Monday, July 18, 2011

Recipe for Disaster

2 tbs cuteness
1 tsp cartoon animals
2 cups gross imagery
pinch of euphemisms

If you like this recipe, you can make it over and over and over again. Which is exactly what P&G has been doing for the past few years with their cartoon bear Charmin toilet paper (oh, I’m sorry, “bath tissue”) commercials. For those of you that haven’t seen it, here’s the most recent one:

I would love to know the thought process behind this concept. I imagine it went something like this:

Team member 1: I have this great idea. It’s cutting edge. Ahead of the times. Innovative. (cut to team members' approving expressions, already convinced by these buzzwords) We’re going to forgo euphemisms, be gross, and talk about the issues people REALLY have with toilet paper. Forget that “Be Kind to Your Behind” stuff our competitors are doing. It’s about to get real.

Team member 2: That’s a little too real for my liking, and we’d alienate customers. No one wants edgy toilet paper. (sidenote: I disagree. I do want edgy toilet paper, and if your commercial tells me your product is edgy, chances are I’ll buy it). Make it more wholesome. (Team member 2 must not have heard the buzzwords)

From there, I imagine someone decided that if it were bears instead of people, it would be cute, instead of gross. Charmin could still “get real”, while maintaining their wholesome, family friendly image. They were wrong. It's still gross. I want to know how this concept was approved by an entire advertising team. More importantly, I want to know why P&G is STILL making these. P&G, Charmin, I may not be your target customer, and I’m sure normal consumers don’t make so many of their purchasing decisions based on commercial quality (at least not consciously), but you may be the only brand that I will not buy because of a bad commercial.

In researching this blog post, I realized that Charmin can do better, and they have. Here’s a different ad that most of you probably haven’t seen.

I have my qualms with this clip, but it comes from what was almost a good idea. It's definitely relatable. As a college student, living in the dorms and using the cheap, standard issue toilet paper I imagine they have in every dorm, and probably most jails, I enjoyed going home to the luxury of good toilet paper. And I don’t hate the references to common culture (coffee, curry). In fact, I usually love when commercials take a piece of shared American culture and play with it. But if you’re going to do this, commit to it. Add a little more humor, a little less cute (because cute went out the window when you mentioned Curry in an ad about toilet paper), and PLEASE get rid of that bear running across the bottom.

I realize this was a…unique commercial campaign to start with, but it’s been bothering me for years. I’d even go so far as to say it was the inspiration for this blog, so it was time to put my thoughts on (digital) paper. Have you been watching these commercials thinking the same thing? Or, and please, I hope you’re out there cause I’m dying to hear your thoughts, do you love these commercials and think they’re cute and hilarious?

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