Meet the Philly Ad Agency Promoting “Joy,” the Brand Behind the Movie

With an Oscar nom and new TV commercials, the company is poised for a monster 2016.

"Joy" and Joy.

“Joy” and Joy.

Rarely does a brand have such a prime opportunity to go from niche retailer to household name. But such is the case for Joy — the brand of mops, steamers, pillows and other household items created by founder Joy Mangano.

Not only was she played by Jennifer Lawrence in the film Joy, but Lawrence just won a Golden Globe and got nominated for an Oscar for her performance. If that weren’t enough, Joy-the-brand is in the midst of a huge rollout in the full footprint of TargetBed Bath & Beyond, Container Store and Macy’s locations. Some stores like Target and Macy’s are even creating store-within-a-store concepts that will basically be their own “Joy” sections.

So Joy and her company went on the hunt for an advertising agency — and chose Philly’s Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners. In January, RTOP just launched an ad campaign including TV commercials, digital ads and social media posts. If it’s successful, Joy could become the next Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray. If it fails, the business will likely remain most visible on the Home Shopping Networkwhere Joy has been selling products for years.

“Of course people know Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart as personalities, but if they see the Martha Stewart logo on things, they’ve come to expect a certain quality and aesthetic — so we’re trying to create the same thing for Joy,” said Steve Red, president and chief creative officer at RTO+P. “It’s our job to get consumers to go beyond Joy-the-person and start to engage with Joy-the-brand.”

Red and his team created the “Joy Meets…” campaign, hoping to convey to readers that when Joy meets something — it gets better. Take mops for instance. When Joy started tinkering with the product, she created the Miracle Mop, which is self-wringing and doesn’t scratch surfaces. When Joy met heavy, expensive steamers to remove wrinkles from clothes and draperies, she created My Little Steamer, a handheld tool that weighs just over one pound and retails for $20.

But with the movie’s release, Red and his team were tasked with toeing a line: Make Joy-the-brand relatable without making the movie feel like one big commercial.

“That would do damage to the movie but it would also do damage to the brand,” said Red. “You would waste this big opportunity.” So the commercials are careful not to mention the movie — but instead let people connect the dots for themselves.

On the digital side, they focused heavily on search-engine optimization.

“We knew as the movie started to build buzz, people would start to Google ‘Joy’ to find out more, and see if she looks like Jennifer Lawrence,” said Red. “So we launched her website early on, so when people Google they can find her.”

For the TV ads, RTO+P made sure the real Joy appears in every commercial.

“We said [the campaign] has to be infused with Joy’s personality. That’s what made her successful so far. That’s why people buy stuff again and again from HSN,” said Red.

Does a Golden Globe win, an Oscar nom and a hit movie change their advertising campaign? What if the movie was less like box-office smash American Hustle and more like Serena — the Lawrence-Cooper Western that flopped and went straight to video-on-demand?

“Even if it’s Star Wars, eventually, that luster is going to fade and you’re going to have to continue to build a brand and continue to sell products, so we can’t totally rely on the movie,” said Red. “Seeing how it’s played out, it’s not Star Wars. It’s not a movie that’s going to play to the mainstream, be in every movie house and be on everybody’s lips. So we need to have a solid marketing plan.”

How can they tell if the campaign has been successful?

“Ultimately it’s sales. That’s the bottom-line metric, she’s got to sell product,” said Red. “So far, the numbers were huge on the first launch weekend, so we have to keep sustaining.”

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