Is Andrex’s ‘Scrunch or Fold’ campaign a watershed?
Let’s face it. No one is in charge.
We humans are social creatures and most of us tend to follow the crowd. Fashions come and go as we hustle en masse towards the latest fad or innovation, rarely pausing to look back, take stock of where we are and where we are going.
Only twenty five years ago, pretty much the only personal information we had in the public domain was our name, address and phone number in the Phone Book. And even then it was only shared with people living locally.
Now, we can not only easily broadcast personal information, but also images and opinions.
To marketers this ‘free’ media, combined with the potential of peer advocacy, seems like a godsend. But like so many powerful things, it can be very dangerous if misused.
Brands that entertain us, provide us with enabling or experience enhancing products, or help us say something about ourselves are at a distinct advantage when it comes to engaging with us online.
But it’s not a level playing field. For example, it’s far easier for a cool beer brand to start a conversation about ‘good times’ than it is for a third tier bleach brand to get people talking and sharing anecdotes about ‘epic bathroom cleaning’ moments.
Indeed, last year Femfresh found that while feminine hygiene might be an issue, it’s not one that people particularly want to talk about on Facebook.
Great ideas have the frustrating habit of coming to us at the most inconvenient times. Generally they occur when we are relaxed – in a lovely warm bath, the moment just before you fall asleep or even when you are sat upon the toilet.
This phenomenon might explain the latest offering from Andrex.
Perhaps noting that Kit-Kat Chunky had enjoyed success with a voting mechanic when launching their new bars and that Marmite had challenged us to decide whether we were Lovers or Haters, they’ve launched what some have called ‘the worst advert ever’.
In short, they want to start a debate about how you wipe your arse. Do you ‘Scrunch? Or do you ‘Fold’?
The campaign has drawn a response; people are talking about it, people are tweeting about it and even people like me are blogging about it. On the whole, reactions have been a mix of horror and incredulity.
However, despite the overwhelming negativity, some would still qualify the impact as a success. After all, it shows that the campaign has raised awareness and achieved cut through.
To this I would counter, “Maybe, but it hasn’t made me more likely to buy Andrex”.
Defecation isn’t a life choice. In the 21st century, in a developed nation, buying toilet paper is not a discretionary spend. One would have thought that Andrex’s challenge was more about convincing shoppers to buy their product rather than downtrade to cheaper, lower quality brands.
Fame or infamy?
If they were a new brand to the category, looking to make a name for themselves as an alternative choice, one might understand such a bizarre campaign.
But this is Andrex.
If Family Fortunes asked 100 people to name a toilet paper brand they would top the list. They are to toilet paper what McVities are to biscuits, what Heinz are to ketchup and what Kellogg’s are to breakfast cereals.
They have built up fantastic brand equity with their ‘Soft, strong and very, very long’ slogan, their iconic Labrador puppy and ‘Puppy Points’ loyalty scheme. It’s an enviable position, but one they risk flushing down the pan with such ill-judged campaigns.
The open nature of modern society has helped blur the boundary between fame and infamy. Having a load of insects poured over your face in order to win a meal for the camp may briefly raise the profile of a minor celebrity, but mere chatter doesn’t lead to sales, and brands ought to aspire to longevity too.
If in twenty-five years we’ve gone from having our numbers in the phone book to openly discussing how we wipe our backsides, perhaps the true purpose of ‘Scrunch or Fold’ is to act as a watershed, both for brands who seek buzz for the sake of it and those of us who shudder at what might be on the agenda in 2038 if we carry on down this path.
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