NEW YORK Procter & Gamble will aim to catch consumers by surprise with a series of off-season election ads that urge consumers to select the next flavor of Crest Whitening Expressions toothpaste.
One spot in the $50 million-plus campaign, from Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, shows man-on-the-street interviews about the voting between Lemon Ice, Sweet Berry Punch and Tropica Exotica that plays off last year's election. "If Sweet Berry Punch wins, me and my friends are moving to Canada," one woman exclaims. Another woman reveals that she's a Lemon Ice supporter, but her husband backs Sweet Berry Punch and "that's why we have separate bathrooms." A Hispanic man proudly states that he's the first person in his family to be able to vote for a toothpaste.
Other ads are deadpan pitches for different flavors. A Lemon Ice ad features the backdrop of the American flag and states that only one candidate is an "ice-cold wake-up call." One is based on Ronald Reagan's classic "Morning in America" ad from 1984.
Steve Landberg, executive creative director at Saatchi, said the ads would have the surprise factor: "You'll be like, 'Why am I seeing an election ad now?' "
TV and print ads, which break May 16, drive viewers to Crest.com, where they can vote for their flavor of choice and register for one of three trips for two. The effort runs through July 31. P&G will announce the winning flavor in September.
Matt Barresi, associate director of oral care at P&G, said the company has never done anything like this before, at least "not to our knowledge." The catalyst was P&G CEO A.G. Lafley's consumer-centric approach, which began five years ago when Lafley took the helm. "This is truly putting the consumer in the driver's seat," Barresi said.