Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What is Wrong With Andrex?

Andrex wants to have a national discussion about shitting.

I shit you not.

It’s possibly the single-most bizarre marketing decision that any brand has made in years. Why would they choose to change their entire brand proposition from cute puppies and oblique references to talking about shit and how your ass feels after?

There was a great article about the move by Andrex shortly after the initial campaign began last year (the already infamous “Scrunch or Fold?”), written on Marketing Magazine. In it Helen Edwards argued that the whole point of toilet paper advertising is that we only accept it and allow it into our national discourse and advertising world because it is subtle and cutesy and doesn’t really talk about the subject matter (other than cushiony softness and the like). Andrex seems to be betting that they can change that.

But the real question about this is why Andrex? Andrex is dominant in the market, at least in its branding. If you ask anyone if they know a brand of loo roll I guarantee you, the first name that will come from their lips will be Andrex. They really didn’t need the shake-up – you’d expect this from some newcomer with a new proposition (though what that new offering could be in the world of pieces of paper with which to clean yourself is, I confess, beyond me).

So we’re left with this question. What will this do to Andrex? Ultimately the answer may simply be nothing, at least for the time being. Andrex has that brand dominance, and it won’t give it up anytime soon. But it’s still a strange, strange decision.

There’s a further point to all this. Andrex took a radical new campaign on, a huge turnaround from its traditional marketing. Why? Was there some evidence that the brand needed to change? That there could be a huge market gap in targeting people who like to talk about bowel movements?

It’s hard to imagine. But perhaps they simply fell victim to the allure of novelty. Perhaps they simply wanted to make something different, to shake things up for the sake of shaking things up. That’s bad marketing though, and it’s worth remembering this fact. Never drop a campaign that works just because you’re bored with it.

(If nothing else, remember that you probably get bored with it a lot faster than the public will.)

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