Why Bodyform’s advertising strategy isn’t working.

I obviously wasn’t the only person to notice this poster opposite Kingston train station in the suburbs of London. It’s a bizarre execution for Bodyform, which parodies a Conservative Party election poster from 1979.

Think about it for a moment. The 2006 ad is pretty lame if you don’t have a fix on the original reference. (To be honest, it’s pretty lame even if you do, but we won’t go there for the moment.) The Tory ad commented – somewhat ironically, given later events – on the supposedly high levels of unemployment under Jim Callaghan’s administration. So the only people likely to remember it will be in their late 30s at the very least. Probably more likely to be in their early 40s. Visit the Bodyform website and you’ll discover that – logically enough – the primary target audience is actually young women.

I daren’t ask the age of the creatives at BBH who came up with the campaign, because I’ll probably be told it was a couple of 21-year-old female placement students. They just happen to have a passion for British political history. And a habit of missing the target.

© Phil Woodford, 2006. All rights reserved.

Phil Woodford is a freelance copywriter and trainer. He lectures in advertising at the University of Westminster in London. www.philwoodford.com