Just over a year ago, Charmin toilet tissue rebranded to Cushelle, and for its brand 'icon' has chosen a koala bear. This latest ad makes no mistakes. To the accompaniment of a doowop love song, the animated koala acts out his affection for Cushelle toilet tissue. He nuzzles up to a toilet roll, wraps himself in it, even kisses it. At the end of this client-delighting demonstration of Cushelle love, a voiceover concludes: 'Koala loves Cushelle's cushiony softness.'
It feels as though it conforms 100% with the norms of the market. It has a brand name in Cushelle that seems as though chosen carefully by committee. It has a small furry animal, just like Andrex and Kittensoft. It has relaxing music that conjures up that comfortable feeling you get when you use Cushelle. It is pink and purple - just like its competitors.
It's packed full of euphemism and metaphor; it goes without saying there's no mention of toilets, or poo or wee or nether regions at all.
So the question I would ask is: is Cushelle creating a brand or a bland? Blands make no mistakes and offend no one. They whistle through research, are polite, unobtrusive and quickly forgettable. They have no teeth so require a wall of media money to cut through.
Little furry advertising properties don't have to be so bland. Look at the meerkat, the PG Tips monkey, Honey Monster.
Does the doowop music have to be quite so bland? Look at what spiky choice of music has done for brands such as John Lewis. And the bland message? No mention of toilets, poo or wee? Come on, we're grown-ups.
The toilet-tissue market reminds me a bit of the sanitary-protection market in the early 90s. In order not to cause offence, 'sanpro' ads became so euphemistic they were ridiculous.
Women bouncing up and down on trampolines and rollerskating with Dalmatians. Just plain daft.
Back then I was working on Lil-Lets. We identified it was time for simple, straight-talking ads that broke the conventions of the market and discussed the simple benefits of tampons in a grown-up way that offended no one.
The ads I wrote sent sales of Lil-Lets through the roof. I used to get fan mail saying: 'Thank you so much. At last tampon advertising written by women for women.'
If I were in the business of marketing toilet tissue now, and I wanted to create a brand that really stood out and with which people empathised, I would look to break the conventions of the market in my advertising - not replicate them.
Sometimes the biggest risk can be taking no risk at all.
|Adwatch (11 May) Top 20 recall|
Saatchi & Saatchi/
The Red Brick Road/
|15=||(–)||Foxy Bingo||Biscuit Agency/Concord||30|
|18||(–)||Flora Cuisine||DDB UK/Mindshare||27|
Ogilvy & Mather/