American advertising is weird. Or maybe Americans are weird, and the advertising just reflects it.
For years you could not do a TV commercial in which a woman wore a bra. No, let me correct that. You could show a woman wearing bra, but she had to wear it over her clothes. Alternatively, you could show how a bra crossed the heart of a dummy. No problem with Goldie Hawn wearing a bikini on Laugh-In; but she couldn’t wear the top in a commercial.
Now we have Victoria’s Secret fashion shows on TV. Hooray for progress.
Think carefully: have you ever heard the term “toilet paper” used in a commercial for, um, toilet paper? Can you think of any remotely rational reason why not?
I mean, what’s the offensive part, the toilet or the paper? Does putting the two words together too strongly provide an image of its use…a mental picture that would appeal to the prurient interests of …well, not very many people?
For decades, advertisers avoided the issue like a plague…of hemorrhoids. They kept harping on strength and softness because research showed them that those were the traits Americans most preferred in their…lavatory linens. Millions of dollars were spent on focus groups to discover this, as if marketers couldn’t guess intuitively that Americans wouldn’t like wiping their butts with paper that had the feel and strength of stale bread.
But the advertisers came around eventually. About the time network TV decided that characters on sitcoms could say the word “ass,” Charmin’, once the target of a vicious groping and squeezing campaign (which was halted only by the intervention of that supermarket superhero, Mr. Whipple), finally decided that it could imply–with extreme subtlety–that its product was intended for use on a particular region of the body. It did this in the most natural and sane way possible, by showing toilet paper stuck to the behinds of pastel-colored cartoon bears. This even though the bears had no visible orifices on which they might use toilet paper.
And now Charmin’ is once again on the wiping edge. It has brought toilet paper advertising into the 20th century with its new tagline: “Enjoy the go.”
Yes, “the go.” That’s what you call it, isn’t it?
The breakthrough here is the rather frank admission that “we all go to the bathroom.” However, they’re not quite ready to totally remove whatever has been clogging the cavity of caca commercials for decades, because their website introduces itself thusly:
“Welcome to the playful side of TP. Where we believe going to the bathroom is a thing to enjoy — even celebrate.”
Did you have to pause for a second there? Who is Proctor & Gamble talking about? Tom Petty? Tony Perkins? I don’t care how playful they are, I don’t want either of them in my bathroom while I’m trying to “enjoy the go,” especially since Tony Perkins might be dressed as his mother. Plus he’s been dead awhile.
What’s that? Oh…that TP! That’s right–they still can’t bring themselves to say “toilet paper”–not even on their website! “TP?” That’s somebody who carves his initials on a tree, not something that street cleans Anal Avenue.
For those who may be puzzled by the whole “enjoy the go” thing, their website has a helpful link that lets you “check out this video to learn more about Enjoy the Go.” The video is essentially a list of all the times during the day when a human being might possibly decide to go to the bathroom: in the morning, after morning coffee, at work and after dinner.
I know that pretty much covers it for me.
Well, I’ve heard of the five stages of grief, but not the four stages of poop. “The calm?” Really? Is that before or after the storm? And what role does Charmin’ play in the relief stage, unless they mean that wonderful moment of ecstasy when, after “the go,” you confirm that there is, in fact, a spare roll within reach.
And where do the pastel-colored bears come in again?
See you soon.