Sunday, February 13, 2011

Silly Products Part 1 - Viral Marketing

(Image from

There are things humans need to survive and be happy. And I mean REALLY need. Shelter, food, clean water, social interaction, purpose, remote controls, chocolate and recreational drugs (I like wine, feel free to name yours).

And there are things we don't need. Things that, thanks to modern wonders like marketing, we might be convinced we need but we actually don't. And I have recently discovered the most useless piece of un-needed, marketing driven crapola ever.

Before I name and shame, it must be said that I work in advertising, and I spend a goodly amount of my paid time trying to persuade people to want things they don't need, and haven't even thought of yet. So, at the risk of biting the hand that feeds me, I maintain that I am also a consumer, and therefore entitled to be two-faced.

So what is this useless piece of tat? It's the Dettol No Touch Hand Sanitiser System Pumper Thingy.

The product information overview on the the No Touch Hand Sanitiser's website (yes, it has its own website) claims to 'help stop the spread of germs' by working with the soap to deliver a superior hand washing experience. The problem these days with the 'old fashioned' soap dispenser, the website also says, is that soap dispenser pumps can harbour hundreds of germs. Which is where this fabbo new invention comes in.

The user places their hands under the dispenser pump, the sensor dispenses the soap and washes merrily away having bypassed their nasty, bacteria-laden pump. Too easy!

It's pretty obvious that as a society we've become germ-phobic. We're all desperately trying to avoid swine flu, mad cow disease and all the other nasties that fly around families faster than you can say gastro. And I'll admit it, the first time I saw the ad for this little marvel, I sat up and took notice. It was a germy week in our house; noses ran and little chests hacked. Germs were enemy number one. I actually watched and thought what a good idea this was. Who wants to catch or spread any more germs, after all? Not this hygienically-minded Mum!

Then it dawned on me... if you pump soap from a soap dispenser, then wash your hands properly, it doesn't matter if you've used the pump, patted the dog, wiped your nose on your hand on the way past and then coughed on it - you still use the soap, with water, to wash your hands clean, and the germs away. The end result should be the same, so why should we care about the cleanliness of our hands BEFORE we wash them? It doesn't make sense.

If anything, it makes me wonder if the soap itself is questionable. Hasn't it occurred to the good people at Dettol that by making the pump the hero product they are actually putting into question the effectiveness of their antibacterial soap in the first place? And there's no mention of whether to touch the tap before or after the soap is dispensed! What to do?? Overall, it seems to be a pretty ill-considered way to upsell a product if you ask me (not that anyone has).

And finally, if the soap delivery method is so important, why do they still use pumps at the scrub stations in hospital surgical units?
SO many questions. Who knew soap could be so controversial? I may never know what Dettol were thinking, but I do know one of my favourite bloggers actually did a Dettol No Touch giveaway on her blog. They asked her to. Because people actually READ her blog. So she might be able to shed some light on it for me (you know who you are).

Anyway, it's been on my mind for a while now (deep thinker that I am) and I do feel better for getting it off my chest and onto my germy keyboard, but I won't be expecting any free samples.

Has this product jarred anyone else, or is it just me?