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Ad Review rating:4 WHEN WRONG BRAND CAN STICK TO YOU

By Published on .

A young man named George is at home, in traction, in a plaster cast that covers him from head to toe. Only his eyes, nostrils and mouth are visible. His mom walks in and looks at the clock on his bedroom wall.

"Whoops!" she says. "3 p.m. The suppository!" Inside the cast, the kid's eyes widen. Then, according to a title card, it's 20 minutes later. Now papa walks in, but the clock hasn't advanced.

"Georgie," he says, "3 p.m! The suppository."

The eyes widen again. The young man squeaks, trying to protest, to no avail. Then 35 minutes later, grandma is there. This time we see George on his belly, looking defeated. The clock still says 3 p.m.

"There you go. If it weren't for me."

Then the voice-over, articulating what by now is hilariously obvious: "Some batteries run out sooner than others. Use Energizer."

Rectal overload? OK, the pre-mise is a bit broad and, no, the Energizer Bunny it isn't, but there's more than one way to skin a rabbit. And this one, from Verdino Bates, Buenos Aires, is one of them. It's been running for months and, unlike the wall clock, shows no sign of losing its power.

Cartoonish enough that the outrageous humor of the idea transcends its vulgarity, this spot keeps going and going and going. And not only does the belly laugh generate good will for the brand, the outlandish premise makes for one of the most unforgettable problem/resolution spots ever made.

The advantage of problem/resolution advertising is manifest; the consumer is enlightened, often in the most dramatic terms, on why to buy the product. In that sense it is among the purest forms of advertising, communicating salient information in a memorable way.

The problem with the genre, however, is that the solutions don't necessarily reflect particularly on the advertised brand; they commend the category. Sort of, "Buy widgets. This message sponsored by Acme Widget Co." Maybe you'll be so grateful to Acme for the news about widgets that you'll throw the business its way, but maybe you'll just walk down the widget aisle and buy the cheapest brand.

In battery advertising, this would be a particularly unfortunate outcome, for it is essentially a commodity category. Any technological advancement is soon embraced by even the lowliest house brand, so the consumer who buys on price is penalized little if at all. Therefore, the market-er has to create brand value by communicating not just problem resolution but also confidence and peace of mind.

Please note this does not mean claiming brand superiority where there is none, or trumping up some bogus Unique Selling Proposition to obscure the parity nature of the category. It means finding a way to validate, promote and exploit the consumer's predisposition to have faith in a nationally advertised brand.

Indeed, this faith is part and parcel of brandedness, and it actually mitigates the parity. It is itself a benefit. It has value, and it commands a premium, even though its difference from the no-name brand resides entirely in the consumer's state of mind.

Here Energizer succeeds on all levels. The copy circumspectly claims superiority over "some batteries," while the action documents general long-lastingness. As for the premise, don't think of it as ridiculously contrived. Think of it as the ultimate "what if?"

In other words: supposeitory.

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