He keeps going, and going and going: Patrick Good, senior brand manager, Energizer

Patrick Good began shaking up Energizer Canada's creative strategy right from the start.

Patrick Good began shaking up Energizer Canada’s creative strategy right from the start.

‘The worst clients are from the ad side,’ the senior brand manager says, laughing as he recalls his first creative meeting as a client. ‘I said [to ChiatDay's creative team]: ‘This is the worst piece of crap I’ve ever seen.’ And then I laughed. They didn’t find it very funny.’

While Good, who has worked on the agency side in roles varying from account services to media planning to promotions, was just messing with the team, he did eventually decide to undergo an agency review to begin developing Canadian-specific campaigns. ‘He rewrote the ad agency contract,’ recalls boss Henry Neil, Energizer Canada’s director of marketing. ‘He really just started all over again. It was a lengthy task, but, from our side, a successful task.’

And how. Last year, one of his campaigns led to a 142% increase in sales volume – and that’s without any new distribution, promotions or pricing. To boot, the campaign’s TV spot, ‘Run,’ was named a Lion finalist in Cannes this year, while the radio spot, ‘Surprise,’ took home a silver Lion and a bronze Clio. And he has an equally clever follow-up campaign launching this month to gear up for the battery category’s busy holiday season.

When Good, 45, joined the Walkerton, Ont.-based battery company over 10 years ago, the Canadian office was content picking up commercials from its American and European counterparts, riding the success of the iconic pink bunny. But, this didn’t sit well with Good. He saw Canadian consumers as unique, and felt they should be addressed as such.

‘I wanted to get Energizer Canada to stand alone in terms of creative strategy,’ he recalls, adding that Canadians tend to be suspicious about large companies. ‘[For Canada], you’ve got to look at things on a more emotional level. The approach has to be more subtle.’

His gamble launching a Canadian ad strategy has certainly paid off, much to the surprise of many around him. ‘A lot of people say: ‘Patrick, why don’t you just take U.S. or European commercials and save yourself a couple hundred thousand dollars?” he says. ‘I say it’s more important to be effective than efficient. Internally, we’ve got to get over that.’

Part of Good’s strategy internally is to get his fellow Energizers excited about new campaigns. ‘I believe that it’s my job to educate Energizer Canada about the needs of Canadians,’ he says. For example, a couple of years ago he put together a mock TV talk show, ‘Talk Titanium,’ for an internal meeting as a fun way to brief the sales team about the new campaign to launch a titanium battery. ‘The whole company got behind it,’ he recalls. ‘We had about 70% penetration in Canada within six months.’

Those who know Good have come to expect him to constantly challenge the status quo. ‘He’s very entrepreneurial-minded,’ notes Andrew Simon, co-CD at Good’s AOR, DDB in Toronto. ‘He looks at every day as a fight, and he knows that sometimes you have to take risks.’

Taking risks is essential to stay afloat in the cutthroat battery category. ‘There’s no sustainable difference in quality – we improve by 20%, they improve by 20%…I joke with my president, saying: ‘All you’ve got left is marketing,” Good says. Along with Energizer’s batteries, Good also oversees its flashlight brands and the recently acquired razor brand Schick. Convergence is one of his top concerns right now: His primary competitor is now a CPG superpower that has considerably more ad dollars to fight him with. ‘We’re very aware that Gillette, which owns Duracell, is now owned by P&G,’ he says.

Before taking risks, though, Good is careful to arm himself with market research. With a marketing department of just four, he opted to commission a study with DDB last year to find out more about Canadian battery consumers. The results revealed two main groups: digital people, who have embraced technology, and analogue people, who are resisting the tech revolution. With a tight ad budget, Good had to produce a Lithium battery spot that reached both.

Luckily, Good has a solid collaborative relationship with his agency, which made the task less painful. Simon credits Good’s agency experience with making him more approachable.

‘With Patrick, we feel secure enough to share kernels of ideas and build them with him,’ he says. ‘He’s willing to go to bat for us, and he’s willing to listen to ideas that [other clients] might dismiss.’ Simon says that in a recent case, he and his team let Good in on their process early on, and he helped them mould the idea. The resulting commercial, ‘Run,’ featured an MP3 player running away from its owner, with the tagline ‘designed for digital.’ It was able to speak to both the digital and analogue segments.

Similarly, a new spot, ‘Health Club,’ launches this month and features electronic devices working out in a gym.

‘Canadians appreciate that the future is digital. However, there’s a cost attached to it – there’s a fear of a sterile environment,’ Good says. ‘That’s the cleverness in personifying the devices. It says to the analogue people: ‘We appreciate your fears.”

While Good loves commercials, he recognizes that it’s getting harder to reach consumers through their TV sets alone. Last year, he decided to get his Lithium batteries into consumers’ hands with a direct mail campaign.

‘We have a lithium battery with an incredible demonstrable advantage,’ he says, adding that the response has been great.

And what of the pink Energizer bunny? Good has moved away from the character while trying to position his brand as a tool for high tech devices. ‘The bunny has tremendous positive attributes, but he is not high tech,’ he says.

But, lately the mascot has been growing on him, and he’s slowly inching his way back. For a period of four or five years, the bunny’s image was reduced on the packaging and taken off the Lithium packaging altogether. Now, he’s grown one-sixteenth of a millimetre, and has resurfaced on Lithium. Part of the turning point for Good was when former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was shown receiving an Energizer bunny from friends when he retired in 2004. He realized just how much the mascot has permeated our culture: ‘People have brought the icon into their lives.’

FIVE QUESTIONS

Favourite book of all time:

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks. Weird but wonderful.

Favourite TV show of all time:

The Simpsons. It’s just so well written.

Reality show you’d most like to be on:

Oh god, none of them. I guess Survivor: I know I’d get kicked off right away – I’d be a threat.

Favourite vacation spot:

The British Virgin Islands. I had the experience of being on a 53-foot sailboat for seven days. I can’t even describe how fantastic it was.

First job:

I worked on a bee farm. I shipped bees into the hive when I was 14. I did it two summers in a row.