From time to time, we post about how entrepreneurs have used Google tools to build successful businesses—both on and offline. In this post, you’ll read the story of how a Utah entrepreneur used YouTube to build a market for his tongue cleaner product, the Orabrush. Starting this month, CVS/pharmacy will begin carrying the product in stores across the United States. – Ed.
When Dr. Bob Wagstaff invented the Orabrush tongue cleaner, he tried all the traditional business strategies to sell his product. He invested $ 40,000 into a TV infomercial, approached retail shops to carry the Orabrush in stores and offered to sell his patent to other oral hygiene companies. None of it worked. The infomercial yielded only 100 orders, and people walked past the product in stores without a second glance.
As a final attempt to get his business off the ground, Dr. Wagstaff took the advice of Jeffrey Harmon, a local college student, and started marketing the tongue cleaners on YouTube. With a $ 500 budget, they produced and posted their first video introducing the Orabrush and offering the product for purchase online.
The quirky, commercial-style video explained that 90 percent of bad breath comes from bacteria on the tongue—hence the solution, the Orabrush tongue cleaner. Shot in a makeshift studio in the neighborhood pool hall (listen closely and you can hear the balls cracking in the background), the video went viral, rocketing to 16 million views.
Building a brand on YouTube
After the explosive reaction to their first video, Harmon took on the role as Chief Marketing Officer and began creating regular webisodes, introducing new characters like Morgan, the dirty tongue. Harmon then used YouTube video ads to reach more people and grow their fan base. The “Cure Bad Breath” videos built a loyal following, and their YouTube channel grew to nearly 40 million views.
After two years, Orabrush had sold more than a million tongue cleaners to people in 40+ countries. The Orabrush brand became so popular that local pharmacy store managers began contacting Orabrush directly, citing requests from customers who had heard about the brand online. This fall, Walmart began carrying the Orabrush tongue cleaners in its 3,500+ stores across the United States. And this week, CVS/pharmacy has added the Orabrush tongue cleaner to more than 7,000 stores across the country. That’s a lot of tongue cleaners!
These days Orabrush is taking a new approach to drive even more sales in stores. One of the first businesses to use YouTube TrueView video ads, Orabrush has created tailored endings to their videos that direct the viewer to the closest CVS/pharmacy carrying the Orabrush.
Elbow grease and a clever mascot
While Orabrush may have taken an unorthodox approach, their success came from old-fashioned elbow grease, perseverance and a bit of ingenuity.
“YouTube has helped normal people like Dr. Bob and a couple of college kids to take an idea, put it in front of people and get an honest response,” Harmon, now chief marketing officer at Orabrush, told us. “We can now play on the same terms as huge companies—and be successful.”
Hear more about Orabrush’s journey to success in this video: