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How Orabrush Goes Viral

We have been talking about reaching the right people in the right places at the right time. The story is an example of using the right medium to reach the right people. In 2009, Orabrush has launched the tongue cleaner for about a decade, but the sales of the five-dollar-tongue-cleaner were still crawling. Orabrush only sold less than 100 units in the past decade.

The concept of bad breath coming from tongues has been a well known knowledge of Chinese medicine (At least my mother has been telling me that I should clean my tongue for years). You can find tongue brush and even “tonguepaste” in Japan and Taiwan. However, this is a fairly new concept in the U.S. Robert Wagstaff, the inventor of Orabrush tongue cleaner, faced difficulties on selling the product to retailers such as Walmart and CVS because they thought the sales of the product was unpredictable. Therefore, Robert Wagstaff spent $50,000 on marketing the product with an infomercial but the effort was wasted.

Wagstaff then turned to marketing professionals’ help. The graduate marketing class at Brigham Young University offers companies the chance to let students perform a case study for them for about $1,500. The students studying the case found that 92 percent of the retail market were reluctant to buy the product. At the desperate moment, Jeffrey Harmon, then the 26-year-old student, proposed to Wagstaff that he thought Orabrush may have better chances online and he could help sell the product online.

Harmon was trying to figure out how to sell Orabrush using Facebook, and then he posted a video on how to tell if you had bad breath. It was based on a generic video he found on YouTube, which he had gotten permission to use from its creators. “It boosted our conversion rates by three times,” Harmon says. “If people know how to tell if they have bad breath, they’re a lot more likely to buy the product.” The video inspired Harmon to produce an Orabrush video that taught people how to tell if they had bad breath and how Orabrush could help them solve the problem. He and his brother than produced a Youtube video that cost them less than $500 dollars.

The first video was aimed to both educate and entertain. It showed viewers how to use a spoon to determine if they had bad breath. According to Harmon, if you ask people how to tell if you have bad breath and almost no one knows the answer. Harmon started out on Youtube with the tight marketing budget and keep investing in the Youtube viral video campaign.

In five weeks, Orabrush sold out 10,000 units. Since the campaign launched in 2009,according to the report, “ the Orabrush YouTube channel has garnered more than 24 million views and 250,000 fans on Facebook.In addition, Online alone, the company has passed $1 million in sales.”Magstaff also got requests from retailers and distributors in more than 40 countries.

The secret of the campaign’s success was result from Harmon’s insight of consumer behavior. He figured out that people didn’t really know what causes bad breath, even though studies show that 90 percent of bad breath comes from the tongue. “One of the great things about Orabrush, is that we know we’re expanding the category,” says Harmon, who now serves as Orabrush’s chief marketing officer. They did a survey and found that 8 out of 10 people who bought Orabrush have never used a tongue cleaner before. To continue the success, Wagstaff and his marketing team understood that create a steady stream of viral content will gain them loyal followers on Youtube. They now have new video every week on their Youtube channel.

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