Hispanic Agency Persuades P&G to Film Dirtier Ad

Work: Downy Fabric Softener

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While shooting a typical testimonial spot for Downy fabric softener, U.S. Hispanic agency Wing persuaded Procter & Gamble to take a chance and film an edgier test commercial at the same time.

The agency is trying to raise the bar on creative and on how to communicate the benefit of long-lasting fragrance in the Hispanic market, where scent is everything.

The spot is set at a laundromat, where one young guy observes another doing laundry and is so drawn by the fragrance of his fabric softener that he wanders over, picks up the stranger's underwear and sniffs it, exclaiming at how good it smells. The other guy says, "I haven't washed it yet." That certainly drives home Downy's long-lasting-scent message.

"Unlike the general market, where Downy owns the equity of the category, in Hispanic we're looking for ways to stand out," said Alain Groenendaal, president-CEO of Wing, Grey Worldwide's Hispanic agency.

Many Latin American immigrants are more familiar with Colgate-Palmolive's rival brand Suavitel, which has been eroding Downy's market share in key Hispanic markets such as Los Angeles and Texas. Downy's share of the fabric softener market is down 3% this year over last year, according to Nielsen figures, continuing a long-term downward trend.

Wing was already filming the Downy testimonial spot in Argentina, so it didn't cost much more to shoot a single scene with two young guys and a washing machine. P&G aired "Lavadero" ("Washing Machine") in a limited number of Hispanic markets for a few weeks at the end of July, and the spot will go into the company's next round of qualitative testing to see how Hispanic consumers react to the unconventional approach.

"Fragrance is a real signal to Hispanics, not just of a good smell but of cleanliness and softness manifested by scent," Mr. Groenendaal said.

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