Native Salutes Armpits As 'The Home Base Of Hugs'

The list of people most of us are hugging is short these days. So Native deodorant just launched a new ad campaign positioning armpits as “the home base of hugs.” And it’s promising to make those pits “the safest place on earth.”

“The armpit is the most under-appreciated part of the body,” says Vineet Kumar, CEO of the Procter & Gamble-owned brand. “You never hear people say, 'He has great armpits.’ But it’s the place you bring people in when you hug them, and we want to let people know that with Native, their armpits are safe.”

Most deodorants and antiperspirants are full of chemicals that turn many personal-care shoppers off. And “how safe can we feel in each other’s arms, if we’re still using a product full of harmful toxins?” further notes Kumar.

Native products have no aluminum or parabens, and already enjoy a cult following for their scents, like coconut vanilla and the seasonal rose wine collection. “We want to let people know we make a safe and effective product with none of the nasties,” says Kumar.

He tells D2C FYI that making the new ads amid Covid-19 restrictions was daunting. Mustache, the Brooklyn-based content agency it works with, came up with the idea of focusing on how the only people you can get physically close to these days are the ones you love most. And while it felt like the right approach, figuring out how to shoot a spot about physical closeness during social distancing was a puzzler.

They didn’t want it to look like just another Zoom pandemic ad. And the idea of including babies and dogs added even more complexity.

The solution was casting real families that have been quarantining together. The agency sent them phones, lighting rigs -- and then Zoomed the director in to keep all the hugging, cuddling and spooning on track. Mustache made a behind-the-scenes video to show how it all came together.

A 15-second version of the ads is running on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, with the 30-second version running on YouTube.

During the pandemic, Kumar says D2C sales of Native products have gone up dramatically. But about 50% of its sales come from retail, including Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens. And while sales rose in March as people stocked up, they fell sharply in April and began to climb again May.

Kumar says he believes the reason Native does so well with its customers is by striving to offer “phenomenal customer service,” something people aren’t used to when buying such products at retail.

“We offer things like free returns to swap scents,” he says, “as well as seasonal and subscription programs. And we try and having something launching every three months, so folks continue to look forward to something new.”

Next up? A completely plastic-free deodorant, packaged in cardboard, expected to launch later this month.

Procter & Gamble acquired the San Francisco-based Native Cos. back in 2017, and Kumar joined as CEO back in February, from direction P&G’s regional skincare in the Asia Pacific region.

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