Five by Five Global & Prunelax: Just when you thought you’d seen the best OTC product commercial ever

You’ve reimagined over-the-counter product advertising with two brilliantly provocative commercials for Prunelax that use surprise, humour and entertainment to etch a laxative product’s benefit into Australians’ minds. You’ve told the story. Twice. Where do you go now? The story depends on surprise and your audience knows what to expect.

Or do they?

I bet you didn’t expect that.

I wish I’d done it. I wish I could say I’d got that ad through. Thank you to Five by Five Global executive creative director, Craig Bailey, for unveiling how and why his agency did. [:ed]   

The Stable: This is going to turn heads. It’s likely to turn some heads into complainers. Does that matter? What were its aims?

Craig Bailey: I believe it will probably elicit a positive and negative response in equal measure. The campaign strategy is built around it doing just that. We understand those beyond the periphery of our audience may not warm to it, yet will still likely talk about it. That in itself is a positive result. Conversely, those that do like it, will like it a lot, driving memorability, word of mouth and recall. All in all, if we are the most talked about laxative ad of all time, I’d say that’s a positive result. People love to be offended these days. There’s not much we can do about that. 

Five by Five Global & Prunelax: Just when you thought you’d seen the best OTC product commercial ever

TS:  You need a brave client to make bold advertising. Tell me about presenting the idea to Prunelax. What are the secrets of getting bold advertising through?

 CB: Indeed. A brave client was essential. They are becoming a rare breed as risk mitigation increases simply by virtue of the world we live in. The sell was actually relatively simple given the client has spent a career in the European market and has naturally courageous sensibilities. We were also dealing with the owner of the company, so had few to no layers of command to navigate. After the first creative run, we were in fact encouraged to shock them further and take it to another level. Well, that was like a red rag to a bull, releasing the shackles of in-built risk aversion. We all knew when we landed on these ideas they were going to be made. If you saw what was left on the table, you’d see the dark places we went to – and still might…

There is no secret, I just think we have been conditioned for risk aversion. The key ingredients are a brave client. You can’t make this stuff without one. In addition, a passion for disrupting the sector was paramount; expunging everything that suggests you should do it this way or that for fear of breaking a mould or upsetting someone.

Five by Five Global & Prunelax: Just when you thought you’d seen the best OTC product commercial ever

TS: There is a lot of bland advertising out there. What do you think are the most important elements of advertising? 

CB: A striking and relevant insight delivered in an unconventional way. You have to be different or bold to be noticed and live long in the depths of our customers’ minds. Also, when you boil it down, our Prunelax ads are simple. Effective advertising has to be simple.

TS:  What responses did the first two commercials in the campaign receive? Why do you think they have been so effective?

CB: Overwhelmingly positive. While data is still being gathered we can see results are far exceeding benchmarks and KPIs. Why have they been so effective? Because no one else has done it. 



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