Creative Roundtable: A Revolting Development

Will grossed-out moms help Agion clean up?

Here’s an assignment you don’t get every day: Gross people out. That’s what the creative team at marketing agency Captains of Industry had to do in order serve the interests of its client Agion, a company that specializes in antimicrobial protection.

The result is The site, which is targeted primarily at moms who want to protect their families from germs, finds Florence Henderson of The Brady Bunchappearing in videos that illustrate in over-the-top fashion (think lots of snot and hamster poop) how overrun the average household is with microbes and germs and how sick they can make everyone.

“The two videos that are live right now are reasonably revolting,” says Captains of Industry co-founder and executive creative director Ted Page, who wrote the scripts, teasing, “There are two more that are even more revolting that will launch later this year.”

These videos, which were shot in Los Angeles using portions of the original set from The Brady Bunch, could have been distributed virally (at least one of them is on YouTube), but Page maintains that it was important to tie them to a microsite for Agion to foster brand interaction. 

In addition to watching disgusting videos, visitors to can play germ-hunting games; order a free sample of Agion’s SilverClene24; learn more about products that are infused with Agion antimicrobial technology such as Motorola phones; and enter a contest to win giantmicrobes toys.

Launched last October, will remain live through 2008. To promote the endeavor, Captains of Industry spread the word via blogs, ran a few banner ads and got some free publicity when The Wall Street Journal featured the site in a story on products for the microbe-phobic.

Kari Niles of Avenue A | Razorfish, Chad Portas of Almighty and Jens Karlsson of Your Majesty get grossed-out here. Read on to see whether they think the site is too icky for its own good or a microbial masterpiece.

OMMA: Was Florence Henderson a good choice to target moms?

Karlsson: For me, being Swedish and all, and not having followed The Brady Bunch, she is no one to me. So I’m probably the wrong one to answer that. [He laughs] But she as a person seems really inviting, and she has a soft, friendly voice. As a host for the site, I think she is a good pick.

Portas: She makes a lot of sense. She skews a little bit toward the 30- and 40-plus moms, so there might be a slight disconnect with younger moms. But you put that ’70s shirt on her and give her that haircut, and I think a lot of people know who she is.  

Niles: The idea of That’s Revolting is actually great and really catchy, but the more I see Florence, the more I think she was the wrong choice. 

OMMA: She isn’t the ultimate TV mom to you?

Niles: No. I feel like she was the original Rachael Ray — she has hawked a lot of products. I love Florence Henderson, and I grew up on The Brady Bunch, but I look at her, and I think either Wheat Thins or Pledge.

OMMA: You don’t think she has Wessonality?

Niles: Oh, my God. You’re right! She’s been overly pimped out. For me, she’s not even Mrs. Brady anymore.

OMMA: How about the videos?

Karlsson: I thought they were funny and very straightforward with the information. 

Niles: The production values are great. These are beautifully done videos — lots of actors, beautiful set. 

Portas: The videos were really well executed, and they were entertaining. The biggest disappointment for me was how they staggered the four videos. As of right now, only the first two are live, and the first one really sells me on the idea of household germs. The second one sells me on the idea of how dangerous [non-Agion] products can be. Then the story just ends. I think while they have me, they could have finished the entire story.

OMMA: What about the gross factor?

Portas:  It’s more my type of humor, skewing a little bit lowbrow. I’m not sure if moms would relate to, for instance, the gross ending [of one video] where the guy is having diarrhea. That seems more like guy humor, college humor. 

Niles: The gross stuff [in the videos] is not what grosses out moms. I have a three-year-old, and what grosses me out is him licking a doorknob. Sponges also gross me out.

OMMA: Do you think the game at the end of each video enhances the message, and are they appropriate for the demographic in terms of level of difficulty?

Portas: It was a smart way to learn more about the different germs. The downside was the game itself was a bit clunky with the way you mouse over the germs. It’s a time-based game, so you’re not going to stop and actually read [the germ descriptions] if you’re just trying to discover them quickly. When you find a germ, you should be able to click on it to deactivate it. Then you should be able to go back and learn more about the germs [once you’d found them all]. 

OMMA: What about the design? Is this site visually appealing?

Karlsson: The design is fun and colorful. The usage of Flash is not really taken to its full potential. The design itself has a feeling of being very inviting with all the colors, but the animations don’t really reflect that. It’s more static rollovers, and the transitions between pages are just slow fades or just static snap-on kind of rollovers that feel a little more like html rather than Flash. They could have done something more fun.

OMMA: What’s your overall take on the site?

Niles: The That’s Revolting theme is a great way to get at the germs and microbe thing — great base idea. I can see the pitch or the concept statement, and I’m totally sold on it.
But I just think it was executed in the wrong way. 

Karlsson: It’s informational. I like that they’re not pushing the product in your face all the time and informing you about all the great features of the actual product, but rather informing you about the fact that you have germs in your home and you need to take care of it.

Portas: Overall, I think it is money well spent. Again, I think the videos could have launched as a package, but I’ve got to commend the client and the agency for taking such a lofty video endeavor into the online space.

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