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Published: Saturday, 10/26/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

OWENS CORNING: A TOLEDO MAINSTAY FOR 75 YEARS

Pink Panther, color carry considerable value in Owens Corning marketing efforts

BY MARLENE HARRIS-TAYLOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Owens Corning paid a hefty price to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 2007 for rights to continue using the Pink Panther character in the marketing of its products for another 15 years. Here, a sign touts OC products on the bridge leading to its headquarters. Owens Corning paid a hefty price to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 2007 for rights to continue using the Pink Panther character in the marketing of its products for another 15 years. Here, a sign touts OC products on the bridge leading to its headquarters.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Owens Corning has been “in the pink” for nearly 57 years. The insulation and building-products company uses the color in its insulation products and the Pink Panther cartoon character has been featured in the company’s advertising for about 33 years.

The color is considered such an asset that it was registered as an OC trademark for insulation and the company carries the value of PINK (and its other trademarks and trade names) on its balance sheet, said Paul Smith, vice president of marketing for OC’s buildings materials business.

Company leaders at the Toledo company won’t place a specific numerical value on PINK or the Pink Panther cartoon, but OC paid a hefty price to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 2007 for exclusive rights to continue using the Pink Panther character in the marketing of its products for another 15 years.

“It’s difficult to measure the value of PINK and the panther to the company, but it is significant,” said BJ Fisher, director of strategic services for FLS Group, a Toledo-based marketing company.

For years, Owens Corning has used the color pink and the Pink Panther as a way to distinguish its insulation products from other companies. It was a “brilliant move,” Mr. Fisher said.

The challenge with building material products is that they are all very similar, he said. The Pink Panther sets the company apart and ties its products to a cartoon character who is well-known and well-loved by adults, Mr. Fisher said.

That idea of differentiating its products was the driving force behind adding the pink color to the insulation, said Joe Doherty, a former vice president of marketing communication.

“The old [yellow] product was not very good because of the process,” said Mr. Doherty who left the company in 1991.

A group of researchers was conducting trials on a new manufacturing process at the Newark, Ohio, plant in 1957. Red dye was used in part to distinguish the new insulation from other kinds of insulation.

Mr. Doherty said the pink color gave the Owens Corning sales team a way to show customers that the new insulation was different and better.

“I don’t think we ever realized the power of pink in the marketplace. It was about differentiating with customers. Then we realized we had something different on our hands — it was the color,” he said.

A wall insulation system is displayed at Owens Corning’s headquarters in downtown Toledo. For years, Owens Corning has used the color pink and the Pink Panther as a way to distinguish its insulation products from other companies' offerings. A wall insulation system is displayed at Owens Corning’s headquarters in downtown Toledo. For years, Owens Corning has used the color pink and the Pink Panther as a way to distinguish its insulation products from other companies' offerings.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

About 25 years later, the company again turned to pink to distinguish its attic and wall insulation from the competition.

In 1980, the Pink Panther cartoon character brought the color to life in OC television commercials that also featured the signature musical score composed by Henry Mancini for the Pink Panther movie franchise.

Within a decade of adopting the furry mascot, company surveys showed that shoppers preferred OC’s PINK insulation by a ratio of five to one over the closest competition.

By the end of the 1990s the edge grew to sevenfold.

The Pink Panther also helped alleviate confusion about who makes what products.

It helped people associate Owens Corning with the Pink Panther and pink insulation, instead of kitchen products originally made by the Corning glass company.

Today, the Panther is still a major part of the company’s brand and stars in television and Internet advertising, on billboards, and in print ads, said Mr. Smith, the vice president of marketing.

The company logo with the Pink Panther on it is also now used in packaging on other products like roofing shingles, he said.

“We are fortunate. We have a trademark color that is up there with Coke red,” Mr. Smith said.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-241-6091.



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