The opening shot begins with a huge arrangement of flowers, and a man behind them.
A butler walks into the room and exclaims in a British accent, "Mmm! What is that wonderful fresh scent?" The floral arranger, who is flamboyantly dressed with a purple sweater tied over his shoulder across a bright yellow shirt and an orange ascot, smiles broadly.
But then the butler adds, "It must be the laundry!" The florist's grin then turns into an angry baring of the teeth and a raised eyebrow -- clearly they have a history of sniping at each other.
The butler continues, "Once again, I've outdone myself, with All fabric softener, my employer's clothes come out smelling fresh and feeling soft -- at a price that's not... over the top."
He says the last line with a look backward at the florist, who turns away with an arch look.
Part of a $30 million marketing effort for the brand, the ad features a real-life butler and ran in prime time and daytime on network and cable, including MTV, Lifetime and Oxygen.
(The ad's director found prototypical British-born and Los Angeles-employed butler, Alan Selka, at the home of a movie producer. Mr. Selka, who resumed his day job after shooting the spot.)
While the ad suggests a classic rivalry for attention and perfection, the humor is almost entirely based on the flamboyance of the gay florist, and at his expense. It never reaches beyond stereotype. Almost certainly the other man is not a real florist -- and why not a female florist, or an Old World guy from Europe?