Monday, July 16, 2012

Susan Glenn, RIP

The ad world is buzzing about this new spot from BBH/NY. It is a commercial for Axe deodorant. And it features the unmistakable Kiefer Sutherland. It also features something you don't see a lot of in today's commercials, great writing.

Oh and let's not forget, Susan Glenn.

Never heard of her? Neither had I. And that's what is so miraculous. That the tale of Susan Glenn ever got told.

First watch the commercial, then I'll explain my bewilderment.

As I mentioned last week, I have been in this business a long, long time. And I can think of a million reasons why a great spot like this could die in the C-suite. Or in the boardroom. Or more likely, inside the hallowed hallways of an ad agency. (In fact, that's more likely the case, because good ideas like this rarely make it out the front door. And if they do, they are compromised beyond recognition.)

Of course, a million reasons is a little hyperbolic.
So let's make it 10.
On third thought, let's make it 5.
Because by the time I get to reason #6, the point will be made and you'll be bored.

1. The Writing. Clients, and supposedly the public, don't have the stomach for big words like goblinesque. Or pyrotechnic spectacle. Way too many syllables. And what's with the metaphors? "A peasant before a queen." That registered a 29 in quantitative copy testing. Client wants that removed.

2. Branding. In this minute long commercial we don't get to see the product until the very end. And when we do, the logo/product is only up for 3 seconds. 3 seconds!!! The client wants branding up front. Within the FIRST three seconds. Client wants us to consider a guy actually putting on the deodorant. And smiling. Would it hurt to have someone enjoying our product?

3. Sex Appeal. Yes, Susan Glenn is stunning and she radiates a unique beauty but why are we shrouding that beauty in flannel shirts and a long mumu dress that would look more appropriate in Amish country? Current wardrobe choice makes her look a bit hippy. Not Woodstock hippie. Big around the waist hippy. Client requests new wardrobe supervisor.

4. Negative and Dated. Many people in the focus groups stated that they did not like the other girls throwing things at Susan. And while they understood the story was being told as a flashback they didn't like the older cars and said it made Axe seem old fashioned. Client pointed out that in the brief, the tone was supposed to be modern and contemporary. Also, one focus group attendee was offended by the earthquake, stating that the '94 Northridge earthquake left her home in ruins. And while no one was hurt they did have to replace the sump pump.

5. Who the hell is Susan Glenn? Though he "likes" the concept, the CMO is still pushing back on notion of Susan Glenn. "If we're going to use a celebrity like Kiefer Sutherland why can't we use another one for the girl? What about Sophia Vergara? She's hot."


Jeff said...

That is a spectacularly written spot.

Paul Sinfield said...

While of course I entertain your brilliance when it comes to the ad writing, etc., and I do appreciate that it's not going for the least common denominator, in the end I'm kind of "meh" about the ad. Yawn. Axe. Whatever. I'm not going to go out and buy Axe because if I'd had it, the girl 20 years ago might have gone out with me. I might buy it, however, if the hot girl in the elevator is going to attack me... So did the customer just pay for a small indie film that's not going to move Axe off the shelves?

Mark said...

I love this commercial, like so many of the Axe commercials, especially the one where woman are making love to products made of recycled Axe cans. My concern is that they are so good that soon the world is going to stink of Axe. Nobody wants that.