Could Noam Chomsky, Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Ai WeiWei, Ricky Gervais, Peter Tatchell, Malcolm Gladwell, Peter Singer and friends please move over to make room for a powerful new voice in the arena of social debate…Angel Soft bog roll

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this blog was the one that called bullshit on the Andrex #ScrunchOrFold debacle. For those unfamiliar with that bold work, it was a campaign which sought to engage the British pubic in a national debate about whether people folded up the bog roll or scrunched it into a little ball when they wiped their arse after taking a shit. Although this sounds like a joke conjured up in the fevered nightmares of Charlie Brooker, it was a real campaign, I promise you. Ever since then I’ve believed that #ScrunchOrFold was the sound of the bottom of the idiot barrel being scraped and the only way was up. Surely it was advertising Ground Zero and from this hilariously imbecilic milestone we could learn and build and begin to take ads to a better place.

Oh, how wrong I was. While, at the time, I’d found it almost impossible to believe that sentient adults had convinced themselves and each other that the public wanted to get involved in a social conversation about how they wipe their arses, the campaign did have one thing going for it: it was a very relevant topic for a toilet roll brand to be talking about. This week I came across a campaign which made #ScrunchOrFold seem sensible. The ad above, for American bog roll brand Angel Soft, centres around the love that kids of single mums feel for their parent. As you can see, many of the interviewees are close to tears as they talk about the amazing job their mums did to bring them up single-handed. They are grateful and gracious as they talk about the hardships their mums went through, the sacrifices they made and the unconditional love they were showered with. It’s poignant and moving and it reminds me that while mums have the toughest job in the world, being a single mum must be off the scale. It’s a beautiful message and one we’d all do well to remember, whether we’re the children of one or two parents. Apparently, it’s upset lots of men who think it underplays and undermines the important role fathers play in bringing up their kids. I find that a bit weird and over-sensitive (do you seriously need validation from an advert to put value on the role you play in your children’s lives?). However…and this is where my issue comes in…WHY THE FUCK AM I BEING GIVEN LIFE LESSONS BY A BOG ROLL BRAND??!

As I’ve written on here many times in the past, I’m all for marketing that does some good in the world, that has an effect beyond just flogging shit. I’m proud to be part of an industry that often uses its talents to make the world a better place. But sometimes a piece like this comes along, a piece so cynical and cack-handed, it makes me want to vomit (perhaps then I could use the product to wipe up the puke). Now I get that they’ve given themselves permission to play in this area with the ‘Be soft, Be strong’ positioning. But the bottom line is, what kind of role do we want and need a toilet roll brand to play in our lives? For me, it’s to provide comfortable and effective bottom cleaning after a number 2. Not to provoke a debate about how that bottom cleaning is achieved. And absolutely not to provide mawkish commentary on social issues. In wonderful words of one of the You Tube commenters, “I’d rather print this video frame by frame and wipe my arse with it than use your product.”

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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