New denture spots leave seniors smiling

What is it with old people? Every time they're on the television we see them either playing bridge, trimming roses in the garden or staring bleakly out of their living room window talking about life insurance. ...

What is it with old people? Every time they’re on the television we see them either playing bridge, trimming roses in the garden or staring bleakly out of their living room window talking about life insurance.

That’s why Grey Worldwide developed two new TV spots that go against the grain of traditional advertising aimed at mature adults.

Marc Stoiber CD of Grey Worldwide Toronto saw an opportunity to take a chance, and do something that would be talked about around the water cooler. The ads, for Polident Cleanser and Poli-Grip Adhesive, decisively break the formula for selling denture products.

Apart from conveying the usual message about how denture products help prevent gum pain etc., Grey wanted to ‘connect with our target by presenting denture users in a younger way,’ says Stoiber who developed the two spots.

The Poli-Grip commercial shows a couple in their late 50s who re-enact the ‘food play’ scene between Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks. The scene shows the senior couple munching on strawberries, honey soaked biscuits, and other foods that denture wearers not using Poli-Grip Adhesive might feel disinclined to indulge in.

The Polident Cleanser spot shows the couple in bed on the crest of a sexy union when the man excuses himself. In the washroom of his girlfriend’s home he asks for her last Polident tablet, with unexpected results. When she calls to him saying that it is alright because she only uses one a week, he is mortified and acts like a teenager who has swallowed a dirt sandwich, desperately trying to clean his tongue in front of the mirror. The message makes the point that it’s necessary to use a tablet every day.

Both spots started their national TV runs (Poli-Grip will not be seen in Quebec) in late March and continue to go strong on all major Canadian networks. The spots are supported by a print campaign in magazines such as Reader’s Digest and TV Guide.

Asked if there has been any negative reaction to the ads, Stoiber says, ‘None at all. They’ve created a stir by showing this demo as vibrant, alive people. They are not dirty, nasty, sexy spots – they’re having fun and they happen to be a little older.’

The spots are a departure from the ‘teeth are a bunch of trouble for older people’ school of advertising and, according to Stoiber, many middle-aged people look at the ads directed towards them that discuss illness and lost teeth and say, ‘that’s not me.’

Block Drug Company doesn’t make a practice of speaking to the media, but AD Christine Andrews did say the spots were identified as part of the company’s willingness to take a new direction and to speak to the target group legitimately.

Andrews notes, ‘the ads did well in focus groups and are being talked about in and around the communications industry.’

‘We’re showing people as they really are and not being patronizing towards them,’ says Stoiber, ‘that’s probably what accounts for the strong reaction we’ve had.’

Reality Check:

Tony Miller, CD at Toronto-based Sharpe Blackmore Saffer Euro RSCG, says the spots mark ‘a bold new departure in a category that is normally full of hackneyed characters that rehash the same old message about denture wearers.