AdMiration feature: Andrex's “First Office Poo”

Isa Franzini & Kim Malcolm

For this week’s AdMiration feature, we researched Andrex's “First Office Poo” ad. 

This ad was a massive change for the brand and is part of a much larger campaign that even involves a partnership with Bowel Cancer UK. 

Read on to get our 3-2-1 snapshot of the ad (3 facts, 2 learnings and 1 reflection) and learn how their ad was received based on our data.

The ad: Andrex's “First Office Poo”

The ad opens to a woman sitting at her desk in an office. She unexpectedly breaks wind which causes all of her colleagues to look at her. Slightly embarrassed, she looks under her desk to see the familiar Andrex puppy giving her a whimper and a nod, signaling it’s time to head to the bathroom. 

The woman slides her chair back, grabs a roll of toilet paper from a cabinet and strides across the office while her colleagues watch. She stops by a table with magazines which brings a halt to a meeting happening opposite; she picks up a magazine but quickly changes her mind and opts for a French-German dictionary instead. 

Ready to go, she stops at the bathroom door, takes one last look at her colleagues, who continue to stare, takes a big sniff of the toilet roll and finally pushes the door open. The ad concludes with the message “Get Comfortable.”

3-2-1 snapshot

3 facts

  • The ad scores in the top 25% of all UK ads in potential to drive immediate sales and in the top 45% in potential to build brand equity in the long-term. 

  • It is truly differentiated compared to what the brand has done previously and what consumers have seen from other category players, with effective use of humor in a category that doesn’t often elicit this emotion in their advertising. 

  • The ad is highly successful at getting people to think about the brand the next time they are buying toilet paper, driving a purchase uplift significantly above the country norm. 

2 learnings

  • Eliciting a positive emotion that is unusual for the category or the brand can be a great way to drive differentiation in an impactful way. 

  • When diverging from a familiar and consistent communication approach, knowing the right assets to retain to ensure the brand is recognized is key. 

1 reflection

Is it time for your brand to approach communications with a different tone? Diverging from a “tried and tested” format or tone of voice in advertising that delivers positive results can actually benefit a brand if done appropriately and at the right time. It can also drive different associations that can build on already existing brand equity. 

About the campaign

This is a massive change for Andrex’s advertising approach. The campaign was inspired by research that found that half of the British population are shy about their bowels, which stops them from pooping in the workplace, at a partner’s house or when visiting in-laws’ homes. 

The aim of the campaign was to be as open as possible and start a conversation about going to the toilet without shame. The tagline “get comfortable” was chosen for the duality in the message, both about the subject the campaign tries to address and the benefit of the product in terms of softness. 

The campaign has multiple executions with several TV spots as well as outdoor static billboards: 

Recently, Andrex partnered with Bowel Cancer UK and this campaign comes as a follow-up from the partnership announcement and a prelude to an on-demand spot called “Born unembarrassed” that will launch this April coinciding with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. 

With a number of issues stemming from people’s embarrassment about going to the toilet, the brand felt it was their responsibility to start a conversation around the subject rather than just churning out products. However, they were not prepared to lose the puppy that has built their brand equity for years in the process; so they included it as a trigger in the campaign, encouraging people to confront their toilet issues.

A deep dive into the ad’s performance

The ad scores in the top 25% of all UK ads in potential to drive immediate sales (Sales Impact: 78) and in the top 45% in potential to drive brand equity and long-term sales (Brand Impact: 55). 

While it was overall a successful ad, the toilet humor seems to have more of an impact on certain groups of people: the ad sits within the top 10% in potential to drive immediate sales (Sales Impact: 91) and in the top 25% in potential to drive brand equity (Brand Impact: 78) among men. An older demographic also takes greater liking to the ad overall.

The ad feels extremely different compared to what’s been done by other players in the category as well as the type of advertising Andrex has done in the past, scoring significantly above the norm on ad distinctiveness (4.1 vs 3.6). 

Given how far removed from Andrex’s usual softness the campaign feels, this perhaps impacted the ad’s unaided brand recall (76% vs 72% norm) and uniqueness of brand impressions (3.7 vs 3.7 norm) which were both on par with the average UK ad. 

However, it’s clear that while taking a very different approach in this campaign, the brand was still keen to retain assets that have defined its image and equity over the years by including the golden labrador puppy that consumers know and love. For 46% of respondents, it was indeed the puppy that helped them identify it was an ad for Andrex. 

The ad was highly humorous, managing to address a more serious topic in a lighthearted way, scoring significantly above the country norm in the overall laughter reaction (27% vs 6% norm). This really makes the ad stand out within the personal care category in the UK, where the laughter norm is even lower than the country average at only 1%. Personal care ads tend to elicit different types of emotion with love and like ranging higher compared to other categories in the UK. 

The fact that it was funny and entertaining came up a number of times among the elements that people liked most about the ad, as well as how raw and relatable it felt, the boldness of the main character and of course the puppy!

Here’s what some respondents said they loved most about the ad:

  • "I liked the ad because we have all tried to hide blow offs in the past. By grabbing the toilet roll and walking to the toilet, the lady was owning it."

  • "I like the main character and the the ad shows completely that Andrex tissue gives more comfort"

  • "The actress was very good and looked very humble, I felt quite sorry for her. The concept of the ad was very different to other toilet roll ads and made the product more interesting to the consumer with a bit of toilet humor."

  • "The advert has a sense of humor. The situation is relatable to those who work in an office environment. The presentation of the product and tone of the advert gives the brand a more down to earth and relatable image."

  • "The cute Andrex puppy shows us that the toilet paper is soft and the advert proved that the toilet paper is reliable."

  • "It was a funny advert and we can all relate to being caught out like this. I like that the puppy was in it. When I saw the puppy I knew it was an Andrex advert."

  • "It was quite different and unpredictable from other ads and I loved the way the lady was comfortable."

However, it’s worth noting that some people struggled to understand what the ad was trying to convey. Confusion was higher than average for UK ads as the overall emotion felt (13% vs 4% norm) and one respondent said, “Confused, I do not understand what is happening or why."

Nevertheless, the ad is highly successful in getting the audience to think about Andrex the next time they are buying toilet paper with a purchase uplift score significantly outperforming the norm (19% vs 15%). Before watching the ad, 33% of respondents would have chosen Andrex the next time they are buying toilet paper; after watching the ad, this goes up to over half of the audience.

Wrapping up

The boldness of this new Andrex campaign in anticipation of their spot dedicated to their recent partnership with Bowel Cancer UK is certainly worth applauding! 

What did you think? Let us know by interacting with our coverage of the ad on LinkedIn.

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