Is it just me, or has advertising reached a new low? As the saying goes, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intellect of the American public” — and recent commercials are evidence of just how many advertisers believe that maxim.
I’m referring to a batch of commercials — and not just from one single brand — for bathroom hygiene products; to wit, toilet paper and related items. Do we really need a family of animated bears explaining either 1) how you know when you’ve cleaned yourself thoroughly; 2) how many sheets of TP to use; and 3) how using their brand of TP can keep underwear clean? (That last one is so disgusting that I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.)
And how about that other family, this one animated with creepy excitement, who makes a competition of seeing who can come up with the best name for the toilet-paper-and-personal-wipes combo? Or the spot showing a number of lovely women, all dressed in some shade of purple for some reason, educating us on the virtues of how their TP can makes us feel clean, confident, and comfortable. What’s next? Commercials that teach how to use a tissue to blow your nose?
But that’s not all. It seems that advertisers have a fixation with explaining these kinds of products in painful, painstaking detail. And it doesn’t stop with people products. How about the kitty litter that explains how it’s not only better at dealing with a kitty’s #1 issues but also with #2. Except that the commercial can’t find a creative way to express that (although I believe that I just did). Instead, the voiceover describes both #1 and #2 in excruciatingly frank language. Ugh.
I’m a big fan of smart, creative advertising; in fact, that’s what I write for a living. I often find edgy, memorable, clever ads to be brilliant; I’ll even subscribe to the “shock and awe” approach when it truly is awesome. But this obsession with ads that explain to us the importance of these hygiene products — and how to use them — fit into none of these categories.
Makes me long for the days of Mr. Whipple.
© 2013 Claudia Grossman