You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …
Herbal Essences shampoo
Disclaimer: Any orgasms experienced while using Herbal Essences are entirely coincidental.
Ad Space has delved into “sex sells” advertising many times before. When I covered the Axe body spray commercials, I gave them props for just how direct they were with their “this will get you laid” message.
Well, compared to this week’s offerings, Axe was positively coy with what it was promising.
Other ads suggest their product will make you sexually attractive, leading to encounters with other sexually attractive people, leading to sexy fun times. Herbal Essences decided there was no need for all that foreplay; they just straight up go, “Our product will give you orgasms.”
They don’t say that out loud, of course, since (except maybe for folks with some very unique fetishes) their shampoo does not, in fact, cause orgasms. But the implication is as subtle as an exploding rhinoceros. Once they start talking about a “multiple organic experience”, there’s no room left for plausible deniability.
No one took this message seriously. (Well, probably some people took it seriously, since there’s always someone who takes the comedy bit at face value, but you know what I mean.) And they weren’t meant to. Herbal Essences wasn’t trying to market their shampoo as a sex aid. They were just doing the ol’ hyperbole game, so common in advertising. They want to show that shampooing with Herbal Essences feels good, and what better way to highlight and exaggerate that fact then to portray it as literally orgasmic?
On a side note, I commend these ads for not falling into a rut. While they all follow the same routine, each one has a different punchline, which keeps them feeling fresh. Sure, one of those punchlines is just a When Harry Met Sally ripoff, but the laugh I got out of the dude trying Herbal Essences more than makes up for that.