We have an Amazon Alexa (aka “the robot”) in our kitchen that plays music when we ask it to “play Christmas music” or play “Keith Urban radio.” Alexa can also play the free version of Pandora and it will retrieve the last Pandora station you listened to (maybe Broadway show tunes or Maroon 5).
Because we have the free Pandora version, every fifteen minutes or so, a radio commercial will play. We might hear from the local car dealership or learn that Pizza Hut is having a special.
Today, Leslie was home, blissfully listening to Tim McGraw radio, when the following commercial came on:
My hiney is so Charmin shiny!
You can certainly put whatever melody you want to those six magic words. It’s not going to make it any better. What advertising genius came up with that? One online comment stated: “I am a brand loyalist to Charmin but this song makes me uncomfortable, and I’m not even sure why.” It’s the first time we’d heard this particular ad, but it’s been around for about a year.
We’ve all heard the joke “does a bear s**t in the woods?” and its use is sometimes just the perfect answer to a question. For instance:
You: “Want a Starbucks?”
Me: “Does a bear s**t in the woods?”
And we’ve seen the commercial with a pack of bears packs up their suitcases so they can vacation at a local hotel and be treated to the extra special Charmin toilet paper.
Let’s face it, Charmin doesn’t need to advertise. Neither does Coke or kitty litter. In the time of great potential financial crisis, consumers will still need toilet paper and first aid products. True, we might not be able to afford the double- or triple-ply Charmin, but toilet paper will long be a staple.
Remember this? Fifty years ago, Charmin struck gold by launching TV spots in which the prissy grocer Mr. Whipple scolded his customers for squeezing the Charmin, only to be exposed for sneaking a pleasure-filled squeeze himself behind the display case. (Sounds creepy nowadays, doesn’t it?)
The “squeeze” was likely code for a certain bodily function, making Charmin all the bolder for ushering in a new era of breakthrough advertising for such once-taboo products as laxatives, toilet bowl cleaners, hemorrhoid suppositories and even tampons, at the time disguised as feminine hygiene aids. Mr. Whipple and the Ti-D-Bol Man would be in disbelief if they saw how Charmin is advertising their products today, don’t you think?
About five years ago, we didn’t need the squeeze code for going to the bathroom. Charmin introduced a musical campaign centered around this tagline: “We all go, why not enjoy the go?” Those commercial featured up-tempo mixes of different music styles and featured 30-second spots with such startling lyrics as “You’re my Number 1, when I go Number 2” and “You’re a lean, clean, wiping machine.”
Or this one: “Charmin—you clean so well, my bum can tell.” Or this borderline ad: a sultry woman’s voice soulfully describes where she spends some quality time: “My throne, it’s where I talk on the phone—it’s where I feel at home.”
How far we’ve come from the days when Psychology Today magazine famously asked potential subscribers in a classic direct marketing pitch, “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home?” Not only has Charmin flung open the doors, it’s invited the whole world to join in the experience. On its Facebook page, the brand touts over a million “likes.”
Today, we’ve become used to this once-risque advertising. But you have to admit, it’s still pretty stupid.