IN PRAISE OF BATHROOM FIXTURES

A Tough Sell That Kohler and GSD&M do Unusually Well

By Published on .

Advertiser: Kohler
Product: Bathroom Fixtures
Agency: GSD&M, Austin, Texas
Star Rating: 3.5

Plumbing fixtures are like cable access, the Major League Indoor Soccer playoffs and homoerotic dreams. Nobody ever talks about them.

Your faucets, spigots, shower heads, sinks, toilets and tubs are almost certainly the things you have spent the most time staring at without giving any actual thought to. (Not counting your spouse, of course.) Probably the only conversation you've ever heard about plumbing fixtures was at a neighborhood picnic, listening to some blowhard prattle on about re-doing his bathroom.

Bore: "Know what I just paid for a faucet?"

Victim: "No."

Bore: "How 'bout $300? Three hundred bucks -- do you believe that? I don't even want to talk about the vanity."

Victim: "OK."

Bore: "A thousand for the vanity. Polished granite. A thousand bucks -- to lay my toothbrush on!"

Victim: "I'm gonna go see if the hotdogs are ready."

Low-interest category
The point is, it's a low-interest category. Furthermore, the things last forever; nobody really needs to replace them. So it behooves a company like Kohler not only to generate some interest, but to motivate the consumer to fix what ain't broke with a purchase not at all inexpensive. Because it's beautiful. Or because there's a functional benefit. Or because it's an affordable way to make a high-profile decorating change. Or because it projects something about your personality which, hitherto, you lacked the time, money or interest to communicate via your bathroom decor.

Each one, a legitimate motivation. In its new Kohler campaign, GSD&M, Austin, Texas, invites consumers to consider all of them. One spot features a young couple at a party in a friend's home.

"This is a great house," the wife says.

"Yeah," says the husband, who is blind. He excuses himself to go into the powder room, where, as he washes up, he feels the squared-off edges of the contemporary faucets and the sink itself. Returning to the party he says to his wife, "You should see the bathroom." That was unexpected.

Another spot takes place in a hotel, where a rowdy rock and roll band is trashing its suite. The scene is mayhe -- until they open the bathroom door and stand gaping in awe at the room's cool serenity. The best spot, though, is the third, in which a woman driving home makes eye contact with a well-dressed man. Both look alarmed. He starts running; she starts speeding. Both are trying to remove clothing as they go.

Race to the bathroom
The man arrives at the house moments before her and, running in his underwear, beats her inside. She's also stripped to her skivvies (She's pretty but normal-looking. Good for them.) as she pounds on the chain-locked door: "My turn!"

Cut to the multi-head shower, where the husband is already relaxing in a full-body experience.

"The Bold Look of Kohler," the tagline says.

Not bad. We'd have preferred something like: "Change your life, one bathroom at a time," but the point is taken. Each ad has sucked us in to see what the sell would be, and we're duly impressed. We've gotten interested in tubs and faucets, which is more than we were yesterday. Next: dream analysis.

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