Slices of life: Cascade cleans up, Febreeze doesn’t wash.

In Ad Creative on October 31, 2009 at 7:27 pm

They’re not as sexy to talk about as beer and cars, but that doesn’t mean household product commercials should get a free pass! Two recent spots for such products caught my attention. They are both in the “slice of life” mold, which in my opinion succeeds or fails based on how well the situation resonates with the audience. In this case, I think we have one of each. Let’s start with the positive.images

Cascade Dishwashing Detergent successfully captures a warm and recognizable little moment and clearly reinforces the product benefit in the process. A dad is having fun with his son as they try to load a “record” number of dishes into the dishwasher. The interplay between the two is fun, and leads to mom celebrating the product benefit: Cascade gets dishes clean even when the machine is fully loaded. Fun, convincing, and a little bit memorable – not bad for a low-interest category.

Febreeze, however, isn’t so lucky. More like “yucky.” In this spot, Mom notes her son’s smelly room as friends are on the way over.  Now, spraying a little Febreeze probably isn’t a bad idea. But the spot ventures into give-me-a-break territory when mom suggests (no doubt reading the words straight from the lame creative brief) that they “wash it” with Febreeze.

It may have sounded good in the strategy meeting, but in reality, it’s a heavy-handed attempt that creates mild disgust the first time you hear it, then continues to occupy your mind with an “ew” reaction for the rest of the spot. I don’t care what they might be able to claim about how the product performs scientifically speaking, but to the vast majority of us, spraying something on something else doesn’t wash it, it merely covers it.

It doesn’t help when the stinky son mouths more gag-worthy dialogue to his young female friends: “I like to keep things fresh.” Makes me want to Febreeze his mouth out with soap.


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