The greatest challenge to PR professionals is understanding how our society’s evolving definition of identity is changing the way we see each other, ourselves and the products we buy.
The public seems to be relying less on superficial stereotypes to categorize a person into a demographic simply based on gender, race or creed: young boys want Easy Bake Ovens and grown women like to go bow hunting. Everyone is his own man; we get it and it’s a good thing. So what are PR pros to do? Our job isn’t about appealing to rugged individuals but to large swaths of humanity—you know, the public.
We group not by appearances but by behaviors. Degree deodorant, founded as a unisex brand in 1990 has done the same by coming full circle with its advertising. In 2005 the brand split into two parts: Degree Men and Degree Women. The marketing took a rather superficial approach as Degree Women offered commercials that showcased how the deodorant didn’t rub off on clothes, and Degree Men featured more testosterone-y narratives involving sports.
Degree’s new campaign, however, is taking a more modern approach by consolidating the strategies into one message. Degree is tough on sweat–men’s sweat, women’s sweat, all sweat—because athletes are athletes. The first clip stars Olympian Lolo Jones, an athlete who is also a woman who also sweats a whole lot and who also obviously stinks. We like it!
It’s an effective message because it’s true, and the public likes it when brands see us for who we are. Gender and athletic ability are only smaller elements of the whole that makes us who we are—and the PR/marketing/advertising industries are finally beginning to use this longstanding truth to their advantage.
It’s about time.