Wandering around a supermarket when it's not busy like at 8am on a Saturday morning makes one of life's necessary evils ever so slightly more pleasurable. Not much more, admittedly I'd rather be asleep, for one thing but ever so slightly. One thing it does afford me is the time to look critically at the packaging which has been agonised over for months; each brand trying to outshine and out 'want me!' their competitors. You can't do that with someone's bored five-year-old swinging from a trolley next to you and interfering with your brand-savvy critical eye.
Last weekend, I was at the supermarket on such a morning and, as I wended my way up and down each aisle methodically as I always do, I found myself at the bleach and detergents section. (Don't click away from this blog post now it does have a point...) It struck me how difficult it must be to sell bleach. I mean, look it kills germs. That's pretty much all you want out of it. Whether it smells of lemon or pine is neither here nor there. It still smells essentially bloody awful and reminds you of having to walk through the foot dip on swimming school trips. Domestos did, admittedly, come up with a pretty good slogan, even though it's basically hyperbole gone hyperbolic. 'Domestos. Kills all known germs. Dead.' Thank you, makers of Domestos. I won't complain if some germs get through which nobody has yet identified and I can rest assured that the next time I plonk my buns down on my toilet seat after the bowl has had an overnight dose of your product, the germs have not been merely semi-killed, maimed, slightly bruised or tickled into submission. They are, quite simply, dead. Jolly good.
Bleach in basket, I moved on to kitchen cleaners. Now, then, I have two words for you which A) do not mean anything and B) sound stupid: Cillit Bang. 'I'm just popping out for some Cillit Bang, dear!' See? It doesn't work. 'Cillit Bang it to death. Till it's, like, totally dead.' That doesn't work either. Get Julian Clary to advertise it, maybe? Er, no. He'd put way too much emphasis and eyebrow movement on the 'bang' and we'd all shift uncomfortably when watching the advert pre-watershed with our mums. So no, let's apparently fly in the face of good advertising sense and get an overzealous two-dimensional fictional nobody to shout not just CILLIT BANG at you, but EVERY WORD HE SAYS IN THE ADVERT! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Barry Scott. Seeing is believing - click below:
Barry Scott advertising Cillit Bang is one of those phenomena which absolutely shouldn't work on paper but absolutely does. A bit like Rolf Harris performing at Glastonbury. And clearly the manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser again, a name which sounds more like a playground geek punishment akin to a wedgie than a multinational corporation knows exactly what it's doing. RB, as they are more commonly known because not even the employees can say it right, are a colossal multinational household product giant. A few weeks ago, they bought the firm behind Scholl and Durex Condoms, SSL International, for £2.5 billion. They have in their portfolio a myriad of powerbrands including Air Wick, Calgon, Dettol, Clearasil, Nurofen, Harpic, Gaviscon, Optrex, Strepsils, Sweetex, Vanish I could go on which are sold in nearly 200 countries around the world. But how they came up with Cillit Bang or Barry Scott is beyond me. And yet, as I say, it somehow works.
Barry Scott is now quite simply a cult figure. Discussed in student bars, imitated at parties and, believe it or not, there is a techno remix of his ad floating around YouTube with four and a half MILLION hits. And here it is. Enjoy. If you can tell me how and why Barry Scott and Cillit Bang works as a brand, I'm all ears...
by Ashley Morrison
Ashley is a blogger, copywriter and editor