Lowe Sinks Teeth Into Oral-B Ads

Lowe & Partners/SMS’ global branding campaign for Oral-B Laboratories avoids clinical demonstrations and talking-head endorsements–common conventions in toothbrush ads–and refrains even from showing the product.
The agency has opted instead for stylish portraits of Oral-B users scored with the old Bobby Darin song, “More.”
Four TV spots, in both 30- and 15-second executions, show team pictures of “like-minded” folk such as surfers, firefighters, ballerinas, bagpipers and soccer players, all identified by captions such as, “More soccer players use an Oral-B toothbrush. But that’s not why you should.” The ads conclude with the established tagline: “Oral-B. The brand more dentists use themselves.”
While the dentists’ endorsement resonated with consumers, it needed updating, said Gary Paladin, worldwide business manager for Oral-B, a division of Gillette.
It is the New York shop’s first corporate campaign for the client since winning the $15-20 million assignment in early 1997 from incumbent BBDO West, after a review. The spots break in the U.S. this week on network, cable and syndicated TV.
“The idea of Oral-B being the brand dentists use themselves needed more humanity and new life,” said Paul Santello, a group account director at Lowe. “We shot real people for consumers to identify with, not actors.”
The campaign follows some tactical ads by Lowe touting Oral-B toothbrushes’ blue bristles, which indicate when a brush should be replaced.
Oral-B leads the toothbrush segment with nearly $160 million in sales for the year ended June 28, per Information Resources. Runner-up Colgate posted $120 million in sales.
The category as a whole has seen inroads from marketers of electric toothbrushes, such as Optiva Corp.’s Sonicare. Those brands compete with Gillette’s Braun line, which uses the Oral-B trademark.
Lowe services Oral-B from its New York and San Francisco offices.