Toilet paper advertising has taken tiny steps toward addressing the reality of the product’s application in recent years–at least the word “go” now appears in TP ads, in veiled acknowledgement of the essential movement involved. But for the most part the category is shrouded in cuddly misdirects. Soft, comfy, puppies, bears, what?!
Quilted Northern has been around for 100 years and it KNOWS what goes on in the throne room. Its new “Designed to be Forgotten” ad campaign from agency Droga5, and directed by Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), a selection of inanimate objects lament their fate as bathroom decor and the potty PTSD that comes with it.
Senior brand director Jason Ippen says it can be a struggle to communicate the things the brand does well in an engaging way. “We know it’s not a category people like to discuss that much, but at the same time we know people do have strong opinions when the product doesn’t work,” says Ippen. “If you go directly at the topic it can be off-putting, and if you dance around it you don’t necessarily get your message across. Our competitors are going down both those paths and we wanted to establish a unique voice.”
The tragic monologues of Daddy Gator, Little Miss Puffytail, and Great Grandpa Thaddeus certainly deliver that unique voice in spades. Droga5 chief creative officer Ted Royer says the brief from the brand was to make an interesting statement about how well designed the Quilted Northern product is.
“Really, the greatest thing a toilet tissue can do is work so well you won’t really think about using it, or remember using it at all,” says Royer. “That’s it, that’s the top. Anything else is kind of bullshit. You DEFINITELY remember when toilet paper doesn’t work. But when it works great, you don’t think about it. That lead us quickly to Designed to Be Forgotten.”
No puppies, no forest creatures, no technical talk about ply counts or absorption science, just a hilariously tasteful bathroom joke. “Because talking about anything else seemed like avoiding the issue,” says Royer. “It felt funny and honest and direct.”