Tushy: The real winner of the COVID-19 crisis

Ammo Somal

Ammo Somal

Ammo is an engaging writer, researcher, and communicator, with a penchant for humor. Back in the UK, he worked in communications and creative for everything from insurance companies to video game festivals. Ammo’s skills as a content/multimedia coordinator have been honed through creating and managing content and planning multiple editorial ventures.

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Disclaimer: Tushy sponsors neither myself, Phlywheel, or this article. We’re just a team that wants to lighten the mood and share unique brand stories. But if you’re reading this, Tushy: Hit us up. I’m sure we can work out a trade of bidets for marketing strategy help, wink wink.

Look, we’re in a sh*tty situation right now. There’s no denying that. Quarantines, lockdowns, the impending financial crisis, and the lack of job security can easily make consumers and brands alike feel rather flushed. However, there is one company that seems to be coming out of this period with a clean backside: Tushy.

Tushy is a bidet attachment and “life upgrade” that, in the face of recent events, showcases a masterclass in brand positioning with their hilarious, yet relatable, in-the-moment social marketing

Ever since people around the world learned they might have to stay indoors for 14 days or longer, they started stocking up on toilet paper. Now, I’m no mathematician, but if you need 257 rolls of TP for a couple of weeks of isolation, you have far more significant issues than COVID-19. Regardless of logic, people have done what they do best over the past few weeks and proved this timeless Tommy Lee Jones quote from Men In Black to be true:

“A person is smart. 

People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it!”

– Agent K, Men In Black (1997)

As more and more people have been hoarding toilet paper like it’ll be raining feces tomorrow, even news outlets are questioning what is happening. Naturally, because humans are not to be outdone by COVID-19 as the real virus on planet earth, toilet paper has been showing up online and on shelves at an elevated price.

Fortunately, retailers and the poo-lice stepped in to end this. However, toilet paper is still in short supply. This is where electronic bidets, like Tushy, come in. Tushy’s products and Amazon’s stock of electronic bidets have been flying off the virtual shelves and are now subject to substantial order delays. So, what’s caused the number 2 preferred butt cleaning method to become so popular?

Positioning

No, I’m not talking about the kind of positioning that prevents the dreaded splashback. I’m talking about brand positioning. Bidets have been around for a long time, with the widely held belief being that the French invented them in the 1600s (although the earliest written mention being in 1700s Italy). However, the Anglo-Saxon world would refuse to fully accept the humble bidet, seeing it as a source of humor, or shame. Even as the electronic bidet came to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, we in the west largely sat on the idea. 

Despite having a broad audience around other parts of the world (Southern you’re-a-peein’ and Asian markets, specifically), you could say that the bidet’s very recent popularity in the west makes it something of a disruptor in the butt washing industry. Through desperation, necessity, timing, and a lack of toilet paper, Tushy may have actually positioned itself as a new trusted brand. We’ve seen before in times of crisis, that consumers flock to trusted brands like flies to a turd. Although, time will tell one the toilet paper stocks replenish if the general population abandon electronic bidets like Tushy as quickly as they adopted them.

Self-awareness

So the demand for the bidet is finally there in the western market, for now. All that remains is the coveted top spot… or throne, you might say. In the west (excusing one local exception), we don’t really like to talk publicly about our bodily functions. It’s kind of taboo. So when researching Tushy’s website, I found that their entire brand revolves around a fantastic self-awareness of the fact that their product exists to clean people’s arses. They don’t dance around it. They don’t sugarcoat it. Look at Tushy’s homepage:

“Stop wiping your butt.” The very first line of copy talks about butts. The most prominent image is of a toilet. Compare this with toilet paper or sanitary brands, and you’ll see how they dance around the issue with friendly images of puppies, tigers, or linen. Tushy, however, goes straight for your butt like that spicy ramen you ate for dinner. 

As a writer, I can say this is a fantastic piece of copy, directness aside. In marketing, you want to present how your product or service can SOLVE A PROBLEM. Here, Tushy turns their main competition (toilet paper) into the said problem. Suddenly, the way consumers think about toilet paper being something they couldn’t live without is completely reframed into being an obstacle, and not a solution in itself. Tushy then replaces toilet paper as the solution in this hierarchy. Creating a problem they never knew they had, and a solution they never knew they needed. If that’s not disruption, then I don’t know what is.

The natural color palette alludes to the fact that bidets reduce paper use and aid the environment. The model bending over and the people using the water stream as a slide is a funny allusion to the ‘joy’ in the experience of using Tushy. There’s a tremendous self-aware irony in every level of the brand that sets it apart and, honestly, is a breath of fresh air:

Pair this with the helpful, yet charmin’ video content that addresses various barriers that the consumer might have (such as installation, maintenance, pros & cons, etc.) and you’ve got yourself a winning formula.

Community management

Oh boy, did I have fun researching for this section. As it turns out, Tushy is wiping the competition away on social media. They take the same self-aware tone discussed above and apply it to community management consistently. As a punslinger myself, I admire their dedication and I’m glad to see that they’re regular, too:

I even saw an example of them tackling a customer’s tearable experience with the same tone. Very bowl-d of them, I must say:

So, as you can see by my little case study here – a unique product, the right situation, great branding (that goes beyond just a logo) can help even something as shunned as the electronic bidet… for now, that is. I’m sure we’ll soon get a look at the numbers to see how this global situation has affected their bottom line.

Do you plan to buy a bidet and go through a lot of shi*t together? Or do you think this whole fad is just a stinker? Let us know in the comments below!

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