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charmin bath tissue vintage advertisement

Charmin circa 1952: A Flowery Sales Pitch

While plowing though some forgotten boxes of ephemera (that’s another story for another day) I came across this vintage newspaper advertisement.

Before Mr. Whipple there was this woman: Ms. Particular Chin-touching Centerpiece-Loving Bareshoulders, seen here with pageant “pretty feet,” pondering her bright flower-filled home as well as her hospital-pure potty paper. Hope Mr. Particular isn’t late for dinner again tonight! (Five years after this ad appeared, Charmin was acquired by Procter & Gamble.)

This product was always intended to attract women and their pin money. I learned here that the original Wisconsin-born Charmin was “described as ‘charming’ by an employee, and the Charmin brand name was born.” The flower-compatible product was “designed to look like feminine fashions of the day. Packaging was light blue and featured the silhouette of a woman’s head from a cameo pin, which became known as the “Charmin Lady.”

charmin bath tissue vintage advertisement

Bottled Water Brand Heads For the Blue Ocean

Familiar with “Blue Ocean” marketing strategy?” That’s when a business tries to hit the growth and profit jackpot by finding or creating an uncontested market space—in effect, wide-open “Blue Ocean”—rather than getting beat up and bloodied trying to succeed in crowded market segments with a lot of competition for customers’ money and attention.

I think the marketers behind Activate brand must have read the book! (The product is from Rising Beverage Company in, no surprise, Los Angeles, CA.)

With countless brands fighting it out it with variations on the “enhanced” formula, Activate actually brags that they’ve taken all that junk OUT. Who NEEDS nutrients that “deteriorate sitting in water.” GONE. Minerals? OUT. Let the others ionize their brands. Activate DE-ionizes. You’ll love it, cool consumers, because you’re not like everyone else, I know. You’re different. You’re PURE. You don’t follow the crowd. You follow the hip people, leisurely paddling around their exclusive blue ocean space by themselves. (It doesn’t float with me!)

The Value of Water, Explained by Two Grannies

Those witty folks at Yorkshire Water UK are at it again, with time with a kooky campaign centered on two thrifty Grannies. “Edna and Mary” urge us to “Look ‘ow much you get for your money!” and are backed by a spot on the telly, their own corner of “t’interweb,” and of course, Twitter and Facebook.

It’s a wide stream of slapstick silliness surrounding know-it-all Edna and disheveled Mary. But grounding it all is the fact that Grannies everywhere will definitely be paying a lot more for water in the future. It’s no joke that many people don’t comprehend the huge (and escalating) costs and complex infrastructure required to deliver the cheap, clean tap water we take for granted. From the video’s YouTube page,

Research has highlighted to us that nearly 40% of our customers don’t know what they get for their money when it comes to their water bill. It’s important to us that our customers understand what they get for their money so we’ve launched this latest campaign to explain where your money goes.

The website is loaded with campy jokes and stereotypical dialogue which sometimes goes a bit too far; despite this, the two frugal frumps are a gateway to a lot of valuble, concise information, like “How do we spend your money?” or “how we collect and treat your water.”

YouTube commenters have quickly piled on with the expected criticisms, mostly on the theme of you’re wasting the public’s money on this stupid campaign and advertising.

A mentor of mine once told me, “If you’re not being criticized, you’re not making progress.” He was right.

Embedded video below or view on YouTube here.

Are you a Numptee?

Numptee is the charmingly clueless character starring in Yorkshire (UK) Water’s new public education campaign, “Bin it, don’t flush it.”

You can’t help but smile at his silly antics though they spotlight a serious problem: sewer blockages and flooding, half of which are caused by Numptee and his buds putting inappropriate items down the drain. From campaign headquarters at yorkshirewater.com,

Numptee, did you just put that cooking fat down the sink?

Numptee, did you just put that cooking fat down the sink?

Yorkshire’s sewers are being abused and it’s causing all kinds of problems. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we find down the sewer – nappies, false teeth, fat, Christmas trees and even a Spacehopper! As funny as that sounds, all of these things can cause the sewer to stop working and this can lead to flooding.

Hmmm, are we talking about you? You might be a “Numptee” if:

  • you’re one of the 40% of people who dump fats, oils and grease down the sink
  • you’re among the 25% who think it’s OK to put items like cotton buds, nappies or sanitary products down the toilet.

Now, Numptee’s handlers at Yorkshire Water aren’t idiots so naturally the campaign is multi-media and backed by numerous social-media channels. You can follow the red-lipped phenom on Twitter (@MrNumptee) because…

By following Mr Numptee on twitter you’ll be able to see if we are dishing the dirt in your neighbourhood and take a sneaky peak at some of the unusual things that block up our sewers – yes that’s right we really do find strange things down there including one particular problem with knickers!!!

Where's Numptee Jr.'s dirty nappie headed?

If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss a single episode on Yorkshire Water’s YouTube channel. Contest-entering types can give their creative interpretations of exactly what kind of creature Numptee is (see the WIN tab) with top entries receiving cinema tickets, where…that’s right, Numptee trailers will be playing!

I found a lot of interesting information on the campaign’s web pages, including a neat tip to make “Bird Cakes” out of waste fats (the recipe is here.)

Numptee? Bin there, done that. You: don’t do it.

*Britspeak Glossary for Americans!

Bin: Trash can
Cotton Buds: Q-tips or cotton swabs
Knickers: underwear
Nappie: Diaper
Numptee: Dolt, or idiot
Spacehopper: Child’s sit-on bouncing toy

If I Could Place Ads on a Bottle

With demand dropping and prices with it, the bottled water industry needs new business models, and UK-based Soak Media is promoting one tried-and-true idea. Borrowing a page from ad-supported free media, Soak is passing out free ad-laden bottled water to Londoners this summer.

Soak Media friendly staffer

Soak Media friendly staffer

Billing itself as “the refreshing way to talk to Londoners”, the site urges advertisers to…

Get hot and bothered London commuters to engage with your brand by advertising on one of the deliciously cold bottles of mineral water we’ll be handing out across the London commuter network this summer. And don’t forget: this summer’s going to be an absolute scorcher!

Soak Media’s video details their right-time, right-place strategy during “London’s hottest months of July and August.” The company will also do “leaflet tip-ons and bottles moulded to any shape.” And don’t forget, the water is “handed out by our very friendly staff” and enjoys “50 minutes in-hand time.” (And an eternity in a landfill after that?)

Oddly the video ends with the cryptic and vague statement, “all our profits go to charitable causes.” Guess I’ll let that one soak in for a moment.

The Benefits of Big: Giant Campaign from RWE

How can you change your negative image if you’re a often-hated, ginormous European energy company whose sheer size and power terrifies the regular folks? Why not channel that feel-good-about-monsters character, Shrek?

A colossal tidal power project

A colossal tidal power project

RWE group’s new European ad campaign does just that, and like those roller-skating Evian babies, you can’t help but fall for this Shrek-ish lumbering ogre regardless of how you feel about the company or its operations. The ugly but lovable “energy giant” crosses the idyllic countryside, making energy happen in unusual but environmentally-sensitive ways with the tagline, “It can be so easy to make big things happen. When you’re a giant.”

(Don’t miss the ending, where our friendly beast lights up the city with a new approach to hydropower!)
The charming song in the clip is “I Love the Mountains” by Houaida, an up-and-coming German star. (You can download the song mp3 via the RWE website.)

Evian, The New Fountain of Youth

Tough times in the bottled water business call for tough tactics–like selling the age-old quest for eternal youth. Evian’s new ad campaign tells us to “live young (TM)!” Who knew that the mythical Fountain of Youth, that legendary spring that restores youth to those who drink from it, was right there on my grocer’s shelf all along! I thought Evian water was expensive, but compared to botox, plastic surgery or Satan-soul-selling, it’s a live-young (TM) bargain!

This new fountain of youth reveals itself in the form of jaunty hip-hoppin’ roller-skating babies. I still refuse to buy the stuff but let’s be honest, these wee-ones on wheels are irresistably, adorably funny.

 

Where’s the breathless press release, you ask? Why, it’s here, informing us that stunt-skating tots are “the ultimate expression of Evian brand values, including origin, health and youth.”

And it gets better!

“To Evian, youth is not a matter of age, but a mindset – a youthful mindset that is optimistic, believes that everything is possible, and is curious and eager to discover the world – much like that of a child,” stated Jerome Goure, vice president of marketing for Danone Waters of America, the exclusive importer and marketer of Evian in North America.  “The babies in this campaign exemplify this attitude and the celebration of adding life to your years.”

WAT-AAH Crock! Parents Completely Abandon Parenting

We’re not into the rant-and-complain blog style around here, but this has got to be among the most annoying, grating campaigns and product positionings I’ve ever seen.

The ridiculously-named company Let Water Be Water, LLC is responsible for,

WAT-AAH!, the first sugar-free, functional water brand made specifically for kids by kids and their mothers.

Which is a contender for the single most preposterous statement in the history of PR flackery. (Thanks, fathers, for not participating in this.)

And if that’s not low enough, they shamelessly announce in this press release their “New WAT-AAH! Challenge…”

…to defy the expectation that kids will pick soda or juice over water. During the month of March, mothers who participate in the challenge will receive WAT-AAH! samples with instructions to put the bottled water in their fridge, alongside sodas and other sugary drinks. Mothers will be asked to write, photograph and videotape their kids’ responses and reactions to WAT-AAH!. “Challenge” participants and ongoing results are available at www.wat-aahchallenge.blogspot.com.
“We want to challenge the preconceived notions people have about kids and drinks,” says WAT-AAH!’s founder, Rose Cameron. “Our goal is to test the assumption that kids are addicted to sugar and think water is boring. We are confident that children will pick WAT-AAH! over the big guys with multi-million dollar beverage budgets and logos that believe they are ‘cool,’ and we invite moms everywhere to participate in this challenge.”

So, set up the fridge like this, parents! The little ones will pick the water every time, you’ll see! (The only thing this promotion proves is the lengths some people will go to get some free bottled water.)

Had enough? No? If you’re masochistic or in extreme-procrastination mode, you can visit their screechingly-bad website, filled with fingernails-on-the-blackboard declarations like “Be Supaah! Jump Highaah! Be Smart-aah!”

If all this fails, modern parents, try my method (with your kids’ permission, of course.) It’s been successfully road-tested on my three children and millions of others: “Soda? NO WAY-AHH. Here’s your tap WAT-AHH.”

Go Gross: Winning Hearts & Minds with Yuck Appeal

One sixth of the world, no access to clean water. 2 million people, dead of waterborne diseases. Every year. Year after year.

Blah blah. Why doesn’t everyone get it? Why are relatively few taking action? Well, we marketing-types live and die by a basic tenet: make your message relevant to the audience, their lives, their world, or risk being ignored. So, Western-worlders, we’ll help you relate better by viscerally putting skanky water into your world! This one, from Wordvision, had me running through the house, slightly nauseated, yelling “WHERE IS MY CHECKBOOK, I NEED IT NOW!” Now that’s persuasive marketing. From www.worldvision.org.uk/water,

In our world we have easy access to toilets. Supposed we take those toilets out of your world? Say, in your favorite 4-star? You can almost smell this spot, and I don’t mean the food. From www.wateraid.org,

Earlier this month, Bill Gates released a container of mosquitoes at the elite TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference to make his point about disease and malaria. Now that’s relevancy to audience! “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around,” he told the big-shot gathering. “There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” (He waited several minutes before assuring everyone the roaming insects were malaria-free.)