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Creative Water Cooler Creative

Dettol gets itself in a mess after commuters criticise 'cringe' back to office ad


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

September 3, 2020 | 3 min read

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the must buzz-worthy creative from brands that should be on your radar. Today, everyone's talking about Dettol's back-to-work ads...

Dettol may have some cleaning up to do after its latest ad about getting back to the office left a bad taste in commuters' mouths.

As the UK government urges workers to go back to the office, Dettol's ad tries to grasp the moment by highlighting the role it plays in keeping workspaces free from infection.

Devised by McCann London, the brand's 'Keep Protecting' campaign is designed to remind people that little hygiene habits are actually huge acts of care and protection. However, one ad in the series, about returning to the office, has raised some eyebrows on social media after it was spotted on London Tube platforms. Attempting to make the return to the office a lighthearted affair, the ad lists off various snippets of 'relatable' things commuters may have missed over the last six months in lockdown, such as 'caffeine-filled air,' 'seeing your second family,' 'watercooler conversations,' 'hearing buzzwords' and 'proper bants.' Another printed ad addressed the return to school.

Dettol ad disinfectant 2

The ads, labelled 'cringe' by a number of Twitter accounts, have left some baffled, with people feeling Dettol failed to read the room by conjuring up an idealised version of an office that doesn't exist.

One Twitter follower responded to the ad with their own list of office norms: 'Systematic racism. Casual racism. Backstabbing colleagues. Inept managers. Sexual harassment. “Who you know” promotions. Mind-numbing small talk. Bad I.T. 0.1% pay rise, 5% travel fare increase.'

After a cropped version of the creative floated around online, some critics misconstrued the ad as UK government messaging to persuade people back to work, rather than being an ad for disinfectant.

It isn't all bad for Dettol though, with has seen sales soar during the pandemic. Parent company Reckitt Benckiser (which owns Vanish, FInish and Harpic) beat market expectations with total revenues rising 11.9% to £6.9bn in the first half of the year.

Creative Water Cooler Creative

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