The Orabrush was the brainchild of Dr. Bob Wagstaff, whose service in the Philippines brought him into contact with missionaries complaining about how their bad breath was impacting their ability to to communicate effectively with the local population. Dr. Wagstaff, who has a pHD in engineering, had previously created a device for cleaning off chicken skins that, when applied to people’s tongues, seemed to greatly reduce the occurrence of bad breath. Seeing that it was helping with the efforts of the missionaries, he realized he had stumbled onto a product that could have great appeal to the masses. Thus was born the Orabrush.
At first, Dr. Wagstaff tried producing a conventional infomercial that cost him about $40k. Results were dismal, producing less than 100 orders. He tried putting the Orabrush on store shelves on consignment…but consumers weren’t educated enough to be interested. They didn’t know that 90% of bad breath comes from the tongue.
In the Summer of 2009, Dr. Wagstaff teamed up with Jeffrey Harmon and Austin Craig, marketing students at BYU, located in his hometown of Provo, Utah. At that point, they had almost no budget, so they decided that social media was their best bet. At that time, YouTube had just begun selling ad space, allowing advertisers to buy keywords, so competition was relatively minimal. It was still a wide-open marketplace. So they decided to self-produce a video featuring the charismatic Craig, known for his hot-headed and opinionated office rants, raving on-camera about bad breath.
According to Craig, now known as “The Orabrush Guy”, “Jeffrey dove into the YouTube details and focused for weeks and months on creating a video strategy with a minimal ad buy. It wasn’t long before we were making more than we were spending, putting it back into the company, and we realized it was scalable. By rolling profits back into video, we got impressive metrics. Subscribers on YouTube grew, Facebook followers increased, we became viable to investors.”
Their team included head writer Joel Ackerman, a roommate of Jeffrey and Austin studying screenwriting, and another friend who was studying filmmaking. Said Craig, “We had everybody living under one roof…which made it easy to get things done.”
Their first video cost $500. Austin wasn’t even remotely professional as an actor…just a funny guy. They paid him $100. The entire crew consisted of Craig on camera, one camera guy, Jeffery directing and wrangling props, and Dr. Bob holding the mic. Jeffery had been analyzing YouTube videos that had been successful, noting that the most popular videos were personality driven, fast-talking, and fast cutting, so that’s what they went for. The first video was a hit, but not overnight, and not by chance. According to Craig,
“A lot of videos, through sheer comedic genius go viral, but that wasn’t quite the case…it was almost anti-viral. It was very methodical…with endless optimization and research…we wanted the content to be compelling…it was more than just intuition…we tested jokes, tags, and titles to get the results we needed, tweaking when necessary. The reason it was successful is that Jeffrey worked so hard on perfecting the plan. Planning on creating a viral video is like buying a lottery ticket. The real key to success is creating something methodically, something repeatable…asking questions about why things work.”
That first video has since reached over 19.3 million views. If you haven’t already, take a look:
“We produced content methodically, trying to build the brand. We started doing a video almost every week. They featured a man in a tongue costume. This web series created a loyal audience that subscribed and came back every week. A viral video will get you a lot of views, a series will get you a lot of subscribers. So when we want to introduce a new product, we have 180,000 subscribers who will be there to see what we have to say.”
“We still self-produce. We are a video company as much as a goods company. We’ve used simple equipment. SLR cameras and Final Cut Pro, and recently switched to Adobe Premiere.
The price of hardware now is so little that people can make a video for free, or close to it. So if that’s what you have available to you, that’s where you can start. The most important thing is creativity and a strategy to make it happen.”
Today they have about 107 videos on their Orabrush YouTube channel, and they’re selling millions of Orabrushes annually. They’ve also launched the tongue foam, which is basically a toothpaste alternative…something in between paste and mouthwash, that fights bad breath bacteria and promotes good breath bacteria.
They’ve recently launched a dog tongue cleaner, called the Ora-Pup, with its own collection of about 30 videos, which they crowd funded via Indiegogo. Thanks to their videos, they pre-sold over a million before the official launch.
“We wouldn’t have a company without that video,” said Craig. “That was our beginning. We have some pretty significant knowledge, now. If people want to grow their business, they really do need to be tracking. From the time that people become aware, to the time they check out, marketers need to analyze the whole process. You can’t start big. Start small, then optimize. Figure out what’s going to work without it costing you a ton of money. If people are looking for new opportunities to grow their business, get in before there’s heavy competition. We got into Youtube and Indiegogo early. If you can get into a new platform and figure it out before anybody else, you’ll have an edge.”