Badvertising: Depend

A current television ad for Depend Undergarments talks about how convenient Depends are to take with you during a busy day, and there is an image of a woman popping a package into her briefcase. Before she closes the lid, you notice that the package is really easy to see, and the word “Depend” screams out at you. The image doesn’t make sense—most people don’t want to share their personal maladies at the boardroom table when they open their attaché to pull out another copy of the monthly reports. Then, at this point in the commercial, the voiceover says, “And our brand new package is designed to be easy to find on store shelves.” Yeah, and easy to spot every time I reach into my briefcase for another Altoid.

Adult incontinence is, of course, nothing to be ashamed of. But the second most important reason people use Depends is so nobody else knows they have this problem. (Don’t you dare ask, “What’s reason number 1?”) This is another instance of the advertiser being so proud of their accomplishment (“We have a new package!”) that they have to tell everyone, even if it’s the wrong message.

I took a look at the Depend website and the new package is promoted prominently at the top of the page. The copy says, “The discreet packages are designed to help you find the product quickly.” Yeah, that’s discreet—the number one name in incontinence protection is written in bold letters, with a picture of adult underwear right below it. If the strategy is discreet, then go discreet. But don’t assume your customers will accept a dissonant message just because you say it.

Steve Yastrow posted this on August 1, 2005, in Marketing.
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