When you think about home paint you don’t really think of groundbreaking marketing campaigns. Instead, images come up of dirty overalls, messy houses, and just a whole lot of work.

However, that is exactly what Dutch Boy paint did. They created a groundbreaking marketing campaign and I bet it’s nothing like what you’re imagining at the moment.

The Big Bad Marketing Shift


About 15 years ago something dramatic occurred in the business world. The marketing game changed fundamentally.

Up until the early 2000s, there was a well-defined marketing playbook that everyone used and it was working wonderfully. That playbook was as follows:

  1. Create a new product
  2. Add some sort of gimmick to that product
  3. Take a ton of money and spend it on TV ads
  4. Have millions of people see the ad
  5. Trust that a small percentage of the people who saw said TV ad would try the product
  6. Bring in more money from sales than you spent on TV ads.

Here’s the problem. That doesn’t work anymore, and believe it or not almost two decades later some people still haven’t figured that out.

How Advertising Killed Marketing

This playbook, invented by the big brands, was so lucrative and “easy” to use that everyone wanted a piece of it. Every brand knew that all they had to do was get on TV and have enough eyeballs take in their offer they would make it.

The thing is those eyeballs didn’t know where to look anymore.

There were so many ads, advertising so many similar things, to the same people, that those people simply closed their eyes.

That combined with the emergence of social media (a much better attention grabber) meant that people were just not paying attention to TV anymore. And even if they were, they didn’t care about your ads.

The playbook broke.

Enter Dutch Boy Paint – “The Hip Kid on The Block”


To be honest, I have never heard of Dutch Boy Paint before.

I am not what you would call a “frequent” paint buyer. I am not a homeowner, and I’ve never before had to paint a room.

However, I am already a Dutch Boy Paint fan, and when I do buy my first home and have to get to painting I will most definitely be buying their paint.


Because they have taken the paint can, a boring, and frankly terribly designed object, and made it much better and easier to use. They did this by adding these three things:

  1. An actually usable handle like the one you’d find on a jug of orange juice
  2. An easy to open and close lid (no more screwdriver magic)
  3. Add an easy-pour spout to the “can” for spill-free pours

Here’s a fun video that they put together to showcase this:

When I look at a “can” of Dutch Boy paint next to any other paint can now I can’t see why they were ever designed the way they were. It’s a terrible way to use paint, and frankly just lazy in terms of problem-solving!

Great Marketing is Built into the Product

If you are at this point wondering why you are reading about paint and what that has to do with marketing today vs marketing 20 years ago, think about that sentence.

20 years ago a company like Behr would have taken a few million dollars and put them to use on a 30-second ad spot in the middle of an episode of Friends.

The idea being, that there are enough people watching that some of them are bound to need to buy paint and it might as well be Behr.

Today, you are reading a blog post about a paint can because Dutch Boy took the paint can looked at it from the user’s perfective and said “how can we make this AMAZING?” and went out and did it.

They put an easier to use handle on it. They added an easy to open and close lid. And finally, they add a spout that would make sure that you don’t have to clean up paint off the floor.

Dutch Boy did such a good job that we are now talking about it. I am so impressed with their thoughtfulness that I am writing a blog post about it that will be read by thousands of people.

They built the marketing in the product!

Remember the video commercial from a few lines up. Did you notice how good it was? That’s becuase it’s easy to make a really great commercial, when the product has already done the work!

How Can You Emulate Dutch Boy

A product shouldn’t be handed over to the marketing team after it’s already designed, it should be created with the help of the marketing team.

This is what Dutch Boy did. They worked with their marketing team to figure out how they can make painting, and the paint can, better for the user.

The marketing team went out there and did what they do best. They spoke with consumers, understood their problems and desires, and addressed them. However, in this case, these problems and desires weren’t addressed in a TV ad, they were addressed in the product itself.

To channel your inner Dutch Boy next time you are coming up with a new product or service get together with your marketing team beforehand. Explain the goal of the product or service and let the marketers do what they do…find what people really want and what will sell!

Next, build the product or service with the findings of your marketing department in mind. If you do this and create a truly groundbreaking product, that makes your customers experience 100 times better, you won’t need to have millions of dollars for a TV ad.

People who care will write blogs, make social media posts, tell their friends and family, and shout from the rooftops about your products. Those people will try out your new product or service because they trust their friends, fall in love themselves, and in turn tell even more people.

This is how Dutch Boy Paint won the marketing game and why they don’t have to spend tons of money on advertising. They built the marketing of their product into the product itself.