Can Even A Great Ad Campaign Make People Rethink 'Depend'?
Take a look at the women's version.
Titled "Orchestra," the 30-second piece portrays a 50-something orchestra conductor preparing for a concert. First described by another midlife woman who praises her in a teasingly affectionate way ("she always forgets where she puts her magic wand, but when she finds it, she makes magic happen"), the ad then shifts to the conductor (Kim) herself, who says, "People know a lot of things about me, but no one needs to know about my condition."
It's hard to imagine how Kimberly-Clark could capture a better tone to describe a Boomer woman challenged by incontinence. She is depicted as a talented, fully dimensional, hard-working woman, one who people regard with a combined sense of affection and respect. She is talented but not perfect; the sense of humor women apply to each other is captured in a pitch-perfect way.
Better yet, we hear all of this before Kim herself tells her that she also has a secret, the "condition" that makes her rely on Depend.
I don't just like the way that Kim is depicted, I like the way she uses a matter-of-fact word ("condition") to describe exactly what it is. She doesn't beat around the bush or use a cutesy euphemism -- things that Boomer women abhor. She simply tells us that the accomplished, satisfying life she leads also contains a frustrating challenge -- and one that the advertised brand helps her solve.
I wonder, nevertheless, if the Depend brand faces an uphill battle that even a flawless ad campaign can't overcome. Can it make women (and men -- there is a male version you can check out on YouTube) feel comfortable about putting a package of Depend in their grocery or drugstore carts? Given that the ad subjects themselves say, "People don't need to know about my condition"), I'm not sure.
Depend announces at the end of each ad that its products come "in new prints and colors." And the packaging takes big steps to look more like a multi-pack of underwear.
Kimberly-Clark deserves praise for this campaign and for its work with the Poise brand (women-only pads for light bladder leaks). We know that women loved the Super Bowl ad featuring Whoopi Goldberg, which makes the issue of bladder control funny -- not just by making fun of it but by reminding women that humor itself is the best response to a medical condition that makes you pee when you laugh.
If flawless advertising can't help this category recreate itself in the minds (and shopping carts) of consumers, what can? Should it explore new brand names? What if a package of adult diapers was sold in small packages with a brand name like Hanes?
Maybe the brand should simply get away from the retail marketplace entirely. We know that Boomer women are shunning bricks-and-mortar as a place to buy clothes and cosmetics. Maybe products like Depend should promote itself via online sales (where consumers can buy in bulk) so that they never have to advertise to other shoppers that they are buying a product that undercuts the way they see themselves -- and, as this ad so well depicts, others see them.
Because I truly admire this creative work, and because I know that someone needs to serve the needs of women and all Boomers in this category better, I'm really curious to hear what others think.