The Orabrush success story was told at SES New York 2011. It was retold at SES San Francisco 2011. And it was retold again at SES Chicago 2011. And each time, attendees of the leading global event series about search and social marketing learned brand new lessons from the small company in Utah that had used YouTube to build a multi-million dollar business.
During the session on "Harnessing the Power of B2B Video Marketing" at this year's SES New York, Austin Craig, the Orabrush Spokesman, told some new stories demonstrating that the company isn’t a one-hit wonder. In fact, the Orabrush success story gets better with every retelling.
The Orabrush Backstory
Dr. Bob Wagstaff invented the Orabrush tongue cleaner a decade ago. He tried all the traditional business strategies to sell his product.
He invested $40,000 into a TV infomercial, but the infomercial yielded only 100 orders.
He approached retail shops to carry the Orabrush in stores, but people walked past the product in stores without a second glance.
He even offered to sell his patent to other oral hygiene companies.
None of it worked.
As a final attempt to get his business off the ground, Dr. Wagstaff took the advice of Jeffrey Harmon, a local college student, and started marketing the tongue cleaners on YouTube. With a $500 budget, they produced and posted their first video, "Bad Breath Test – How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks," introducing the Orabrush and offering the product for purchase online.
The quirky, commercial-style video explained that 90 percent of bad breath comes from bacteria on the tongue – hence the solution, the Orabrush tongue cleaner. Shot in a makeshift studio in the neighborhood pool hall (listen closely and you can hear the balls cracking in the background), the video went viral, rocketing to 18 million views.
Building a Brand on YouTube
After the explosive reaction to their first video, Harmon took on the role as chief marketing officer and began creating regular webisodes, introducing new characters like Morgan, a giant dirty tongue.
Harmon then used YouTube video ads to reach more people and grow their fan base. The videos on the Cure Bad Breath channel built a loyal following, and their YouTube channel grew to over 41 million views. Orabrush turned its B2C success story into a spoof movie trailer.
After two years, Orabrush had sold more than a million tongue cleaners to people in 40+ countries. The Orabrush brand became so popular that local pharmacy store managers began contacting Orabrush directly, citing requests from customers who had heard about the brand online.
In the fall of 2011, Walmart began carrying the Orabrush tongue cleaners in its 3,500+ stores across the United States. And a few months later, CVS pharmacy added the Orabrush tongue cleaner to more than 7,000 stores across the country. The B2B case study of how Orabrush got into Walmart is below.
Orabrush was also one of the first businesses to use YouTube TrueView video ads. Orabrush has even created tailored endings to their videos that direct the viewer to the closest retail store carrying its tongue cleaner.
Elbow Grease and a Passionate Pitchman
While Orabrush may have taken an unorthodox approach, their success came from old-fashioned elbow grease, perseverance and a bit of ingenuity.
"YouTube has helped normal people like Dr. Bob and a couple of college kids to take an idea, put it in front of people and get an honest response," Craig said at SES New York 2013. "We can now play on the same terms as huge companies – and be successful."
For example, Orabrush created a Bad Breath Detector app for the iPhone. The video promoting the app has more than 1.8 million views and drove more than 300,000 downloads.
To build a relationship with the editors of blogs, Orabrush has also created customized videos like this one for Rob Beschizza, managing editor of Boing Boing.
Then, in October 2012, Orabrush announced its latest product, the Orapup, a novel tongue cleaner to help cure dogs’ bad breath. The company also launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo in an effort to bring the category-creating Orapup to market more quickly.
Designed by Orabrush Founder and Chairman Robert "Dr. Bob" Wagstaff, the Orapup combines ultra-soft pointed bristles with four in-line scrapers, which collect and remove bacteria from the dog’s tongue.
A formula made with all FDA-approved ingredients and developed to help prevent gum disease and reduce tartar is applied to the surface of the Orapup to entice dogs to lick the brush, allowing them to clean their own tongues. The Orabrush team spent seven months researching and developing this healthy, edible product with a flavor and consistency that dogs enjoy.
Orabrush also created a video to promote its new product entitled, "Bye Bye, Bad Dog Breath – Orapup.com." The video now has almost 6.3 million views.
"Soon after we launched Orabrush in 2009, many of our customers began asking when a version would be available for their dogs," Craig said at SES New York 2013. "The Orapup has been near to the heart of our founder Dr. Bob for some time, and was a natural addition to the product line. As we watched crowdfunding become more popular, we recognized how successful it could be to engage the large and growing Orabrush community to bring the Orapup to dog owners everywhere as quickly as possible. Just as YouTube leveled the playing field and allowed a small start-up like us to compete with major brands, crowdfunding will play a similar role with the Orapup."
The Orapup was the company’s first foray into crowd-funding, which enabled individuals to pledge money to support the development of the product. In return for a minimum $15 contribution, backers could preorder a limited edition Orapup and receive other Orabrush products as perks.
The company’s goal was to raise $40,000. It raised $62,572. Orapup was launched at the beginning of March 2013. As of the end of March, 44,018 people had ordered Orapups totaling $1,159,062.
What’s the Next Chapter in the Orabrush Success Story?
As Craig hinted during his presentation at the session on Harnessing the Power of B2B Video Marketing, Orabrush is now describing itself as "an e-commerce distribution platform that leverages social media marketing, with expertise in YouTube advertising, to commercialize innovative products." What does that mean? Orabrush is one of the top subscribed sponsor channels on YouTube – just behind brands like Apple, Red Bull and Old Spice – and has more than 340,000 Facebook fans.
So, who knows, Orabrush may be reinventing itself to become the Ronco of a whole new generation. Ronco was the direct response marketing company founded by Ronald M. "Ron" Popeil, an American inventor and marketing personality, who is best known for using the phrase, "But wait, there’s more!"