Today Preparation H is the best-known brand in its product class. In fact, the brand is so well known that it has reached the enviable stage in its brand life where its solid reputation and recognition levels now serve to naturally reinforce the brand’s overall core, leaving it free to leverage itself to make strong brand extensions and new products.
Preparation H wasn’t always sitting this pretty. In the late 1960s American Home Products dumped nearly US $10 million into radio and TV advertising. This was an astonishing amount at the time for any product, let alone one for treating hemorrhoids—a controversial category of medication advertising that had only been allowed a couple years earlier. By the early 1980s, the Preparation H brand owned nearly 70 percent of its category.
So can the hemorrhoid treatment (insert pun here) online?
The challenge facing the Preparation H website is how to make a site about treating hemorrhoids engaging and informative while sparing visitors (the likely afflicted) any embarrassment and letting them learn with dignity and respect. Easy, right?
Part of me wanted to find that Preparation H had been convinced by some agency that the brand needed a MaXXX to-the-Xtreme 2Legit2Quit site. In my imagination this “updated for today’s iHemorrhoids” site would feature a super fun Flash-based game where visitors would use their cursors in a first-shooter format to blast Preparation H cream onto evil anthropomorphized anal fissures (Kids can play too!).
No such luck. Instead the brand has done a bang-up, admirable job from design to functionality to content. Every brand should have a site this brand-appropriate and useful. What’s needed is here and, maybe just as importantly, the unnecessary is not.
Like the best personal hygiene brand sites, www.preparationh.com immediately identifies its macro-categories of potential visitors and then channels them into segment buckets that cascade into more information. This approach avoids the common mistake of offering homepage options that attempt to do too much too early.
The Preparation H site is so efficient and well designed that its simplicity is deceiving. The danger the brand faced was an overabundance of clutter under which the site could have easily sunk. For an example of a brand’s website with similar demographic challenges that does a much worse job in this regard, visit the homepage-incontinent Depend site.
As to be expected of a brand that exists in a consumer climate of juvenileness where the scatological spectrum’s only two settings are mocking humor and grotesque revulsion, the term “Preparation H” is alone a punch line worthy of laughter. (The 2002 Austin Powers sequel Goldmember used “Preparation H" as the name of Dr. Evil’s earth-destroying device; Conan O'Brien’s show features skits with a character named Preparation H Ray who hands out tubes of Preparation H to the audience.)