What government can learn from Olay

Olay’s Open to Change advertising campaign is something government should take note of.

By Luke Fretwell · November 15, 2021

Olay’s Open to Change advertising campaign is something government should take note of and emulate.

Open to Change focuses on Olay making its jar design more accessible. A new lid makes it easy to open, but also has “face cream” in Braille on the top.

I first saw this as an advertisement in the print edition of The New York Times, but there is also an accompanying video and website.

The first page of the four-page spread has negative testimonials from Olay users, such as:

“I literally cannot open the stupid jar on my own.”

“I have tried allll night to get this jar open. Please please make this easier.”

Please reconsider the design of your jar.”

The remainder of the advertisement speaks to how Olay responded to this negative feedback.

“You’ve spoken. We’re listening,” says Olay on the final page.

Whether these quotes are real or fabricated makes no difference. Olay is creating the expectation that its corporate culture values true openness and engagement with its consumers. It also is addressing the real needs of people whose bodies are a mismatch with poor product design.

The message is that Olay is willing to subject itself to negative feedback, but use it to actually publicly address and resolve those issues. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of standard product design for Olay but also inspiration for others – particularly government – to think about openness in the way that it shows up in service to the community.

Your customers or community are openly talking about your product and services – whether its skin care or public services – and it’s an opportunity to respond to and exceed expectations in a way traditional thinking organizations are unaccustomed to.

The more government does this in an open way, creating feedback loops that show empathy and continuously sharing the narrative, the more opportunities we can create to build trust and appreciation in public sector institutions.