"For too long, teenagers have been spoken to in terms of pimples," says Israel Garber, creative director at EuroRSCG and father of two teenaged people. "What we wanted to do was to acknowledge that it's a given, that's what the medicine's there for, and one of the benefits of using it is, really, to be confident."
The pimple medicine category is trending away from positioning the products as last-minute facial fixers and more toward something that, used regularly, gives its user with the confidence to face the world.
Just this week, the Mentholatum Co. launched a new campaign for its Oxy brand of acne-fighting skincare with offbeat comedy designed to appeal to adolescent males with the underlying message that regular use could lead to regular dating.
Now, Clearasil, through EuroRSCG, is taking this angle further, suggesting not just that regular use of Clearasil will help you get the girl or guy but that it "may cause confidence" enough to have you stand up in class to assure a nervous teacher, allow your mother to show your boyfriend the naked-baby photos or make a pass at a MILF.
"A big part [of teen-think] is getting the guy or girl," says Garber, whose agency this year won an Effie for its "Talk to Chuck" ads for Charles Schwab. "But there's a bigger world to play in there--putting yourself out there, having confidence in and of itself, doing things you want to do, having the guts or the balls to assert yourself."
The campaign consists of three 30-second TV spots that are running on CW Network shows like "What I Like About You," "The Game," "Hidden Palms" and Supernatural."
In "Mom," which broke this week, two teenaged boys enter a kitchen where a 40-ish mother is mixing something in a bowl. As her son goes off to get his stuff, his friend addresses her, saying that "it must be lonely, now that Mr. K left" (for good? on business? we're not sure). As she looks up with a quizzical look on her face, he very deftly makes his move, saying emphatically, slowly and looking straight into her eyes, "I'm ... really ... good company." Tagline: "Clearasil may cause confidence."
A third spot, "Baby Photos," is set to break Aug. 13. In it, a mother is showing her daughter's boyfriend photos of the dear as a babe. Turning a page in the album, she says, "Oh, and here she is, naked in the bath," as the photo subject sits on the other side of her beau, reading a book. The daughter looks over at her mother and we expect an expression of outrage--but instead, the young lady, not missing a beat, says smoothly: "You should see me now."
The first spot in the series broke May 28. In "Auditorium," a nervous teacher is addressed by an apparent college student, who tells him that public speakers sometimes use tricks to help them relax. "If you need to ... picture me naked, it's cool," he says, turning to a girl nearby as he sits down and adding, "You, too."
All three spots can be seen at maycauseconfidence.com, the Euro RSCG 4D-designed microsite.
The campaign also plays on what Garber calls a feeding frenzy among teenagers eager to display their talents, citing the enormous popularity of "American Idol" as well as teens' eagerness to snap their own photos on cell phones and send them to friends or post them online.
"Everyone's got a little bit of celebrity in them, so why keep that down?" he asks. "Put it out there! Clearasil championed that mind-set of putting it out there. It's the heart and soul of 'may cause confidence'."