Campaign Trail: Ruggable rejects restrictions in debut brand effort

Linda J. Dodson

Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.

In a world full of rules, limits and restrictions, direct-to-consumer (DTC) rug company Ruggable is positioning home as one’s private oasis to unwind and set the rules. A new campaign out this month depicts frazzled folks facing constraining situations like a crowded flight, a restaurant that doesn’t allow walk-ins and a dismal office that bans color printing. Each character then breaks free of restrictions when they encounter a washable Ruggable rug in their own homes.

Created with agency Red Antler, “Take the Floor” marks the DTC company’s first national campaign and arrives alongside a brand refresh that includes an evolved look and new positioning around the freedom that can come from being at home.

Ruggable’s concept behind the creative aims to flip the script on being homebound, embracing the flexibility of working, living and playing at home instead of lamenting on activities missed.

“The home has always been a sacred retreat, but in today’s world, our ideas of the home are much more expansive. Home is our safe haven, dance floor, gym, pottery studio [and] the source of life,” said Linda Lai, Ruggable’s CMO. “We wanted to lead with the idea that a house is only a home if we’re free to live fully and fearlessly — a space with no bounds on what makes us happy and human.”

Life’s ‘colorful, beautiful mess’

“Take the Floor” will air across linear and OTT television, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok. Static out-of-home (OOH) ads will appear in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami and San Francisco, using stills from the 60-second spot with taglines such as, “Designer rugs for working it from home” and “Washable rugs for dining without reservations.”

Ruggable is also launching an influencer-driven arm of the effort, asking creators to share their unique, “rule-breaking” activities they feel free to do from the comfort of their rugs, per details the brand shared with Marketing Dive.

Since launching in 2010, Ruggable has historically emphasized digital and social media marketing. But for its first national brand campaign, the DTC company wanted to take a more traditional media approach to reintroduce itself to consumers as it looks to redefine the home, Lai said.

“…We wanted to meet people where they are. There are still so many people watching cable and driving [or] walking to wherever they need to be. Fusing a more traditional approach with our bread-and-butter digital marketing strategy, we hope our brand shows up as a multi-surfaced, multi-layered story,” she said.

Ruggable’s creative goal was to contrast against the overly polished houses that home decor advertising often depict, according to Lai. Her team and Red Antler wanted to embrace a “colorful, beautiful mess” in the ads to convey the underlying message around freedom at home. The spot emphasizes Ruggable’s main point of differentiation which is that all its rugs are machine-washable; the ad shows a child coloring on one rug and a glass of red wine spilling on another.

A Slack channel between Ruggable’s marketing team and customers inspired the campaign’s core creative theme of breaking free from constraints, per Lai.

“In our insight dig, we realized a common theme — the more we care for our home and its decor, the more restrictive our homes can be,” Lai said. “We are, as a brand, ‘taking the floor’ as much as encouraging our customers to do so. We are taking a stand on our distinctive branding, the partners we work with, the images we choose to show (in contrast to the sea of pristine homes) [and] the stories we decide to tell.”

Ruggable’s raison d’être

Ruggable is not alone in creating messaging around home as a place of sanctuary, especially amid the pandemic that has forced most people to spend more time at home. Ahead of the holidays last fall, Ikea debuted “Every Home Should Be a Haven,” showing colorful, buff teddy bears helping a family bond in a living room fort without the bonds of life’s outside stressors.

Home as a place of sanctuary is a cheery and broad enough concept with which home furnishing companies like Ikea or Ruggable can experiment in fresh ways over the years to meet consumers’ changing habits and mindsets.

“It is the first time we don’t have a specific value-prop attached to every asset. Going beyond the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of Ruggable, we are tackling the ‘why’ of Ruggable — our raison d’être.”

Linda Lai

Chief marketing officer, Ruggable

For Ruggable, its latest campaign centers more about brand-building than its performance-minded past work, which appeared mostly on social platforms and as website ads.

“It is the first time we don’t have a specific value-prop attached to every asset. Going beyond the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of Ruggable, we are tackling the ‘why’ of Ruggable — our raison d’être,” Lai said. “This is the first time that we’ve truly taken a stance in using our brand to disrupt a very dusty category by injecting it with freedom, joy, and the beautiful mess of life.”

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