By Published on .

Marketer: Bombril

Agency: W/Brasil, Sao Paulo

How does a marketer replace an advertising icon when it retires after 26 years?

Since 1978, ads for Brazil's leading household cleanser have all featured Carlos Moreno as a timid, dorky spokesperson for Bombril who won the hearts of Brazilian housewives in unforgettable ads. During Brazil's 1980s transition from military dictatorship to democracy, the Bombril character ran for governor, to help clean up the government. In a foray into print in the 1990s, Mr. Moreno dressed up in witty full-page magazine ads as characters like Che Guevara and the Mona Lisa.

Bombril's market share is 80% and the campaign is in the Guinness Book of World Records for longevity.

But Bombril fell on hard times. The brand didn't advertise for two years, plagued by financial losses, lawsuits, management turmoil and, worst of all, rumors that the company couldn't afford Mr. Moreno.

In Bombril's return to advertising with Mr. Moreno's 337th commercial, he mournfully bids his fans farewell: "We'll see each other around, in the supermarket of life." He also provides the transition to a new campaign strategy for the cleaning product with 1,001 uses. He tells viewers that he is part of a minority-shy guys who become TV spokesmen.

The next five spots feature minorities, including a gay couple, a woman in a wheelchair, a soccer player on a really bad team, and a mixed-race woman with green eyes. The new slogan is "Bombril is the brand of the majority. And what is the majority, if not the sum of 1,001 minorities?"

Brazilians love their advertising, and the news of Carlos Moreno's finale, orchestrated by independent agency W/Brasil and its president Washington Olivetto, was one of the biggest news stories in Brazil in late August.

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