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New Rob Zombie ad is a horrorshow

What’s Rob Zombie been up to lately? The heavy metal rocker/director has been working on a commercial for the most unlikeliest product you can think of. Just watch:

Yes, that’s a commercial for Woolite, the detergent you use to wash your delicates. It’s titled “Torturer.” We see a hooded figure operating what looks like a series of torture devices, with clothes attached. “Stretch. Shrink. Fade. Don’t let detergents torture your clothes,” the ad says in distressed grunge type. Then, in a clean san-serif font: “Save them with Woolite. Woolite. End the torture.” The only audio during the spot is horror-movie-like sound-effects, punctuated by someone whispering, “Save them!” (If you can’t see the video above, watch the original on Woolite’s Facebook page.)

What the hell were they thinking?

The great Stuart Elliott at The New York Times tries to explain the ad in his column today, noting that soap brands are trying harder to stand out with off-beat advertising. Elliott says the Torturer spot is targeted at “fashion-conscious career women ages 20 to 45,” and he quotes a Woolite brand manager saying they are trying to reposition Woolite as a gentle, all-purpose detergent. The campaign has a budget of $15 million, and there are two versions of the ad: a very creepy one for social media, and a milder edit for TV. The ad will also be airing in cinemas.

My first reaction was that somebody at the ad agency must have said, “Hey, I know somebody who knows Rob Zombie, and I have this crazy idea!” and nobody else applied the brakes in time to stop this. Then I did a Google search for “Rob Zombie Woolite” and I realized this ad is already being shared on some well-read music, movie and celebrity blogs. That seems like a cheap way to reach those “fashion-conscious career women ages 20 to 45.” Target achieved. Nice work.

Woolite calls it, “the first campaign in the laundry detergent category to be directed and shot by a horror movie director.” I totally believe that.

Who created this ad?

Euro RSCG New York, under executive creative director Rahul Sabnis. (Update: See the first comment below. If I can get a more complete list of credits I’ll share it.)

Also involved: Iris for digital/social media, Eastwest for consumer promotions and POS, Zenith for media planning and buying and Porter Novelli for public relations outreach—per a Woolite press release.

Who signed off on it?

Jiri Kulik, general manager U.S. household marketing at Reckitt Benckiser.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Social Media, Television

7 comments

  1. Tortured says:

    Rahul Sabnis took on Woolite after this campaign had been baked. ECD was Israel Garber.

  2. Kathleen Freel says:

    GET RID OF THE COMMERCIAL! I am deeply disturbed by the images and my kids were terrified! Why would woolite resort to this nonsense?

  3. Heather Lesser says:

    I can’t even believe this ad is actually being used! It is completely disgusting and promotes violence against women. Woolite – you are off my shopping list, and you are idiots.

  4. Margerie Buntkins says:

    Are you two both serious? Its violent towards women? In what way? That is just the stupidest thing I have ever heard. And you’re upset that your children are seeing it? Do you get upset when there is a “scary” movie trailer? I bet your children see previews for those kind of movies all the time. Do you get upset and complain about those? I doubt it. Grow up and find something else to complain about.
    Its brilliant! It definitely is a creative, genius idea to keep this commercial in people’s heads.

  5. Patty says:

    Using the torture theme to sell soap! Isn’t this trivializing a serious human rights
    violation?

  6. This is a great piece of subliminal advertising- it captures your deep desires in so many ways- relax and be yourself? not many of us think of beauty in that way. Look somewhat deeper than a pumpy little tune and generic faces. I will always buy Woolite for the great product it is- congrats to them for being innovative and thoughtful

  7. Bruce says:

    I thought the Ad was great and not just because I’m the guy in the hood.

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