18 January 2007

Information vs. Emotion

I'm always hesitant to blog about and link to New York Times articles because:

a) oftentimes you need a (free) subscription to read the piece
b) articles disappear behind the Orange Curtain in a matter of days

I usually wait a week or so to see if the article is picked up by other news outlets - then link to one of those. But this is such a good one - so here goes:
In a Battle of Toothpastes, It's Information vs. Emotion
In a bid to regain the sales lead from its rival Colgate-Palmolive, the Procter & Gamble Company has introduced Crest Pro-Health, which claims to deliver in one tube everything a consumer could possibly want in a toothpaste … New advertising for Crest Pro-Health will feature real people who have tried and liked the product. "We've gotten an unprecedented amount of testimonials from consumers," Mr. Barresi said.

Rather than focus on science, the Colgate Total ads with Ms. Shields use glamour and emotion, a shift from the product's previous campaign, which was centered on its germ-fighting prowess.
Information vs. Emotion and a slew of variants have been argued about since the beginning of modern advertising. While I'm perceived as one of those wacky creatives, to be honest I lean a bit towards the information side of things - especially when targeting Baby Boomers. This is probably because I see so many campaigns that try to appeal to Boomers emotionally - and they screw it up so badly that I roll my eyes and say to myself (because no one else is listening), "Just give me the *&(**&#@ facts."

The Colgate Total and Crest Pro-Health campaigns don't necessarily target Baby Boomers - but if they did, I'd put my money on Saatchi & Saatchi's Crest campaign. After all, we're talking about toothpaste. Just give me the facts.

This is sort of a strange approach for Saatchi & Saatchi. They're the 'show me the love' agency - and they go overboard so many times. Then again, they know what to do with Pillsbury and Cheerios. That's what they're good at. So good for them to toss their Lovemarks "Emotion" philosophy out the window for this one.

I think it will work - at least for Baby Boomers.


  1. Chuckles:

    Can't say I agree with you on the whole "just the facts, m'am" thing for Boomers. Especially older Boomers.

    Our friend David Wolfe makes a pretty compelling case in Ageless Marketing that older consumers buy based on gut feelings and not the facts.

    Lawyers will tell you that juries convict based on the story they tell, not the facts they present.

    So you won't get me jumping onto your facts bandwagon. Besides, I'd argue that Creat ProHealth is simply doing product advertising and not doing much in terms of brand advertising -- that is, making a connection with me, the reader.

    Just another way of looking at it.


  2. Mattie my boy,

    How did you know that I put up this post just to annoy you?

    Actually, we're not as far apart on this subject as you might think. As I said, we're talking about toothpaste. I think Boomers are beyond the 'make your smile seduce whoever' or 'cure your bad breath' type of emotional advertising for toothpaste. Those two qualities were important to Boomers twenty or thirty years ago. Now, I think most just want to keep their teeth and make sure that they stay healthy. Sure, cosmetic dentistry is the rage - but you still have to brush those teeth. Why not brush them with something 'fact-based.'

    With Boomers, the only emotional factor for toothpaste would involve scare tactics: "Brush with Apex or your gums will rot and your teeth will fall out." I don't think that type of negative messaging resonates.

    And this fact-based campaign is incredibly successful. See if you can get to this article in Brandweek:

    Is the campaign successful with Boomers? Who knows. However, as we do know, the powers-that-be probably don't care. That's why we do what we do.

    Advertising philosophies/techniques are cyclical. I think the success of this campaign is simply because it's so simple, so fact-based, so minimal. It's definitely a throwback to the 1950s. It actually shocks you and 'cuts through the clutter' by being so unemotional, so stark, so uncreative… You're right. All they're doing is product advertising. That's all you should do at this point. You can't create a brand out of thin air. I rail about that all the time. If the product catches on - then you do some research, figure out why people like or love it -- and do some branding.

    And as far as creativity - you know my evangelical spiel. If mental institutions admitted the right nutcases, I'd have no problem letting them run wild in the asylum…


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