Thursday, 1 October 2009

Poo at Paul's House. What were they thinking?

Now you must have seen it. It's an advert on mainstream TV in the UK, aired in prime time designed to sell Glade's Touch 'n' Fresh, by SC Johnson. My children came running to tell me about you could say it sort of worked by grabbing their attention. However, they all thought it was very strange. "Why doesn't he do a poo in his own house?" "What's so special about his friend Paul's house?" And during my ad hoc, fumbled explanation I found myself extolling the virtues of the product. "Well, he thinks his own toilet smells bad, and Paul's toilet smells nice, which is why he wants to go there." I said. Looking at the expression on my children's faces, I had to also say that this is a very weird advert and they should try their best to forget about it.

When I actually saw the advert (embedded below) I thought it was some sort of spoof, but unfortunately it isn't. It also looks as if it has been dubbed over, and reminiscent of those great Chinese programmes of The Water Margin and Monkey...for those of you old enough to remember. I always like to try and understand the thought process and group discussion amongst the marketing and agency people of how they come up with the finished product. This one is quite baffling. Meercat - market pretty easy, a bit of a punt, which struck lucky; however, you could end up going very deep with the Glade Touch 'n' Fresh.

Basically, he is saying to his mum that their toilet stinks and she should stop being so lazy and go and clean it properly. an air freshener. Ideally do both. The fact that he wants to go to Paul's is a little more worrying. Is their toilet such a nice place to sit and think (you know that one then) that he needs to go there. How far is it to Paul's? Is his rucksack filled with provisions for the journey? If so, he may not make it in time. If he's desperate, then he needs to get a wiggle on and get there as fast as possible. So, again, why the rucksack? This shows foresight and planning and makes me think there is another motive for going to Paul's house. I think the poo is his cover for something else. Anyway, if he genuinely does need to go, it appears that he does complete his mission successfully in a gleaming loo... but how come his mum also ends up in Paul's loo? Maybe she was suspicious about the rucksack too?

Then I found out there was a similar ad released prior to this one. The plot of the story is just as weird. Little chap on the loo, who must have been eating Indian food the day before as it is him making the smell this time. But oh no! His toilet's air freshener has run out, so he makes a little bit too much fuss about it. Anyway, he attracts attention of an adult, which I don't think can be his natural mother, who wants to know what the matter is. I think most children would say "the air freshener has run out." But not in this instance, that would be far too easy. This little boy draws a picture of the air freshener, with "empty" written on it and passes it under the door. This means he must have got off the loo to do this...but once the adult comes back with a refill, there he is, back on the job. Anyway, they all have a good laugh about it in the end.

The positioning, for me, is beyond weird. In fact, I would recommend those involved have some form of psychological testing carried out, as it may reveal some underlying form of childhood toilet trauma...of course, it may not.

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