Most folks won't be floored by these brief, humorous Pine-Sol vignettes. But that's probably OK with the venerable brand, which just wants to tell viewers that its grease- and stain-fighting action works on lots of household stuff, not just floors.
Running as YouTube pre-rolls geared to the site's most popular searches—from "funny cat videos" to "makeup tutorials"—each ad opens by explaining something the product can't do.
For example, in the clip below, will Kitty leap onto the table or the countertop? Pine-Sol concedes it hasn't got a clue. But it has got the right stuff to make either surface shine:
Heh, Mr. Boddington's all like, "I'm stock footage—meow!" Using stock exclusively allowed Pine-Sol to keep the costs low across 19 videos.
"The work was designed to resonate with the audience by meeting them where they are, and talking about the things they're talking about—literally," says Stefan Smith, senior copywriter at Critical Mass, which developed the campaign. "Our target is too clever and focused to watch something they don't connect with right away, and Pine-Sol isn't something they are naturally enthused about."
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C'mon, dude, who isn't enthused about Pine-Sol? (Maybe they'll put you on a car account next time.)
Oh, and the tagline changes to fit each ad. "Pine-Sol. We're not cats" serves Mr. B. well enough, but aspiring rockers get a different slogan:
Wow, "We don't rock" shows admirable self-awareness, Pine-Sol! Kidding, of course. You absolutely rock—as much as any household cleaner can.
"By tying into the thing they're actually looking for, we've got a way better chance of getting the viewer to watch our ad and consider our message," Smith says. "It doesn't seem so random, as so much pre-roll does. It might even be a little surprising or uncanny, making them wonder how we did it."
Does this qualify as Cannes-conquering comedy? No. That said, the best ads of the bunch are amusing absurd. This next one deals with dating, and as it turns out, this particular scenario sparked an animated discussion among the creative team:
"We end the video with 'Pine-Sol. We don't date.' Which is obviously true. A bottle of Pine-Sol has never dated anyone or anything," Smith says. "But originally we wanted to say 'Pine-Sol. We're lonely.' Which consistently had us laughing out loud. But then we had to be our own buzzkill, because a bottle of Pine-Sol doesn't ever feel lonely. And we argued over that point for hours. There's still a bit of schism in the office. There's a good chance the argument may come back up at the Christmas party."