BBDO’s EPIC FAIL Viral Campaign

My inbox has been overflowing with emails from male and female friends, asking if I’ve seen BBDO’s new, self-proclaimed “viral campaign” for Stayfree.

I have.  I first saw it last week.  And I almost didn’t blog about it.  Not because it has to do with menstrual products, but because it is a marketing strategy of such baffling proportion that I didn’t know where to start.

The first draft of this post was a balls-out rant about the video series.  But there are others out there who have commented on the topic with much sharper wit than I can ever hope to have.

Instead, I thought I would share my observations on why this campaign is an EPIC FAIL.

First, watch this video.  Then read on.






1. It’s an obvious attempt to ride the coattails of the wildly successful Old Spice Guy commercials.  The ad agency determined that lowest common denominator was buffed men without shirts, and assumed that women would respond in the same way as they did for Old Spice.

2. The videos don’t know what they want to be.  Are they supposed to be amusing?  Tongue-in-cheek?  Sympathetic?  Arousing?  Attractive?  Informative?  You tell me, because I can’t figure it out.  And if it’s confusing, it certainly isn’t persuasive.

3. The actors don’t give a s*** about the customer.  Watch them.  At some point in every one of these videos, the actor’s eyes glaze over, and you can almost read his mind.  I performed Hamlet in the park last year.  THIS is what I went to Juilliard drama school for? So, guess what?  The customer doesn’t give a s*** about them… or the brand.

4. The videos go on FOREVER, without getting anywhere.  With the exception of that guy on YouTube who had a nuclear meltdown over Britney Spears a few years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever had three minutes go by so slowly.

5. The creepy factor is off the chart.  Many women feel that having men featured in campaigns for feminine products will never work – especially when they’re presented in campaigns like this.  To go from seduction to menstruation in the blink of an eye (not to mention god-awful symbolism that pops up throughout the videos) creeps out a potential customer, and it plants the “DO NOT BUY AT ANY COST” seed in the brains of the very customers the brand is trying to attract.

I thought maybe I was being an “old lady” about this issue, and asked several young college-aged women whom I highly respect to watch the series and comment.  They were unanimously appalled.  As one of these women (enrolled at the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC) commented, “…no woman would ever trust a man to tell her which type of pad to use.  HOW WOULD HE KNOW?! That being said, I think viral videos can be very effective, but these videos really miss the mark in my opinion.”

I’ll leave you with the other two videos in the series.  Stayfree has created a viral campaign, alright but in my opinion, for all the wrong reasons.

Good thing Stayfree has millions to spend on advertising – they’re going to need it.










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19 Responses to “BBDO’s EPIC FAIL Viral Campaign”

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  1. Tom Wanek says:

    Yep, I agree, this campaign is just plain awful. The videos are unfocused and slow. And who in their right mind thought that some knucklehead guy would be a perfect spokesperson for feminine products?

  2. mark brady says:

    These things make Rosser Reeves seem like Francois Truffaut.

    MADGE: You’re soaking in it.

  3. You have got to be kidding me. I don’t even pretend to know what women want, but I can’t imagine any woman being positively affected by these in any way.

    Seriously — going from seduction to menstrual advising in a matter of seconds? Seriously?!

    Ugh. Whoever’s responsible for these should be publicly flogged by maxi pads.

  4. Not to mention the fact that the videos are all about the men, not the women as the prospective customers.

    Do any women actually like being around such blatantly conceited, self-centered men?

  5. Angi Harper says:

    Oh. Vomit. If I walked in to that date I wouldn’t have even been around for his little lesson on the patio – he lost me at riCO-ta (not to mention, why didn’t Mr. Perfect offer me a beer?).

    Casting aside, we could have just stopped this conversation at the point where “viral campaign” was stated in their strategy. Of course you hope your social media efforts have legs, but you do that with meaningful content that reaches your audience. You can’t PLAN viral.

  6. Diane says:

    These videos are creepy and gross. Having a man act as if he even knows anything about this is lame.

  7. Monica Ballard says:

    There were meetings about this where several ideas were probably pitched. This is the one that rose to the surface as the best one. There was scripting and casting and production and numerous discussions. Yet a bunch of money was still thrown at this campaign because someone couldn’t discern what made the Old Spice ads successful. (Clue: it wasn’t that he was shirtless!) The subliminal message for me is Stayfree, alright! “Stay free, unattached and far away from creepy guys like these!”

  8. slfisher says:

    I’m watching the first one.

    First, Brad strikes me as SO GAY. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But he’s miscast.

    (In fact, with all the crotch shots and butt shots, I think the cameraman is gay, too.)

    And why are we suddenly going from the kitchen to the place where we’re going to EAT where there’s MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS ON THE TABLE?

    And Ryan! Underprivileged kids! Cats who need homes! Loves doing laundry! Man, I can just imagine the look on the woman’s face after she looks down at the table and realizes the “something interesting” he wants to show her.

    And what is *with* all these klutzy guys who find excuses to take off their shirts!

    Yes, the Summer’s Eve people definitely have a run for their money. What *is* it with feminine hygiene companies these days?

  9. Renee Malove says:

    This is a horrible, horrible blending of the new “Porn for Women” books and the Old Spice commercials…only without the funny. What were they going for here?

  10. Jim says:

    Those who thought this concept up and created it had to be 25 years of age or younger (which is typically the age group prevalent in ad agencies). No one with any life experience or experience with females would have considered airing this nonsense. It’s an insult to women (and anyone else with a brain).

  11. Rick Henkin says:

    OMG! It’s the same neanderthal thinking that puts women in bathing suits at auto shows. Sure you’ll attract a lot of attention, but is anyone really going to purchase your auto accessory because of the women in the bathing suits?

    And do I really want to have menstrual products displayed on the table where I’m going to eat? Why not use the dining room table to display hemorrhoid products, too?

    To me, the purpose of advertising is to drive sales. They may get a lot of viewers, but based on the responses to this post, I don’t think it’s going to translate into much in the way of sales. Gadzooks!

  12. Thanks for your comments, everyone! I am on the road and have just had the chance to comment myself, but I appreciate your input. You all validated many of my feelings that I didn’t express in my post (you should see my first draft, lol). But in the end, you’re all right. Marketing is supposed to persuade customers to love your brand. This is one of the biggest waste of marketing dollars I’ve seen yet. I fantasize what I could do for a company like that if they just gave me 10% of their budget.

  13. Chester says:

    Something is terribly wrong with these ads! It’s obvious why there is only one sided dialog….because no woman in her right mind would be still hanging around after about the first 15 seconds with any of those guys!

    I can’t help but think that somewhere, a couple of creative types are having a great laugh at all the bad press these are stirring up. I mean, they are so terrible I have to wonder if they are fake campaigns!

  14. Kelly Watson says:

    Brad lost me at “Fiddlesticks.”

  15. Rezbi says:

    Is this really the kind of tripe BBDO come up with now?

    I always thought they were much better than this.

  16. Julia says:

    If I were Whisper I’d just shut up, stay put and watch Stayfree self destruct. What a load of hog wash. No woman in her right mind would react positively to this bull; and I’m all the way in Asia!

  17. Barbro Trum says:

    I don’t understand how BBDO was able to produce something as bad as this! Shame on them!

  18. Maria Elena says:

    OMG! OMG!! I couldn’t even bear watching this!! It’s simply AWFUL!
    For a good viral campaign to work, the topic that makes people want to send it to their friends has to be more interesting than that! This is just painful to watch! I feel bad for those poor actors who had to do this.

  19. Robert Snyder says:

    I was at the store with my fifteen year old daughter and she needed… well, you know. We were just grabbing a few things, so we didn’t use a cart. She felt embarassed carying them around and I offered to cary them for her. She has a great sense of humor. She just said, “No thanks Dad… It’s a girl thing.” All I could think was, “So that’s the first fifteen seconds of the TV ad.”

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