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 Coming Clean On Dirt In Detergent Commercials


WELCOME to the world of the detergent television advertisement better known as commercial. Typically, the promise of such a commercial is that, no matter the degree of stains, those clothes will look as good as new after one wash with the brand being showcased.

There was a time in Nigeria when there were a few competing detergent brands and prospective consumers weighed these advert promises with quiet discretion.

Times have not only changed, but there are many more brands, big and small, vying for the patronage of the prospective consumer – the same one who has likely seen the different advertisement will have to make the choice on which detergent ‘moves’ her purse.

A known fact is that the explosion of information and multiplicity of the sources will not make the contemporary and well-informed consumers to be sweet talked or bamboozled into believing the functional benefit of a detergent neither will they part with their money for the fun of it.

Take the ongoing Ultimate Showdown campaign by Unilever’s Omo, which seeks to authenticate the “Fast action stain remover” brand promise through experiential engagements called ‘Demo Washes’, Consumers have viewed it as a welcome initiative as it proves the efficacy of Omo detergent against the competition in the presence of the public.

If there is any ‘sensationalism’ in Omo’s current drive, it may reside in the campaign’s moniker, Ultimate Showdown, which echoes the patented professional wrestling events shown on cable television. 

Perhaps, this explains the fulcrum of the conversation, The Future of Marketing, which The Economist had with six visionaries of marketing, including Seth Godin, John Hagel, Gavin Heaton, Aditya Josh, Marc Mathieu and Jim Stengel. 

These six men believe that marketers who are serious about engaging the customer must recognise that the most valuable moments are when the customer is in touch with them, through using their product, on the phone or reading their content.

According to Sarah Adoki, the Brand Manager for Omo, “The Ultimate Showdown is the latest in a long line of ‘Demo Washes’ the brand has staged successfully over the years. It is a platform for us to demonstrate the effectiveness of our new fast action stain removal technology which reaches deeper into fabrics to tackle tough stains.”

Adoki added: “When Omo was launched in Nigeria over 50 years ago, there were some brands in the market and others that joined in later. Though, some have fallen by the wayside, yet, the market is still saturated. One reason the brand has remained a household name is its constant innovation in delivering superior cleaning power to our consumers.”

Naturally, a brand Manager should play up her brand. However, the verdict of the man or woman on the street should prove more compelling – like Ireti Shogunle’s.

Mrs. Shogunle is a wife and mother of three young children, who witnessed a showdown in her Ebute-Meta, Lagos neighbourhood recently and was impressed. “I enjoyed the experience and the set -up of the showdown. It is not like I needed some conviction because Omo has been a part and parcel of my life. It was the detergent my Mother used for the family washing and I am using it for my own family too, because it has remained reliable. In fact, I will gladly pass Omo to my kids as it has gotten better over time,” she said.

On his part, Mr. John Ofoegbu who runs his own convenience store in Makurdi, Benue State, admitted that he rarely gets involved in the laundry matters of his household. “I sell different detergents and the best ones like Omo always bring in many customers. Even my wife only uses Omo for the washing in our home and our clothes always look their best.’’

At this juncture, the words of the legendary American Adman Leo Burnett come to mind: The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising, in my opinion, is believability and nothing is more believable than the product itself.

These should be words to go by in a world where sensationalism surrounding brands, including detergents, can indeed be off-putting. 

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