Do We Stink?

“Wanna know a secret?”  a young woman standing in her bathroom wearing a sports bra asks, flashing a naked underarm, looking determined to get a response.

My answer would be, “Uh, maybe, but just not now. “

But of course, our hero then leans forcefully into the screen while offering a full pit view and declaring: “More than just my armpits stink!”

“Oh, do go on!” I don’t say.

An attention-getting opening for a new spot for Secret Body Spray (get it?) it’s just one of the many body spray deodorant brands now flooding the market.  They fall into a new category of deodorant, but they target anxiety in an old, familiar way. Now added to the list of things to worry about: full-body stench.

We stink, and therefore we offend in ways that are new to us.



Hey, I’m happy that folks in ads can use honest words like “stink.”

A new campaign for Tom’s of Maine deodorant and anti-perspirant bucks the I-stink-everywhere trend. We’ll get to that below.

But it seems to me that the mother of all female full-body-stinkage alerts is Shannon Klingman, MD, an ob/gyn who invented the deodorant Lume.

She has starred in many of her own nostril-based commercials for Lume for the last few years.

Klingman set the earthy, no-holds-barred contemporary tone around addressing general body stench by happily demonstrating the new problem areas on her own body: “Underboob, thigh folds, butt crack, feet.” In some spots, she adds the word “vulva,” which I find preferable to “hoo-hoo” or a whistling sound, as is done in the Secret commercial, although maybe that’s a network censor thing.

And let’s face it:  Advertisers invented the category of “feminine hygiene.” Tissue-damaging Lysol sanitizer was promoted in ads aimed at worried women as the medically approved answer to a “happy marriage” way back in the 1920s.

So, in many ways, the body spray ads are a breakthrough in graphic directness. I don’t want to go back to the “ladylike” days of 1970s, when commercials for (aptly named)  Modess pads conveyed menstrual “freshness” by showing a woman in a white dress riding a white palomino on the beach.

Being open about the human body and science is the way to go. But the jury's still out on whether total-body deodorant coverage is required, given that humans must sweat somewhere, and regular bathing and showering generally do the job.

That’s why I appreciated the heightened, funny approach of the Tom’s of Maine campaign for a reformulated, repackaged deodorant and antiperspirant, in 11 different scents like “Coastal Aroma” and “Cucumber Aloe” -- the first for the natural company in three years.

With the tag line, "Smell Good, Good," the thirty-second “SPIN” spot is about hitting the gym, a definite source of Big Stink.

We enter the belly of the beast, a spin class, with spinner Daphne applying Tom’s of Maine special sauce – under her arms just as the session begins.

“All right, cyclers, let's get those arms up” yells the instructor through his headset. “Now down.” But something is wafting toward him, transforming him. “Not you, Daphne!,” he says. “Your Coastal Aroma is taking me to a sensational sea of scent..."

While deeply inhaling Daphne’s personal bouquet through his capacious nostrils, the cycling coach is so moved that his eyes start welling up. "Amazing," he weeps.

That part is fresh and laugh-out-loud funny. Then he tells another female student to put her arms down -- she’s ruining the moment. Also surprising, but less funny.

The second spot, “Camping,” features two men and a female friend in the exceedingly close quarters of an outdoor tent. To make matters worse, the tent seems to have collapsed in the wind and is flapping around them. One guy turns to his buddy whose armpit is up close and personal, takes a big whiff, and says “You smell nice. Cucumber Aloe?” The friend responds by talking about Tom’s natural and delightful fresh aloe smell and “moisture-locking ingredients” for a while. The questioner is rapt, and says, “I’m a fan.”

This important conversation is happening as a bear arrives at the flap in their tent, which is so absurd it’s funny.

As healthy humans, we will always produce sweat and new products to alleviate it.

And as for the secret shared by the woman in the Secret commercial mentioned up top? She’s embodying a contemporary wave, happily noting that she “stinks everywhere.”

5 comments about "Do We Stink?".
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  1. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc, April 24, 2024 at 10:56 a.m.

    The amount of TV advertising for Lume has piqued my interest. I wonder who is financing Dr. Klingman?  You can't escape her if you watch any amount of daytime television, and now she has added Mando for men.  

    Again, who is financing Dr Klingman?  Perhaps her "earthy" presence is as authentic as Empire Carpets "today" ads or Bob from Bob's furniture

  2. Barbara Lippert from, April 24, 2024 at 11:02 a.m.

    thanks for commenting, Michael. Interesting question. Like the "Balance of Nature" fruits and vegetables supplements, Lume ads are constant. I'll start looking into it.

  3. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc replied, April 24, 2024 at 12:03 p.m.

    Thanks Barbara, I always look forward to your columns, "earthy" as they are :)

  4. Cynthia Amorese from JAL Enterprises NY, April 25, 2024 at 4:04 p.m.

    I'm a huge fan of Lume. A friend who's a research nurse turned me on to it a couple of years ago and it truly delivers on its promises. I ordered a "Mando" set (related to "Commando?") for my nephew and have given Lume sets as gifts to friends with various odor complaints. Positive feedback from all. Klingman's DTC approach is memorable and effective, her "earthiness" is inoffensive to me (I believe she's who she appears to be), and I wish her continued success. The fact that Dove and other brands are jumping on the whole-body-deodorant bandwagon is proof that Klingman's creation was (and continues to be) a good one. And yes, Barbara, we absolutely stink. It's not just my acute olfactory system -- humans are smelly creatures.

  5. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc replied, April 25, 2024 at 4:36 p.m.

    Your enthusiasm for the product is duly noted however LUME works by killing foul smelling bacteria. Like anti-bacterial soaps is it not possible that "whole body deodorants" like LUME may have a similar effect in creating reistant bacteria just like the anti-bacterial soaps proved to do in the 1990's ?  
    A daily scrubbing with hot water and soap should do the trick. 

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