Downy Gets “Fresh” with “Rip Your Clothes On”

First, watch this:

After I saw this Downy commercial, now famously known as #RipYourClothesOn, I needed an outlet. It’s a phenom! It both plays on and subverts popular culture at the same time and in two different ways:

First, it exploits and debases the idea that sex sells. The commercial, which cleverly premiered during the 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, depicts an attractive, hip couple in a dreamy, urban home—Ooh, exposed brick! Ooh, raw wood floors!—clearly enthralled with one another. But instead of undressing each other and falling into an embrace (a sight we’ve come to expect as consumers), we see the couple dressing each other in their soft Downy-fresh clothes. The shots of different body parts are still steamy, and the looks between the couple are perfectly suggestive. But the big reveal is two lovers falling, fully clothed, onto a bed to chastely snuggle before leaving for work.

Second, it uses a throwback pop song—Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off”—repackaged by a hip, up-and-coming artist, Ella Eyre. The song plays and probably sounds a bit familiar to the target market, but right when the conceit of the spot is revealed [the fully-clothed couple falls onto the bed], the very familiar refrain is reached, and—BAM—the viewer is hit with the whole idea that getting dressed can be just as provocative as getting undressed…as long as your clothes are Downy-fresh.

A few months ago, a clothing line called Wren released a video called “First Kiss” that quickly went viral. The simple concept was that perfect strangers were asked to share a first kiss on camera. Again, this is technically quite chaste and a very familiar trope, but it manages to be completely romantic, too. Within a week of its release online, that video had over 60 millions views (did anybody who works at a computer all day NOT see that video?) and sales for the line increased almost 14,000% week-over-week.

The Downy spot seems to play to a similar sentiment: we’re seeing intimacy and warmth, not just naked flesh. It makes for a more compelling story and a bigger emotional impact; therefore, a much more memorable message.

Photo Credit: Flickr’s Chelsea McNamara

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