Not unlike our other clients, our objective with Sonny was to make it rain. They had a product we loved, and we knew how to connect Sonny with people seeking precisely the solution they provide. Our task was then to get Sonny off the ground through crowdfunding, and we set our goal on Indiegogo to $25,000. If we could bring in enough pre-orders, Sonny would be made a reality; maybe even a hit.
A brand’s value is directly linked to the authority it manages to command. Our challenge with Sonny was to ascribe authority to a product we loved, but knew would be vulnerable to scrutiny from the start. Especially if we took ourselves too seriously.
While Sonny takes design cues from some of the world’s most powerful consumer electronics brands, we knew the messaging that works for those brands simply wasn’t going to work for Sonny. Afterall, it’s a butt cleaner. For your butt. Simply touting the innovation that went into the product wouldn’t be enough to earn the brand respect. Indeed, it was perhaps in part Sonny’s eye-catching, futuristic form and function that would inadvertently draw more detractors than we’d ever managed for a single client.
Inherent to all campaigns is that nobody roots for the advertiser. Adopting a defensive tone in response to trolls would only reinforce the tension suggested between brand and audience, and there’d be little incentive for anyone in our audience to rush to our defense. What we did ultimately have on our side was humor, and it proved a strong ally in developing a voice to suit Sonny. That being said, we deliberately chose not to lead with humor, opting instead to craft our posts to follow broader themes like environmental sustainability and shared commitment to personal hygiene. One of Sonny’s most helpful features is that it promotes waste reduction, requiring just a square or two of toilet paper to pat dry after use. This being the case, we further centered our brand as representative of environmentalism when we partnered with Los Angeles non-profit Drop4Drop, dedicated to alleviating the world’s water crisis by funding sustainable clean water programs for developing communities across the globe. Posts promoting Drop4Drop saw relatively little engagement, but they were instrumental in shaping Sonny’s personality, clarifying and solidifying the brand’s alignment with its values.
The humor mentioned earlier was employed reactively; we didn’t develop an online presence to make jokes, but we certainly weren’t going to let ourselves be laughed at. In response to one user’s skeptic comment that simply read, “Uhhhh…..”, we replied, “...some! Uhhsome! Ahhsome! Awwsome! Awesome! We agree!” We were rewarded with a reply from a different user, crediting their pre-order to our response.
One user was concerned if the amount of water stored by Sonny was sufficient for a good clean wash, and we promptly assured him that we tested Sonny rigorously “against a variety of other solutions.” Another user commented that he misread ‘solutions’ as ‘situations,’ and still another tagged us and asked if we meant to write the word as ‘shituations.’ That comment saw more engagement than most, so we wrote, “A few shituations, one or two tissue issues, and a catch 22 (minus the 20).” The exchange didn’t end there, but enough has been recounted to attest to the community-building we achieved with this brand, with comment threads initiated as customer service requests maturing into spaces where like-minded people connect—simply because they want to.
Sonny was a massive success for Rainfactory. The product is currently selling on Indemand, a marketplace for successful Indiegogo products that have finished their crowdfunding campaigns. Before entering this phase, we raised over $1 Million USD from nearly ten thousand backers to fund Sonny's development and distribution. Sonny continues to support Drop4Drop, able now to affect change on a larger scale.
Also falling under "results" is the community we built. On many of our Facebook posts, we saw audience members from a variety of cultural backgrounds sharing and comparing how people where they're from go about their business. This was very useful for us, as potential US customers got to read accounts from people who in many cases live where bidets are the norm. We even got comments from people already using similar albeit less technologically advanced solutions, who praised Sonny for its modernized take.
On one of our most engaged posts, the top comment reads "On the hole this works great," to which we replied, "we love the cheeky comment!" Below that, someone wrote, "whoever writes the comments for this company is hysterical!" Our response? "Thanks! We finally have proof in writing that our degrees in Business and Art History and the mountain of student loan debt did actually lead to something 😆." This reply recieved more than twice the engagement of the afformentioned top comment.
With Sonny, we never had to chase our audience, allowing us to put more energy into our content.