Glitter Balls

How to catch the eye and market share in a sea of sameness

The Blogfather explores the marketing merits of Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina…candle and looks ahead to the Super Bowl ads dropping, whilst hoping his meta data is not truncated awkwardly by Google with an ellipsis…

It may give you (too much) insight into life at Gasp that, on the agency WhatsApp group chat this week, a link was shared with the preview text: “Glittery Scrotums…”

It was shared by Lisa, so the saucy subject matter did not really surprise anyone, but it did arouse curiosity as to what it was about. Had Elton John seen the marketing genius behind Gwyneth Paltrow’s “This Smells Like My Vagina” candle and launched his own headline-grabbing grooming product?

Alas, no. That would have been the dog’s bollocks. This story related to, well, dogs’ bollocks (dog owners are now reportedly covering their animal's testicles in glitter).

And whilst my mind raced with the potential ways how Elton John’s Glitter Balls could be developed (such as being made phosphorescent and adopted by that naked cycling mob, akin to Volvo’s Life Paint), I abandoned the train of thought before the mental images became permanently ingrained in my retinas.

Volvo’s Life Paint and Gwyneth’s vagina candle have something in common.

Volvo’s Life paint won a Cannes Lions Grand Prix in 2015, yet sold no units, with the ad being subsequently banned for being misleading as the product was pretty much useless in the real world. There probably isn’t anything that better sums up the value of award-winning work at Cannes than this, but it did nevertheless serve a very effective purpose; it got tonnes of press coverage.

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Goop hardly do any advertising, so when they need some publicity, they simply release a controversial and eye-opening product that generates millions of dollars’ worth of free coverage in the media

As has Paltrow’s vaginally scented candle. The product sold out instantly and was only priced at $75 a pop, but its value lay in bringing shed loads of traffic to the goop website, where the average product price is a lot higher.

Gwyneth is a very savvy marketer. Goop hardly do any advertising, so when they need some publicity, they simply release a controversial and eye-opening product that generates millions of dollars’ worth of free coverage in the media, something that Dave Trott has written a blog about this week.

He quotes what Paltrow told a class of Harvard students: "What I do is create a cultural firestorm, and I can monetise those eyeballs."

Gwyneth knows what she is doing. Both her candle and Volvo Life Paint are, as Trott says, “the advertising equivalent of loss-leaders in retail: products which get people into the store in order to buy other things.”

It’s a lesson in the value of finding your niche target segment in the market, and the power of polarisation. You only need a few percent of people to like you, it doesn’t matter if the majority think you’re crazy and hate you.

Gwyneth may get on your wick, but you have to admire her willingness to take a risk with a risqué candle that ignited the press into a frenzy. Especially when so much stuff is safe and bland in current climes.

By way of conveying this perfectly, we found this gem at the weekend.

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Someone has put this together this impressive collage that spills over and across various sectors and genres, from horror movies to car ads, to highlight the vast ocean of sameness.

In a week where ITV has announced more details on their competition to win a free, primetime ad slot during the Euro 2020 final this summer in an attempt to “create our own UK version of the Super Bowl” (someone should have told them the Euros are in the UK about once every 30 years, but hey), we arrive at the actual Super Bowl.

ITV are running the competition with good intentions, to try and set a new bar for creativity in the UK, but all eyes will be out west this weekend to see what some of the world’s greatest brands come up with.

Some are already released for viewing. The Audi advert, featuring Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams singing ‘Let It Go’ from the Frozen movie is one of them. Considering Audi is the home of one of the greatest straplines in history (Vorsprung durch Technik), it lacks the wow factor, but at least they are trying to do something a little different.

Amazon’s ad featuring Ellen DeGeneres is better, with a humorous take on what people did throughout history before Alexa came along.

No doubt some will polarise opinion, but as long as they avoid bland forgetfulness, that is the crucial thing.

Both Audi and Amazon are using new agencies for the first time (72andSunny Amsterdam, and Droga5 London respectively), and it will be interesting to see if any brand comes out of the weekend crowned MVP of the Super Bowl Ad. No doubt some will polarise opinion, but as long as they avoid bland forgetfulness, that is the crucial thing.

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