Guys, Women Are Not Inspired by Bathroom Humor

Yes… that “is” a shot of a rhinoceros peeing.

But wait, there’s more! For everyone to watch, Mohawk® Flooring subjected a piece of their carpet to two weeks of being walked on, peed on and yes… crapped on by Ricko, a 2,800 lb. African rhinoceros. All in an effort to prove how stain resistant and durable their new SmartStrand® product actually is. Seriously?

I saw this campaign for the first time last week. Even though it is about a year old, I think it’s a great example of taking a boyish obsession with bathroom humor to the next unfortunate level. Guys, women are responsible for more than 80% (some stats say 90%) of all flooring purchases and they simply are not as enamored with bodily excretions as you are. They for sure do not want to watch as animal feces pile up on carpet.

But I believe it is also an even deeper illustration of how men and women differ in retaining their thoughts. For men, simply cleaning it up also wipes the thoughts of dung and pee from their memory and all is good again. Yet, women will most likely retain the association as they process things on a multi-dimensional level. I am confident I will now always think of rhino dung when I think of Mohawk’s®SmartStrand® carpet. I cannot imagine how I would feel had I actually participated in viewing it for two straight weeks. As a matter of fact, after watching the final video I am not even impressed with how well they were able to clean the carpet, much less able to get the images out of my brain.

But I would like to hear your thoughts. I have included the four stages of the campaign that I found, below.

1) The teaser trailer
A video that reveals peoples’ reactions when they were told what Mohawk® planned to do with the carpet. Such as:

You are gonna what?!
That’s nasty!
Wouldn’t it be kinda messy?
eeeeeewwwwwwwww!!!!!
That is actually really gross.

Not exactly how I would want to leave my brand association hanging until the next update.

2) Introduction to the SmartStrand Challenge
Next, there’s an introductory video where Chip Wade from HGTV explains the SmartStrand® Rhino Challenge.

“We’re about to cover the entire enclosure with SmartsStrand® carpet and for 2 solid weeks, Ricko here is going to do “whatever it is that rhinos do,” on SmartStrand® carpet. Something tells me it won’t be pretty.”

Hmmmm… I wonder what rhinos do? Again… not really the image you want your brand to conjure up.

3) The best moments of Ricko on SmartsStrand® carpet
For two weeks you could go online and watch Ricko “do his business.” Here are the highlights and you get to see more than just peeing. I assume the sounds effects are a just a bonus in case you “miss” it.

Okay…as of now all all I can think about is how nasty that SmartStrand®  carpet has to be.

4) SmartStrand® Survived
Really? I must have missed it. Or survived for what? To be pulled up and thrown into the dumpster… yes. To be installed in my house? I don’t think so.

If at the end there had been a shot of pristine white carpet covering the entire floor, it just might have delivered the pay off.  I can only assume, that was not possible. As it is, there is nothing in this video that convinces me that all of the stains came up. It raises more doubt than confidence. At the end of the day I now connect SmartStrand® carpet and rhino excretions. Yuck!

But, again, I’d like to know what you think.


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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

11 Responses to “Guys, Women Are Not Inspired by Bathroom Humor”

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I watched the videos. They do get the point across that the carpet is easy to clean up. However, watching the rhino do its business was unappealing, distasteful, and gross. Not only do I think the point could have been made without the bodily functions, I agree with you that it left a very negative association in the mind with Smart Strand carpet.

    A similar commercial was created several years ago by Samsonite in which they showed a gorilla abusing their luggage. That commercial definitely made its point, but it left me with a positive impression of the product.

    I guess the bottom line is that “guys” probably came up with the idea, ignored the fact that women would most likely be the purchasers, and never took into account whether this representation of the carpet’s “qualities” would even appeal to women.

  2. Hi Rick,

    Thanks so much for your comments. I would agree with everything you are saying. But, if I may, I think the fact that you feel that they do get the point across that the carpet is easy to clean up is from a male perspective and highlights yet another differentiating factor among men and women. What you are saying is that they proved it can be done. The female wants proof that it was done. Until that happens she is not completely convinced or moved.

    While I still feel it would be virtually impossible to rid me of the nasty images in my mind…. a completely clean, pristine, white floor… would have helped. But that means not “one” spot left. I actually would have painted the walls, added a plant, soft lighting and had Ricko relaxing on a beautiful, clean, warm and inviting floor. Again, you were convinced on the possibility. She looks at the reality.

    And yes…. I would be shocked if the female was considered at all beyond the fact that they were probably told “she” is the market.

  3. Hi Stephanie,

    Maybe I missed something, because I thought they did show a pristine white carpet at the end of the last video. To me, the mistake they made regarding this, is that it appears that after cleaning, they pulled the carpet up and left the original concrete floor. I would have just ended it at the shot where the rhino is standing on the clean white carpet.

    Be that as it may, I really appreciate what you said about men being convinced on the possibility, whereas women look at the reality.

    I’ve read all of your blog posts, as well as “Why She Buys” by Bridget Brennan and “What She’s Not Telling You” by Mary Lou Quinlan. To me, the differences between the genders as consumers are fascinating.

    I’m currently putting together a website that will be directed toward women in the dating pool, so any and all additional knowledge I can absorb is critical.

  4. I never caught the entire floor with nothing on it. But I do believe we are saying the same thing. Lots of build up (pun intended) to…. well… nothing. Thanks for your comments and best of luck with the website.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more! I suppose it does get their point across, but surely they could have come up with a better way that would appeal to women much, much more.

    Bring back the Stainmaster ads from the early 90s! (The slow-motion commercial of the man and woman moving toward each other across a ballroom, eyes locked, spellbound, as music plays in the background, until the man suavely leans on a linen-tablecloth-covered table and it collapses, spilling red wine on the carpet… the fast-motion commercial of the baby speeding across the floor in his/her wheelie thing, creating havoc… now THOSE were classic and memorable.)

  6. Thanks for your comment Tiffany! And good points on the classics.

  7. I agree with you Tiffany. I launched those STAINMASTER carpet commercials. The one you mentioned about the man and woman locking eyes during a romantic dinner, was selected as the best commercial on TV by the readers of Seventeen Magazine in 1991. You must have been one of them.

  8. That commercial was genius!

  9. […] of those items were marketed by men who haven’t a clue and gone so far as to have implemented pissing Rhinos, talking toilets  and  paper knives – to spread icing on a cake. In response to those […]

  10. This really doesnt make me that surprised!

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