Dettol’s back to work ad goes viral for all the wrong reasons

Ads were created by McCann.

Dettol: ad sparked backlash for its depiction of office working (Twitter/@mmtowns)
Dettol: ad sparked backlash for its depiction of office working (Twitter/@mmtowns)

A campaign by RB brand Dettol has come under scrutiny online for its depiction of returning to the office as lockdown measures continue to ease.

Created by McCann, the ad attempts to detail aspects of office life that the public may be missing while working at home, including “putting on a tie”, “the boss's jokes” and “proper bants”.

Dettol’s outdoor ad continues by encouraging workers to “disinfect surfaces we use throughout the day, so we can do it all again tomorrow”.

The ad – which has been seen at London Underground stations including Euston and Camden Town – quickly garnered strong reactions from commuters for describing the return to the office as “seeing your second family”.

However, some images posted on Twitter did not include Dettol’s logo, leaving many to assume the ad was part of the government’s upcoming campaign encouraging people to return to the office.

The government’s campaign, which was set to launch tomorrow (4 September), has reportedly been delayed until next week at the earliest, amid claims that social-distancing guidelines have prevented companies from returning to their workplaces.

This afternoon, however, the Prime Minister's spokesman claimed that "there has never been a 'back to work' campaign" and that what the government has actually been planning was a "press partnership campaign with regional and local media... on a variety of topics to do with the coronavirus response".

One quick-witted Twitter user took it upon themselves to create a parody of the Dettol ad, which depicts “the fear of going back to the office”, “the extortionate costs of tube travel and commuting in general”, and “the great oblivion circling life, death”.

— Sheriff Babble (@Babble___) September 3, 2020

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh was also quick to join the banter by sharing the post alongside the caption "choose death" – a riff on his novel's popular opening monologue.

Campaign has contacted RB and McCann, but both were yet to respond at the time of publication.

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