Brand: Colgate Max Fresh with mini-Breath Strips
Link: Click Here
Target: Party Monsters
A nightclub erupts in screams as a dinosaur-looking red monster (a la Godzilla) crashes the party. Then the monster starts spraying the crowd with red liquid from his mouth. The voiceover announces new Colgate Max Fresh with mini Breath Strips. Then the crowd relaxes and smiles and the monster becomes the life of the party, blowing sparkles in the shape of hearts as he parties with the clubbers. Ends with the tagline “So Fresh – It’s almost scary.”
Okay, we’ll give this spot points in three areas -
- It is memorable - in the ‘train-wreck-in-slow-motion’ kind of way.
- The brand is repeatedly reinforced - although Colgate may live to regret this.
- It is ownable - It is very difficult to imagine anyone else in the category rushing in to copy this executional style.
When Colgate introduced Colgate TOTAL with triclosan (which was the first toothpaste to fight Gingivitis), they were able to leverage this modest product improvement into a superiority claim and take “prevention” away from CREST as a brand positioning. Colgate became the category leader and in short order, the 800-pound gorilla of oral care. By increasing their professional progams against dentists and following up with numerous variations on the TOTAL theme they’ve managed to keep this equity and maintain cateory leadership.
So what happens to dominant brands that are category leaders? Instead of sticking to their knitting, they tend to look for new worlds to conquer. And this is what often leads them into disastrous mistakes. Do you remember when everyone was wearing Timberland Boots? It was because Timberland was the expert in waterproof. Those boots were ugly, they were for construction workers, they were bulky and awkward, but it was amazing who wore them. When they became a fashion statement, Timberland followed the fashion, forgot what they were about and started making boots and clothing that were not waterproof. Then Timberland lost their expertise in the mind of the consumer and with it their market dominance. Now Timberland is just another Tommy Hilfiger in the deep recesses of our fashion vocabulary.
This is where Colgate is headed with this spot. After decades of building trust and credibility for their brands, they start to associate Colgate with a party animal. Here are the mistakes by the numbers:
- Off-Strategy for the Brand – Sorry, Colgate, but “Max Fresh” does not have a different spot in the consumers brain from “TOTAL” – your brand is COLGATE. Colgate stands for prevention. This spot runs totally against the credible, effective image you have painstakingly built for your brand.
- Nightmarish Execution – As a brand manager, your role is to keep your agency from spending millions of dollars advertising to people below 14th street in Manhattan. With this execution, Colgate has allowed a kitschy, retro-godzilla execution aimed at a very specific group of people who are NOT aspirational for much of its user base. Colgate may say that “Max Fresh” has a different target than “Total” but I say again – the brand is Colgate. When you put your brand out there you are talking to ALL of your users.
- There is no end benefit – other than the end of the commercial, that is. What is the internal logic of this spot? Does the monster’s liquid breath contain breath strips? The cutaway to the product shot shows breath strips suspended in red gel. But does that mean that the clubbers are breathing in something that just came from the monster’s mouth? Or are they just relieved that instead of killing them he has just vomited on them? The voiceover does gives a credible end benefit for the product (fresher breath) and permission to believe (mini-breath strips) but nothing in the rest of the spot reinforces this. This commercial, just like a Japanese horror flick, has a voiceover that bears no relationship to the visuals.
Branding Bottom Line -
Colgate tries to use a monster for a campy spot and gets real horror instead.