Le Trèfle, “Emma”

Humour isn’t likely the first word that comes to mind when you think of toilet paper commercials. Most are fairly prescriptive, touting the softness, durability or absorption properties of the brand at hand. “Emma” from French toilet paper manufacturer Le Trèfle takes the average toilet paper ad and turns it on its head. The amusing ad, which scored 5-Stars on System1’s Test Your Ad platform, leverages right-brain features like dialogue, characters with agency, knowing glances and a sense of betweenness.

The early 2010s ad comes from a time when tablets were hot new technology, and Emma’s annoying husband wastes no opportunity to show his off, patronisingly reminding her of all the ways it can replace paper – books, shopping lists, and word games. But as he finds when he runs out of toilet roll, a tablet is no substitute for certain kinds of paper. The joy and humour of the ad is in schadenfreude – by establishing how annoying the husband is, we’re delighted when Emma gets her own back and slides a tablet with a picture of a toilet roll under the door. The ad actually led to a run on the product and its international fame helped the company to gain distribution in new markets.

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