Garfield's AdReview

By Published on .

Angel Soft, the toilet paper, is soft. Mmmm. So soft.

The new ad campaign doesn't mention that. Which is odd, but that's the only thing about the TV/Web spots from DDB, New York, to complain about. This is one of the more charming and funny campaigns in recent memory, and probably a historical achievement in the category.

Whipple is dead. Long live "Bathroom Moments."

A little boy peeing on the floor. A wife caught, and videotaped, by her husband as she shaves her moustache. A family funeral-flushing their goldfish. A woman mustering the stomach to stand on the scale. And the quintessential, drowsy middle-of-the-night bathroom visit by a wife whose husband has failed to lower the seat.

"Rallllllllllllph!!!!!!" She screams. She's angry. And awake. And damp.

What makes these spots so funny, most of them, is not how cleverly they take a familiar idea to its absurd conclusion. What's funny about them is there is no absurdity at all-only very recognizable slices of life. It's just that in the past, life slices have seldom seemed so lifelike. Little kids with their baseball caps on sideways behind a lemonade stand with the e's drawn backwards-well they're quintessential, too, but not in any way you'd want to include in your portfolio.

Compare that to a 4-year-old standing at the toilet peeing like a big boy, then turning to answer a call from his dad downstairs. Only he turns his whole body. The arc of urine, on its path to the floor, is probably the first in the history of American advertising.

What a sweet and delightful urine stream it is. And funny, just as the poor lady with her ass soaking in the commode is funny. No. Not funny. Hilarious, because it is a universal marital experience, captured perfectly in her blood-curdling shriek of outrage.

"This uncomfortable bathroom moment brought to you by Angel Soft," the voice-over says. "Comfort where you want it."

Exactly. There is something oddly comforting to see our private moments reproduced with such good-natured familiarity. Sure, bodily functions make some people queasy, but there's nothing in this campaign to provoke disgust. On the contrary, it takes us to a place where we all spend a lot of time, and connects us to human experiences we all share. How much advertising, for any product, achieves that?

So why has it taken so long for toilet-paper advertising to take place in a venue with an actual toilet?

Fifteen years ago, American Standard explored people's intimacy with their own bathrooms. Seven years ago, Denny's explored the universal dynamics of the kitchen table. And for 25 years, McDonald's has been plumbing (excuse the expression) the comedy of family life. This campaign combines the best of all three.

The tagline perfunctorily makes the connection between the brand name and "comfort." But this campaign will not succeed based on the technical fulfillment of the purported product benefit. It will succeed because consumers will credit Angel Soft for understanding their lives.

An emotional bond with toilet paper. Who would have imagined? But it turns out that even in the most personal of product categories, the consumer is a soft touch for a soft touch.

Review 3.5 stars

Ad: Angel Soft

Agency: DDB

Location: New York

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