A typical approach taken by Procter and Gamble (P&G) to capture people’s interest is the classic problem-solution trick.

Here you show what the world is like or would be like without the product, then show the solution – ie the product the company is advertising. It’s usual head on with functional benefits.

Henkel in Germany have used the approach as blatantly as P&G has used it for decades. Not usually high on the creativity scale, but judging by sales volumes it seems to work:


(If you’re from outside Germany and wondering why Henkel has this brand in Germany and not Unilever: actually it is a Henkel brand, Unilever bought the country rights from Henkel in 1931.)

By contrast, here is the emotional route often taken by Unilever. The functional message is implicit, not explicit. You get pulled into the situation, carried along by the feelings, then you feel the function through empathetic association.


“I curl my toes. I touch the softest of water. Then I feel the little bits of grime digging into my bum.”

Other example of this approach: Campari.

More on this P&G “function” issue vs Unilever “emotion”: Axe & Timotei

By the way, somewhat off-topic: there was an apocryphal story doing the advertising agency rounds in the early 1990s about one of the top creative pairs in the city. They had discovered this trick and based almost all their ideas on “Left page: problem. Right page: solution.” One ad I saw of theirs had a tennis player drawn like a kid, a simple matchstick character on the left. On the right: Andre Agassi (or whoever was winning all the tournaments at the time). Eventually the boss got so sick and tired of them he called them into his office and pointed to the one on the left, “You, you’re fired”. Then pointing to the one on the right, said, “You, you’re also fired”.

Alex Woodruff

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