Behind the idea: The problem with wrinkles

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Sexual innuendo continues to be a favourite tool of advertisers for a simple reason - it works and it’s usually effortlessly funny. 

Such is the case in this spot by Procter & Gamble’s multi-agency shop Woven (with teams from Grey), which plays on the fact that statistically speaking, if your clothes are wrinkled and messy, people are more likely to assume you’re up to no good. This is particularly true if you happen to be a couple of grandparents emerging from a tiny hallway closet.

The new spot showcases an unfortunate miscommunication between a grandson and his grandparents doing some work in the hallway closet. Their wrinkles send a message no grandchild ever wants to see and offers the anti-wrinkle product, Downy WrinkleGuard, as a solution to all of our wrinkled-outfit-woes.

It’s a fun way to make a valid point and to gain some insight into how the team decided upon going down such a quirky and comedic route, we caught up with the team at Grey to go behind the idea.

What was the brief?

The brief was to launch Downy’s newest product, WrinkleGuard, by making people realise how much of a problem wrinkles are and as a result, how essential WrinkleGuard is.

How did the initial conversations/pitch/brainstorming phase go?

This was a new product launch that leaned into a benefit Downy isn’t known for – Wrinkles – so it was critical that the work helped people realise how problematic wrinkles can be. Every idea was closely evaluated through this lens. 

The idea “wrinkles send the wrong message” actually started as an out of home activation, but it was so concise and clear that we all agreed it could be much bigger than just one execution.

Tell us about the concept and why it was the right choice?

There’s a lot of research out there that says wrinkled or unkempt clothes make people think less of you. In 1/10th of a second, people are already subconsciously, and often wrongfully, judging you.

The team found a great way to use this moment of misperception as the hook for our campaign. The scripts pushed the envelope, but we felt that was critical in making memorable work that would effectively breakthrough to sell a new product.  

What was the production process like?

The production was smooth. Station Films and Townhouse did a great job prepping and getting ahead of any potential hurdles - casting was especially phenomenal. Our biggest challenge was, and always is in the world of fabric care, wardrobe. Getting the camera to pick up natural wrinkles was tough, and if we didn’t capture that, none of the work would have landed. 

What’s the main message of the campaign and why is it important?

The main message is to prevent your clothes from speaking for you. “Wrinkles send the wrong message” is all about letting the world see you for who you are, instead of how you look.

Why will the final assets resonate with consumers?

They already have. The initial responses on social media have been overwhelmingly positive and Downy WrinkleGuard sales are off to a great start. There’s always a risk with comedy that people won’t get it, but the lighthearted approach of this campaign seems to be hitting the mark. 

What’s the most interesting thing or unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through?

Funny commercials are becoming a rarity these days and no other brand in the category is doing this kind of work – the tone helps us stand out against our competition. We’ve never laughed so hard on a shoot before, so that’s always a good sign.

How long did it take to make from inception to delivery?

We had a product launch deadline to meet, so it moved very fast. From the day the script was presented to production was less than 3 months.​ 

What do you hope it achieves for the brand now it’s out?

We hope it sells the product and makes Downy a stronger brand. Right now, it’s doing a good job of both.​ 

How satisfying is it to have released the campaign?

There was a lot riding on this. Our team worked a lot of weekends to get this right and support it on other channels beyond just TV. It feels great knowing our hard work is paying off.



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