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How One Company Took YouTube to the Big Time

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The story of Orabrush, in which an unknown company becomes a giant brand approaching $10 million in annual sales in just two and a half years, proves the power of social media.

Essentially the company provides products -- a tongue cleaner and now a tongue foam -- to help in the fight against bad breath.

Orabrush was created in 2000 by biochemist Robert "Dr. Bob" Wagstaff. Years of effort failed to get the product on retailer shelves or selling through infomercials or other oral care companies.

With some new young talent schooled in social media and on board with the product's effectiveness, Orabrush launched a YouTube campaign in 2009 with its original "Bad Breath Test" video, which now has more than 16 million views.

Today Orabrush is the third-most-subscribed sponsored YouTube channel, right behind Procter & Gamble's (PG) Old Spice and Apple (AAPL). With 180,000 subscribers, it has more than 45 million views for its 100 videos. The company also has more than 310,000 fans on its Facebook page.

Orabrush has made a name for itself among such juggernauts as P&G, S.C. Johnson & Son and General Mills (GIS). Orabrush is now available in more than 20,000 stores worldwide, including through Wal-Mart (WMT) and CVS (CVS) stores in the U.S. It is a remarkable milestone for a company that used only a so-called reverse marketing strategy to advertise its products.

"The growth we have had as a company over the past two years has been truly amazing, and it is due almost entirely to our focus on using the Internet," Orabrush CEO Jeff Davis said in a January press release. "The Internet has changed every aspect of how people consume media and advertising, and the old methods and tactics just don't work as well anymore. Our 'reverse marketing' model has helped us reach a huge, untapped audience and opened a lot of doors that had previously been closed."

Davis, a former P&G executive, became Orabrush's chief executive in January 2010. He spoke with us last week about the company's success. Below are excerpts from the interview:

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