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 …
“Yes, it is a real product, and yes, it really works.”
This … is a brilliant ad.
Not only is it funny and memorable (a high enough goal for any commercial) but it also overcomes the unique challenges posed by its product.
When you’re advertising toilet paper, you don’t have to explain what toilet paper is. People are assumed to know that already, so you can talk about its softness and quilted texture without needing to go into the mechanics of the thing. Poo Pourri can’t rely on that; its advertising must not only sell people on the benefits of Poo Pourri, but also educate them on just what Poo Pourri is.
Which gives rise to the next challenge. There’s really no way to describe Poo Pourri’s function without talking explicitly about poop. And not just poop existing, but the process of poop falling from your body into the toilet water beneath you.
Talk about that too graphically, and you risk grossing out your potential customers (and the people most likely to want something like Poo Pourri are also the most likely to feel such disgust). But talk about it too coyly, and you risk viewers not grasping what it is Poo Pourri does.
And for one more challenge on top of all that: between the unusualness of Poo Pourri and the tendency for poop to be the subject of jokes, any ad risks people thinking Poo Pourri must be some made up product for a parody commercial; it couldn’t be real.
But this ad rises to those challenges beautifully. It describes the function of Poo Pourri in frank and graphic detail, but through a spokesperson who radiates hyper-posh sophistication, even as they discuss whether “your skidmarks are as tenacious as mine”. The joke, then, is not “Ha ha! People pooping! That’s funny!”, which could come across as crass and turn people off. Rather the joke’s that someone’s maintaining dignity and sophistication even as they discuss their pooping habits. And if you’re someone who’d be interested in buying Poo Pourri, there’s probably some part of that you can relate to, letting you laugh at yourself without feeling attacked, which is a great way to lure people in.
And as for people thinking Poo Pourri must be fake, they anticipate that response, take the direct approach to dealing with it (“Yes, it is a real product”), and direct skeptics to check out their Amazon reviews for proof.
Given what it is they’re selling, I’m not sure it would be possible to come up with a better ad.
Hey all, Ad Space will be taking next week off, as I’ll still be celebrating the Christmas holiday. To tide you over, here’s a bonus commercial, where Poo Pourri assures you that everybody poops … even Santa.