air fresheners.

“We really see [the category] as the final step of cleaning your car,” she says. “Somebody who takes the time to clean your vehicle, you have that sense of pride afterwards… and so the last step is to drop in an air fresheners to have that ongoing freshness.”

The brand currently benefits from comparably high aided and unaided awareness across both Canada and the U.S., according to Currie. But consumers “often feel that car surfaces are so advanced now that they don’t need to protect or treat them the same way as they used to, which isn’t true,” she says, “especially now that Canadians have less money in their pocketbooks and want to keep their vehicles for longer.”

Approximately 94% of people who use protectants, tire cleaners and other category products own their vehicles, she says.

The Canadian adaptation also takes into account that there’s a smaller seasonal window during which Canadians tend to think about cleaning their cars. In Canada, its audience tends to skew older than in the U.S. and is more concentrated in urban centres, Currie says. Moreover, unlike Americans, Canadians less frequently view receiving a car at the age of 16 as a “right of passage.” All these considerations have shaped its Canadian strategy.

Lastly, the company has aimed to simplify its packaging, a process that has been two years in the making. Despite benefiting from broad brand awareness among both women and men, its lineup included many different sub-brands and formats. “Like any portfolio, there comes a point in time when you need to unite all of those brands so that they look streamlined,” Currie says.

The latest changes were for its line of protectants and include a new formula call-out claim on the front-of-pack. More than 20 SKUs have been updated in the set, and the design is now being applied across its portfolio of tire and multi-purpose cleaner products.