Hillary and Margo Yell at Soap [Dr. Squatch Analysis]


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Dr squatch marketing analysis where Hillary and Margo yell at soap.

Ladies and gentlemen and non-binary compatriots –

Strap on your shower caps and hang on to your loofahs, because today you’re getting in the tub with #HAMYAW.

This One Does it All

More specifically, on today’s episode of Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites, we’re pulling back the (shower) curtain on Dr. Squatch’s soap, and the viral commercial that, quite frankly, teaches every lesson in copywriting, branding, and understanding your market that we’ve ever wanted to teach you.

(So basically after this episode, #HAMYAW is over. Pack it in everyone, we can go home.

Just kidding.)

Marketing for the Dudes of the World

I found this commercial fascinating for a couple of reasons:

  • At the outset, this approach to making such an ordinary product like soap exciting might remind you of the situational humor of the Old Spice commercials. However, Old Spice was far more surrealist, and targeted more at women than men. This one is for the dudes.
  • They found a way to make a message men typically don’t care about (all natural ingredient soap) relevant to the Dude’s Dudes of the world by creating a really deliberate, specific (<– there’s that word I keep harping on) conversation.

AND. The commercial manages to do both of these things without feeling like it’s trying too hard…

… Which is basically the marketing equivalent of sending a camel through the eye of a needle.

We’ll Bring the Soap and the Laughs

So today, your favorite hosts are getting back to their screenshare roots to walk you through this commercial, laugh a lot, and send you off into the world a little wiser, and possibly more sweet smelling.

Catch our latest episode to find out:

  • How you build a compelling narrative around something that’s totally ordinary
  • The magical power of meaningful specifics like “opens the pickle jar on the first try”
  • Why “Pine Tar” is such a genius name (and how it stands out from Old Spice’s over-the-top naming strategy)
  • Why great ads never feel like ads and how to create that effect for yourself
  • And more…

You Bring the Comments

And while you’re over there let us know:

What do YOU think of the ad? (And my terrible British accent from the cold open cough cough).

How does it compare to the more surrealist Old Spice commercials of mid 2000’s lore, or other viral commercials you’ve seen?

Share your thoughts in the comments – and stay squatchy, my friends.

Write on,
H

Episode Transcript

Oh my God.  

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world. It’s time for another episode of HAMYAW, and today we’re…

I sound Australian. And today we’re going to talk about being English when you’re not English. Is it appropriate for your brand? Should you take on a ridiculous accent? We don’t fucking know, let’s go! (upbeat music)  

Welcome back marketing nerds of the world. It is time for another episode of HAMYAW and today Margo and I want to talk about a positively delightful ad we’ve seen recently, I believe, for a product by a brand called Dr. Squatch.

And we really wanna dig in today, go back to our roots, get our screen share on and share with you guys a little bit about what this ad does really, really right. And the lessons we can learn from it. And it’s basically everything Margo and I’ve ever wanted to teach you guys. So, Margo, take it away.  

Yes! Okay, so I actually heard about this soap from you guys. And now it’s stalking me online which makes me really, really happy. But here’s the funny thing about, soap is soap. I know that was a really great line.  

You’re going to stick with that?!  

Okay, here’s my point. Like there’s nothing unique about soap that is like male or female, high end or low end. Like when you take off the packaging, soap is just like chemicals in this mush thing, like a piece of chalk. And then we shape it in certain ways.

And then we package it in certain ways. I guess what I’m saying is like, it is the perfect canvas to brand because it naturally isn’t anything specific. And so what stood out to me about this is before

Soap is effectively boring as hell.  

Yes, actually! So let me give you some historical context.

So Ogilvy had an opportunity to brand a soap that PNG was having trouble selling. And what they did is make this soap white, and decide that it was for women. And then they decided that the things that they were going to tell you about the soap was how moisturizing it was, and how you could use it in the bath and how luxurious it was.

Before it was just soap that like men could use from a hard day of work after the construction job. For whatever reason, those things which have no effect on how you clean your body because soap is soap, became really important as to what your buying decision was. 

So the brand that you now know is Dove is completely manufactured. Like the same bar goes into other things. Right?

But you buy Dove now because you’re like, I believe in female empowerment and female brands. And it’s built this whole thing about it.

Okay, so we know that and they’ve done a really good job for the last 50 years since, of branding soaps for women. No one’s really done this for men. And that’s what was so cool about Dr. Squatch. I think that’s how you say it. I keep saying Sasquatch.  

I believe it’s squash actually. Soft t. No, it’s definitely Dr. Squatch.

I think what you’re getting at Margo, and one thing I’m really excited to talk about today and dig into is how to build narrative around a product like that, that really works. How do you build narrative around something totally ordinary and make it a staple?

And it’s ketchup here in the US basically and Coca Cola, basically framing it as like the all American kind of man and the all American drink and building community around it. And it’s so much more powerful than the thing itself. 

Because our instinct when we’re newer marketers is to be like, “Hey, here’s the thing, look at this soap, like it cleans you, it’s fresh, and it does its job, and it’s cheap like, Yeah!”

But the more advanced you get into the process of branding and understanding marketing, the more you understand that actually, if you can land on a narrative, like in the case of Dove, this soap is luxurious for women, and it totally doesn’t make your face feel super tight after you wash your face with it at night.

And that’s just the moisture getting in. So I’m really excited to watch this ad because I have actually not seen it in its entirety. I’m going to be watching with all you guys. So let’s jump in, shall we?  

First of all, can we both agree that this is the world’s best spokesperson, like whoever cast this guy you win. You just win.  

This dude had to take a break from microbrewing his own beers and to have this conversation with us today. 

[Dr. Squatch commercial plays.]

I wish we could do a handoff in between like that. Oh my god, that was fabulous for obvious reasons. The mommy’s little helper. I am even down with the internalized misogyny very briefly.

But I think it was again a really great case of we have those traditional copyrighted rules like take a stand, tell people why they should care, all that stuff, but it doesn’t in a really smart way that I think balances the like, masculine piece of things, but also making fun of it.

Because right now men are at a time where they’re self aware about the fact that you’re being sold shampoo in a separate bottle that’s like, gorilla scent, meh.  

Pine tar.  

Exactly, and it’s just soap, like, relax. It puts together a really interesting narrative for them that both laughs at the traditions of like male grooming, while still underlining, but the part of it’s that’s valued, which

Yeah, it gives you permission!  

Yeah…  

I know so many dudes that were like, I just bought it and I want to buy it too, I want to sign up. But what I thought was so great about this is you watch it, first of all, you feel like you know him, you feel like you know every character, and this is why we say, advertising shouldn’t feel like an ad if you’re the market.

It feels like oh, this is a helpful piece of information. Like I laughed so hard, I watched all the way to the end. And then I realized that all the principles that we talked about here and that we learn when you become like a copywriter.  

Yeah.  

Meaningful specifics. To say open the pickle jar on the first try.

I wanted to sit in the writers room like how did you come up with the…that’s bullet points. Like when you’re looking at your sales pages, those are the bullet points. Those are the little things that people really get stuck on. But it’s like that just confirmed to your market who you’re talking to.  

Yeah.  

A certain market is going to think those things are hilarious. The real key reference, meaningful, specifics.  

Yeah, and this is also what I teach a lot when I’m working with students, which is when you think about like the pain points, the goals, the self personal identifiers, it’s not enough to be like, “Are you a man who wants to be a man?” Yeah.

You got to get too specific about what being a man means in this specific demographic. And obviously it’s targeting millennials, Gen X, Gen Y men. Maybe there are some boomers thrown in there, we don’t know.

But largely millennials who have different definitions of what being a masculine but being a regular guy is.

And I think what this says differently from say, the Old Spice commercials, where there’s that hyper hyper masculine Terry Crews and that other guy was like… “Tickets to the best night of your life. The tickets are now diamonds.” 

It was like hyper-masculine but aimed at women for the men. But I think this is aimed directly at men, and again men who consider themselves kind of average Joes. But what I really enjoyed about the commercial was that throwing the chemicals on the guy.

Because I know in like traditional male female roles around taking care of your skin like, for women it’s easy to be like all natural products or I’ll breakout and it’s really gonna suck and I like this dries my skin out, all these perfumes. 

And guys are taught to be like, “these crazy women, right? Like damn, what are they even thinking they spend so much money on these things, and it means nothing.

I’m perfect with my Irish spring and I get a little itchy in the winter but that’s just ‘cause my skin gets itchy and I don’t use lotion.” When they were throwing the chemicals on him and talking about like how the government or corporations basically like ruin soap and to a point that’s true, like if you use natural soap you really notice the difference between like grabbing the store bought like $2 thing.

But I liked how it demonstrated it without feeling preachy or feeling like they were trying to convince you that natural is better for hygiene or grooming reasons, but it was basically like this stuff sucks. “Don’t use it, use this!” And I really liked how direct it was. I think it’s a perfect note to hit.  

And more specific. Like it said, when you see things for women, there’s a few notes you see. Always eye wrinkles.  

Yeah.  

Always neck, hands. There’s certain places that they emphasize. And then there’s right, and then there’s things that they, longevity, timeless, effortless, youth, right. And then for the dude like he said, lower sperm count.  

Yeah.  

This is what I mean by there are neutral statements that you can say about soap, about chemicals, about the product across the board, and then you cherry pick which ones go into your ad, depending on who you’re targeting.

There is no soap ad in the history of soap for women, that is ever going to suggest that you’re going to have low sperm count. Here’s the irony in all of it, is that women buy most of the soap and conditioner and like grooming products for a household. Relics from my time at CPG.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah Old Spice commercials, yeah.  

And dudes are using anything the women bought. So that information is actually super relevant because if Dove is in the shower, dudes are using Dove because they’re using whatever the fuck is in the shower.  

Yeah.  

He also  

Every sperm is sacred.  

Right, face, neck, hands. Dudes he just said balls. Like there was no other part of your body it was just like balls.  

Your dry, lonely balls. I mean that’s concerning. I’d be concerned if I had balls.  

But that’s why it’s so smart!  

Exactly. And it goes right for the pain point what your audience is going to care about most like, is it the actual ingredients? Not necessarily. Is it the scent? Not necessarily.

But think of your balls gentlemen. Think about them. Are you thinking about them right now? Are they going to be dry? Is your sperm count going to be lower? I don’t know? Buy this soap like you’re convinced all over again. You’re welcome.  

Yeah, exactly.  

Just trying to save sperm.  

I thought this was so well executed on all the principles we’re talking about and something I wanna drive home to the people watching is, we tell you “Clear trumps clever”. Even though this was really really funny, like they did a really nice job of understanding their consumer and reflecting back at them their own language.  

Yeah.  

So this was, this was funny because you identify with it. It wasn’t because they wrote good jokes. It was funny because it was like, Oh, shit. It was like I don’t expect to see this from a commercial because you expected a commercial to lie to you and to like feel a little higher end. And instead, like they purposely made it look like a home video, that embodied the values that you embody.  

With average looking guys.  

Well, no. Not the testimonial.  

Not the testimonial guys or the shower guy, but the narrator. And I also really appreciated how it was like the opening shot is just him looking dead at the camera like “that soap you’re using, it’s shit!” Like can you imagine if we did like online business like that like, “those other YouTube shows and podcasts you’re watching, they’re shit.”

Like that would be madness, but it works for this because you have to grab their attention because men aren’t gonna want to sit through a soap commercial. I don’t even want to sit through commercials and I love personal care and grooming.

They had that split second to grab the attention that did such a great job. That’s again another principle of copywriting. You got what three seconds, to captivate someone’s attention?  

Yup.  

Before they move on.  

There’s actually a word for what they did. I remember from grad school called reactics. The way I like to think about it is when you tell a teenager like you can’t do this but you know he just like wants to do it even more.

So that’s how they started the ad. Like that is such a dude thing! Like if you tell a woman, “your soap is shit”, she won’t really care. She’ll be like “you’re wrong, I spent four hours reading the ingredients.”  

I know my soap, please.  

Don’t tell me I don’t know the Sephora checkout lady.  

Their reviews have been read, they have been cross checked, we have been searching for on check, check and check.  

I will tell you why you’re wrong. But if you do it to a dude, they’re gonna be like, “what the fuck is wrong with my soap?” (laughing)  

No one’s ever told me this before. But yeah, I love it and I think that the scents were masculine also, without being like

Yes!  

Yeah, it was also being like, great white shark biting your leg fresh and like that kind of thing that like that Old Spice does so well where it takes it all the way to the other end of the spectrum. This soap just got so specific with who their target market was, what their sense of humor is.

They didn’t necessarily have to have those like funny “haha” thigh slapper extreme, what the hell is happening random jokes. It just had to be like, “bro, let me talk to you about like why this sucks.”

And gives compelling reasons in the guys of like, of course of gentle humor but also watching somebody just narrate and explain and walk you through the process of why your soap sucks.

And you’re captivated because the person is speaking your language. And it’s just such an excellent example. And I’m so glad we got to explore it.  

I know. We want to hear from you guys. What did you think of the ad? What did you take away? How are you going to write ads differently, now?

The main thing I want to make sure that everyone takes away is that this ad is not trying too hard.

I think a lot of times when we go into write our copy, to write our ads, to write sales pages, we’re thinking about like how it’s supposed to sound to execute right. And the way it’s supposed to sound is like your audience.

Like, it needs to sound like that. And that’s why this is such an awesome job. Like it is not a soap ad that is competing with other soaps. It is talking directly to the consumer and that’s why it wins.

So anyway, I am Margot Aaron.  

And I am Hillary Weiss.  

If you liked this episode, please like it below, comment and share it with your friends. We will see you in two weeks.  

Bye for now, guys. Wash your balls. (laughing) 

Photo by Juliet Clare Warren

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