It’s not a criticism to say that Bethany Woodruff’s talents are going to waste.
In a star turn that — fair warning — might turn your stomach, the Brigham Young University acting student recently appeared in a popular potty-mouthed viral marketing spot for Poo~Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray. At one point during a 2-minute video that had amassed more than 4 million views as of Tuesday morning, the chirpy Scot deadpans in her best high-society English, "Our business is to make it smell like your business never even happened."
Woodruff moved to Utah at 18 and has bounced from the College of Eastern Utah to Utah Valley University to BYU. In the bit, the 21-year-old espouses the odor-masking properties of the toilet spray in a variety of places where it might be embarrassing to use the bathroom. She never imagined she’d get her break waxing poetic about fecal matters.
"It completely happened on a whim," says Woodruff, whose background is in dramatic acting. A BYU adjunct professor, Ben Hopkin, told her about the audition, and she surprised herself by winning over viral marketing whiz Jeffrey Harmon (of the Orabrush campaign that generated more than 40 million YouTube views) and director/writer Joel Ackerman. "I really had no idea that this was going to be my first real big exposure," she said. "Doing something as comedic and crass as this is not [how] I thought I’d start out."
Hopkin said he first saw Woodruff as Abigail Williams in a stage production "The Crucible." She immediately sprung to mind when he heard about the role because of her openness and versatility.
"She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and in my mind that’s what sets apart really great actors," he said. "I’ve seen her stretch herself to do pretty much anything that I threw at her."
Poo-Pourri founder Suzy Batiz said some of the lines — "I just berthed a creamy behemoth from my cavernous bowels," for instance — made her wince upon first reading the script. "My marketing director and I, we were just cringing," she said. "We thought this was just horrible, we can’t do this." But Woodruff made it work, she said.
The video was shot in six locations across two days (see a blooper reel here). Woodruff had a 5 a.m. call time on the first day, shooting all day and then heading off to perform in a 6 p.m. nightly showing of "The Curious Savage" at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. She got a one-day break before a 2:30 a.m. start for a final shoot that took her from the extremes of an idyllic mountain meadow in Provo Canyon to the steaming filth of a Lindon dairy farm. "That was the icing on the cake," she jokes.
Woodruff said the reaction from her fellow students at BYU has been universally positive. "Mum" was her only real concern, but she "absolutely loved it," Woodruff said. Poo~Pourri is happy, too. Batiz says they are currently trying to sign her to a contract, with an eye toward an ongoing series. "We want her to turn into the Old Spice Guy," Batiz says, referring to actor Isaiah Mustafa.
Poo~Pourri claims to trap the smell of poop below the surface of the water. Founder Suzy Batiz says her husband and sons — or rather, their fumes — were the inspiration for her product, which launched in 2007 and has sold more than 4 million bottles, according to a press release. Batiz says most customers have bought the product as a gag gift and been surprised to find that it actually works.
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