Droga5 and Clearasil Don’t Understand Teens, Either

By Patrick Coffee 

UUUUUUUUGGGGH, millennials/teens, amirite??

People (allegedly) pay shameless hucksters $20,000 an hour to help #brands understand them, yet Droga5 somehow convinced the ultimate teenage client to admit that it has absolutely no fucking idea what’s going on in those pot-addled minds of theirs.

Thus the agency known for marketing parodies presents another elaborate marketing parody, allowing Clearasil to make light of its own cluelessness. The angle is pretty much like this: our past attempts to push our products to you by getting in your Teen Zone were very lame, but you can still totes trust us to CRUSH your zits. (Do the kids still say “totes?”)


Here’s the anthem spot.

Droga’s first work for Clearasil debuted last summer with a mom perpetually walking in on her teenage son doing various things. There’s a bit more to this new campaign elaborating on the same “we basically give up” theme with each subsequent spot focusing on a different thing that kids may or may not like.

Oh see, they’re also making fun of the fact that every damn campaign has to include some #hashtag #activation because how else will clients know whether it’s working???

And yes, of course they made separate spots for “Paul Leave” and “Paul Stay.” It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure campaign!

There are quite a few variations here. Come on, you know this next one is like sooo many inspirational case study spots you see every week.

These guys just can’t help but make fun of every damn thing. From the pitch email:

Each piece is supported across a variety of media, with a host of interactivity for teens to troll or appreciate Clearasil’s earnest attempts at connecting with them. The brand is genuinely asking teens, “did this one work?” with each attempt, hoping to create an honest, entertaining dialogue that doesn’t try to engage teens in an inauthentic way.

Well…not really. But your point is taken. Next, how different is 3 AM from 2 AM? Not very.

Today Droga5 GCD Tim Gordon told AdFreak that this campaign isn’t just about making fun of marketing tropes…it’s more about getting the client to stop trying to be hip and approach things like a mom of teenage kids.

The brand is staying in character, too.

clearasil youtube

“Is this impressing you, or doing nothing to you?”

Some awkward fake stock images:

…and a close-up on some real zits:

Questions of effectiveness aside, here is an undeniably true statement, again from the email:

This year, when Clearasil wanted to build real trust with teens, we realized that the only thing that will feel genuine to teens is the truth. And the truth is: Clearasil is a company located in Parsippany, New Jersey full of highly skilled professionals.

We will never ever claim to be experts on the Millennials. But we do know of one thing they like: fashion.

We also know, as people who were once pimply teenagers, that there’s no single product that will make that shit go away in 12 hours and all claims to the contrary are just sales crap. But that’s kind of beside the point, no?


Client: RB/Clearasil
Campaign: “We know acne, we don’t know teens”

Agency: Droga5 New York
Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Group Creative Director: Tim Gordon
Associate Creative Director: Jen Lu:
Copywriter: Sarah Lloyd
Art Director: Mary Dauterman
Junior Copywriter: Madeleine Trebenski
Junior Art Director: Brittain McNeel
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Head of Broadcast Production: Ben Davies
Group Integrated Production Manager: Topher Lorette
Broadcast Producer: Leah Donnenberg
Associate Broadcast Producer: Jackie Omanoff
Social Producer: Gabrielle Nicoletti
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Group Strategy Director: Jonny Gadd
Strategy Director: Danielle Travers:
Group Communications Strategy Director: Samantha Deevy
Social Communications Strategist: Maureen O’Brien
Data Strategy Director: Lily Ng
Data Strategist: Christina Fieni
Senior Strategist: Nika Rastakhiz
Executive Group Directors: Brett Edgar, Angela Kosniewski
Account Directors: Amanda Chandler, Megan Gokey
Account Manager: Lucie Kittel
Project Manager: Rayna Lucier

Client: RB/Clearasil
General Manager, U.S.: Chris Tedesco
Marketing Director: Aurore Trepo
Brand Managers: Niccolo Francalanci, Elyse Goldweitz
Associate Brand Manager: Rochelle Samuels

Production Company: Ways & Means
Director: Sunbeam (Nick Paley and Dean Fleisher-Camp)
Director of Photography: James Wall
Executive Producers: Jett Steiger, Lana Kim
Producer: Cedric Troadec

Editors: Sean McGrath, Chuck Willis
Assistant Editors: Julie Walsh, Misha Kozlov
Executive Producer: Susan Willis
Producer: Melissa Nusbaum

Postproduction: Light of Day
Executive Producer: Susan Willis
Producer: Melissa Nusbaum:

Color Grade: RCO
Colorist: Seth Ricart
Executive Producer: Marcus Lansdell

Sound: Cutting Room
Mixer: Walter Bianco