Kimberly-Clark’s Depend brand is using an inaugural sponsorship of the ESPN Espy awards on July 17 to put a capstone on its "Great American Try-On" campaign, a consumer participation event to tout Depend Real Fit for Men and Silhouette for Women briefs.
The second chapter of the campaign (the platform actually launched in 2012) started in April with an online competition in which NFL athletes Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos and DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys started competing for online votes, with the high-vote player winning $50,000 for prostate cancer research. The campaign has been supported since then by a series of web videos featuring athletes, actors, and artists (football players Vonn Miller and Kyle Rudolph; race car driver Scott Dixon; actor Omar Miller; dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy; and artist Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg; and Olympian Mary Lou Retton), all vowing to vote for one or the other athlete.
The point: that the absorbent undergarments are unobtrusive and essentially unnoticeable and therefore de-fanged as an emblem of a stigmatizing condition. That point was made more directly in last year's launch campaign, in which the players wore Depend Real Fit products during actual games.
The new campaign, benefiting V Foundation for Cancer Research, which is especially focused on prostate cancer, a leading cause of bladder control issues in men, includes a humorous TV spot about the vote-raising competition. It will air on the awards show. And there's an in-broadcast segment in which, as part of the Espy awards, one of the two players will take the podium to accept the $50,000.
Liz Metz, brand director for Depend, tells Marketing Daily that the idea for the campaign was born from a need to demonstrate the flexibility -- literally and figuratively -- of the product by putting it into demanding situations few people would normally experience. Using athletes would lessen the emotional baggage involved with what the products are all about. "What we have found is the best way to get people to understand the innovative product it is to get them to try it on.
“And there's a lot of stigma associated with the category. It’s a condition affecting one in six men, and it can cause embarrassment. It's a common issue and we're trying to bring it to the forefront."
She says the average age for men who are incontinent is 56, "something most people are not aware of," and that prostate cancer is one of the top five causes.
The effort also involves dancer Cheryl Burke, who tried the Depend Silhouette briefs under her dance costume last year, and whose participation this year supports career development program "Dress for Success."