Bob Garfield Rated 1990s American Standard Ad Campaign Rated a “Winner” in Final Column

Posted on June 22, 2010 by Nora DePalmaNo Comments

Iconic Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield retired earlier this year after 25 years with the magazine.  In his final column, he offered a rundown of the best and worst ad campaigns he saw in his career.

Included amongst the “winners” was American Standard’s 1993 “It’s Seen You Naked” ad, which “subtly anthropomorphized” bath fixtures like faucets and tub drains and featured the copy “It’s seen you naked. It’s heard you sing.”

The campaign was the brainchild of advertising executives Tom Gabriel and Mark Razidlo, now at Gabriel, deGrood, Bendt, who worked closely with the then-Marketing Communications Manager at American Standard, Nora DePalma to develop the ad.

Gabriel’s goal with the campaign was to change the way people thought about American Standard and even about their relationships they had with their bathrooms. “Their competitor owned the luxury position, the ‘house on the hill,’” he explained. “We felt there was another way into the minds and hearts of upscale consumers: to demonstrate that American Standard understands the way we really live…specifically the relationship we all have with this one special room in the house. These days, creating shared connections between brands and their consumers takes different forms, but it’s still all about finding that common ground and evoking empathy and understanding.”

At the time, not everyone was entirely on board with the bold campaign. DePalma remembered that “literally everyone from office peers to my parents hated the ad.  But I felt confident in the risk, because I’d seen the research.  I knew what our competitors had to spend on marketing and I knew we couldn’t overcome it; we had to go someplace different as a brand to be accepted in consumers’ minds.”

While DePalma and Gabriel were both right in their feelings about the ad, even they weren’t able to predict just how big of a splash the campaign would make. A few years ago, Gabriel saw Bob Garfield at an ad function and was surprised when the critic told him he thought “It’s Seen You Naked” was the best print ad ever done. “At the time, I thought he was pulling my leg,” Gabriel recalled. It turns out that Garfield was definitely being genuine in this compliment.

In equally good news, our Uponor client now works with GdB Advertising, where Gabriel and Razidlo now work.  All of us at O’Reilly/DePalma are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again collaborate with with our old friends and look forward to doing more great work together.

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