Sensodyne Pronamel

Now, I have absolutely no problem with the Sensodyne toothpaste. In fact I personally use it, and would happily recommend it. But what I object to is the harm their TV advertising does to my teeth. For I am compelled to wildly gnash them as I watch the TV advertising for Sensodyne Pronamel. They are an excellent series of adverts – they work, but I loathe them.

Oddly, there is something almost honest about these adverts. They are shot in modern office environments, possibly in the pharmaceutical giant’s own premises – there is no bogus dentist, or a white coat in sight. In one someone called Matt, a personal trainer, talks earnestly into camera about the wonders of toothpaste. Standard made-up testimonial fare of course, and because of the jerky handheld camera looming into his eyes, you’d think they were talking about something serious.

In another advert called Lois’s advice. The opening caption tells you “Acid Erosion is a growing problem”. Oh God, you think, not only is acid rain affecting the world, it is actually eroding it ENTIRELY AWAY UNTIL THERE IS ONE TINY GRAIN OF SAND LEFT! And where will I park my gas guzzling 4×4 for God’s sake?

But soft, as Shakespeare used to say waking up in the morning, picking his teeth with some sort of rat bone, for what we are talking about is people’s enamel being eroded by “acid in our modern diet”. Modish products like fruit or carbonated diet drinks are wreaking havoc. I knew those filthy oranges were bad for people.

Lois is a “dental market researcher” whatever that is, but she knows what she’s talking about, by thunder. Not only are your teeth being eroded away, but due to the sinister nature of this condition you won’t be able to tell unless you look at your teeth using “light adjusted to show clinical situation”, which makes them glow a nasty Dr Who blue, and you wouldn’t want that, now would you?

Next caption: “what does Lois recommend?” Er this would be Lois the dental market researcher right? Someone who works in marketing for Sensodyne… Could it be that she is going to recommend Sensodyne perchance? By God she is! And with the sensible caveat that you talk to your dentist and ask him about Acid Erosion. This is the key, by the way. For this advert is aimed at the dental practitioner too. When someone genuinely does talk about Acid Erosion to their dental practitioner, they too will have been programmed by this advert to talk about Sensodyne. That’s the theory anyway.

You use it “just like a normal toothpaste two times a day”. Brilliant copywriting. Makes you think that this is no normal toothpaste, but the top thing about it is that you can use it twice a day just as if it was.

Lois has a pal called Richard, who is a Consumer Healthcare Manager, so if you don’t like taking advice off Lois, Rich is your boy. What is honest about these ads is they are not dressing these people up as vaguely medical, no white coats here. They are straightforwardly presented as marketing people.

An interesting exercise. What I hate about it is that it creates something new to worry about, and then miraculously presents you with the solution to a problem that you didn’t know you had. It uses fear to sell, and that sucks, but it’s hardly a new thing.

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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