Posted by: oliviajane16 | November 15, 2011

Modern Soap Advertisements and More!

I was watching something on Hulu the other day and I thought one of their advertisements was ridiculously appropriate given our conversation last class about the functionality of soap versus soap as a commodity. Here’s the ad:


My personal favorite is the bacon and eggs soap. On a more serious note, I think it’s really interesting that Ivory is still using descriptors such as “pure” and “simple” to market their product. We talked a little bit already about the implications of marketing something as providing purity and the racial undertones that “purity” carries, and while in this context that may not be the case anymore it is still an interesting and somewhat loaded word choice. Also, simplicity draws on the idea of how a woman’s role within the home began to shift towards perfection and maintenance of status without revealing the labor behind said maintenance. Soap to begin with is not a very complex idea and yet it’s so effective to market it as simple because it eliminates labor that you never even realized you could (or needed to) eliminate. It’s not until after the new gadget comes along that you realize all the ways in which your life needs “simplifying”.

On another note, this is an older advertisement from a couple of years ago that I think just illustrates marketing at its finest and how every detail of an ad is chosen to illicit a specific response. Also, all those camera angles really do make her seem dynamic.



  1. These are so funny!!! I like the corn on the cob because it highlights the ridiculousness of the soap industry: why would I want to wash my hands with somethings I usually want to wash OFF my hands?! We talked last week about advertisements being tailored to specific audiences and these two you have shared definitely hit that mark. The whole concept of a brand name is based on the concept that companies try to differentiate their product(s) by comparing them to other brands. (Someone brought up the pilot of Mad Men last week: “Lucky Strike: ‘It’s Toasted.'”)
    What is interesting about the ads here is that the Ivory and Kotex stand apart from other brands not in how their product is different, like before and after results or structural engineering, but in how they understand and empathize with their respective audiences. In the 21st Century we are sophisticated consumers of both products and advertisements, so we are tired of the old tricks – the “dynamic” camera angles. If the ad works (and I think these two do), we appreciate the brand that capitalizes on this boredom by returning to basics. The psychology behind how the advertisement works is exposed by the ad rather than craftily packaged within it, intended to be hidden from consumers.

  2. I do like Wendy’s point that what’s appealing about these ads is how well they appeal to the audience and show how they understand us, rather than sell us on the quality or uniqueness of their products. The Kotex commercial is actually one of my favorite, not only because it’s funny but because it’s extremely perceptive and doesn’t talk down to the viewer, and in fact exposes how other companies do. I don’t want to buy something from a company that thinks I can be manipulated, but I do want to buy something from a company that wants to let me in on the secret. (Also, I like “you can relate to me because I’m racially ambiguous.”)

    As for the soap commercial, I think it very much speaks to changing times and the current social climate. That commercial very much plays up the gratuitousness of ‘luxury soap’ – the shapes are absurd for something that is literally used to remove dirt from your hands. As opposed to Victorian advertisements during a time when soap was increasing exponentially in popularity because it was a time of plenty when people could afford a luxury commodity, this commercial returns soap to the realm of functionality and denounces the excess of brain and porcupine shaped soaps.

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