written by: Glen Warchol
Provo-based Harmon Brothers make gold from unicorn poop.
To the sound of a flushing toilet, a well-dressed and coifed woman, demurely perched on a commode, announces in a proper British accent: “You won’t believe the mother lode I just dropped.”
If you’re offended or grossed out, you probably aren’t a Poo-Pourri target customer. But 50 million other viewers find the earthy sales pitch hilarious and line up digitally to buy the toilet deodorizer.
The creative genius behind the cleverly uncouth Internet ads for Poo-Pourri, Squatty Potty (a footstool that allegedly eases constipation) and Orabrush (scrapes scum off your tongue) is Provo’s Harmon Brothers agency that has been hailed by Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
Creative Director Daniel Harmon says they are exploiting a new cultural openess. “What we have done is captured creatively how people talk about taboo subjects in friendly conversations,” Harmon says. “It’s tapping into something that culturally already exists. We are successfully navigating the place between tact and too far.”
The brothers developed their sales and earthy humor skills as kids in Idaho. “We sold potatoes door-to-door,” says Harmon. And because they worked on farms, “we had a crap-as-a-part-of-life mentality.”
The agency has become so successful new clients must pitch them. “For us, it’s not just, ‘Do you have money? You’re on!’” Harmon says. “We have more of an endorsement mentality—we sell best what we believe in.”
Even then, “there are places we will never go,” Harmon says. “You don’t find us swearing in our ads—unless you consider ‘crap’ a swear word.”
Harmon Brothers does market non-bodily-function products. Last summer they launched Logan-based Camp Chef’s barbecue grill line—a step up the digestive tract, so to speak. The ads include the trademark Harmon Brothers wit, minus the scatological word play.
Still, Harmon Brothers will likely be best remembered for the Web ads that made toilet talk cool. “We’ve heard of 14-year-old girls asking their parents for a Squatty Potty for Christmas,” Harmon says. “It’s a little weird.”
Medieval Duchess on toilet Deodorizer: “Before, when I released the Kraken, a woodland creature died.”
Elizabethan Troubador endorsing toilet spray: “Beautiful as a Monet masterpiece, if Monet was a magical farting unicorn.”
Troubadour: “You may be thinking, ‘Do I have to pay for a rainbow? Can’t I just fart through a prism? No, you can’t. That would really hurt.”
See more inside our 2017 September/October Issue.