Let’s face it: the marketing industry is partially responsible for promoting the stereotypes that we all seem more than willing to embrace. Real men are interesting, handsome and confident. Real women are sexy, supportive and apparently love to do laundry. And then there are the rest of us, the real people.
Brands want us to think that we need their products to land that dream job, take that dream date home to bed or be that perfect parent to our children. Reality, of course, is much more complicated. Unlike the actors in commercials, not everyone in life has straight teeth, perfect hair or the driving ability to park an SUV atop a mesa.
Marketers, of course, believe that by selling us a varnished version of our tarnished real lives, the public will gladly hand over its money for a taste of the life exalted in the advertising. And that’s fine. This is how human beings have sold products to each other for centuries. This dynamic, however, may be changing. In many respects, the public is becoming more self-aware and self-accepting. The public wants models that look more like regular people and products that don’t specifically target stereotypes of men or women.
The public also wants brands to recognize our humanity, and that humanity includes our need to be old, vulnerable and far from perfect. Enter NFL star Tony Siragusa, the new face of Depend Guards and Shields—products aimed at men with bladder leakage problems. You heard that correctly, leakage. It’s not a word many advertising copywriters would circle and say, “Let’s leverage the power of this word.”
Brand owner Kimberly -Clark Corp. has previously employed similar strategies to promote its products; we all remember Whoopi Goldberg in the “One in Thee Like Me” campaign which used humor to hawk the Poise brand to women suffering from leakage problems. Like Ms. Goldberg, Mr. Siragusa makes us laugh, and humor is the best way to approach sensitive topics for both men and women. Humor allows us to laugh at ourselves while being honest with ourselves. (And please erectile dysfunction brands, how about a little more humor and less aging rock bands and sunsets over couples in bathtubs. Sheesh.)
The public is emerging into a new era where it is ok to be imperfect; in fact, in many ways those imperfections make us unique. In a country increasingly filled by people with flawless skin holding the latest iPhone, uniqueness is desired commodity. It’s real. And so is bladder leakage. It’s about time the PR industry and brands treated us like the adults we are.