Once-taboo products get frank to better connect with audience

Products in the feminine care, grooming, contraceptive, and pregnancy categories are losing their "private" stigma, as marketers are introducing frank marketing for these items.

Products in the feminine care, grooming, contraceptive, and pregnancy categories are losing their "private" stigma, as marketers are introducing frank marketing for these items.

A recent New York Times article pointed out that a new ad campaign for home-pregnancy test Clearblue Easy actually showed liquid representing urine being poured on the device.

Unlike advertisements of the past where the mere use of these products was implied - often in a soft, demure manner - the new ads put forth these personal care products in an up-front and fearless tone, even going so far as to outwardly demonstrate their appliance and technique.

Why does it matter?

Companies with previously taboo products can use this era of frankness to better connect with their audiences.

Andre Manning, director of corporate communications for Philips, says online is a great place for marketers to discuss such products. The Times article points out that Philips is using online ads for the Philips Norelco Bodygroom trimmer that feature an actor, wearing a bathrobe, explicitly demonstrating on vegetables where the Bodygroom trimmer can be used.

"The campaign started online instead of via mass channels because... we were aware that grooming is not a topic men feel comfortable talking about without being it a huge taboo," Manning notes. "There's no taboo associated with shaving your chin, but there is with grooming other parts of your body. The commercial's openness definitely affected the audience reaction."

Shannon Jenest, senior PR manager for Philips' domestic appliance and personal care division, says the idea was to help men feel more comfortable by using humor to disarm them. "If you give people a forum to talk about these products that are relevant to their lives, then they are willing to do so," Jenest adds.

Five facts:

1 The Philips Norelco Bodygroom trimmer was listed as the item "most wished for" in the personal care category on Amazon.com during the Christmas season.

2 The Clearblue ad paved the way for a 78% increase in sales during a four-week period compared with the same timeframe a year ago, according to The New York Times.

3 NBC accepts birth control pill ads during prime time and daytime, but restricts condom ads to after 11:30pm. Other networks - ABC, CBS, Fox, and The CW - have variations on the policy. Some decline condom ads, notes Planned Parenthood.

4 Trojan brand condoms were the first to air a commercial on American television. San Francisco's KRON-TV broadcast three 15-second spots in February 1987.

5 According to Kline & Co., the personal care market revenue in the US for 2006 totaled $35 billion in manufacturer's dollars.

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