Orabrush: WSJ Fighting Canine Halitosis, Orabrush Goes to the Dogs

FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL – February 25, 2013, 11:00 AM ET

By Timothy Hay

Is Orabrush a small-town company that makes tongue scrapers, or a digital marketing guru that has blazed new trails in e-commerce brand-building?

The company says it is both, and this week will extend its strange business model even further with the launch of a new product–and accompanying YouTube channel–aimed at ameliorating dogs’ stinky breath.

Orabrush’s new Orapup tongue scraper for dogs.

If the new channel, Orapup, performs like the company’s first YouTube endeavor, it will prove that big budgets and high-production values are sometimes no match for a few creative people sitting around together in a room–even if that room is in Provo, Utah, a town known less for tinseltown glamor than for Brigham Young University and a Mormon missionary-training center.

That channel, used to promote the company’s tongue scrapers for human, easily brushed past sponsored channels created by Apple, Walt Disney and other household names, and now boasts some 53 million views.

A couple of years later, the Orabrush channel–with its dozens of skits and short, serialized programs–is still out in front of the likes of Sony and Pixar, Chief Executive Jeff Davis said.

The efforts of the small company’s marketing department–later augmented by reams of user-submitted videos–pushed sales of the tongue scraper for humans through the roof, he added.

Now Orabrush has developed a tongue scraper for dogs, and has asked its marketing department–12 or so people who are 30 and under–to once again work that magic.

The dog-related tongue-scraping channel has been up for a few months, and the early signs are encouraging, the CEO said.

Jeff Davis, chief executive of Orabrush.

“We already have more views than [sponsored YouTube channels by] Iams and Purina,” Davis said. “We also already have more than 30,000 orders.”

The Orapup tongue scraper is designed in such a way that the pet owner merely holds it out, and the dog cleans its own tongue by thoroughly licking the gadget. The set-up has opened the gate to a practically unlimited number of cute videos that can be uploaded by the company or the users.

“We use a reverse-marketing model. We create awareness online, then think about distribution second,” Davis said, adding that this week the company will begin distributing.

The company has raised about $2 million from True Ventures and 2X Products Consumer Growth Partners, the CEO said, and has banked an additional $750,000 from other sources, including crowdfunding.

At the company–which is one part tongue-scraper design company, one part indie film studio–optimism about the new venture is running high.

“Pet owners are awesome,” the CEO said.

Write to Timothy Hay at timothy.hay@dowjones.com