Product: Tempo Tissues
Agency: D'Arcy Maisus Benton & Bowles, New York
Rating: 3.0 stars
So mom is driving along with the kids in the station wagon, and she drives over a bump. In the back seat, Junior gets a face full of ice cream cone. "Oops," Mom says and looks down under the driver's seat for the tissue box.
She doesn't feel around for it, the way an actual person would. She actually sticks her head between her legs and peers beneath the seat -- exhibiting both extraordinary lumbar flexibility and behavior widely associated with inattentive driving. But we won't obsess on a little hyperbole. This is a commercial, from D'Arcy Maisus Benton & Bowles, New York, and there's a point being made here.
Scalp on the floor mat
The point is that you can't navigate a 3,000-pound vehicle with your scalp on the floor mat. The wagon veers off the road and crashes into a junkyard. There it is clamped onto by a magnetic crane and sent soaring toward the shredder, where the entire family gets to meet Jimmy Hoffa.
Ha! Just kidding. The film stops short of its natural conclusion and rolls in reverse, because this commercial is all about the alternative to careering off the highway to your doom. Because this time when Junior applies his dessert like Clearisil, Mom simply reaches to her sun visor and pulls out a Tempo brand dry wipe from Procter & Gamble. He wipes off the shmutz just like that! (Wait. Hey, kid, you missed a spot. No ... no ... lower. Urgghhh.)
"Don't let a little 'oops' become a big one," the voice-over suggests. "Clip new Tempo Dry Wipes to our visor. They're four-ply strong for all of life's little oopses. So, wherever you go, take Tempo. New Tempo Dry Wipes are versatile enough to handle anything."
Lo and behold, onscreen, we see the wipes being used as a place mat for a peanut butter sandwich, a tissue for Mom's sneeze, a cloth to clean up drips and spills, and so on.
'Ready for anything'
"They're more convenient than paper towels and napkins, and stronger than tissues, especially when wet. Under your visor, ready for anything. Wherever you go, take Tempo."
Well, you know what, we will. In fact, we'll equip the entire fleets of both AdReview and Adreview.com with Tempo brand dry wipes, because -- by golly -- it'll be nice to liberate ourselves from the 294 fast-food napkins and semi-crushed boxes of Kleenex littering every horizontal surface of our cars. Furthermore, while most of the AdReview staff's near-death experiences have had to do with checking voicemail at 70 mph, any extra opportunity not to be hoisted by a scrap yard crane seems worth pursuing.
In short, this product -- which Procter marketed successfully in Europe -- seems like a good idea. And this commercial single-handedly has made the sale. Now, there's a concept. Using your advertising not to build brand awareness or "share of mind" or some such baloney, but to persuade consumers to buy the damn product.
Interestingly, however, when these commercials landed on the AdReview loading dock, the accompanying press release didn't brag about the selling elements. It was all preoccupied with the opening sequence, what with the special effects and all.
Something stupid about to happen
OK, D'Arcy, good for you. The special effects were fine. And -- with the understanding that an ad needs to engage the viewer before it can do any selling -- we also acknowledge that we'll watch anything involving a family in a car singing "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" because we know something stupid is about to happen. Which, sure enough, here it does.
The fact is, however, that the joke and the movie magic here are quite ordinary. It's the straightforward and persuasive depiction of product benefits that is (sadly) extraordinary. No, not every product is in a position to wow us with its novel advantages. But it's encouraging to see a brand that -- having taking a hyperbolic path to defining a problem -- isn't afraid to be literal and obvious with the solution.