Finish turns a product feature into a sustainability message

By getting consumers to "skip the rinse," the dishwashing brand aims to find an emotional connection to a low-engagement category.


Finish has become the category leader in dishwashing detergent over the last year, and to maintain that position, it is getting Canadians to think about how simple changes to at-home chores can have an impact on the environment across the country.

The new campaign’s TV spots show pristine bodies of water in popular locations like Ontario’s Algonquin park, swirling down a drain. If Canadians want to protect one of the country’s most valuable resources, the campaign states, they can start at home by “skipping the rinse” before putting dishes in their dishwasher.

The messaging is supplemented by content partnerships with National Geographic, Pelmorex and Corus, as well as influencer partnerships with the likes of Olympic champ Patrick Chan (pictured above) posting cherished memories related to the country’s natural bodies of water on Instagram.

The “#SkipTheRinse” platform launched in the U.S. last year, but Finish began deploying its fully-Canadian version of the messaging earlier this week for World Water Day, with reminders that Canadians are major stakeholders and custodians of the world’s freshwater, as 20% of it is within our borders.

When it comes to behaviour modifications brought on by the pandemic, dishwashing routines aren’t normally mentioned in the same breath as dining out or travel, but it’s a category that saw increased penetration and usage occasions thanks to lockdowns, says Finish Canada’s marketing director Tara Chetkowski.

Anecdotally, Chetkowski says people are running dishwashers daily, rather than a few times per week, and penetration is growing in a category that’s been flat for five years, she says.

“We saw a huge spike in March that a lot of CPG companies experienced, with a lot of panic buying,” Chetkowski says, adding that Q3 and Q4 were even stronger. She says it even took over category leadership in Canada from P&G’s Cascade brand.

But now the goal is to maintain that position, something that can be tough, as Chetkowski tells strategy dishwashing detergent is a low engagement category, thought of as a a routine chore and tough to get people excited about. But it has a lot of opportunity to change behaviours and drive a more emotional connection with water and sustainability, a message built on the launch of its Quantum Ultimate product in the fall, which the company says saves water because of skipping pre-rinse dishwashing cycles.

When developing the campaign, Chetkowski asked how the brand could take the issue of water waste and make it relevant to Canadians. So in addition to its content play, Finish created a landing page, Skip The Rinse, which provides more tips related to water conservation.

It also lets people take a pledge to #SkipTheRinse, and like Chan, upload their own photos of memories linked to water. Finish is also donating $1 to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (up to $100,000) for every pledge Canadians take.

However, it’s not the resource-rich Great White North that inspired the water conservation approach, but Turkey. According to NASA data, reservoirs around capital Istanbul have reached their lowest levels in 15 years. The spot ties the fact that Canada has so much of the world’s fresh water to those global water shortages as a responsibility Canadians have to the rest of the world, while a National Geographic documentary “Where Our Water Goes” put the issue front and centre, as closer to home, it’s not something people have top of mind.

“This is not meant to be a one-off,” Chetkowski says, but rather to build a purposeful brand rather than touting functional benefits, like many brands do. It’s also the kind of message that will hit home for heads of households who are running lots of dishwasher cycles.

Cleansheet handled video and social work, with Touche! leading media, MRM on the website and water usage calculator and Narrative on PR.