Tuesday, June 24

Advertising Frankness: Cottonelle

On the heels of a $100 million “Be kind to your behind” advertising campaign for Cottonelle, Adweek asks whether personal products are becoming too frank for consumers. The new campaign, produced by JWT (New York), skips past fluffy clouds and cuts right to reality.

Mark Wodern, brand manager for Cottonelle, thinks so. He told Adweek that consumers are telling them loud and clear that they have more permission to speak to them directly and more overtly about their behinds, cleaning, and care for their bottoms.

Although some companies are still struggling with the idea, the trend extends beyond personal care. Consumers are growing tired of being sold on sappy, happy feel good moments alone. They want to know what the product or service really does (and I don’t necessarily mean they want it to be crude).

We see it here too. The number of clients who expect their copywriting to “sell” the product or service is diminishing as smarter clients are listening to their customers. Better writing communicates the product’s message.

Sure, writing can still be fun, clever and eye-catching. But not in the way some clients used to think. Consumers are developing an aversion to messages that try to hard — to be funny, to be clever, to seem bigger than they are, and to ‘sell’ the product.

They’re right, of course. Any writing that tries too hard is likely to indicate the opposite. More than one woman has complained about the silliness of the new Always campaign. More than one shopper has figured out that adding “!!!” at the end of the “SALE” does not make it more exciting. And most people have figured out that being “one of the leading companies” simply means it’s not in bankruptcy (maybe).

Of course, before public relations professionals snicker at their advertising peers, I might mention they are no better. Especially in the resort industry, laundry lists of facts and figures about floor space litter every release. Reality check needed? Maybe.

“Honey, where do you want to stay?”

“Um, I want to stay at whatever resort has the most square feet of casino floor.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Come on. It’s not like counting cup holders in a vehicle, which is significantly more important to consumers. Although, I suppose that might be better than calling Playstation 3 “Ready to rumble. It's hot.” It might be marginally more tolerable than duplicating a list of retailers to make the company bigger than it is. And it's absolutely better than asking people to “take the risk” with their antiperspirant.



Anonymous said...

I think this kind of advertising works as long as it's true and relevant. For example, the Always campaign is neither true, nor relevant and makes every woman who sees the commercial want to scratch the marketing director's eyes out! :) I personally like the toilet paper ads - being a person who wants to be comfy and clean. I don't so much want to be told to "have a happy period" when there's nothing happy about it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Rich on 6/25/08, 10:21 AM said...

Hi Bee,

Yes, I think most would agree with you. I think people want more authenticity in advertising and some shops seem better equipped to deliver. I also think this is what the golden age delivered before the 80s and 90s mucked it up. :)


Rich on 10/14/08, 12:19 PM said...

More words:

There is a lot of buzz about Cottonelle's newest advertisement, which you can see here.


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