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Native deodorant ‘cancels’ pumpkin spice latte in New York Times ad


By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

August 15, 2021 | 6 min read

Personal care brand Native has taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times to not only announce the retirement of its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte product line but to poke fun at the much-maligned and much-revered fall beverage. The ad kicks off a two-week comedy roast-inspired campaign designed to drive brand awareness and get fans excited about Native’s newest coffeehouse-scented products.


Native bids adieu to its once-beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte deodorant

Native, the personal care brand that’s gained popularity in recent years for its all-natural, cruelty-free ingredients, today launched a new campaign poking fun at the pumpkin spice latte, a fall fan favorite turned meme-worthy token of Ugg boots-wearing “basics.”

To commemorate its own foray into — and departure from — the pumpkin spice latte craze, Native has taken out a full-page ad in today’s New York Times. The satirical ad, brought to life by Native’s in-house creative team and its content partner Obedient, features images of the brand’s Pumpkin Spice Latte deodorant — a popular product that its website claims is “made with sweet and cozy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove” — under a bold tagline reading: “You have bad taste.”

“We had a good four year run with Pumpkin Spice Latte and it was fun while it lasted. However, it feels like perhaps Pumpkin Spice Latte has had its moment in the spotlight and it’s time for us to move on and brew up something fresh and original,” Meng Li, the brand’s vice president of marketing tells The Drum. “We started talking about canceling the Pumpkin Spice Latte launch this season and then it morphed into an idea of literally canceling Pumpkin Spice Latte as a funny marketing campaign concept. From there the idea evolved into the ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte Gets Roasted’ Campaign.”

In the copy-heavy ad (à la Oatly’s latest stunt), Native admits its own mistake: “When we first created a Pumpkin Spice Latte deodorant, we had no idea that we were creating a monster. Our vision: a one-season-wonder. The result? Four, fall-consuming years of pumpkin spice hogging the spotlight. And although we’ve had a fun time being gluttons for gourds, our highly-trained noses could scents that our Pumpkin Spice Latte products were on the brink of oversmelling their welcome.”

Native ad in the NYT

In the ad, which features Native’s signature clean, straightforward visuals and a bold typeface, Native announces it will be phasing out its Pumpkin Spice Latte product line beginning Monday. Making that decision, says creative director Mia Croft, was not necessarily easy. “The biggest challenge we faced for the campaign was trusting ourselves as a brand to admit when we are ready to move on from a well-loved fragrance,” she says. “Our Pumpkin Spice Latte fragrance has been a fan favorite, but we were aware that it has been the butt of the joke for too long. We know the consumer wants something new, and Native delivers that experience in a delightful way.”

But the sunsetting of the cringey product line won’t go down without a bit of fanfare. Native is inviting consumers to “help us burn our Pumpkin Spice Latte collection to the ground” by partaking in a digital comedy roast. Fans can follow the brand on Instagram and Twitter to see daily roasts or text ROASTED to 29071 to get roasts sent directly to their phones via text message. Fans are encouraged to submit their own burns, too. Plus, participants will be first in line to hear about Native’s new line of scents debuting soon, which Li says is “inspired by the coffeehouse experience.”

Li notes that text message-based marketing initiatives like these are becoming an increasingly important part of the brand’s efforts. After seeing impressive results with the channel over the past year, Native aims to use the new campaign to help grow its SMS community. In general, Li says the brand is “diversifying its marketing spend” and testing more offline channels, which she believes will enhance top-of-funnel objectives. “[We are] shifting away from a sole focus on direct response/conversion and investing in more brand awareness marketing. As the brand continues to grow, we want to continue to reach new consumers and break through the clutter.”

Pumpkin spice latte meme

These efforts could also help the brand continue parent company Proctor & Gamble’s hot streak. The company’s 2021 fourth quarter earnings, made public July 30, revealed impressive growth. The company’s net sales jumped 7% year-over-year, reaching $18.9bn, surpassing Wall Street projections of $18.41bn. It recorded a net income for the quarter of $2.9bn, compared with $2.8bn for the same period last year. Brand marketing initiatives like Native’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Gets Roasted Campaign, which will run through the end of August, could help keep P&G sales trending upward.

Ultimately, Li says, “We wanted to create some entertaining content to hopefully make our consumers smile and have a few good chuckles. It’s been a long and difficult year and half with the pandemic — we could all use some laughs right about now.”

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