Thursday, July 30, 2009

Natural Orange Listerine Commercial

Like heat from a delicious waffle

Last night I watched a commercial for Natural Orange Listerine. It had the unmistakable tangy reek of brilliance, and the dull yellowy stain of genius. As far as product names go, "Natural Orange" is pretty much a flat-out admission of failure by Listerine's flavor researchers. Like they knew it was an impossible task from the start, but they didn't have much of a say in the matter...the late nights in the lab, failure after demoralizing failure, with the ever-present overhead projection of the giant Navel orange, the words "VICTORY TASTES LIKE REAL ORANGE" in blazing orange type underneath... So at the end of that road, they felt it an ethical necessity to use the name "Natural Orange" to say to the consumer, "when using our mouthwash, kindly accept our somewhat loose interpretation of what oranges really taste like."

So anyway, let's forget for the moment that Natural Orange Listerine sounds like the Crystal Pepsi of mouthwashes; something you'd probably never buy for yourself, but find out from someone else that they tried it and had to eat Fancy Feast to get the taste out of their mouth.

The commercial was especially brilliant because it was a clear example of a PR department saving their entire company from certain ruin by employing an incredibly gutsy strategy. I mean come on, Listerine is horrible. It tastes like battery acid; and it tastes like poison because of what it does, which is kill all the living crap in your filthy cesspool of a mouth. Of course, if you rated Listerine as a product solely by what it does, it definitely gets Five Gold Stars in the nukes your mouth category. No question. But it also tastes like a glass of Murphy's Oil Soap with a handful of Oxy 10 pads floating in it, so it's hard to stack that up against the mouthwashes -- like Plax -- that taste like After Eight mints.

The bottom line is that Listerine makes a product line that everyone pretty much hates these days, but they can't just stop making it. So what's their strategy? They make a commercial comparing their crappier-tasting product to the NEW product, as a demonstration of how great the new product is! They don't even have to advertise against the other brands in these commercials; they just basically say whoa, new NATURAL ORANGE Listerine! It tastes waaay better than our older, shit-tastingier product, Regular Listerine! Then they cut to a small kid sneering at a bottle of Regular Listerine , shaking his head and muttering, Jesus Christ. (While I don't remember the exact wording of the commercial, trust me when I say that's basically the underlying message) They can run with this marketing tactic indefinitely! Hiyaaaaghh!!

Also, everyone should have a look at The Poor Man today. I don't know why it's so funny to me when it first hits the screen, but it really, really is.