Brand: Olay Quench (Procter & Gamble)
Link: Click Here (link is to Ad-Rag which requires a small fee to view)
Target: Urban Women
The spot begins with a hand turning on the distinctive red switch of a boiler. We see steam escaping from a pipe and then see a radiator. We hear the radiator knocking as steam fills it. The ad cuts to a woman’s face as the knocks of the radiator are spelled out with Morse Code dots. The voiceover says, “It’s Winter. Whether you hear it or not, your skin is sending out an S.O.S.” The visuals change rapidly, alternating between shots of radiators and of women’s legs and dots and dashes. “Answer it with Olay Quench.” The spot cuts to a product shot of Olay Quench body lotion. “Actually helps stop the cycle of dry winter skin before it starts. Guaranteed,” the spot alternates again between radiators and legs. This time the legs and their owners look happier. “Olay Quench. This winter, love is in your hand.”
This is a simple, straightforward problem/solution ad that does its workmanlike best to use the symbol of the archaic steam radiator to stand for all of the skincare issues of winter. (Although it should be noted that this Advertising Blog saw the spot air in the first days of Spring.) The spot has good production values and in typical Procter & Gamble fashion, the Olay Quench bottle shows up less than halfway through the spot.
As conceived, this spot is solid but not exceptional and probably not worth commenting on. However, the choice of metaphor in this spot is an error and it illustrates one of the classic errors that brands can make working with advertising agencies.
The problem with this spot is that Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble has let some urban creative insert a decidedly urban metaphor in the middle of a commercial that needs to reach a wider audience. This advertising blog understands the metaphor because your advertising critic lives in Manhattan in a 100-year old co-op where the ancient steam radiator system clangs to life annually in October foreshadowing the coming of Winter. It is such a timeless ritual for urbanites that images of these radiators and the distinctive clanging sound are inextricably linked to the changing of seasons.
But for the suburbanite or rural dweller in houses constructed in the last thirty years, those radiators have no special meaning. The noise is just – noise. And the spot loses much of its power for people who do not have a direct connection to the central metaphor. Given that that young urban women are more likely to use higher-end, specialty beauty products, P&G cannot claim that it is risking the heartland to go after Olay’s young urban base. And it would be a mistake in any case to use a broad medium to reach such a narrow target.
What has happened instead is that an urban creative had a very good idea which unfortunately did not apply to the world outside pre-war apartment buildings and some very old houses. And for the majority of people with baseboard heating, the spot does not connect.
Advertising is all about the details. And it is the responsibility of the brand to make sure that the spot translates for the entire target audience it seeks to reach.
Branding Bottom Line:
Olay gives us just what we wanted. More clanging pipes.