Friday, January 11, 2008

Charmin Ads and Politics Should Not Mix



I've been seeing these Charmin ads all over the place on TV lately - and I don't even watch TV much. So there must be a lot of advertising weight behind them. And I find it rather suspicious, to say the least, that they chose RED and BLUE bears to symbolize their two new kinds of toilet paper - "strong" and "soft."

Why not pink and blue? Or orange and pink? Or anything but the very obvious political connection? It implies that "red" means strong (strong on terrorism, defense, foreign policy perhaps?) while "blue" is weak and "soft." I don't think I'm being oversensitive here. It is an election year and blue and red have obvious meaning. And the folks who are posting it on YouTube seem to agree.

I am going to send the company a complaint about this ad. Anyone want to join me?

28 comments:

niCk (Mem Beth) said...

When I was growing up, the color Red represented hate, evil, lust, authoritarians, or the Soviets.

I remembered people saying "better dead than red". I can say I still agree with that.

Sue J said...

I've seen this ad a bunch of times, and must admit, I never thought of it from this angle ....hmmmmm.

I find it such an oddly disorienting ad. Why are bears going for a run on the beach? And bears pooping? Everyone who runs can relate to the sudden urge often brought on by running, but ... really ...

It's so odd that I usually switch it off as soon as it comes on!

Mauigirl said...

Nick, I know, in our youth red was those lousy Commies! It wasn't until they started showing the country divided up into red and blue states on election night that this whole red state-blue state thing happened. I don't know how they happened to pick red for the Republicans, but they did, and the rest as they say, is history.

Sue, I agree, it is a strange ad. And don't we know bears just poop in the woods?

I think they've used bears for awhile but I don't ever remember seeing them in red and blue until this year.

Distributorcap said...

as someone who works with ads all day long

there are NO accidents in advertising

NONE...PERIOD

Mauigirl said...

DCap, you are so right. It was probably a young 22-year-old agency person who thought it would be a great idea...

"Hey! I've got an idea! It's an election year, right? So let's make one bear red, and one blue? And wouldn't it be perfect, we can have the red one be the "strong" one and the blue one be "soft"! Get it?" I can see it now.

Randal Graves said...

Given what dcap said, if this ever did become a story of any sort, some flunkie would be sent out to say that it was an accident. Hey, who wouldn't use two of the primary colors!

TomCat said...

DC is right. Have you checked to see where the parent company donates their access money?

Enigma4ever said...

of Watergate Summer here...

WOW...such an amazing angle that I never thought of it....hmmm, now why not pink ? ( Hmm CareBear Copyright Infringement, or worried about "gay" implications???)

this is all because Mr.Squeeze'm Charmin died....

I too thought Bears were tougher than this....

( They should have gotten Yogi Bear- he would be perfect...)

Snave said...

Whoa, red and blue. Just imagine! With corporations being concerned about populist presidential candidates gaining momentum, this should come as no surprise at all that the righties would try to continue their effort to paint the pro-corporate GOP as "strong" and the other guys as "soft". "Strong" represents America, right? And what does "soft" represent, "France"? Heh...

I suspect the rightwingers would like this to become as much the collective wisdom in America as their falsehood that we have a "liberal media". It took them quite a few years to get the "liberal media" thing firmly cemented in our national mind, and they finally succeeded to the point that such monstrosities as FOX "News" could make it without being laughed off the air by the American people. The softening-up process took quite a while.

Now it's the "post-9/11" era, and the GOP is looking to cement their reputation as "strong on terror" even though the event happened on their watch. It's all about how good you are at manipulating language, whether it's on TV, the printed word, radio, whatever. I will not be surprised to see more advertisements with these subtle references to the Dems being soft, soft-headed, whatever...

I have to recommend George Lakoff's books to just about everyone. He talks about ways we on the left can reframe the national debate and take it back from the creepazoids. Start with "Don't Think of an Elephant" and then try "Thinking Points". You will be very satisfied. They are inexpensive, easy to take in, and they are quick reads... and best of all, they help us see how we can get a handle on the problem.

Great post! Now I'm off to find out how to send an e-mail to the jokers who produce Charmin'.

Snave said...

O.K., I Googled "Charmin", found the awful "red extra strong and blue extra soft" picture. I sent them the following in an e-mail:

Dear Makers of Charmin,

I am greatly bothered by your ad campaign which portrays the red bear as "extra strong" and the blue bear as "extra soft". I believe that nothing in advertising happens without a reason, and that because we have a couple of populists running for president and because the Republican party has lost so much credibility during recent years, you are giving Charmin users a subliminal message that the Republican party is better than the Democratic party, that it is "stronger" in some way. While you might claim the colors were chosen arbitrarily, I would not believe such a claim, not for a minute. American consumers aren't so stupid as to not see this, as most of us know red is the Republican color and blue is the color of the Democratic party.

I am neither a Republican or a Democrat, but I find such subliminal advertising to be despicable. This especially disappoints me because I have been a regular user of your product(s) for years.

Please desist with your propaganda. Thanks very much!

Sincerely,

(my name here)


I think they will probably hoot and holler with laughter and have a good joke over it around their corporate water cooler, should they even bother to read it. But maybe if enough people point it out, they might start paying attention.

Snave said...

Oops, forgot to credit Distributorcap for his statement that "there are NO accidents in advertising". Otherwise my brain would not have come up with "nothing in advertising happens without a reason". DC is sure right about that one!

Mauigirl said...

Randal, so true - I'm sure they'd say they were "shocked, shocked!" that anyone interpreted their innocent ad this way!

Tomcat, good question. It's P&G - I bet I see a lot of funding going to the GOP.

Enigma, you're right. They should bring back Mr. Whipple and they wouldn't have had these problems. Since the original Whipple has passed on, they could pretend it is his son! ;-)

Snave, great, glad you sent them a complaint! Great letter! Maybe if enough of us do it, it will wake them up.

I'll check out the books you recommended also, thanks for telling me about them.

Mary Ellen said...

I wonder if they have a special Charmin for Republican House restrooms? Wide-stance Charmin?

I agree with dcap...there are no accidents in advertising. Charmin,the official toilet paper of the RNC Convention.

Distributorcap said...

i didnt know i could get so viral in comments

when you have 15-30 seconds to get a message out -- ever single second and ever single visual and every single sound byte means something....

just like the CROSS in mike huckabees ad --- he called it a coincidence. even my cat laughed at that one

Mimi Lenox said...

You've been royally tagged by the Queen of Memes. Please pass it on to as many as you'd like.
Long live the dungeon.

No Autographs, Please - The Band Meme

Mauigirl said...

Mary Ellen, wide-stance Charmin! Good one!

DCap, I agree. I'm sure nothing is a coincidence here.

Mimi, thanks, will be sure to play along! I am honored to be memed by the Queen of Memes!

Mary Ellen said...

i didnt know i could get so viral in comments

When distributorcap talks, everyone listens! :-)

Anne Prince said...

Well...you know the old saying "Does a bear shit on the beach" LOL!!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I had not seen those before. Interesting connection you made. I wonder how the company will respond.

Distributorcap said...

just call me E.F. Hutton
(i actually used to work there when it existed!)

Robert Rouse said...

I've always admired the fact that the Charmin ad agency wasn't afraid to go with the conceptual question of "Does a bear shit in the woods?"

However, I may just join in this campaign. My Charmin is both soft AND strong! :)

Mauigirl said...

Anne, let's hope they don't make a habit of it!

Nick, we shall see. I haven't heard back from my e-mail yet!

DCap, when you talk I always listen!

Robert, hope you join in! I guess if you have Charmin that's both soft AND strong, you get a purple bear???

TomCat said...

LOL, ME!!

Maui, here's that data on P&G:
16% to Democrats, 82% to Republicans, and 2% ($5,000) to independent Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

Mauigirl said...

Tomcat, very interesting...it fits, doesn't it? Just goes to show you, Distributorcap is right, there are no accidents in advertising.

Suzi Riot said...

How many times have I seen this stupid ad and this NEVER EVEN OCCURRED TO ME?! Oh my lawd.

Mauigirl said...

Suzi, that's the thing about subliminal advertising! People don't realize it but they may be influenced by it.

For P&G to come up with this, they must at least have acknowledged the possible meaning before they aired it. Big companies do a lot of analysis before airing an ad, and I would bet it even includes a run past their legal department. So someone thought of it, I'm sure.

fairlane said...

I think it's a great idea.

Associating the "Two Parties" with crap, and butt wiping is hilarious, and possibly the most accurate political commentary you'll find on television.

Mauigirl said...

Fairlane, LOL, you have a great point! Maybe the statement they were making was even more than what I interpreted it to be!