This advertisement is a part of the #EveryDropCounts campaign which is an effort by Colgate to spread awareness of wasteful water use. The video above uses symbols and emotional appeal to encourage its viewers to consciously think about how much water gets wasted by leaving the faucet running while brushing your teeth, with the intention that you will think of their ad next time you go to brush and hopefully associate the brand Colgate with this awareness.
The ad starts out with a shot of a man walking up to the sink, turning on the faucet, and running his toothbrush under the water. Once he’s out of the shot, you see a pair of hands reach under the still-running water to rinse off a dirty piece of fruit. Then a new set of hands, belonging now to an older man, runs a bowl under the faucet, filling it with water. Finally, a little girl enters the shot. This time the whole face and head of the subject are shown, not just her hands, which are scooping up the running water into her mouth quite frantically. For the duration of the video you can hear the sound of the man brushing his teeth in the background.
The semiotics of this advertisement include the whiteness of the bathroom appliances, such as the sink and the tiles in the background which encourage the viewer to focus on what is happening in the sink. This whiteness can be seen as symbolic of the purity of water and also the cleanliness that is associated with toothpaste and teeth brushing in general, contrasting with the dirty fruit and hands which are represented as unclean. The brown skin tone of the little girl scooping up the water could be perceived as representative of children in third-world countries who do not have access to clean water, if any at all.
Looking at this ad from a psychoanalytic perspective, one can easily identify that the emotional appeal is what really drives the message home. For only being thirty-seconds long, the video has an immense emotional impact on its viewers in a short amount of time. The ad has no sound besides that of running water and teeth being brushed in the background. The quietness of the video and the words flashed across the screen create a sort of ominous feeling which makes you want to pay attention. These sounds combined with the simpleness of the hands gracefully using the wasted water for drinking and washing creates a feeling of sympathy and guilt. And finally, the face of the little girl trying desperately to drink the water tugs on the viewers heartstrings, imagining a little girl who has no water to drink because of careless water use.
This thirty-second ad shown during the Super Bowl is an adaptation of a prior minute-long Colgate ad called “Making Every Drop Of Water Count” which contains an almost identical plot with the addition of a few extra shots. The shortened version of the advertisement has more of an impact because it isn’t overly drawn out and the message is more to the point. This advertisement is crafty because it doesn’t actually promote the use of its product at all, but rather associates the brand Colgate with a memorable concept. Colgate has used this method before in its 2013 iconic dental floss ad. Using intentionally bad photoshop, the photos advertised people without one ear or with extra fingers, smiling with food stuck in their teeth. The defects went unnoticed until after further inspection because of how easily the food remains stole the consumer’s attention. The campaign proved that food left on the teeth is more distracting than any physical defect and promoted Colgate dental floss without even picturing the product in their advertisement.
Colgate has been known to happily provide its consumers with many products including Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care, and Pet Nutrition products. Its company works side by side with local stores to deliver relevant products which fit the needs of each individual location at which Colgate products are sold. Its personalized retail and crafty advertisements are a big part of what has made Colgate a household name and the “number-one brand recommended by dentists.”