In the beginning of January 2012, Fuller Brush Company announced that “this was a landmark year … we have devoted a significant amount of time and effort toward creating new strategies to better serve our customers” and “refreshed our branding to meet the needs of today’s consumers.” Last week, after declaring only last month that it had “rebooted,” Fuller filed chapter 11.
Fuller’s use of the word “reboot” – meaning the restarting of an electronic device – for a company that sells manual brushes which have been replaced largely by newer (and often electronic) technology – was ironic, and as it turns out, unfortunate.
Fuller is obviously an example of a “zombie” brand and industry. The brand is inextricably tied to door-to-door sales (the “Fuller Brush Men”) from an ancient era when wives were at home and people actually would answer the door to a stranger. Not only is the brand a “zombie” but the industry is headed toward death as well. Speaking from personal perspective as the “managing director” of housekeeping in my home, I have never even seen a Fuller brush and in fact, don’t even own a brush.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a company spokesmen admitted, “we’ve fallen off the map a little” and “haven’t kept up with all the things we should have been doing.”
Fuller’s January “reboot” press release strikes a familiar and desperate chord. If you have to tell your customers that you are ‘spending time trying to better serve them,’ chances are, you aren’t. If you have to tell people that you have ‘spent significant time and effort developing new strategies,’ it’s because your strategies don’t speak for themselves.
Number one way to avoid zombification: Don’t tell people – show them. protein mass spectrometry