- American Standard is giving people a chance to "flush 2020 away" by giving away toilet paper printed with some of the worst parts of a challenging year, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive. The most flushable moments include COVID-19, canceled vacations, "virtual everything" and murder hornets, as determined in a survey commissioned by the maker of bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
- American Standards is asking people to enter their information at its "Flush 2020" microsite for a chance to win a roll of the limited-edition toilet paper. The company is giving away 450 rolls, randomly selecting winners in three drawings this month, according to its website.
- American Standard, which is owned by Lixil, also is urging people to share their most flushable moments from the year in social media posts using the hashtag #Flush2020, though it isn't a requirement to win one of the limited-edition rolls of toilet paper.
The "Flush 2020" campaign from kitchen and bath fixtures brand American Standard is a lighthearted effort that ties into this year's focus on toilet paper amid frequent shortages while raising awareness for the brand and gathering information about potential customers. The campaign is another sign of how marketers have changed the tone of their advertising since the early days of the pandemic, when public fears about the health crisis and its economic fallout led many brands to run more serious ads that referred to "these uncertain times."
"Normally, it would excite us to have a year for the toilet — we're big toilet people at American Standard. But the realities of 2020 weren't quite what we had in mind," Gene Barbato, vice president of marketing for American Standard, said in a statement. "At a time when we could all use a little lighthearted humor, we hope to bring a smile to the faces of everyone ready to leave this year behind."
To determine which moments of 2020 to print on its limited-edition toilet paper, the company commissioned a study from Kelton Global that found 95% of U.S. consumers can name one thing from the past year they'd like to flush if given the chance. The COVID-19 pandemic was the most popular thing people want to leave behind, cited by 87% of consumers. Other flushable items include the expression "new normal" (49%) and canceled vacations (41%).
Many U.S. consumers are ready for a return to in-person contact after months of communicating through electronic devices, with 34% wanting to flush away "virtual everything." Other flushable items include uncomfortable nasal swabs for coronavirus testing (30%), "murder hornets" that threaten to devastate bee hives (32%), missed parties (24%), the phrase "you're on mute" from video calls (19%) and birthday caravans that transformed parties into drive-by events (15%). While American Standard used the data to inform a lighthearted giveaway, other marketers could take note of which parts of 2020 consumers want to leave behind.
The survey also found generational differences in attitudes toward what they want to flush away. Almost all (91%) of baby boomers said they wanted to send off COVID-19, compared with 89% of Generation X, 85% of millennials and 77% of Generation Z, a sign that younger demographic groups feel slightly less threatened by the pandemic. More than half of people in the Northeast want to banish the phrase "new normal," compared with 50% in the Midwest, 50% in the West and 47% in the South.
American Standard's "Flush 2020" campaign also can help to capture first-party data about consumers. Gathering first-party data has become a bigger priority for marketers, as stricter privacy laws in many regions limit the sharing of third-party data without consumer consent. Marketers also face challenges with audience targeting as Google takes steps to ban third-party cookies in its popular Chrome browser, and Apple plans to update its software to notify customers when apps want access to the device identifiers in iPhones, iPads and Apple TV streaming devices.