By Kate Mazza, Julia Mulry, and Regina McCormick
Semiotic aspects of a commercial focus on the symbolism and intentions for interpretation. In the Downy fabric softener commercial, advertisers played on the idea of sex appeal to convey the nature of their product. As the commercial commences, it shows what is perceived to be an intimate moment between two people. However, rather than remaining unclothed, the two begin to clothe each other. This unpredicted action captures the viewer’s attention, wondering what exactly the point is they are trying to prove. Playing in the background is Ella Eyre’s latest hit “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off.” This song is a huge semiotic factor, as it highlights the idea of a night with clothes on still being fun and sexy. That is the message this commercial is trying to convey, emphasizing Downy’s fabric softener as the key to this. As the two in the commercial get more and more passionate, they continue to clothe themselves even more, appreciating each article of clothing. This brings distinct attention to the clothing, intriguing the reader on what about the clothing is the focal point. The final semiotic aspect of this commercial lies within the closing scene, where the lines read “A feeling so soft, you’ll want to rip your clothes on.” This witty and comprehensive ending allows the reader to see the parallel of sex appeal and equate the luxury of the fabric softener to that same feeling.
The psychoanalysis of Downy’s “Rip your clothes on” commercial is very ironic. The commercial begins with a bare female stomach and what appears to be an intimate moment between a couple. This beginning initially catches viewers attention, and most psychoanalysts might say that it creates subconscious sexual arousal; however, as the ad continues it appears that the couple is acting in an intimate way, while continuing to clothe each other. It keeps viewers/consumers interested and coincides with the idea that “sex sells”. However, instead of just playing on the idea of sex, Downy plays with the feelings of intimacy and warmth. The ad catches consumers attention with a sexiness, playful mood then quickly turns to a intimate and caring mood which leaves viewers heart-warmed or maybe even sexually aroused. Along with the similar idea behind Ella Eyre’s cover “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off”, the ad gives the idea that getting dressed may be as provocative and sexy as getting undressed as long as consumers’ clothes are “Downy-Fresh”.
Downy is a brand name fabric softener produced by Procter & Gamble. It entered the U.S. in 1960 and went nationwide in 1961. It started to sell in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Egypt, Kenya and Latin America. Downy is known for their fabric softener and detergent. Downy’s line of products has grown and grown to include candles, air freshener, pluggable scented oils and fabric conditioners. Downy protects clothes against stretching, fading, and fuzz. In 1961, Downy introduced a liquid fabric softener that was 2x as concentrated as the competition. In 1987, Downy dryer sheets moved the brand beyond just the fabric softener, allowing clothes to smell fresh and feel soft. In 2011, Downy launched ‘unstoppable‘, which is a wash scent booster in a black bottle that gives the laundry room a luxury and long lasting fragrance. In 2012, Downy infusions infused fabrics with touch-activated fragrances. In 2015, Downy came up with the idea of ‘deodorant for clothes’ which protects odor by infusing fabrics with motion activated fresheners. Downy’s known activating softener has proven to be effective in protecting fabrics from the general damage of daily/regular washing and drying, which promoted Downy as a fabric conditioner. Downy’s cover on the bottle changes throughout the products. The fabric softener displays many different printed images on the bottles. The fabric softener is a little girl under a blanket, and the infusions is a design of a flower to represent the type of smell it is going to give off. Downy’s freshness and power is clearly exhibited in this playful ad.