With major natural disasters prominent in the US lately, P&G's Duracell battery brand has been handed a major—if unfortunate for the victims—branding opportunity. Duracell's new Quantum high-power battery line is tailor-made to harness the brand's long association with the front-line "first responders" who arrive on the scene ahead of everyone else, often depending on battery-powered devices.
Duracell, owned by P&G since it bought Gillette in 2005, is introducing Quantum as its most powerfrul line of batteries, carrying a 20 to 30 percent price premium over regular Duracell units. The new line—which will replace the existing Ultra premium line—is red instead of black underneath the "copper-top" coloring of each Duracell battery.
And while disposable-battery sales in general have flattened out over the last few years as rechargable batteries have become commonplace for digital devices, brands such as Duracell and Eveready have been able to make up some of the financial shortfall by emphasizing longer-powered, higher-priced, higher-margin product lines.
A commercial that began airing this week features actor Jeff Bridges doing a voiceover accompanying a procession of fire engines and ambulances driving down a highway. "Nobody knows where or when the next powerful storm is going to hit, but it will," he says. After lightning strikes on the horizon, Bridges reveals a donation in conjunction with Quantum's introduction, according to the New York Times.
In fact, P&G is giving 1 million Duracell Quantum batteries to first responders across the US. Among them are the emergency crews helping residents of Alberta in the wake of July flooding. Duracell's Power Forward fleet, the brand said in a news release, is distributing more than 20,000 free batteries on the scene in the Canadian province to help power important devices such as flashlights and radios. And where its Power Forward trucks stop, Duracell said, people also have access to charging stations for mobile devices and computers.
Such a strategy obviously plays on the brand's bid to be a better corporate citizen—in turn creating fans through both the quality of their products and their ethics.
"What brands are looking for is loyalists," Joe Waters, co-author of Cause Marketing for Dummies, told the Times, "and firefighters and other first responders are an incredible network of loyalists."