Attract weird strangers with Gain detergent

"It smells that good" is the tagline on these Canadian print ads from Leo Burnett Toronto for Gain detergent, showing strangers getting awfully close to people who are wearing Gain-laundered clothes. Basic problem: Public sniffing is only enjoyable for the sniffer. It's usually an invasion of privacy for the sniffee. What's worse, the airport, art gallery and subway stations in these ads are so sanitized, lonely and overly bright, it creates a kind of horror-film effect, like the calm right before the crazed slasher claims another victim. This impression is particularly strong in the subway ad. If someone gets that close to you on a train platform, you know you're in for a mugging, some lovin' or a trip headlong into the 6:05 express. Besides, how effective can the ads be if readers have to squint—and perhaps look twice—to get the message?

—Posted by David Gianatasio