The Sapolio Case Exposes The Dirty Truth About Brand Neglect

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Let me first come clean and admit that I’m as enthusiastic about wielding a mop as Paris Hilton, and I don’t worry much about germs. My immune system must have developed the extra-human strength of Khan Noonien Singh to overpower and annihilate.

No dogs, cats or young’uns here, meaning the messes I’m responsible to dispense with are my own.  Being elbow grease avoidant, anything that makes cleaning up the joint easier and faster is aces with me.

Sapolio dish washing paste

Sapolio Dishwashing Paste, te quiero

One afternoon, as I was shopping in the local ethnic (Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Hispanic/American) food store, I encountered a product called Sapolio Dishwashing Paste, and it cost only .99. The deal looked super-good because I got a free scrubbing sponge to boot. I go through bottles of dish washing detergent too fast, and was up for a longer-lasting product.

The cheapskate in me screamed “sold!”

After removing the free scrubbing sponge and the yellow-tape-from-a-crime-scene sealant, I found a thick, sturdy, lightly-scented paste. I discovered it’s a thick miracle gunk that cleans.

free sponge

Una esponja libre también

And clean it does. Yes, it cleans soooo good!

I love this el cheapo product and use it to scrub, degrease and polish everywhere I left  a mess. It makes my dishes, pots and sink shine in no time. Sapolio Dishwasing Paste in the bathroom makes quick work of bathroom soap scum. I use to clean cabinets, lime deposits on glass and scrub away food stuck on the floor. I even use it to remove oxidation stains from silver jewelry.

This is a blended product that works better than scouring powder and liquid detergent used together or apart.

The next time I visited the Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Hispanic/American store, I bought five more containers of this stuff that reformed my inner Oscar Madison.

Sapolio mascot

Excited mascot is excited

Of course, I checked out the Sapolio brand online. I wondered, Is it new, where does it come from and why haven’t I seen Sapolio products advertised or available for purchase at my regular supermarket?

I was stunned to discover that Sapolio is a very old brand of cleaning products that have been in existence for over 100 years.

But why hadn’t I heard of it until now?

A Wiki article about Sapolio called the company’s low profile in the marketplace “an example of the result of diminishing or discontinuing advertising.”

For decades, Sapolio was one of the best-known and most popular brands of cleaning products in the United States. It was the Procter & Gamble of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And now, Sapolio is almost completely unknown. It has practically disappeared from store shelves.

So what happened here?

Sapolio ad 1897

A racist Sapolio ad from 1897

In their high-flying days, Sapolio’s management felt the company’s position as a the undisputed market leader enabled them to stop advertising. They saved money in the short-term, but this plan didn’t work out well for them. Out of sight, out of mind, even if you’re number one. People quickly forgot about Sapolio, stopped buying the products and it was overtaken by the competition.

This move nearly destroyed the company.

Sapolio entered a state of decline it couldn’t recover from, and was eventually bought by a Peruvian company, Intradevco Industrial SA.

Sapolio ad

Marketing never ceases in its usefulness

Advertising historians call the Sapolio story a textbook case of short-sightedness and market share destruction caused by hubris and neglecting to market.

The obvious takeaway here is the value of marketing, even if you’re a big-shot market leader. As for me, I’m down to my last tub of the dish washing paste, the market no longer carries it, so I will have to travel out of town to buy a new supply.

I can’t stand the idea of not having this stuff in the house. Don’t you wish your customers felt this way about your product?

Neglecting to market your business properly is tantamount to malpractice. And if you’re doing that, you should sue yourself or redeem yourself.

Redemption is easy. All you need to do is to hire me to write your ads.

I write copy for sales pages, landing pages, video scripts, email campaigns, long- and short-form sales letters and Adwords/Facebook campaigns.

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