Reynold's home ec ladies cook up charm

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Advertiser: Reynold's Wrap
Agency: J. Walter Thompson, New York
Rating: 3 stars

Moments ago, we were speaking with someone we greatly esteem--never mind who--about a campaign for a communications company, never mind which, from an agency there is no point in naming. Never mind why.

Our friend praised the campaign for its surpassing wit and charm and said it was great advertising, and we disagreed saying that we found it witty and charming but not much use to the client, and he said, "You're going to have to be more tolerant of those kinds of campaigns, because everything else out there is [expletive deleted]."

And we thought to ourselves, "Has it come to this? Are we so bereft that we must now accept charm not as a catalyst but as a replacement for salesmanship and persuasion?" But we needn't have asked the question, because we know what the answer is.

The answer is no.

There is plenty of room to be likable and engaging within the context of selling your brains out, the latest proof of which comes from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, with a witty, charming, informative, persuasive campaign for Reynold's Wrap.

"I'm Betty," says one of two white-coated women in a test kitchen. "This is Pat." ("Hi," Pat says, pleasantly). "We're the Reynolds Wrap Kitchens' home economists. To show the best way to wrap sandwiches, we put one in Reynolds Wrap, the other in a plastic sandwich bag. Pat's gonna field-test them."

Next we see Pat, her lunch sack stowed in a backpack, getting on a school bus with real grade schoolers. Expressionless, she makes her way down the aisle, bumping the backpack on the seat frames, and sits down next to a chubby, out-of-control 9-year-old. The backpack gets clobbered. Then back to the kitchen. "How'd they hold up?" Betty asks, and the sandwiches are displayed. The bagged one is crushed, the wrapped one, naturally, intact.

"Looks like Reynolds Wrap is the best wrap for your kids' sandwiches," Betty continues. "One more reason Reynolds Wrap has it all wrapped up." Pat, meantime, turns around to reveal a sign taped to her back with the words, "Kick Me."

In a second spot, to demonstrate protection against freezer burn, Betty stuffs a slab of liver in a zip-lock bag. This leaves Pat to do the experiment: sucking out the excess air with a straw. What an image--and what a trouper. These are real-life home economists, a kitchenwise Bartles with a her guileless foil Jaymes. Whatever happens to this campaign, we will always love Pat for her game effort. And so should her employer.

This is a brand that has spent years talking about recyclability but not a blessed word about the advantages of the product in actual use. Zip-locks, meanwhile, have been growing at a healthy clip while foil has languished behind. Thus emerged the crazy notion of telling consumers the benefits of the brand.

Reduced sandwich crushability is not exactly eternal life. Freedom from air sucking is not the 200 mpg engine. But both bear mentioning, and, while they were at it, the folks at JWT took the additionally outrageous step of making it all fun to watch. The results are sweet, comic, delightful--and persuasive. Yes, it can be done.

No [expletive deleted].

You can e-mail Bob Garfield at EFPB35A@prodigy.com. His reviews are also available via Ad Age/Creativity Online on eWorld.

Copyright November 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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