Classic Ad Review: Mona! He came in through the bathroom mirror

By Published on .

What if, after waking up and gazing bleary-eyed into your mirrored medicine cabinet, you open it to an overly friendly stranger's face gazing back?

That's the setup of a series of Right Guard commercials from BBDO that ran from 1969 to 1976. If the happy stranger is played by a comic genius (the recently deceased Chuck McCann) who has a wildly expressive face, dances sink-side and booms, "Hi, guy!" (which became a catch phrase), you have a winning campaign.

Of course, it also helps that the first gentleman (Richard Fiore) is a more reserved, non-morning type, who, confronted with the odd sight of his highly caffeinated neighbor, yells "Mona!" for backup.

The 40-something-year-old work has maintained its charm, so much so that MyPillow founder and CEO Michael J. Lindell seems to have "appropriated" the same two-way medicine chest device for a recent commercial for his brand.

According to the campaign's creator, ad legend Phil Dusenberry (at the time a copywriter at BBDO), the conceit came from a demand by the brand's then-owner Gillette to sell, side by side, two different kinds of Right Guard aerosol cans, and on a low budget. So he went for two people, two choices and creative that would keep consumers awake.

The two-way medicine chest created new scaffolding in a category known mostly for BO-shaming, a strategy in place since the Depression. This open-ended cabinet was less a strategy than an execution, but it allowed for a fresher, more urban and comic theater of the absurd to spring up, even it if it was to sell antiperspirant.

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