One of the most controversial and talked-about product advertisements of 2013 involved a well-dressed, redheaded woman sitting cross-legged on a toilet seat.
BYU theater professor Ben Hopkin chose Bethany Woodruff for this quirky commercial after the Scottish native moved to America and reached her goal of attending BYU.
This ad looked to promote an all-natural aromatherapy product that is sprayed onto the water of the toilet before use.
Aptly named “Poo〜Pourri,” the spray provides a practical way of keeping unwanted toilet stink at bay. Poo〜Pourri’s videos describe both the foul-smelling nature of the problem the product solves and the embarrassment of having to use the restroom anywhere other than the comfort of home.
Poo〜Pourri customer David Adams thought the idea of this odor-eating toilet bowl spray was quite a laughable topic until he tried it.
“Initially I thought it was a joke; then one day my wife and I were walking through Harmons and saw it (Poo〜Pourri) on a shelf,” he said. “I thought it was funny, so we purchased it, thinking we would put the bottle next to the toilet and see what kind of reaction we would get from people when they saw it. Surprisingly, it works very well.”
The original product idea was publicized in a YouTube video on Sept. 10, 2013. The video quickly gained social media stardom after garnering more than 17 million views in just one month. By the end of the year, Poo〜Pourri’s viral ad had become YouTube’s fifth-most-watched video of 2013.
Just as memorable as the ad’s somewhat cringe-worthy euphemisms and sound effects is the face behind Poo〜Pourri—its spokeswoman, Bethany Woodruff.
Woodruff was born and raised in the Scottish highlands, but she discovered she wanted to move to America after attending a youth program at BYU.
“Problem was, I didn’t know how to get there until a Latter-day Saint missionary from Farmington, Utah, who served in Scotland and knew my family well, came back to Scotland for a wedding. He told me about a junior college in Price, Utah,” Woodruff said.
That missionary told Woodruff that this university—now known as Utah State University Eastern—could serve as a great school to get her associate degree before she transferred to BYU to finish her degree, which was Woodruff’s ultimate goal.
“It sounded too good to be true,” Woodruff said. “So a month later, on my 18th birthday, I went to the American Embassy in London without looking back and received my student visa. Two months later, and I was in six inches of snow in Price, Utah.”
The first couple of months in Price proved to be extremely tough, even for a hardy Scot like Woodruff. In addition to the cold, undeniable homesickness played on her mind as she started to feel like she didn’t fit in.
“I hated it,” she said. “The people were weird and fascinated by me like I was an alien from outer space. Leaving home was harder than I anticipated, and I was definitely homesick for a good year.”
The one bright light and turning point for Woodruff was meeting her husband-to-be: Wilford Woodruff. Named after his famous Latter-day Saint family member, he was serving as USU Eastern’s student body president when he first met Bethany Woodruff.
For her, the feeling of being normal around Wilford Woodruff at a time when she couldn’t feel more different was a refreshing change from the norm. For him, the idea of even dating such a girl seemed like a hopeless task.
“My very first impression when I saw and met Bethany was, ‘She is way out of my league, so don’t want to waste too much time with her.’ I knew she was beautiful and had the accent to boot,” Wilford Woodruff said.
It wasn’t long before the two became best friends. Friendship turned into love, and within a year, the two of them were flying to Scotland for their wedding.
After tying up some loose ends in Price, Bethany Woodruff and her husband made it to the place she wanted to be from the beginning: Provo. The only difference now was that she arrived with a companion.
Bethany Woodruff soon discovered strong reasons for her move to Provo and her decision to attend BYU when she was contacted by university acting professor Ben Hopkin.
Hopkin had been charged with the responsibility of finding potential candidates in a “girls don’t poop” commercial for a company called Poo〜Pourri and thought of contacting Bethany Woodruff. After two stages of auditions, she won the part.
Matthew Gilmour, Bethany Woodruff’s older brother, listened in on one of Bethany’s Skype interviews. Gilmour said he came to her apartment to pick her up, and she was in the middle of an interview.
“Let’s just say that the walls were quite thin in her apartment, so it wasn’t hard to overhear the interview,” Gilmour said. “We sat there for about five minutes when we heard in the other room, ‘You won’t believe the motherload I just dropped!’ In my mind I was thinking, ‘What kind of interview is this?’ It really was a priceless moment.”
With full support from husband and family alike, Bethany Woodruff took the position as Poo〜Pourri’s spokeswoman. With the combination of viral marketing and her outgoing spokeswoman charm, the small Poo〜Pourri business exploded into a global brand.
With more than 31 million total views on Poo〜Pourri’s original YouTube video alone, it isn’t surprising that Bethany Woodruff is starting to become more and more recognizable as the company’s sales jump.
“Every now and then when someone hears me speak in a public setting, I get recognized as the poo girl, which isn’t all that bad,” she said. “I love being the poo girl because she’s not ashamed to talk about what — let’s face it — everyone talks about in the comfort of their homes. She just makes it a bit more public and does it proudly.”
Bethany Woodruff’s husband recently accepted a work position with General Motors, so she will be balancing her time between her new home in Arizona and Los Angeles, where her agent and manager are based.
She hopes her time as Poo〜Pourri’s spokeswoman will be a great platform to eventually move into TV and film.
Bethany Woodruff smiled as she described the details of her job and her love for what she does. Having just re-signed with Poo〜Pourri for 2015, she looks forward to yet another year of spray bottles, blue dresses and flushing toilets.