One of These Things Is Not Like the Other.

Welcome one and all to the Open Innovation Virtual Network sponsored by The Clorox Company.

It is a site that welcomes one and all – young and old, amateur and professional – to gather under under the Clorox big top to share ideas in the “hopes of finding experts in the industry we can partner with to bring new and innovative products to the market. It is our hope that here you’ll not only be able to interact with us, but that you’ll also be able to find solutions and partnerships that are crucial for the success of your own businesses and careers.”

Now by nature I am a bit of a skeptical guy. Some might even say jaded. Whatever.

So I spent a little time on this new social networking site and was immediately struck by two thoughts:

1. This is a smart idea.
2. Why is everyone talking about food?

I know Clorox. Clorox is a friend of mine. Clorox does not market foods.

Turns out I am wrong. Turns out Clorox owns the Hidden Vally brand of salad dressings and dips, and the KC Masterpiece line of sauces, marinades and seasonings. Clorox… the bleach company. Apparently when I wasn’t looking they diversified well beyond the cleaning products category and into the food category. How did I miss that?

It’s all a bit odd. Out of the 24 consumer brands Clorox lists on its website, only these two are food related (unless you count Kingsford Charcoal). The rest are bleach and drain cleaners and tile cleaners and kitty litter and water filtration.

And then I was struck by another thought: These guys at Clorox are very clever. Think about how they managed (in less than 24 months) to shift their reputation as the leading maker of high performance cleaning products that are anything but environmentally friendly, to one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of natural cleaning products.

I will be completely honest, when Clorox first announced Green Works I was certain the marketplace would not accept the obvious contradiction. But I was wrong. Clorox came to the marketplace with a winning strategy – offer a product that was natural AND powerful, and promote the hell out of it. And it worked.

Which brings me back to the Open Innovation Hub. Clorox is inviting the world – indeed, challenging them – to share ideas and information. And there are already more than 100 members sharing away. And a lot of them are talking about food. In fact, “food” is one of 10 dedicated forum categories (which happen to align with all of Clorox’s product categories).

And while my instinct is to conclude that this social network experiment will not work, I am actually pretty sure it will. And for the second day in a row I am tipping my hat to an organization willing to innovate and take risks.

Congratulations Clorox. May the force and the food be with you

Jim Sweeney

Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.