Back to the office: yay or nay?
Using the recent ambiguous Dettol 'Back to the office' ad we wondered if people are nostalgic about office life.
Recently Reckitt Benckiser launched an OOH in the London underground for people returning to work from the office. The ad appears to be trying to tap into the office related nostalgia and link it to the protection that their sanitising brand Dettol can provide in this environment. The campaign was criticised substantially by advertising experts and by people on social media for being out of touch with the mood of the moment. Here are some of the Twitter comments:
Or even fine takes on the copy, such as this one by the White Label Comedy — a comedy powered creative agency:
But for the rest of us, the regular consumers, people who do commute to the office—did the campaign miss the mark? Let’s see how they really did.
How will ambiguous advertising impact your brand? To what extent does the social media sentiment reflect the opinions of your target audience? Are the Londoners ready to go back into the office? Those are the questions we wanted answered in this study.
What we tested? Dettol "Back to the office" OOH campaign in the London underground
Who did we speak to? The ad was shown to London office workers aged 25−55.
How was it tested? Using an AdVisual solution on the Fastuna platform. Online panel respondents were sent a survey link to their email. After viewing the ad images they answered our survey questions. We also added two questions about the extent to which Londoners are looking forward to working from office again.
The Dettol campaign scored well
The ad scored 65 out of 100 which falls into the 'good' bucket based on Fastuna norms. The average London office commuter was quite happy with the ad where 70% liked it and 77% found it relevant to them. It had no negative impact on the brand with 67% eager to purchase Dettol in the future. So, it seems that overall, people were accepting of it.
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…but did consumers really get it?
It encourages people to disinfect their hands no matter how busy their lives are. Even if you have lots of things to remember to do everyday it is always important to disinfect our hands.
Female, 44
A good reminder for everyone about staying safe and keeping others safe from Covid
Female, 50
Taking a closer look at the comments it felt like some people didn’t even take in the whole text and focused on the brand and its sanitising function. And those who did get the creative idea expressed similar feelings to those on social media.
It’s quite controversial. Some of the ads talk about travelling back into London and commuting, but people generally hate those things. It’s clear that Dettol will help protect people when doing these things, but it’s a bit silly as nobody misses commuting and getting on tubes.
Female, 28
Obnoxious reminder of why working from home is preferable.
Female, 40
But what about coming back to the office?
We can see that in general, about ⅓ of London office workers are looking forward to getting back to the office and 29% have been actually missing office life. However, about the same number prefer working from home. Also 35% are a bit anxious about getting or spreading the virus when coming back.
Though the majority (75%) believes that it is likely that they are going to be back in the office within the next 3 months.
Conclusion
People see their lives going back to normal soon as they expect to return to work within the next 3 months. However, not everyone is happy about it with a third saying they are anxious about the virus spread in the office, or that they prefer working from home.
But, back to Dettol. We can predict that this campaign will not have a negative impact on the brand. Instead it will serve as a good reminder to use sanitiser. It also echos a strong positive image of the trusted Dettol brand:
Makes you understand that Dettol is a high quality brand ready to help in sanitising your hands.
Female, 36
It’s bright, bold and to the point. It’s a trusted brand and attracts your attention.
Female, 50
Dettol is a trusted brand and makes you feel protected.
Female, 39
However, the majority simply didn’t read too much into it and missed the sentiment about going back to the office. It is a rather wordy ad to focus on while the brand itself and the key message in bold at the bottom stand out.

As for the minority who actually read it, it was quite polarising as it was predicted by social media gurus.
Not everyone shares the sentiment about going back to the office, but the key message about disinfecting comes through and remains strong.
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